The Utah Jazz has been a constant playoff contender in the Western Conference for the past six seasons. However, they never made it past the second round with losses to the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Clippers.
But having consecutive playoff appearances might mean nothing because the Jazz is in rebuild mode. Will Hardy replaced Quin Snyder as head coach, and they have traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Likewise, Donovan Mitchell is now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson might be on their way out as well.
We’d expect to see the Jazz listed as underdogs in most NBA betting markets this season. With the dominoes falling for Utah, they might take a step back, and either barely miss the playoffs or go as far as the play-in tournament. While they acquired intriguing players from those trades, not having a solid last line of defense puts the Jazz out of rhythm.
The Jazz won 49 games last season, three less than their total in 2020-21. But that was a team that had Gobert and Mitchell. However, that team had reached its ceiling, and it was time to regroup.
It remains to be seen if their current players will quickly develop their chemistry and turn into a winning team. It shouldn’t be assumed that the Jazz will improve this year, and come the end of the season they might finish with a similar record to 2021/22.
The then-New Orleans Jazz joined the NBA as an expansion team during the 1974-75 season. They called The Big Easy home for five seasons before relocating to Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1979. The Jazz played in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals but lost to the Chicago Bulls. Meanwhile, the late Jerry Sloan coached the squad from 1988 to 2011.
The Jazz play their home games at Vivint Arena. It’s still the same stadium formerly known as Delta Center, Salt Lake Ice Center, and EnergySolutions Arena. The facility can accommodate 18,306 fans during a basketball game.
Vivint Arena is one of the most challenging places for visiting teams in the NBA. A 2008 poll made it the most intimidating arena in the NBA, gaining 20 percent of the vote. It was also called “Decibel Center” after readings of over 110 decibels during the 1997 NBA Finals.
The Houston Rockets are the main rivals of the Utah Jazz. Their overall record stands at 135-125, with the Jazz having the slight edge. The two teams have met in nine playoff series from 1985 to 2019. Utah has won five against Houston, including the 1997 Western Conference Finals, wherein John Stockton knocked down the three-pointer that sent the Jazz to its first-ever NBA Finals appearance. However, the Rockets have won the last two encounters in 2018 and 2019.
For now, Bogdanovic and Clarkson are still on the roster. Both players can generate instant offense, especially Clarkson, who has won the Sixth Man of the Year award. Meanwhile, they still have steady point guard Mike Conley and veteran Rudy Gay.
The Jazz have also acquired Lauri Markkanen, who had a strong performance during the 2022 EuroBasket, and Collin Sexton, who averages 20 points, three rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game in his career. They also got Stanley Johnson and Talen Horton-Tucker from the trade that sent Patrick Beverley to the Los Angeles Lakers.