Jazz 2017-2018 Season Predictions

Jazz stadium renovation? Check. New roster? Check. New unis? Check.

Lots of changes have taken place this year for the Jazz. After Hayward turned down millions to lose to Lebron every year, the Jazz had to pivot and make some roster adjustments.

So the Jazz front office got to work. They traded for Rubio, (before Hayward made his decision to leave), they drafted future star (in my opinion) Donovan Mitchell, signed Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh, Jonas Jerebko, and resigned Jinglin’ Joe.

If you’re like me, you’re not necessarily pessimistic about this years team, but you’re a little bummed out because the thought of having Hayward on this roster makes you salivate a little.

There are doubts about the Jazz being able to compete in the western conference this year now that Hayward is gone, but that’s mostly because of how stacked the conference is now.

PG13 and Melo end up in OKC. CP3 gets traded to Houston. Jimmy Buckets lands in Minnesota, alongside Jeff Teague and their rising stars. Denver even made a big move adding veteran all-star Paul Millsap.

All of this was happening and I was scratching my head thinking, “Are the Jazz ever going to do anything big?”

Do something meme

Nope. They didn’t. Dennis Lindsey decided to be smart with the salary cap and stayed conservative.

But here we are. And honestly, I feel good about this Jazz roster. After going 5-0 in this years preseason (I know, preseason isn’t a big deal) I’m stoked about some of the guys on this team.

Donovan Mitchell looks like the steal of the draft.

Alec Burks is looking great, considering he’s spent the majority of his career on the bench because of injuries.

Gobert is playing pissed off, which is a good thing.

So I’m gonna make some bold predictions for the Jazz this year.

Team Predictions:

– Season Record: 45-37

– Playoff Seed: 6th

Hot Takes:

– Rudy Gobert will be a first time all-star, and will win DPOY.

– Donovan Mitchell will average 12 PPG in his debut season.

– Rudy Gobert will lead the team in scoring – 18 PPG.

– Alec Burks will be the leading scorer off the bench.

– Ricky Rubio will lead the league in assists – 12 APG.

Donovan Mitchell

The last thing I wanted to touch on is what I think the starting roster should look like.

As we all know, Dante Exum separated his shoulder and could end up missing the whole season, depending on what the team doctors say.

That being said, it opens up some minutes for other guards in the rotation. Neto could end up seeing the floor more than expected. Maybe Burks or Mitchell can play some point? Who knows.

But after what I saw during preseason, this is what I would go with for my starting 5:

PG – Rubio

SG – Mitchell

SF – Hood

PF – Favors

C – Gobert

Mitchell is insanely athletic, and has a bright future in this league. His leaping ability is off the charts, and he has really good defensive instincts. I don’t see Coach Snyder keeping him on the bench for too long. He’s already outplaying most guys on the roster.

Jinglin’ Joe is a fan favorite, and over the last few years he has become one of my favorite Jazzmen. But I think he should come off the bench. He can still get his 20-25 minutes per game, but it’s important for the offense to get a fast start. Having Mitchell and Hood on the court at the same time gives us the best chance to do that.

First 5 off the bench would then be:

PG – Neto

SG – Burks

SF – Ingles

PF – Johnson

C – Udoh/Jerebko

Overall, I think the Jazz are much deeper than they were a season ago.

Looking forward to another great year of basketball. Go Jazz!

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

 

 

 

Utah and BYU Rookies Look to Make NFL Dreams a Reality

JW packers

As if college football wasn’t enough entertainment to get us through the depressingly cold winter months, the NFL gives me even more to look forward to at the end of each week.

The biggest reason why I like to watch the NFL is because we get to see how some of our former Utes and Cougars perform at the next level.

Guys like Alex Smith, Eric Weddle, Star Lotulelei, Ziggy Ansah, and Kyle Van Noy, make the NFL even more exciting to watch for me. All of these former college studs are now competing at the highest level of football on the planet, and boy is it fun to see them compete with the best. And fantasy football, that’s cool too.

NFL preseason is finally wrapping up, so I thought it would be cool to see where some of these guys ended up as they look to begin their NFL careers.

