After not signing Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz find themselves without a leader. It’s pretty much a given that in the competitive Western Conference the Jazz won’t be a favorite for a playoff berth. That still doesn’t mean the team can’t at least remain competitive.
With Ricky Rubio at the helm, the Utah Jazz has a pure point guard, something the team hasn’t had since the days of Deron Williams, or to a more extreme example, John Stockton. Of course, I’m not saying Rubio is anything like these two, but he’s a better option at the point than recent starting PG, George Hill.
Rubio isn’t the only factor on the Jazz, as Rudy Gobert can also be counted on. The 7’1 center has become one of the league’s more undervalued gems. His defensive ability is almost unmatched by any NBA player in the game today.
With the Western Conference gaining so much firepower, the Jazz can’t simply rely on Rubio and Gobert alone. Losing an All-Star in Hayward is devastating for a team that was on the verge of something great. Still, is head coach, Quin Snyder, able to form a reputable team out of a decimated roster?
The big key for the Jazz will be health. While Rubio and Gobert managed to stay relatively injury free last season, the two have had injury issues in the past. Also, third-year guard Rodney Hood and big man Derrick Favors, two essential pieces to the Jazz roster, seem to spend more time on the injured list than the actual court.
If somehow the Jazz manages to stay healthy, can this team make some sort of run at the playoffs? It’s possible, maybe as an 8th seed, but with teams like Denver and Sacramento, New Orleans, and Minnesota all adding pieces late last year and this off-season, it’s not going to be a cakewalk for the Jazz.
Truthfully, I feel like this isn’t going to be the year for Utah. You don’t lose an All-Star caliber player in Gordon Hayward and improve your roster. Sure, the addition of Rubio might help some of the damage, but the team doesn’t have a true number 1 scoring option. Gobert isn’t an offensive big, Rubio sure as hell can’t shoot the ball, Favors and Hood can’t stay healthy, what options do the Jazz have?
It’s going to be a long season for the Jazz. It’s not out of the realm of possibility they make the playoffs, but it’s incredibly unlikely. Utah will need everything to go their way. A starting lineup of Rubio, Hood, Joe Ingles ( ?), Favors and Gobert isn’t enough to match the talent of the Western Conference.
It’s unfortunate Gordon Hayward decided to go East. The Utah Jazz could have been a lock to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year. They’ll struggle this season, but I suppose anything is possible.