RIP Jazz: Utah Is in a Unique Position if Franchise Plays It Right

donovan mitchell

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, May 9, 2018 2:46 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 9, 2018 2:46 PM UTC

The Utah Jazz may have lost to Houston in five games in the West semifinals, but there is no embarrassment in what they accomplished. Utah has a star player, a strong core and needs to just keep adding pieces.

When the NBA awards come out, Utah might have the Rookie of the Year (Donovan Mitchell) and the Defensive Player of the Year (Rudy Gobert). Yet, almost everyone will agree head coach Quin Snyder (perhaps Coach of the Year) got everything possible out of his team.

While losing in the playoffs is never a good thing for any club, it does provide the road map of where a team needs to do to improve and how they can tighten up their weaknesses. Here is a look at where Utah is and where it needs to go to reach the Western Conference Finals or beyond.

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Through 82 games,
11 playoff contests,
4,479 total minutes—
You showed up, tuned in, chewed on your fingernails and cheered until you couldn't cheer anymore.

From the bottom of our hearts:

Thank you, Jazz fans. We couldn't do it without you. #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/qNhTRmNmBg

— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) May 9, 2018
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Utah Needs More Athleticism & Scoring Options

Jazz basketball fans were shocked when Gordon Hayward left for Boston in free agency as he was thought to be one of their own. But out of misfortune came opportunity, and Mitchell answered the bell. Mitchell, an absolute steal as the No. 13 overall pick, led Utah in scoring and was the most dynamic young guard in the postseason. He can shoot from outside, is a relentless rim runner and attacks the basket off the bounce. Think about this: Talk about growth, Mitchell is two years removed from being Louisville's fifth-best scorer. (It's true)

The core group of Mitchell, Gobert, Derrick Favors (pending free agent), Ricky Rubio and Jae Crowder is solid. In spite of two lost years because of injury, we still don't know what Dante Exum is fully capable of, but he's only 22. Alec Burks has shown enough upside to stay around and Joe Ingles is a good spot-up shooter and gives his all on defense despite limitations.

What Utah needs is a wing player who can beat a defender off the dribble and or stop on a dime and drill jumpers from 15-20 feet. Having Ingles coming off the bench would be positive and many nights could provide a spark with his shooting ability. Adding offensive versatility and scoring options would help Utah to keep moving up.

Patience & Upward Thinking Are What Utah Needs

With Oklahoma City and San Antonio in flux, Utah and New Orleans are the rising clubs in the Western Conference. This year and probably next, nobody is likely to supplant Houston and Golden State. However, once the playoffs conclude in 2019, both the Rockets and Warriors are going to have to make hard decisions about their rosters.

If Utah's key players can keep improving and the front office finds the right mix of players, the NBA odds might start being even more favorable for the Jazz in the not too distant future.

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