by Daniel Olsen
It’s that time of year again when the Utah Jazz are playing good basketball before the All-Star break, and yet fans are craving a better overall roster to improve the team’s chances of a title. While winning the regular season was great last year, that’s not what matters anymore. The Jazz have to at least improve this season. It’s time to look at three possible moves they could make before the trade deadline on February 10th.
1. Consider Trading Joe Ingles
While he is a fan favorite, Joe Ingles is showing his age. He has gone 0-9 from downtown in his last two games. He is averaging the fewest points per game since the 2016-2017 season. Part of that could be due to his minutes dipping slightly. However, he is a far cry from the efficient player he was last year. Remember that he and Jordan Clarkson were both in the running for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. He was actually the one that presented Clarkson the trophy on national TV.
This year, Ingles is shooting 42.7 percent from the field, 37.6 percent from three and 77.8 percent from the charity stripe. While those aren’t terrible, they are quite pedestrian for a guy whose entire game is predicated around his shooting.
While the Jazz have plenty of offense, they need athletic defenders to assist them when their shots aren’t falling. Rudy Gobert is regarded as the best defender in the league, but he can’t do it all. Who could the Jazz target?
Some of the top wing defenders in the league aren’t ones that the Jazz can afford. Some that they could afford are listed by SLC Dunk. There are plenty of players that the Jazz could find that would be an upgrade over an aging Ingles. They just need to rip the bandage off and make the right move now. Ingles is a great person, but the Jazz need to be serious about building a talented roster that can compete for a championship.
2. Move Bojan Bogdanovic for the right price
Bojan Bogdanovic is a clutch player that once scored buzzer beaters over the Rockets and Bucks. He can still shoot. However, there is only one basketball. There are several defenders out there that can do everything Bogdanovic can do except shoot. It would be great to have some more athleticism too. As fun as it is to watch Bogdanovic dunk, the fact that fans get so amazed implies that he isn’t the athlete that championship teams are accustomed to seeing.
The Jazz need defense to lock down tough teams, because they could come as early as the first round. If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would be playing the Lakers. If they are healthy, that’s a scary team that could send the Jazz home as early as round one. Even a hobbled Lakers team took the Suns to six games in the first round last year. The Suns went on to win the Western Conference.
The Jazz need to find their version of Kawhi Leonard that can lock down opposing stars. While Gobert can do that against many positions, it would be nice to have an athlete that can guard quick backcourt players for 40 minutes a night.
3. Rent a fringe star
The Toronto Raptors traded a franchise player just so they could get Kawhi Leonard for a year. That risk resulted in a championship followed shortly by Leonard heading to the Clippers.
While the Jazz should definitely retain their stars, there are a small handful of players that would instantly make them contenders: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are a few examples. While it’s highly unlikely that a trade like this happens, it’s something to at least think about when deciding how important a championship is. Would you be willing to trade Donovan Mitchell for one Larry O’Brien trophy? It’s a tough question.
The Jazz have never been known to make rash decisions, so they likely won’t make a splashy move that will hurt their long term success. They have the right cornerstones. They just need to add the right pieces around them to get this team where they need to go. The next step is the Western Conference Finals, and then perhaps a chance to compete for a championship in the NBA Finals.
Featured image courtesy Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News