KSL UNRIVALED

Collin Sexton: Hardy Is Reason New Jazz Team Exceeded Expectations

Jun 13, 2023, 12:00 PM

Utah-Jazz-Guard-Collin-Sexton...

Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz were not expected to be close to the playoffs this past year. Collin Sexton joined to Unrivaled to talk about expectations and how the Utah Jazz exceeded them.

There were a lot of changes that included Rudy Gobert being traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Quin Snyder stepping down as head coach, hiring Will Hardy, and trading Donovan Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Those moves under Danny Ainge seemed like the Jazz were in tank mode in hopes of landing French phenom Victor Wembanyama. The Jazz started off hot with an impressive 10-3 record to start the season.

The tune changed from tanking for Wembanyama to possibly competing for a playoff spot. While the team didn’t earn a playoff spot, fans took notice of the talent and chemistry of the new Utah Jazz.

Collin Sexton Talks Jazz Head Coach Will Hardy

Guard Collin Sexton who was part of the Mitchell trade joined Unrivaled on the KSL Sports Zone and shared his thoughts about how the players and coaches wanted to prove doubters wrong.

“I would say everyone that was on this team had something to prove and everyone on the team had a chip on their shoulder coming into this season,” Sexton said. “Also, Coach Will had a chip on his shoulder as well. He is a new coach, people thinking he doesn’t know what he is doing.

“He had a chip on his shoulder to be able to coach us the best he could and he did that really, really well.”

While they did fade down the stretch, Hardy coached the team to 37 wins which was a lot more than most experts and fans felt they could accomplish.

The Jazz had an All-Star starter in Lauri Markkanen who blossomed, having the best season of his career. Rookie Walker Kessler was a surprise en route to being named to the NBA’s all-rookie team, and Sexton himself had a solid year before he missed nearly half the season to a variety of injuries.

 

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Those players, plus others, exceeded expectations thanks to Hardy. Sexton said the team noticed how much Hardy was backing his players and that led to this new Jazz team’s fight and chemistry.

“He was with us each and every night,” Sexton added. “Whenever you have a coach that’s behind you and whenever you have a coach that is willing to fight for you, you tend to put it out there all on the line for him. I feel like that is what we did the entire season.”

Everything was supposed to be stacked against the Jazz last season, with very low expectations, but this team showed it would not fold and nearly made the playoffs.

The future looks bright with the current lineup, coaches, and a plethora of first-round draft picks over the next few years. These players need to keep a memory of the 2022/23 season and how they fought so hard to blow past expectations when no one believed in them.

Tune into Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. on 1280 AM and 97.5 FM, or subscribe to the podcast. Also, download the all-new KSL Sports app on iOS or Android.

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Collin Sexton: Hardy Is Reason New Jazz Team Exceeded Expectations