What Utah Jazz Needs Ahead of the 2021 NBA Season
One of the most interesting NBA teams right now are the Utah Jazz. The franchise was supposed to contend for the Western Conference title in 2019-20, but failed to deliver both in the regular season and the playoffs.
The biggest problem is that Mike Conley’s arrival didn’t provide the expected boost. The guard had some health issues that prevented him from building the required chemistry.
On the bright side, Bojan Bogdanovic stepped up big time, but missed the postseason because of an injury and that was the main factor behind the early exit.
I’m sure that the organization is ready to try again and Donovan Mitchell already said he can’t wait for the new NBA season to start. Let’s try and figure out the Utah Jazz’s biggest needs for the upcoming campaign and how the team can meet them.
Get More from Mike Conley
We all know that Mike Conley was brought to make the Jazz a true title contender. He was supposed to deliver strong defense, solid scoring, and relieve Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt.
It’s safe to say that the point guard failed in his first season. In Conley’s defense, he had various health issues that prevented him from finding his rhythm early on. With more games under his belt, he could develop the required chemistry.
If the veteran can return to the level displayed with the Grizzlies, the Jazz will have a strong backcourt that could handle pretty much any team in the league.
Conley is still 33, so I don’t think he’s too old to compete at the highest level. The guard should have at least two good seasons left in him.
If the Jazz don’t trust him, there’s one alternative that should be considered.
Some believe that Utah should trade the player and I’m inclined to agree that’s not a bad idea. The question is if it’s a realistic one. Conley’s owed $34 million in the upcoming season and not many teams could afford his services.
On the other hand, that’s an expiring contract of a player who could contribute right away and open space for some of the major free agents in the next offseason.
I still believe that the Jazz will keep Conley, so getting the best out of him could make or break the next campaign. And yet, the team should certainly test the waters and see if it can get another backcourt partner for Mitchell.
Figure Out How to Use Joe Ingles
One of the side problems with the arrival of Mike Conley is that the coaching staff didn’t get the most of Joe Ingles. The sharpshooter was excellent for the Jazz the previous year, but the new point guard sent him to the bench and the Australian was inefficient as a part of the second unit.
When Conley was injured, we once again saw the best of Ingles and it’s obvious that he works better as a starter. The reality is that he probably doesn’t offer enough to earn that position and Quin Snyder better find another way to utilize him.
The bench will certainly need some help with the potential departure of Jordan Clarkson (I’m going to discuss that in more detail below), so Ingles might be one of the solutions.
If you look at his stats, you will see a guy who’s been shooting over 40% from three throughout his career. That’s something every single NBA team needs nowadays, so Ingles definitely can help the Jazz. It’s up to the head coach to figure out how exactly.
Improve the Bench if Jordan Clarkson Leaves
The starting unit of the Utah Jazz is under contract for the upcoming season, but Jordan Clarkson is an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. The guard did himself a favor and stepped up big time last season, recording the best numbers since his arrival in the NBA.
Clarkson scored more than 15 points per game on solid efficiency, adding several assists and rebounds. He looks like an excellent sixth man and there are many NBA franchises that could use the services of a guy like him.
The Lakers are reportedly after him again and some teams might even install him in the starting lineup as the third option. In either scenario, Clarkson is expected to earn somewhere between 15 and 20 million.
I don’t see how the Jazz can pay him such a huge salary, so the team might be forced to let him go.
That would be a problem for the bench and the team needs to find 10-15 points per game somewhere else. A bigger role for Joe Ingles is one of the ways to go, as I already mentioned.
Another solution is to try and get a cheap player, probably a veteran or underused young player with potential that will be hungry for more minutes.
There’s also the draft, but the Jazz have the 23rd pick this year and it’s hard to expect much. The organization could try to simply go after the most talented shooter left and hope he can start firing right away, but that’s unlikely.
Wrapping It Up
I certainly believe that the Utah Jazz should give the current core another shot and the signals are that the team is going to do exactly that in the upcoming NBA season. Donovan Mitchell should be even better, Bogdanovic should be fit for the playoffs this time around, and Conley should contribute more.
I’m not sure if that would be enough for the team to challenge for the NBA Championship and the bench is a bit weak, but I view Jazz as one of the dark horses next season. Not many people talk about the team, but If everything goes well, anything is possible.
Do you agree with my assessment? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and check out our NBA blog for more similar posts.