25 games remain for the Utah Jazz. 25 chances left to prove where they rank among the Western Conference elite.
The Jazz entered the All-Star break with 35 wins and 22 losses. They are now tied with the Clippers after Lob City lost to Dub Nation last night. But with the Jazz being all bark and no bite among the trade deadline rumors and other Western Conference teams making blockbuster moves such as Boogie Cousins to The Big Easy or Taj Gibson and McBuckets headed to OKC, the Jazz will need to counteract these chess moves with their current personnel. Here is how they can do this:
1. Sign a released free agent: This has Deron Williams written all over it. D-Will isn’t the same point guard who once took a young Jazz team to the Western Conference Finals but he is scoring 14 points per game. He can be a quality backup to George Hill although many think he will ride the Cleveland gravy train to significantly boost Lebron’s chances at another NBA title.
2. Rest their stars before the playoffs: If their seeding at some point becomes a foregone conclusion then they might as well do what the other NBA teams do and rest their guys. They need this injury plagued team ready for the playoffs. Only Hayward, Favors and Burks were here in 2012 when the Jazz were swept by the Spurs so there isn’t much playoff experience in the Beehive State with the exception of a few vets who come from teams with many playoff berths.
2. Focus on shooting: The Jazz have the defense to contend among the NBA elite as they allow a league low 95.7 points per game. They do struggle on the offensive end though. The Jazz need another guy alongside Hayward who can drop 20 per game. The Jazz have the ball movement that has made the Warriors and Spurs successful. They just need someone to knock them down. Expect a three and D guy like Joe Ingles to provide a spark off the bench in the playoffs.
It’s a race between the Rockets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Thunder, Nuggets and perhaps the Pelicans. Where will the Jazz end up seeded and who will they be matched with in the first round of the NBA playoffs? We will find out very soon.