Last year the Jazz mainly used the starting 5 of Rubio, Mitchell, Ingles, Favors and Gobert. But was it the most successful lineup? That is up for debate. There is always the age old question of whether two traditional bigs like Favors and Gobert can be successful sharing the floor together when it’s harder to space the floor.
Jae Crowder resulted in better overall results when he was in the lineup. He provides a good balance offensively and is a dog when it comes to fetching loose balls and rebounds. It is possible that Favors leaves in search for a more lucrative free agent contract. If that happens who will take his place as the selfless defensive big? Is there possibly a player out there that can provide the Jazz a missing piece that might be more valuable? It’s time to break it down!
Starting Point Guard: Ricky Rubio
This is a no brainer. While some crazy package for a more athletic player like Kemba Walker or Damian Lillard sounds intriguing, Rubio just fits the Jazz. His shooting has improved and he is a great facilitator. He would have been a great help to the Jazz had he been healthy for the Rockets series. This year he needs to continue to improve his all around game in order to give the Jazz the best chance to succeed.
Starting Shooting Guard: Donovan Mitchell
Mitchell will be great this year because Grayson Allen will be pushing him every practice. Mitchell even said Allen was tough to play against but he would like to play with him. Being a Rookie of the Year Finalist guarantees that Mitchell will still see a lot of time but that doesn’t mean the Jazz coaching staff won’t explore different in game lineups that will be most effective for the team.
Starting Small Forward: Grayson Allen
This might sound like a crazy take after the great season that Ingles has last year. However, Allen could be special. While smaller, he could provide a great small ball lineup as he is a powerful scorer and defender who is also proving to be a student of the game.
Even if he does start on the bench he will eventually prove his worth as the Jazz have proven that injuries call for the next man up. Hopefully everyone stays healthy but if players get dinged up it’s in the team’s best interest to rest on the side of caution.
Starting Power Forward:Jae Crowder
The Jazz will look hard at a power forward in case Favors bolts in free agency but the Jabari Parkers and Michael Beasleys of the world may not be the missing piece. It would be nice to have some good talent off the bench from them but as mentioned previously, Crowder at the four position worked last year.
Crowder will continue to be a dog and provide the Jazz with good outside shooting. He did seem to miss a lot of threes in the playoffs but everyone gets a dry spell. Draymond Green, a normally good shooter went dry in the Finals. The key is that Crowder continues to follow the flow of the Jazz offense which will eventually provide open opportunities for players to splash open shots.
Starting Center: Rudy Gobert
Defense is a part of the DNA of the Utah Jazz. What would be better than having the defending Defensive Player of the Year at Center? Rudy makes it almost impossible for opponents to score in the paint. He could improve his defensive versatility to solve the puzzle of the Rockets outside quick offense but other than that the sky is the limit for the Stifle Tower. He will continue to improve different facets of his game and seems eager to help the Jazz in the quest for a bigger goal than ring chasing.
The B Team:
Dante Exum PG
Joe Ingles SG
Alec Burks SF
Jabari Parker PF
Ekpe Udoh C
The bench looks good enough to provide the Jazz with a deep arsenal to make a deep run in the playoffs but much still hinges on LeBron’s decision. With LeBron out West the Jazz may instead prepare to peak in 5 years as the top western teams pass their prime. Hopefully good players will join the Jazz for an opportunity to develop into great ones and the Jazz can capture that elusive title that they have been gunning for since 1979.