The Utah Jazz had their fair share of ups and downs this offseason. After getting swept by the eventual champion Golden State Warriors, they have experienced two players leave due to free agency, most notably, Gordon Hayward. The other was George Hill, who signed a three-year contract with the Sacramento Kings.
With these two big names already off the Jazz roster, Utah has already acquired other quality players to fill their vacancies. They traded young big man Trey Lyles to the Nuggets in exchange for rookie Donavan Mitchell, who could end up being a steal for Utah. Ricky Rubio is no George Hill but can add value and acquire a potential starting position as he was traded from Minnesota for a future 1st-round pick.
Where does Utah stand for their future?
Rudy Gobert is the face of the franchise
With Hayward now representing Celtic green, the next player that the Jazz will turn to is Rudy Gobert. Utah fans are bitter about Hayward joining his old college coach. I know Gobert may not seem like the sexiest of leaders, but let me explain why that’s not the case. Gobert, as the secondary option, was a finalist for several NBA awards including Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player. He landed on the NBA’s First Team All-Defense and with Hayward now gone who’s to say that he can not improve even further on this past season. Even though the team may take a step back next season with the loss of two high-quality players, fans can look forward to a player who is joining the elite young talents in the NBA.
Youth, Youth, Youth
As mentioned before, with Rudy Gobert as your team leader at 25 years old, it screams a load of youth behind him. Ricky Rubio is only 26 and the backcourt gets even younger with Dante Exum holding it down at only 21 years old. The Jazz are still waiting on what to make of Exum who was their 4th overall pick in 2014. He has the ability to be a facilitator for their future. They drafted Donovan Mitchell, who dazzled in his opening Summer League game, and may find himself with heavy usage in the rotation come November.
The youth is there, it’s now time for the development. The development of these young players will be the true deciding factor in what is left of the Utah Jazz. If these players can’t step up into larger roles and improve, the Jazz may find themselves back where they were only a few years back — in the bottom of the league.
Turning the page to a new chapter
It’s a tough pill to swallow for Utah fans. They lost their franchise player in a situation where they truly believe they could retain him back. Gordon Hayward seemed like a loyal player who wanted to be part of the project for the Utah Jazz. He took them to heights not even imagined two to three ago, but the NBA is a business. When a greater opportunity and the money is there, sometimes you have to understand where a player like Hayward was coming from in this situation.
Perhaps Donavan Mitchell can be a bright spot for Utah this season. He has shown the ability while at Louisville, and this couldn’t be a better situation for a rookie looking to grow. He will have his ups and downs this season, but most importantly he is going to be able to get playing time with a team that was in the playoffs the previous year..not many rookies can say that. Dante Exum will have the opportunity to shine in 2018 as well. He has a true chance to become one of the brightest young stars in the league if he can stay healthy.
The weight of the situation lays on the shoulders of the front office. Dennis Lindsey, Steve Starks, and Quin Snyder will have to do their part to get this Utah franchise back on track. Utah has a tough road ahead in the Western Conference but a mini rebuild could prove wonders for this franchise.