JAZZ NOTES

Jazz Notes Season Grades: Did Utah’s Season Go As Planned?

Apr 17, 2024, 12:25 PM

Utah Jazz Notes season outcomes Lauri Markkanen...

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MARCH 18: Lauri Markkanen #23 of the Utah Jazz dunks in front of Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves during the second half of a game at Delta Center on March 18, 2024 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz had a very interesting 2023-2024 season. With a bottom-10 record in the NBA, many fans were left wondering if this was the plan all along.

On the Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson and Chandler Holt graded the Jazz’s season.

Season In Review

The Utah Jazz’s 2023-2024 season can be broken into three parts. The slow start, midseason pickup, and fall from grace.

Utah was slow out of the gates in 2023 and boasted a 7-16 record in early December.

All of a sudden, something clicked. From December 13 to January 15, the Jazz won 15 of 19 games. This stretch put them in the postseason picture with a record of 22-20.

Leading into the February 8 trade deadline, Utah went 4-6. It was clear that changes needed to be made.

The Jazz traded away three rotation players for future assets. They also gave significantly more minutes to the rookies and had a clear goal to end the season. Improve their lottery odds.

Utah finished with the 8th-worst record in the NBA at 31-51. It took losing 25 of the last 30 games. But, they basically secured a top-10 pick.

Is The Draft Pick Worth It?

Some Jazz fans find it hard to justify the 5-25 end to the season for what could be the 8th or 9th pick in the upcoming draft.

Although there is some truth to those worries, not conveying the pick to Oklahoma City should be seen as a massive win for Utah.

A late lottery pick in what is being called a “weak draft” doesn’t seem like much. However, the Jazz are at a point where they need all of the help they can get.

“The Jazz are at such a massive talent discrepancy compared to where they need to be to be competing for a title,” Anderson said. “The easiest way to get that is to have draft picks and hope to hit on some of those picks. The higher you are in the draft, the better chance you have to get a star or somebody who is going to make a difference.”

Utah simply didn’t have enough talent to make any sort of postseason noise if they were to sneak in this season.

It’s no secret that the Jazz need star power. But at the same time, they need high-quality role players. Stocking up on young players and draft picks makes a blockbuster trade much more likely.

So, yes. The draft pick will likely turn out to be worth the late-season hardship.

Jazz Notes Podcast Grades Utah’s Season

The young players ended up being the story of the year for the Jazz.

Despite struggles to end the year for Keyonte George, the rookie guard showed flashes all year long and looks primed for a great professional career.

Brice Sensabaugh and Taylor Hendricks came onto the scene following the trade deadline and also showed a lot of promise.

“Before the season, if you had said they (drafted) three guys who are NBA players,” Anderson said. “I would have been like ‘Oh, A+’. I do think (Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensabaugh) are NBA players. I think they hit on all three.”

On the other hand, the rookies all had some poor stretches, and second-year big man Walker Kessler left a lot to be desired. For youth development, the Jazz received a B+ grade.

The Jazz’s veterans had an interesting year, to say the least.

Lauri Markkanen regressed a bit from his first year in Utah, Jordan Clarkson did about what we all expected, and two of the biggest veteran difference-makers were shipped off in February.

The brightest spot for the vets was the emergence of Collin Sexton. With averages of about 18 and 5, Sexton was the second-best player for the Jazz all season long.

It must be noted that injuries plagued Utah’s veterans all season long. But regardless, the Jazz got a B- grade for veteran performance.

Next up, standings and overall performance.

“This is maybe going to be a bit controversial,” Holt said. “I gave them an A. Before the season, we named 11 or 12 Western Conference teams that have more talent than the Jazz. More or less, we expected that they were not going to be in the postseason picture.”

Giving the Jazz an A for overall performance is definitely a stretch. But, considering expectations and what Utah needs to become a contender, it’s fair to say that this year was a success.

Since we have no clue who the Jazz will draft or how good they will be, they got a B- grade for standings.

Lastly, fun factor.

Recency bias has professional sports in a chokehold. Looking at the last 30 games, most fans would give the Jazz an F here.

But, let’s not forget the 15-4 stretch earlier in the year or the numerous highlights from the rookies and Lauri Markkanen.

At the end of the day, winning is fun. Utah got a C grade for fun factor in the 2023-2024 season.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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