2015-16 NBA Previews – Jazz
The Utah Jazz went into the 2014 NBA All-Star Game with 19-34 record. It wasn’t ideal by any means, but it’s where most anticipated this group would be at that point in the process.
Following All-Star Weekend, the group from Salt Lake City turned things around and finished the year 19-10 (post All-Star) and won’t be surprising anybody who paid attention to what they accomplished late last season.
Utah Jazz Season Preview
Head Coach: Quin Snyder
2014 Record: 38-44
Jazz Odds to NBA Title: +15000
Jazz Odds to Win Conference: +6600
Defense, defense, defense. That’s where this team’s identity lies entering the 2015-16 season, and it’s what’s going to help this team push toward a playoff berth in the ever-improving Western Conference.
The crux of this team’s defense is center Rudy Gobert. His coming out party happened last year when the team traded away Enes Kanter, and he put together a strong showing to close at the season that had him a serious contender for Defensive Player of the Year.
Alongside Gobert is Derrick Favors. The 6’10”, 265-pound power forward knows how to use his length on defense at the rim, which is why he managed to block 1.7 shots per game in 30.8 minutes per contest.
Cohesion is also going to be a positive with this group. The team should be more familiar with Snyder’s system, and with the depth on the roster improving organically, the cohesiveness of this group should only expand upon what was already there at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Point guard play is a concern for this group, which is bizarre when you consider that the squad has two lottery picks at the position in Trey Burke and Dante Exum. The problem is that we’ve yet to see those two — or any others, quite frankly — step up for significant amount of time running the offense.
From a worst-case-scenario standpoint, this team also has the potential to struggle if the defensive-minded Gobert and Favors are unable to find success on offense. That side of the floor is going to be important for this group to combat any off nights it experiences on defense, and getting the bigs involved (or at least getting them to require single coverage instead of allowing opposing defense to act as roamers) will be crucial in making that happen.
Jazz 2015 Betting Prediction:
This group is going to compete for the final playoff spot out West. Matching the pace this group finished at last year is going to be downright impossible considering they played like a 54-win team after the break, but they’re also going to take that momentum into the start of a new year.
At this point, consider this group to be about a 45-win team. That number could be a bit ambitious if the defense takes a step back and the offense doesn’t compensate, but the eighth seed in the conference is going to be up for grabs to a few teams — Utah certainly being one of them.
Jazz Key Personnel Losses:
- Jeremy Evans
Not a whole lot of action on the personnel turnover department for the Jazz this offseason. That’s a good thing for a team that resembled a playoff squad when the 2014-15 campaign came to an end.
Jazz Top Newcomers:
- Jeff Withey, Tibor Pleiss, Raul Neto, Trey Lyles, Treveon Graham
The Jazz have one considerable addition to mention, and it’s none of the aforementioned players.
Alec Burks will be back in the lineup this season following injury. The 24-year-old will be an added starting guard to the rotation (a huge plus considering the point guards will need a reliable) and he’ll be ready to join this roster that built such positive on-court chemistry last year.
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