Jamaal Williams – Williams has reportedly turned heads since being drafted by the Packers this year. He currently is listed as 2nd on the depth chart heading into the regular season, and I’m hearing he is fighting for 1st squad reps with starting RB Ty Montgomery. Expect him to have a solid role as the backup RB his rookie season.

Taysom Hill – Hill was recently waived by the Green Bay Packers and claimed by the New Orleans Saints off of waivers. Hill will be joining a QB list that only contains Drew Brees and Chase Daniels. Hill had a nice preseason with the Pack playing in 3 games where he threw for 149 yards and 2 TD’s with 0 picks, and also ran for 71 yards and 1 TD. It was rumored that the Pack was going to waive Hill then sign him to the practice squad, but it looks like the Saints beat them to the punch.

San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Jamie Squire – Getty Images

Joe Williams – Williams played well in the preseason and showed his crazy speed at times. From what I’ve read, the Niners are impressed with him, but he’s still a rookie and needs to improve in some areas. He was recently placed on the IR because of an ankle injury.

Harvey Langi – Recently signed to the Patriots practice squad. Langi has a good chance of being called back up to the Patriots 53-man roster if an injury takes place.

Pita Taumoepenu – The Niners must be seeing something they like in Pita, because they recently released their veteran LB Ahmad Brooks, and signed Pita to the 53-man roster. Look for him to have some decent playing time this year as a backup OLB for the Niners.

Jared Norris – Recently signed to Carolina’s 53-man roster. Looks like he has impressed on special teams, and it’s been enough to earn a roster spot.

MW Pick
Michael DeMocker – NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune

Marcus Williams – According to reports, Williams has been showing off his ball-hawking skills and will be a much-needed upgrade for the Saints secondary which finished dead last in passing defense last year. Expect him to have a significant role his rookie year as he is currently listed as the backup free safety on the depth chart.

Tim Patrick – After signing with the Niners at the beginning of training camp, Patrick was recently waived on Friday. I would expect him to land on a practice squad somewhere else.

Nacua
John Kuntz – cleveland.com

Kai Nacua – Nacua originally made the Browns’ 53-man roster, but was waived shortly after. Reports say he will most likely end up on the practice squad for the Browns.

Isaac Asiata – Not surprisingly, Asiata made the 53-man roster for the Dolphins. Because of injuries to the O-line, Asiata was seen as someone who could possibly start at the left guard position, even though he’s a rookie.

Gbolles
Ron Chenoy – USA TODAY Sports

Garett Bolles – Bolles was recently named as the starting left tackle for the Broncos after having a solid training camp and preseason.

Algernon Brown –  Waived by the Seattle Seahawks.

 

– Jesse Thayne

Utah Football: Weekly Season Predictions

Huntley 18
Photo Credit: Scott G Winterton

It’s that time of the year again. Football season is in the air, and I can’t wait for this Saturday. Summer is fun and all, but let’s be honest, fall is the best season of the year – and it’s not because of the weather.

A lot has changed since last season where the Utes won 9 games. Former starting RB Joe Williams is now with the San Francisco 49ers, fighting for the backup job. The entire O-line is gone, with four of them in the NFL. Along with most of the D-line and linebackers.

So, what can this years team bring to the table? Some fans are taking the glass is half empty approach. As for me, I like to think positively and hope for the best. But you can’t deny the difficulty of the Utes’ schedule this year.

The Utes have a very tough schedule as they play UW, USC, and Oregon all on the road, along with Stanford and WSU at home.

But let’s get down to brass tacks.

Weekly Predictions:

vs. North Dakota – W (35-10)

at BYU – W (17-13)

vs. San Jose St. – W (30-14)

at Arizona – W (21-17)

vs. #14 Stanford – L (14-28)

at #4 USC – L (20-31)

vs. Arizona St. – W (24-14)

at Oregon – W (35-21)

vs. UCLA – W (21-14)

vs. #24 Washington St. – L (24-35)

at #8 Washington – L (17-31)

vs. Colorado – W (24-10)

Regular Season Record: 8-4

Starting off the season 4-0 looks nice. But having to play Stanford and USC back to back is brutal.

