KSL SPORTS ZONE

Ric Bucher: ‘Not Unreasonable For Jazz To Be In Playoffs Next Year’

May 26, 2024, 2:51 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are sitting on the sidelines during the NBA playoffs as the team is going through a sizable rebuild since the offseason of 2022, trading away big stars like Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell and bringing in Will Hardy as the head coach.

‘Not Unreasonable For Jazz To Be In Playoffs Next Year’

The past two years have had some ups and downs, especially seeing former Jazzmen having playoff runs during that time, especially with Gobert and Mike Conley making it to the Western Conference Finals.

Danny Ainge has been working hard to use the collateral he obtained from trading Gobert, Mitchell, and others to get the Jazz back into contention. He made similar moves with the Boston Celtics, which helped that club win an NBA title in 2008. He is now trying to do the same with the Jazz.

One national media member in Fox Sports’ Ric Bucher likes what the Jazz are doing and points out that Ainge may not be the gambler people think.

“Danny is not the wild and crazy trader that everyone thinks he is,” Bucher said when he joined JJ & Alex on The KSL Sports Zone. There is a lot of stuff out there that is attached to Danny.

“When it comes to pulling the trigger, he is fairly conservative when it comes to that. I trust his track record and trust his work ethic.”

The Jazz had three draft picks last year, Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensabaugh. That trio had varying levels of success. George was named to the all-rookie team.

The Jazz have a young foundation with those first-year players, Walker Kessler, and Lauri Markkanen.

However, Ainge didn’t get the nickname “Trader Danny” for no reason. With multiple draft picks over the next years, don’t be surprised if Ainge make some moves to help this Jazz team progress.

Is It Playoffs Or Bust Next Year?

A fast start with a 10-3 record to the 2022-23 season gave the impression of fool’s gold for what Jazz could have been in Hardy’s first year as head coach.

Going into that season, the unspoken goal, not just for the Jazz but several NBA teams, was to try to land Victor Wembanyama. With that unexpected start to the season, the Jazz had hopes of a playoff berth before postseason dreams were quickly derailed with five losing streaks of four or more games.

The team finished with a 37-45 record. That fast start gave some optimism that the Jazz might contend for a playoff berth in 2023-24 but that did not happen as the Jazz finished with the eighth-worst record and will be picking 10th in the NBA Draft.

Despite back-to-back years of not making the playoffs under Hardy, Bucher feels that the Jazz are on the right track and have a decent chance of making the playoffs next year.

“I know how the last two years have gone [for the Jazz]. I thought expectations were a little over the top this season, “Bucher said. “I feel like you have things in place that it is not unreasonable at all that they should be back in the playoffs next year.

“Then it is a matter of getting those young guys in the playoffs and seeing what guys they should really invest in.”

It will take some time to get the Jazz to the playoffs — or even play-in game next season — as this year saw them fade in March and April with injuries and playing a lot of young guys which the latter seemed like the club wanted to better its lottery draft position.

You have to squint a little bit to see some hope but there are some pieces on this team that could help the Jazz get to the playoffs sooner than later.

However, one great thing that Bucher said about the Jazz is they aren’t the Lakers with aging superstar LeBron James and amid a coaching search.

Tune into JJ & Alex 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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Ric Bucher: ‘Not Unreasonable For Jazz To Be In Playoffs Next Year’