UTAH JAZZ

The Utah Jazz Christmas Wish List

Dec 24, 2020, 12:15 PM | Updated: Dec 26, 2020, 12:00 pm
Bojan Bogdanovic - Utah Jazz - Charlotte Hornets...
Bojan Bogdanovic #44 of the Utah Jazz celebrates a play during a game against the Charlotte Hornets at Vivint Smart Home Arena on January 10, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s Christmas Eve, and the Utah Jazz are just one game into the 2020-21 season. While the rest of us wait for Santa Claus to make our Christmas wishes come true, the Jazz too could use a few gifts to make their year extra bright.

With a full slate of Christmas day games and the Jazz home with their families to enjoy the holiday, these are the things the franchise and its players can hope to find under their tree.

Utah Jazz Christmas Wish List

Health

Like the rest of us during the pandemic, good health is atop the Jazz Christmas wish list, though for the team, it stretches beyond COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the realities of the pandemic have already hit the Jazz as Mike Conley, Royce O’Neale, and Joe Ingles all missed time during training camp and the preseason due to the NBA’s health protocols.

Otherwise, the Jazz opened the season healthy with a full roster available to coach Quin Snyder. Last year the team’s season was derailed by injures as reserve center Ed Davis suffered a broken leg in November, Conley was plagued by a hamstring injury robbing the team of valuable chemistry building opportunities, and Bojan Bogdanovic missed the restart in Orlando including the Jazz seven-game series against the Denver Nuggets.

As a result, the Jazz enter the season in the bottom half of most preseason Western Conference playoff projections.

When healthy, the Jazz clearly have one of the deepest, most dangerous rosters in the NBA. With the addition of Derrick Favors and Shaquille Harrison in the offseason, they should be better prepared for injuries in both the frontcourt and the backcourt.

However, to avoid a third consecutive first-round playoff exit, the Jazz will need their full starting lineup healthy, with a fully stocked bench.

Health might be too big of a gift to fit down the chimney, but the Jazz should ask for it on the off chance Santa might be able to deliver it.

A Low-Cost Steal

While the big gifts get our blood pumping on Christmas, sometimes it’s the smallest gifts that have the longest-lasting impact.

Though health may be atop the Jazz wish list, the small gift that might be the most consequential would be the surprise development of one of their young players.

After signing Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell to long term contract extensions during the offseason, the team is likely to be cash strapped for the foreseeable future. That means finding a diamond in the rough on a bargain-basement salary could have an enormous impact on the Jazz future.

The obvious choice is Elijah Hughes who had a strong showing during the preseason as a multifaceted scorer. But don’t count out either two-way guard Trent Forrest or second second-year guard Miye Oni as darkhorse high-level rotation players in the team’s future.

The Jazz are going to need additional depth in the backcourt and on the wing in the not so distant future and having one of the three aforementioned players make a surprise leap would make the Jazz Christmas more magical.

More Red Rider Snipers… err BB Guns

Just as little Ralphie wanted a Red Rider BB Gun in A Christmas Story, last year Jazz vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey wanted more snipers. And like Ralphie, Lindsey got his wish.

The Jazz were the best three-point shooting team during the 2019-20 season, knocking down an impressive 38 percent of their attempts last season. The team would love to again find themselves atop the league, with perhaps even more improvement as health and chemistry could create even more good looks for the Jazz shooters.

The Jazz were the fifth-best three-point shooting team during the preseason hovering at 40 percent on a staggering 44 attempts per game. Only the Dallas Mavericks attempted more threes and converted them at a higher rate during the exhibition period.

If the Jazz can continue to hoist that many deep balls and convert around 40 percent, they’ll once again find themselves as one of the best offenses in the NBA, with a puncher’s chance to advance against any team in the playoffs.

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