FB Schedules has the Utes listed as the 12th toughest schedule in the nation. With all of the roster changes, can the Utes pull out 8 wins with the 12th toughest schedule? Yes. I think its possible. Utah’s defense always seems to bounce back, even with guys leaving for the NFL each year.

The offense is my biggest question mark. The O-line is completely different from last year and QB Tyler Huntley will be a first year starter, along with RB Zack Moss.

Most fans will be looking to see how first year OC Troy Taylor will do with the offense, and see if he can improve the teams horrible red-zone offense. The Utes finished 51st in the nation in total offense last season.

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

With free agent market drying up, can Jazz make a trade?

The Jazz are in a difficult situation. Free agents are signing left and right with their new squads, and aside from trading from Ricky Rubio and re-signing Joe Ingles, the Jazz have been fairly quiet.

This has left Jazz nation asking if Dennis Lindsey will make another move, or if the roster will stay where it’s at until the start of the season. I highly doubt he won’t make some kind of move, even if it’s just to add depth. But, looking at who is still available, it’s hard to see DL being able to bring in a solid starter at this point.

Something I have thought about is the possibility of a trade. Considering the free agent market is not looking so good, I would bet DL is looking to make a trade rather than a free agent signing. 

Here are some possible trades I like.

Screen Shot 2017-07-07 at 3.11.44 PM.png

Derrick Favors & Alec Burks for Nicolas Batum

This would most likely involve us sending a future draft pick or two as well, but I love Batum and his length. He has been very solid for the Hornets and would be a nice replacement for Hayward. Batum averaged 15 PPG this last season, and would be able to contribute on the defensive and offensive end for the Jazz.

trade 2 ss

Derrick Favors for Maurice Harkless

Harkless is coming off the best year of his career, where he averaged 10 PPG and 4 RPG with the Blazers. I like his size – 6″8 with a 7″ wingspan. I know he’s nothing close to Hayward, but he’s still fairly young (24 years old) and can be a solid rotation player. Might not be the long term answer for the Jazz, but he helps fill a large void.

trade 3 ss

Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, and future 2nd round draft pick for TJ Warren and Tyson Chandler

This trade works out great for the Jazz because they get a talented, scoring wing player with Warren, then a solid backup center for Gobert. Favors still has good years ahead of him, but currently the need is SF. Diaw’s expiring contract is what makes him attractive for the Suns.

trade 4 ss

Derrick Favors and Dante Exum for Tobias Harris

I was hesitant to throw Exum in this trade, but I’m a big fan of Harris. He’s been in the league for 6 years, but most recently has played his last two years with the Pistons where he averaged just over 16 PPG. Harris has great scoring ability, and can play either SF or PF, which would be very valuable for the Jazz currently.

trade 5 ss

Derrick Favors and Dante Exum for Evan Fournier

Fournier has developed into a nice player for the Magic, where he has increased his scoring average each year since entering the league by almost 3 points. He had his best year last year where he averaged 17.2 PPG. His 3FG% did drop to 35%, which is about league average, but normally shoots between 37-40% from downtown. He is listed at 6″7, and can play either SG or SF. His scoring ability and versatility would be a great fit for the Jazz.

If for some reason DL doesn’t pull off a trade, there are also still a couple of guys in free agency that I like for the Jazz:

PF – Jamychal Green

SF – Jonathan Simmons

SF – Wilson Chandler

The Jazz will need to make a decision on Boris Diaw’s team option by July 15th, so I would imagine if a move gets made it will probably be before then. 

Will DL roll the dice? Or will he wait it out and see if something opens up next year? At this point it’s hard to say, but I would be surprised if we went into the season with Joe Ingles as our only SF. 

– Jesse Thayne

Jazz Summer League Review – Growth of Exum, potential of Mitchell, and top plays

 

Summer League
Photo by Kristin Murphy – Deseret News

As the Utah Jazz Summer League comes to a close, many find themselves excited for the regular season to begin (myself included). The Jazz went 3-0, and for the most part, were very impressive. I always enjoy watching summer league because I like to see how rookies and young players adapt to the faster speed of the NBA.

