Now that the preseason is in the rearview mirror, we have a little better perspective on what this Jazz team is and what it can become. Let’s look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of this Utah Jazz preseason.
Since I like to end on a good note, we’ll go in reverse order.
The big white guy defending Georges Niang (see below):
Today, the team is not looking like it’s ready to contend for a title, or even a western conference championship. There is a lot to get done in order for this team to gel and come together before talk of contention can commence. The defense struggled mightily, giving up an average of 128.75 points per contest against NBA competition, which ranked 33rd in efficiency. Given that there are only 30 teams in the NBA, that means they finished behind some of the international teams who participated in the preseason.
Can you say struggles?
What makes matters worse is that we didn’t even see the high-octane offense that many thought we would see given the offseason acquisitions.
Fortunately, we did see flashes of it, particularly against the younger teams, New Orleans and Sacramento. Overall, though, it was difficult to watch guys turning the ball over, look discombobulated, and clank threes off the rim.
Aside from some nice individual performances (here’s looking at you, Donovan), most of what was good about the preseason was the opportunity for time on the floor together. There are so many new pieces to the team this year that it was inevitable not everything was going to be peachy king from the jump. Having time on the court against other teams was valuable to help the players start to mesh and have the coaches experiment with rotations. It’s worth noting that Quin Snyder is one of the best in the business at having his teams improve throughout the season.
I don’t expect to see all of the Jazz’s ills cured by the time they tip off against the Thunder next week. However, I do suspect that there will be significant improvement from month to month. This team is chalked with more veteran leadership than it has been in many years. That bodes well for keeping the whole team towing the line and staying on task.
The Irony from Utah Jazz Preseason?
Ironically, I believe that some of the bad we saw during the preseason was due to these veterans, especially those who are 30+, saving what’s in the tank for games that matter. We saw improvements of some of the Jazz’s younger players, including: Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, and Tony Bradley.
While Tony Bradley’s talents may not be needed extensively this season, Donovan’s and Royce’s most certainly will. Donovan looked more decisive with the ball in his hands, and he was a more efficient player. Royce not only looked like he belonged but he also looked like a sharpshooter from distance. If he can become a reliable 3 and D guy this season, he may end up being a regular in the starting lineup.