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Utah Jazz season preview

Just over a year after securing top seed in the Western Conference, things look completely different for the Utah Jazz. 

After a huge summer of departures, the Jazz are priming themselves for a major rebuild after play-off failure.

The Jazz couldn't get past the first round of last season's play-offs, losing to the Dallas Mavericks who were missing Luka Doncic for two games. That failure was one too many for the Jazz, who have consistently failed to deliver after the regular season.

Things reached a breaking point this summer and their stars departed, with new front office chief Danny Ainge putting his stamp on the side. While that looks good for their future, their coming campaign could be tough.

What:NBA Season 2022/23
Where:USA and Canada
When:18th October 2022 - June 2023
How to watch:Sky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming
Odds:GS Warriors +600, MIL Bucks +600, BOS Celtics +600, LA Clippers +650, , BKN Nets +700

 

Jazz cash in top assets

When the Jazz pivoted towards their rebuild, the entire look of the franchise changed. First, their head coach left, with Quin Snyder departing after turning them into championship hopefuls. Then the team cashed in on their biggest assets.

Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell allegedly didn't want to spend another season together and they both got their trade wish. Gobert ended up at the Timberwolves for a massive offering of picks and players, while Mitchell departed to Cleveland.

The Jazz also cashed in on Royce O'Neal, Bojan Bogdanovic and Patrick Beverley. Ultimately they've ended up with eight future first-round picks, plus they landed two players from this summer's draft. 

They got 14th pick Ochai Agbaji from the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Mitchell trade and 22nd pick Walker Kessler from the Minnesota Timberwolves for Gobert.

Changes ahead for new-look Jazz

The Jazz probably aren't done adding to their haul, with tradable players like Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen and Collin Sexton on their roster. They should look to players like Agbaji and Kessler early on as a rookie head coach looks to build a new team.

Danny Ainge hasn't just made the roster younger, as he raided his former side to install Will Hardy as their new head coach. When he overhauled the Boston Celtics, Ainge appointed a fairly unknown Brad Stevens on a long-term deal. He's repeated that trick at the Jazz, luring Hardy from Boston.

Having appointed the youngest head coach in the league, Ainge is hoping he can grow alongside a young team. Having built the current Celtics side through the draft, you'd back Ainge's gamble in Utah to pay off.

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Jazz fate rests in the lottery

Two exhibition games in Las Vegas in October have had a major impact on the league, with the projected top two picks putting on a show. Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson both look outstanding, but Wembanayama in particular is shaping up to be a massively sought-after target.

The 7ft 4in Frenchman has a guard's handle and a spectacular three-point shot. That mix could change a franchise, which means Utah's future is in the hands of the draft lottery. Even if the Jazz lose all 82 games, they still get just a 14 per-cent chance of the top pick.

There are a lot of teams who will hang their future on that lottery. If they miss out, they could face a few tough years chasing their next star player.

How the season starts

If the aim is to tank, then the season starts off pretty well for the Jazz. They face the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans in their opening three. That means a reunion with Gobert in just their second game of the season.

After that, there's a double-header with the Houston Rockets, another side who are chasing a high draft pick. Those two games will tell us a lot about both sides and how desperate they are to boost their lottery odds.

Utah Jazz 2022/23 expectations

It's hard to imagine the Jazz front office having any expectations for this regular season, especially as they're still aiming to move on the rest of their remaining assets before the trade deadline in 2023.

Their price of +15000 to win the championship shows how far off they are and it wouldn't be a surprise to see that slip before too long. 

With their over/under set at 26 wins this season, you can see how far they'll fall from last season's 49-win, fifth-place finish. They're guaranteed to struggle, but it will only be worth it if the draft lottery falls their way.

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