Four Factors Will Determine Success Of Jazz Season

Oct 19, 2022, 1:41 PM | Updated: Nov 7, 2022, 2:15 pm
Utah Jazz wing Talen Horton-Tucker blocks a shot against the San Antonio Spurs (Photo: Deseret News: Ben B. Braun)
(Photo: Deseret News: Ben B. Braun)

SALT LAKE CITY – There are four key factors that will determine the success of the Utah Jazz 2022-23 season.

After trading away Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Royce O’Neale, it’s clear winning an NBA title was no longer the Jazz main goal.

But, that doesn’t mean this season doesn’t have tremendous value to the franchise. Here are the four areas the Jazz must excel in to have a successful season.

Youth Development

Unlike most rebuilding teams, the Jazz don’t have a clear and obvious next face of the franchise. There is no top-ten pick on this roster that the Jazz are building around the way the Memphis Grizzlies have done with Ja Morant or the Dallas Mavericks have done with Luka Doncic.

Instead, the Jazz have a handful of players under the age of 23 that could be major pieces of the franchise in the coming years, even if they lack star potential.

Walker Kessler was the team’s rookie standout in the preseason and has the makings of a starting NBA center.

Ochai Agbaji rarely saw the floor to open the preseason, but was a lottery pick in June’s draft and should get plenty of opportunity to see the court as a rookie.

Talen Horton-Tucker had an up-and-down preseason, but his unique style of play once he finds his bearings in Utah.

Leandro Bolmaro played in just one preseason game but made the roster over fellow second-year player Jared Butler. He has more to show than what fans saw at Summer League.

Johnny Juzang will likely see most of his time with the Salt Lake City Stars this season but was once thought of as a potential first round pick. He’ll have to prove himself in the G League.

Lottery Standings

Make no mistake, the Jazz are well aware that Victor Wembanyama is a once-in-a-generation talent and are going to do whatever is necessary to make sure they have a real shot of drafting him next June.

They’ll be vying with the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and Houston Rockets for the worst record in the NBA for a chance to nab the superstar Frenchman.

The Jazz will need to strike a balance between staying competitive and teaching the team’s young players the right way to play, while also losing 60ish games in hopes of landing the top pick.

It’s a tricky gambit, but the Jazz didn’t trade two All-Stars only to miss out on top-tier lottery talent.

Veteran Performance

Though developing the youth and improving the lottery odds will both be a priority, the Jazz still feature significant veteran talent.

Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, Collin Sexton, Rudy Gay, Malik  Beasley, and Jarred Vanderbilt are all tried-and-true NBA players.

The Jazz front office is likely fine letting all of those players flourish as long as they aren’t pushing the team into the 30-win category.

At their best, all of those players can help other teams in the postseason, and the Jazz should be more than willing to field trade calls for their proven veterans.

Not every player over the age of 23 will be dangled as trade bait, but it would be foolish to say any veteran is untradeable. How they perform, and the price other teams are willing to pay for them will be major factors this season.

Is The Team Fun?

Too often lost in the narrative of wins and analytics is the importance of fun in the NBA. This is a game, and the fans are at the arena to enjoy themselves.

Regardless of development, wins and losses, or veteran performance, a fun team would go a long way toward making this season a success.

There is a strong argument to be made that the Jazz winning 42 games in the 2003-04 season cost them a chance to draft a difference-maker like Dwight Howard and pushed the rebuild back several years before they acquired Deron Williams in 2006.

Yet, for longtime Jazz fans, it was one of the favorite seasons in team history because the team was fun to watch almost every night.

The Jazz lost John Stockton and Karl Malone in the summer of 2003 and still had a fun season the next year, hopefully, they can repeat that process after losing Mitchell and Gobert.

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Four Factors Will Determine Success Of Jazz Season