Dante Exum, who is in his 3rd year in the NBA, was the most experienced NBA player in this years Utah Summer League. As we all know, he has missed a big chunk of those 3 years due to injury, so it was nice to see him make up some of his playing time and see how he has improved his game since the season ended.

Exum’s stat line throughout the 3 games was fairly impressive – 20 PPG, 6.3 APG, 4.3 RPG / 52 FG%, 41.6 3FG%

A few things I really liked from Exum were:

  1. Confidence – Exum looked very confident throughout summer league. He looked like a leader, and was not afraid to shoot the ball, or drive to the hoop.
  2. Shooting stroke – His shot already looks a ton better than it did compared to just the end of the regular season. Much smoother and quicker release.
  3. Vision – You can tell when Exum was dribbling the ball, that he had the ability to see things before they happened. This was something he has struggled with in his short time in the NBA.

Donovan Mitchell will soon be a household name in the state of Utah. Out of everyone in the Utah Jazz Summer League, and I mean EVERYONE who played from the 4 teams in SLC, I thought overall that Mitchell was the most impressive. Yes, I think he played better than #1 overall pick Markelle Fultz, and #3 overall pick Jayson Tatum. Not just for his scoring ability, but also defensive ability.

Mitchell was a highlight reel for the Jazz! He showed great leaping ability, defensive effort, and overall leadership during his time on the court for the Jazz. His shot is smooth and quick. I think Mitchell will get a lot more playing time than expected his rookie year, partially because of the exit of “He who must not be named”. The Jazz will need scoring this year, and boy can Mitchell deliver.

Donovan Mitchell’s Summer League stat line – 15.3 PPG, 3.3 APG, 3.3 SPG / 43 FG%, 38 3FG%

Mitchell was a defensive force throughout the summer league. I was thoroughly impressed by his on-ball and off-ball defense. The only area I would like to see Mitchell improve is his shot selection. At times he seemed to force shots, or shoot too early in the shot clock.

Top Plays

  1. Mitchell shakes Tatum, then dishes.

 

2. Mitchell’s Monster Slam

 

3. Mitchell behind the back to Exum

 

4. Griffin posterizes multiple Celtics

 

5. Exum’s quick layup off pick

 

The Jazz finished the Summer League 3-0, and the youngsters showed a lot of great talent. I think the biggest takes from these 3 games are: Mitchell is going to be really good for us, Exum is getting much better, and the Jazz have a bright future.

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

 

Hayward is gone – Now what?

We’ve all heard the bad news. Our much loved Gordon Hayward has decided to take his talents elsewhere – Boston. This offseason the Jazz have been completely focused on bringing Hayward back by trying to surround him with talent. They traded up twice in the first round of the NBA Draft, and traded a future first round pick for Ricky Rubio, who Hayward has been rumored to like. They even made it a priority to re-sign Joe Ingles, who is said to be Haywards best friend on the team.

But now Hayward has left the Jazz high and dry to test the Eastern conference with the Celtics. So what should the Jazz do now? The free agent market is drying up as each day passes. What looked like a fruitful market, is starting to look very disappointing, especially for a team who just lost their best player.

Even though the Jazz won’t be able to find talent anywhere near the level of Hayward, there are still a few options out there. The Jazz could possibly make a few trades, or go after a free agent and hope they fit well with their currently young and developing squad.

Free Agency

If the Jazz go after a guy in free agency, there are a few I think would be good fits.

Rudy-Kings

Rudy Gay

2017 Stats – 18.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.8 APG / 45.4 FG%, 37.2 FG3%, 17.9 PER

Gay has been a great scorer throughout his entire 10-year career. Most recently he was rumored to have interest in signing with the Thunder, but after receiving an offer lower than expected, the Thunder used that money for Patrick Patterson. I know that Gay has had some injury issues, especially after a torn achilles tendon this past year, but at the right price he could be a good fit for the Jazz to make up for those 20 PPG they will be missing.

 

Otto

Otto Porter Jr.

