NBA 2023: Despite offseason additions, Jazz still faces a difficult climb to a playoff place

Oct 5, 2023

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Utah Jazz’s rebuilding process, which started last summer, was accelerated this offseason as a result of new building pieces that were discovered during the 2017–18 campaign.

The Jazz acquired John Collins through a trade, extended Jordan Clarkson’s contract for an additional three years and $55 million, and guaranteed Kelly Olynyk’s final year of employment with a fully guaranteed $12.2 million. With a young roster and a seasoned presence, all three additions were made with the intention of making a postseason push.

Even with new pillars like Markkanen and defensive stud Walker Kessler on the team, making it back to the NBA playoffs may prove to be a difficult challenge. In order to compete in the Western Conference once again, Utah still has a long way to go.

After destroying their team by trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz outperformed low expectations last season. Up until the final week of the regular season, Markkanen and Kessler, two unexpected studs, helped Utah compete for a playoff spot.

As a rookie, Kessler averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks. In addition to posting a career-high 25.6 points per game and shooting 49.9% from the field, Markkanen was selected for his first All-Star game.

A young roster gains a senior presence with the return of Clarkson and Olynyk and the addition of Collins. The Jazz are hoping that this combination would enable them to surpass their goals once more.

The greatest decision Utah will have to make this offseason is which point guard to start. Late last year, the Jazz used a backcourt-by-committee strategy, and they might do it once more. In preseason and training camp, Kris Dunn, Collin Sexton, Talen-Horton Tucker, and youngster Keyonte George will all have a chance to be the offensive coordinator.

After playing for Atlanta for six seasons, Ollins is seizing the opportunity to start over in Utah.

In his third season with the Hawks, he averaged a career-high 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds per game, but his usage and output gradually decreased. Collins averaged 13.1 points per game last season despite making only 10 field goals per game and shooting a career-worst 29.2% from outside the arc.

Collins is optimistic that his move to the Jazz would help him rediscover his previous offensive form.

Over the summer, Markkanen split his time between playing basketball and serving in the military for Finland. All male Finns who are 18 years of age or older must serve in the military, and the jazz forward finished his mandatory service. 12 months of civilian (non-armed) duty is an option, as is six to twelve months of military service.

Markkanen had an eye-opening experience when he spent days camping in the woods and shooting firearms.

On Sunday in Hawaii, Utah will play its first preseason game against the Los Angeles Clippers. All three of the Jazz’s first-round draft picks from 2023 will get to make their professional debut during this game. The NBA Summer League was either partially or completely missed by Keyonte George, Taylor Hendricks, and Brice Sensabaugh due to injuries.

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