by Daniel Olsen | Rudy Gobert is still riding sky high two days after signing a max extension that will put life-changing money in his pocket. Donovan Mitchell has also earned plenty of cash to put in his pocket. While it seems tough to keep the depth of the team around them long term, it is possible that the Jazz win a title as these two hit their primes. Let’s explore the possible factors that could lead to a Larry O’Brien trophy in Utah.
1. A Christmas Star: While it is superstitious, Gobert’s tweet suggests that he thinks the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter to form the rare “Christmas Star” appearance could be the sign of a new beginning.
Mitchell himself said they are done losing in the first round. What if they decide they aren’t satisfied with the second round? The Jazz can’t sneak up on anyone. They have to kick the door down. It requires hard work but also a positive mentality. When there are positive signs, it’s much easier to have that feeling that good things will come. Whether it’s lucky socks or the alignment of the stars, the Jazz have to start using anything they can to give themselves a rhythm.
2. The West finally eases up: Could the Clippers be trending down after getting embarrassed by the Nuggets last year? Will the Jazz be motivated for revenge after knowing they were so close to beating the Nuggets? Will the Mavs, Blazers and Clippers continue to put up a fight? These are some good questions. The Western Conference won’t be any easier but I doubt it gets harder for the Jazz. The Rockets may be in rebuild mode since Russell Westbrook was traded to Washington for John Wall and James Harden wants out. The Rockets have been a thorn in the side of the Jazz in recent memory so it will be nice to have one less team to worry about. There weren’t a ton of splashes in free agency in the offseason. The Jazz proved that they can currently compete with any team except for the Lakers. Expect them to compete with the Clippers and Nuggets for the 2, 3 and 4 spots. With Chris Paul gone to Phoenix, don’t expect OKC to be in the mix. However, someone in the West like the Mavs or Blazers could sneak up the standings.
3. Window of Opportunity appears:
Right now appears to be another era of a Lakers dynasty. How long that dynasty lasts remains to be seen. LeBron isn’t getting any younger but if he can be close to his dominant self, he can probably ride the wave with Anthony Davis. This gives them an opportunity for at least one and possibly two more championships in the next three seasons. The Jazz need to capitalize as soon as that window closes. It would behoove them to get as far as they can until that point. If they are truly done losing in the first round, the key now is to push themselves deep into the second round and possibly the Western Conference Finals. The Jazz of old made it that far several times and failed before ultimately kicking the door down. Back then the league had a rugged style of play but there also weren’t nearly as many super teams as there are now.
2023 is the year. The All-Star game comes to Utah. Like Stockton and Malone of old, look for Mitchell and Gobert to seriously compete for a co-MVP that special weekend as well as a Western Conference title! Nobody knows what obstacles lie in their path but if they are truly worth the big contracts they signed, this new dynamic Jazz duo will find a way to get back to the NBA finals and deliver that elusive championship to Salt Lake City and the entire state of Utah!
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