2017 Stats – 13.4 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.5 APG / 51.6 FG%, 43.4 3FG%, 17.3 PER

Porter has developed into a great player for the Wizards. He is long, and has great range. Many think he can be a future all-star with a very high ceiling. I would have to agree. If he weren’t the 3rd option in Washington, I would imagine he would be averaging more like 17-20 PPG. I think he could do that for the Jazz, but there is a high demand for Porter right now. The Nets have made him an official offer, but the Wizards have matched it, also the Kings attempted, but the Wizards matched it. I’m assuming they will do the same if Utah decided to offer him a contract, but maybe the Jazz could pull off a sign and trade to drag him away from the Wizards. Not likely, but anything is possible, right?

 

Jamychal

Jamychal Green

2017 Stats – 8.9 PPG, 7.1 RPG, 1.1 APG / 50 FG%, 37.9 3FG%, 13.5 PER

Yes, I know Green is a power forward and would not be a direct replacement for Hayward. But, I do think he has a chance to be very good and would be a great fit for the Jazz. Currently, the Jazz need guys who can score and stretch the floor. Green reminds me a ton of Paul Millsap, he’s about the same size, and has the same ceiling in my opinion. If the Jazz could bring in Green and one other smaller name free agent, it would add great depth to their roster.

 

James Johnson

James Johnson

2017 Stats – 12.8 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.6 APG / 47.9 FG%, 34 3FG%, 17.0 PER

Johnson is coming off a great year with the Heat. Because of the Heat’s interest in Hayward, he was most likely needing to sing elsewhere in order to make space for Hayward. But with Hayward off the table, I would expect the Heat to go after him. If they don’t land him, I think he can bring great athleticism and scoring ability to the Jazz. He plays hard, and shoots the ball at a good percentage.

Trade Possibilities

Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics

Jae Crowder

2017 Stats – 13.9 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 2.2 APG / 46 FG%, 39.8 3FG%, 14.9 PER

The Celtics just added a big contract to their payroll with Hayward. They now need to move a few pieces in order to make room. I would imagine Crowder is as good as gone, considering he plays the same position as Hayward, and they now have more depth and youth on the bench (Tatum and Brown). Crowder is a dog and plays hard. He goes after it on the defensive end, and offensively he is very efficient and smart. Not sure what the Celtics are looking to get for him, but the Jazz do have assets with expiring contracts.

 

wilson chandler

Wilson Chandler

2017 Stats – 15.7 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 2.0 APG / 46 FG%, 33.7 3FG%, 14.9 PER

Chandler is coming off a career year with the Nuggets. He is a proven scorer with playmaking ability. He is also a seasoned vet who can provide leadership for the Jazz, who are one of the youngest teams in the league. I know Denver is looking to possibly get rid of a few players, too, after signing Paul Millsap to a 3-year $90 million deal. The expiring contract of Diaw could possibly be tempting, along with maybe a future draft pick.

 

Dallas Mavericks v Phoenix Suns

TJ Warren

2017 Stats – 14.4 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.1 APG / 49.5 FG%, 26.5 3FG%, 15.6 PER

TJ is young, and for the most part, not very well known. He has been with the Suns for 3 years now, and has shown promise. Unfortunately, he has had a few injury problems. But he can make plays and score when given the opportunity. The Suns were rumored to have interest in Derrick Favors earlier this year. Maybe they could make a swap?

 

The Future is Now

Dennis Lindsey has made some great moves since taking over as GM, and also some not so great moves. But for the most part, he has set this team up to succeed. I really don’t see the Jazz crawling back in to re-build mode. I know it’s smart to always have your eyes set on the future, but the Jazz have said multiple times that they want to win now.

Whatever happens, it will be for the better of the team. I would expect DL to make some big moves in the next week or so.

 

– Jesse Thayne

 

Free Agency, Offseason and Draft – What should Jazz do?

The Jazz will have a busy summer as they look to keep their best player, try to re-sign a few others, and draft 4 new players. With all of the hype going on with the draft and free agency, I wanted to speak on a few of these topics and give some of my own opinions on what I think will happen, and what I think should happen.

