The Utah Jazz was a “Mamba Day” away from making the playoffs last season but it wasn’t meant to be. 2016 starts a new year, and if their offseason moves are any indication, we can expect something magical from the Jazz.
The Jazz has what I will consider one of the best-starting units in the NBA, but they were missing that one piece that kept them from reaching their full potential. The Jazz quietly made one of the best deals this offseason in acquiring PG George Hill.
While many fans would love to see a name like Derrick Rose or Jeff Teague, Hill may be better equipped to run the offense than the other two players mentioned. Hill is an upgrade over Trey Burke, Dante Exum, and Shelvin Mack, as neither player could produce well enough to get the Jazz over that hump.[embedit snippet=”2″]
Hill will bring a much-needed defensive presence and with his all-around skill set he will fit in will with his star-on-the-rise backcourt mate, Rodney Hood. Hood averaged 15 points in 2015 as he begins to emerge as the 2nd option behind Gordon Hayward.
Utah should expect Hood to hit the 19-20 point per game mark this season with Hill running the show using his ball-handling to get in the lane, forcing the defense to collapse and finding either Hood or Hayward on the perimeter for an open look.
The paint is held down by two of the best defensive players in the league in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. While defensive stoppers, they each possess a skill that allows them to be productive on the offensive end as well. Favors ended the season with a per of 16 points and eight rebounds, and Gobert averaged 9 points and 11 rebounds. Both players provided at least two blocks per game as the Jazz ranked 2nd in points given up last season
Their biggest improvement will be with the 2nd unit. With injuries hitting the Jazz last season, unproven players were provided a chance to either get in the starting unit or see valuable minutes off the bench. Their production was not enough to help earn that 8th seed but this season those minutes from 2015 will be looked upon as a valuable learning curve.
The bench will be led by former starter Mack, ultra reserve Trey Lyles, former Spur, Boris Diaw, Alec Burke and former All-Star, Joe Johnson. According to many media outlets, the Jazz assembled the best bench in the NBA with the additions of Diaw and Johnson. Both will provide leadership and scoring to a team that has hopes of making a run in ’16.
The Jazz are on the rise, they have assembled a talented group of players and what they missed out on last season will not slip their grasp this year.
With Gordon missing time at the start of the start of the season the Jazz will rely on the ageless Johnson to provide scoring and leadership. This should be a return to the glory years for the Jazz.