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Utah Jazz Predictions: 2012 NBA Future Lines & Gambling Analysis

Utah Jazz Season Preview – NBA Predictions

The 2011-12 NBA season was Tyrone Corbin’s first full season as the head coach of the Utah Jazz. Expectations were low, but they were able to sneak into the playoffs as an eighth seed. The Jazz play in one of the tougher divisions in all of basketball, and with virtually all five teams having improved this summer, all of them will be vying for a spot in the postseason.  

Odds to Win (By bovada.lv):
2013 NBA Championship: 100/1
2013 Western Conference: 45/1

The Jazz open their season against five legitimate contenders in their first six games. This is going to be a huge test for such a young team, but the most important part of their season comes in the final month of the year. This team plays eight games in the month of April, and five of them are against division rivals—Portland once, Oklahoma City one, and Minnesota twice in their final three games. Utah was a playoff team last season, but that in no way assures they’ll make it back this year. Finishing strong is always important, but it’s downright crucial when your opponents are going to be fighting for the same final few spots as you are.

This team has a slightly different look to it than it did last season. Having said goodbye to Josh Howard and Devin Harris, the team was able to make space for Marvin Williams, Mo Williams and Randy Foye. Marvin Williams has never lived up to the expectations that come with being a No. 2 pick, but a change of scenery and a new offensive system could be just what he needs to break out of his shell. Mo Williams has always been an up-tempo kind of player, and with offense being a priority in Utah, his shot will help the team improve upon their already stellar scoring average—the team averaged the fourth-most points in the NBA last year.

Strategically, the team is going to play the same way they did a season ago, just faster. The Jazz were the proud owners of the 12th-fastest pace in the NBA, and coach Corbin has said he wants to push the tempo even more this year. The only problem is that the team often turned the ball over in fast-break situations last season, meaning they’ll have to work on that before they put their plan into full execution.

The area where this team will look exactly the same is in the frontcourt. The Jazz have one of the most stacked frontcourts in the NBA, as they legitimately go two-deep with potential stars at both the power forward and center positions. Paul Millsap’s impending free agency could change that notion moving forward, but as for now, he, Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter have the potential to dominate. [ad-6571516]

If this team is going to exceed expectations again this year, Favors and Kanter will be big reasons why. Players such as Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks must also step up, but if the two reserve big men can make their presence felt, they’ll have a huge edge over most teams. Their per-36-minute averages were fantastic last year, which means if they are given the opportunity to play, they should thrive in Utah’s current system.

The only problem with a frontcourt by committee is that it creates for quite the logjam. Millsap could be gone this summer, but there’s also the chance that the team pulls the trigger on a deal before the trade deadline.

At this point, the Jazz’s ceiling has to be considered a seven or eight seed out West. They’re not going to compete for home-court advantage and they don’t match up well against the guards at the top of the conference.

Five or six teams will be competing for the final two spots in the playoffs out West—three of which come from the Northwest division. If the Jazz are able to get in, it’s tough to imagine them taking down any of the elites in the conference. The West is top heavy, but the problem for the teams at the bottom is that the top keeps expanding. Last year, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs were the only elite teams, but this year, you’ve added the Los Angeles Lakers back to the mix, and the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers are also working toward elite status.

Jazz Prediction

Whether the Jazz make the playoffs or not, they’ll have some tough roster decisions to make over the next year, so if you’re thinking about riding the Utah bandwagon, 2014 might be a better time to jump on board.

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