Cover Photo: Bob Levey/Getty Images


[In the 30 days leading up to the season opener, we'll preview all 30 NBA teams, from Tanking Teams to Lottery Leaders to Warriors Wannabes. Tanking Teams are fighting for the No. 1 pick. Lottery Leaders could make the playoffs, or they could land in the lottery. Warriors Wannabes are title contenders. Then, there are the Warriors in a league by themselves. Team 6 in our preseason rankings is the Utah Jazz. Check back every day for previews of every team in the NBA followed by our complete preseason rankings.]


Key Losses: Jonas Jerebko. The Utah Jazz believe they have the talent on their roster to contend and made sure to keep everyone in house. Jerebko is the only player who managed to slip away from last year's depth chart, signing with the Golden State Warriors. Jerebko is easily replaceable, playing in just 10 games last season and averaging under two points in 7.9 minutes per contest. He's shown in the past that he can shoot, but the Jazz have plenty of players who can do that.


Key Returns: Rudy Gobert, Ricky Rubio, Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Dante Exum. As mentioned above, the Jazz have a ton of faith in their roster and proved it through their offseason moves. Building off last season, and you can't blame them. Gobert is the anchor to one of the league's elite defenses, while Rubio and Ingles are playmakers with high basketball IQs, fitting perfectly into Utah's overall system, tempo and game plan. Not to mention they play off budding superstar Donovan Mitchell, allowing him to freely operate on offense.

Favors and Exum are significant here too. The Jazz may have overpaid, but it's more of an indication that they're sticking to traditional basketball with their bigs. Favors can't stretch the floor, isn't a terrific rebounder by any means, and isn't able to stay on the floor late. He's a liability defensively on the perimeter, but he's certainly a help inside. He's gifted on the offensive end under the hoop and can provide decent enough scoring with the first unit.

The Jazz's effort to build from within came with a risk in bringing back Exum. He still has the potential to be special in this league, but just can't stay healthy. He's never played all 82 games, missed an entire season with an ACL injury, and appeared in just 14 games for Utah last year. When he's healthy though, Exum provides a ton of athleticism on both ends. He can guard multiple positions, run the point for the second unit, and dish out a ton of easy baskets. Exum was certainly worth the risk at this point for the Jazz.

Key Additions: Grayson Allen. Utah typically had trouble bringing in big stars so they settled to add nothing but their first-round draft pick this offseason. Allen needs no introduction as he was one of the most polarizing players in college basketball for Duke the last few years. He has the chance to do damage off the bench this season as he is already one of the better shooters on the roster. Combining that with his ability to slash and create shots at the hoop, he'll be welcomed in Utah.

X-Factor: Donovan Mitchell. Utah has danced to the beat of their own drum the last few years. They're committed to staying with a traditional idea of the front court and aren't poaching top stars, like other top teams in the league. Their mission to stay the course of old-school basketball only makes sense if Mitchell continues on his superstar trajectory. If he regresses, the Jazz don't make the playoffs. It's that simple. He's an excellent defender and is the go-to scorer that this team desperately needs. Their team defense keeps them in games, but it's Mitchell's ability to take the ball and score on any possession that gets them wins. With Mitchell playing like he did last season, the Jazz are a top-4 team in the Western Conference.

Betting Odds: The Jazz over/under win total is 49.5 and their odds to win the NBA championship currently sit at +4200.


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