It’s no secret the Jazz are going young and giving the team over to the Core 4 plus Burke. Dennis Lindsey said:
We really appreciate the patience and the trust that Alec and Gordon and Enes and Derrick have shown thus far, but they’re ambitious and competitive,” Lindsey said. “They wanted more opportunity, and here it is.
I won’t lie and I’m sure many fans feel the same way that this is what we wanted last year and this year will be even better because Burke gets to run with the core 4. Having very little depth will definitely ensure the Jazz don’t make the playoffs and will be very hard to compete away from Energy Solutions Arena. The fact that the Jazz still play in high altitude Salt Lake City gives them the edge at home against almost every team in the NBA.
Think about this, the Jazz in 2003 finished with a 42-40 record good for ninth in the West with a starting lineup of: Carlos Arroyo, Gordan Giricek, Matt Harpring, Andrei Kirilenko and Greg Ostertag. ESPN projected that the Jazz would go 8-74…. wait 8 wins total??! That’s how bad the Jazz team looked on paper but the Jazz ended up being the surprise of the NBA that year. How did they do it? They won at the Delta Center 27 times, more than 3 times more than ESPN thought the Jazz would win in the entire season.
So what should we expect out of this Jazz team that has a starting five of Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter? Barring injuries the Jazz again will be the surprise of the NBA. The Western conference is stacked but the Jazz still play 41 games at home which will allow them to be a borderline playoff team again. Think about it, even if the Jazz go 21-20 at home the Jazz will still get to 30 wins which is better than the ESPN projection right now for the Jazz of 27-55.
Let’s break it down farther though solely assumptions. Teams like the Suns, Kings, Magic, Mavs, Celtics, Sixers, Bobcats and Lakers all got worse or won’t compete for a playoff spot. Surprisingly the bottom of the East all got better so hopefully they’ll actually have a team in the 8th spot that has a winning record. I fully expect the Jazz to struggle as they need to find their identity. The Jazz will definitely be a defensive minded team which is completely opposite form the last few years. That being said the Jazz should win between 21 and 30 games at home and between 5-15 games on the road. That puts the Jazz at 26-56 as the possible worst record and 45-37 as a best possible record.
If that holds true then the Jazz will finish anywhere from 7th in the West to 14th. So those thinking that the Jazz are close to the lead for Andrew Wiggins with the Suns and Magic I wouldn’t hold your breath. More than likely the Jazz won’t make the playoffs but also just as likely is the Jazz finishing ahead of the Suns, Kings, Lakers, Mavs and possibly the Blazers. This would put them in the bottom 10 of the league but highly unlikely to gain a Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker type player. So instead of hoping the Jazz lose games to get one of them, celebrate the progress of the young guys and the success that will come in the years ahead.