Free Agency

Let’s get started with free agency. There are so many possibilities being thrown out right now. I really think the Jazz are feeling the pressure to re-sign Hayward, as the Celtics and Heat are prepping their pitches for the first time all-star to join their squad in hopes of building a contender in the East.

But which team poses the largest threat? To me – Boston. I know Miami has a lot of cap space available and is going to use that to lure in Hayward and another all-star caliber player, but I don’t see them being able to challenge the Celtics’ pitch. As we all know and have heard thousands of times, Hayward would be playing under his former college coach Brad Stevens. The two spent 4 years together at Butler, and I’m sure they have a solid relationship.

But what really stands out is the future of the Celtics. They already have a great core with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, and Al Horford with a talented bench featuring Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Kelly Olynyk. Plus, they own the 1st overall pick in the upcoming draft, who many think they will use to select standout guard Markelle Fultz. A starting lineup featuring Thomas, Fultz, Hayward and Horford could be scary. With Lebron getting older, and the Celtics growing stronger, I could see the Celtics competing for a championship in the next 2-3 years. The thought of playing for your old head coach with one of the most iconic teams in the NBA could be a tempting situation for Hayward with all of the pieces already in play.

What I think will happen: Hayward signs with Boston

What I think should happen: Hayward signs with Utah

 

Offseason

There are a handful of players that play big minutes for the Jazz that could possibly end up on another team this summer. George Hill, Joe Ingles, and Shelvin Mack all have expiring contracts. Boris Diaw also has a team option which the Jazz could use to release him.

What I think will happen:

Hill – re-sign with Jazz

Ingles – re-sign with Jazz

Mack – sign elsewhere

Diaw – released by Jazz

What I think should happen:

Hill – sign elsewhere

Ingles – re-sign with Jazz

Mack – sign elsewhere

Diaw – released by Jazz

Hill was great for the Jazz while healthy, but with his tendency to get injured it will be hard for the Jazz to pay him what it seems like he will be asking. If the Jazz can get him for a bargain, I would love to see him back with the team; otherwise, take a hike. Ingles is a huge piece of the puzzle for the Jazz as his defensive contributions and top 7 3-point shooting percentage is very valuable. Mack was inconsistent at best and Diaw just couldn’t shoot the ball this year. The Jazz need a stretch 4 who can shoot the ball well and play solid defense. Diaw didn’t seem to be able to do either very well while with the Jazz.

If the Jazz decide to be aggressive in free agency, a few guys I would like to see them go after are:

PG – Kyle Lowry

PG – Jrue Holiday

PG – Jeff Teague

SF – Rudy Gay

PF – Paul Millsap

PF – Taj Gibson

Draft

Draft

Last but not least is the 2017 NBA Draft. It should be an eventful night for the Jazz because they have the second most draft picks in the draft (4).

The Jazz have 2 first round picks (24 & 30) and 2 second round picks (42 & 55). There are a couple of things the Jazz can do with these picks: They can package a couple of their picks to a team to jump into the lottery, they can trade a couple of picks for a player that can make an immediate impact, they could trade down in the draft to acquire additional picks, or just keep their picks and hope they strike gold.

Dennis-Smith-Jr..jpg

What I think will happen: Jazz will keep both picks to select SG – Josh Hart (Villanova) 24th overall, and PF – Semi Ojeleye (SMU) 30th overall.

What I think should happen:  Jazz trade 24th & 30th overall picks to the Charlotte Hornets for the 11th overall pick to select PG – Dennis Smith (N.C State).

This year’s draft seems to be one of the deepest in recent years, so the Jazz have a lot of options. Some other players I really like that the Jazz could look at in the second round:

PF – Jordan Bell (Oregon)

SG – Frank Jackson (Duke)

PF – Kyle Kuzma (Utah)

PF/C – Caleb Swanigan (Purdue)

SF – Dillon Brooks (Oregon)

PG – Frank Mason (Kansas)

SG – Tyler Dorsey (Oregon)

PG – Nigel Williams-Goss (Gonzaga)

 

In Dennis we trust!

 

– Jesse Thayne