Despite their NBA team's name, Salt Lake City isn’t exactly known for its jazzy ambience — but it certainly has a strong basketball franchise. In the past 24 years, the Utah Jazz have only missed the playoffs four times, ending the team’s 20-year streak in 2004 by one game.
Last season, after the departures of hall of fame coach Jerry Sloan and franchise player Deron Williams, the Jazz were expected to ‘compete’ for the top three lottery picks in the 2012 NBA draft. Instead, the Jazz exceeded all expectations and ended the season on a 5-0 run to capture the eighth Western conference playoff seed. The Jazz Cinderella story then subsequently ended, via a sweep from the San Antonio Spurs, who used the Jazz’s youth and lack of three-point shooting against them.
With that playoff performance in mind, Jazz GM Kevin O’Connor addressed their three-point shooting deficiencies by signing former LA Clipper Randy Foye and trading for former Atlanta Hawk Marvin Williams and former Clipper Mo Williams. Not only did all three players shoot above 38 per cent from behind the arc last season, they scored more three-pointers between the three of them than the entire 2012 Jazz roster combined.
That just leaves the problem of youth as the only impeding factor in front of this Jazz team. And that’s what makes things so exciting.
The Jazz have a nucleus of four top 12 picks in Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks — younger than 22. Couple the potential of this nucleus with already proven big-men in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, and the Jazz find themselves with one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. Yet they still don’t ever get attention.
Here’s some advice: pay attention to this team, and jump on the bandwagon while you can. There’s a reason why ESPN writer John Hollinger believes the Utah Jazz will be the fourth best team in the NBA by 2015. Watching the dogfight for the sixth through eighth seeds of the Western Conference will be an absolute treat for NBA fans worldwide this season. Grab your popcorn, people — its about to get really jazzy in Utah.