The Jazz did not have a horrible season, but they did miss the playoffs with a pretty experienced roster. This season could be labeled as a disappointment in Utah, but there are some bright spots. First of all, this is still a reasonably young team centered around Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert. Along with that, these players have spent considerable time playing together and that still bodes well for the future. All three are under 27 years old and will be entering their primes soon, so keeping that core would be essential.
Here are the per game statistics for the 2015-2016 Utah Jazz:
W-L FG% 3P% FT FTA ORB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS 40-42 .449 .355 17.1 23.0 10.7 19.0 7.7 5.2 14.9 20.2 97.7
Here are the per game statistics for their opponents:
W-L FG% 3P% FT FTA ORB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS 42-40 .446 .357 16.8 22.5 9.3 19.1 8.0 4.7 14.0 19.9 95.9
Aside from that core, there are other young players around them. Alec Burks, Trey Burke, and Rodney Hood have shown themselves to be solid rotation players and/or starters. Add these to bench players Trey Lyles and Shelvin Mack and the bench unit is pretty solid. However, they are missing a key position from their starting lineup at the point guard. That should be their #1 priority for the offseason, with more bench depth and shooting taking a back seat.
At the #12 pick, there are two realistic possibilities. Wade Baldwin of Vanderbilt and Demetrius Jackson of Notre Dame are point guards who can both score from deep and distribute the rock. Baldwin relies more on his length on both sides (he has a 6-11 wing span) of the ball, but he has the potential to be a lockdown defender. On the other hand, Jackson is a tremendous athlete who can jump out of the gym. Both of these players would allow the Jazz to fill their hole in the starting lineup, even if there might be more talented players on the board. If the Jazz decided to go the route of the Best Player Available (BPA), Denzel Valentine, Jakob Poeltl, and Deyonta Davis would be alternative options. If they choose to go that route, however, they will be desperately searching for a starting guard in free agency.
Even if Utah goes the route of taking a point guard in the first round, I still find it likely that they address that position in free agency and allow their pick to develop behind a more gifted guard at the time. The best point guard in free agency is without a doubt Mike Conley. I think it is very likely that the Jazz will be heavily involved with trying to lure him to Utah next month. Aside from Conley, Jeremy Lin and Matthew Dellavedova are guards who can theoretically play both the point and the shooting guard, giving the Jazz a nice backup to both positions. In the front court, both Favors and Gobert have struggled with injuries from time to time, so adding another forward would benefit them in the long run. With both players mostly playing with their back to the basket, adding a shooter at that position like Mirza Teletovic or Jon Leuer from Phoenix would be solid move.
Overall, the Jazz were disappointing this past year, but the future still looks to be solid. If everyone remains healthy and the core stays intact, all it will take are a few minor changes for the Jazz to compete more strongly for a playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Previous Offseason Forecast: Orlando Magic (35-47).
Next Offseason Forecast: Washington Wizards (41-41).
And that’s all I have for now, so this is me…signing off. -Lukas.