Hardy Faces Tough Challenges In First Year With Jazz

Jun 28, 2022, 4:23 PM
Utah Jazz head coach Will Hardy (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Will Hardy will face no shortage of challenges when he officially assumes the head coaching duties of the Utah Jazz.

According to multiple reports, Hardy and the Jazz are finalizing are five-year contract to become just the ninth head coach in the franchise’s history.

While the Jazz have been one of the steadier organizations in the NBA since they moved to Utah in 1979, Hardy will have plenty of issues on his plate as a first-year head coach.

First, Hardy faces the daunting task of replacing Quin Snyder, the second-winningest coach in Jazz history, and one of the most well-respected coaches in the NBA.

Snyder led the Jazz to 372 wins in eight seasons and built a culture that reflected his no-nonsense attitude in Utah. Furthermore, Snyder’s system, including his lingo on the court was unique in the NBA.

Hardy will have to determine which elements from Snyder’s tenure are worth keeping around, and what needs to replaces for the Jazz to take their next step as a franchise.

Second, Hardy will have to gain the trust of the team’s locker room despite his young age relative to most other NBA head coaches. When Hardy coaches his first game for the Jazz, he will be the youngest signal-caller in the NBA at just 34 years old.

Though the Jazz weren’t an outwardly fractured locker room last season, All-Stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell at times seemed to exchange barbs through the media, while Snyder struggled to incorporate veteran Rudy Gay into the rotation throughout the year.

Regardless of who returns to the team’s roster next season, Hardy must create a united front for the Jazz if they want to grow as a unit.

Third, Hardy has to find a way to squeeze new life out of a team that has significant design flaws throughout its roster. Mitchell and Mike Conley combine to make up one of the smallest backcourts in the NBA, and one that struggled mightily to defend on the perimeter.

Gobert is the league’s top defender but is limited offensively and became a target for opposing offenses in each of the last two postseasons within Snyder’s system.

To top it off, the Jazz head into the summer over the NBA’s salary cap, with limited financial assets to improve the team, and a dearth of young talent on the roster.

Though talented, the Jazz appear to be on the backend of their contender status and have finite options to improve the team.

Ultimately, Hardy should get multiple seasons to prove he’s the right man for the Jazz head coaching position, but his first season will bring its share of challenges.

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