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Joe Johnson, Big Al take home the BIG3 Championship

Jared Woodcox , 2019-09-01 21:24:26

Former Utah Jazz players Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson arose victorious in the BIG3 Championship as the Triplets defeated the Killer 3’s 50-39.

Although September is far from being known as a heavy basketball month, Utah Jazz fans were treated to quite a show on the first day of the month. The day got kicked off with a Team USA win thanks to the epic play of leading scorer Donovan Mitchell, which I recapped here on The J-Notes earlier today.

Then after that, two beloved former Jazzmen, Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson, hit the hardwood at a high level competing for the BIG3 Championship with their Triplets team against former NBA great Stephen Jackson and his Killer 3’s squad.

The contest was an absolute battle from the onset as the two top-seeded BIG3 squads both looked determined to lay it all out on the floor and arise victorious. Both played with an intensity befitting of the type of professional and competitive basketball that the BIG3 has come to be known for.

Coming into the bout, Triplets were undefeated (6-0) in games in which Joe Johnson had scored 20 points or more. Joe certainly held up his end of the bargain as he surpassed the 20-point mark shortly after halftime and finished the contest with 28. His early success was enough to put Triplets up by a narrow 25-20 margin at halftime which was indicative of just how tightly contested the bout was.

In typical Triplets fashion, though, they came out of the second half strong and quickly took a 32-22 lead. For a moment it appeared as if the dominant Iso Joe, who was the BIG3 MVP this season, and his Triplets teammates including Al Jefferson, Alan Anderson and Jamario Moon would run away with the championship victory. But Stephen Jackson, C.J. Watson and one-time Weber State player Franklin Session had other plans. They soon went on a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to a mere three points.

The Killer 3’s began putting additional bodies on Johnson to force his teammates to shoulder the load in his place, which caused the Triplets offense to stall momentarily. Before long, the Killer 3’s, on the shoulders of Stephen Jackson, who finished with 19 points, cut the deficit to just two points – 41-39.

However, as should have certainly been to the relief and glee of Utah Jazz fans, Joe Johnson turned up the heat and took care of business from there. Despite a short stall in which the Killer 3’s held Joe in check and the likes of Moon and Anderson were forced to shoulder a momentary load, Iso Joe came up clutch when it mattered most. First, he hit a clutch three to put the Triplets up 47-39, then followed it up immediately with yet another game-winning shot, a three-pointer to close out the game 50-39.

Check it out yourself in the clip below:

The incredible season-long effort by the Triplets resulted in their hoisting the Julius Erving Championship Trophy thanks to the herculean effort of league MVP Joe Johnson, who led his squad to a 9-1 record and notched 28 points in the championship game.

Alan Anderson and Jamario Moon also played well as they both added 11 points of their own to round out the Triplets’ 50 points. Al Jefferson didn’t play a ton in the championship game (just six minutes) due to some matchup issues against the Killer 3’s, but he was an instrumental part of the team’s success all season long.

With the BIG3 coming to a close, the big question now facing former Jazzman Joe Johnson is what will be next for him? Will he simply return to the BIG3 next year to defend his MVP title and championship alongside reigning Coach of the Year Lisa Leslie? Or will the NBA come calling and give him a chance to rewrite what was a disappointing conclusion to his final season in the Association.

He’s already worked out for a handful of NBA teams, and in my humble opinion, he’s more than deserving of an NBA roster spot. Despite some limitations due to age and declining athleticism, his ability to score in the post in isolation and his undeniable clutch gene remain alive and well. Johnson could help several NBA teams and is too talented to be watching from the sidelines when the 2019-20 season gets underway this October.

Next: Utah Jazz: FIBA World Cup roundup – Jazzmen shine in first slate of games

Regardless of where he ends up, for now the moment is all his. A one-time beloved Utah Jazz player is now a BIG3 Champion and MVP, who ended the 2019 BIG3 season in a perfectly fitting fashion for how he played all summer.



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Iso Joe, Big Al, Triplets advance to BIG3 Championship

Jared Woodcox , 2019-08-26 04:40:05

Former Utah Jazz players Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson are on their way to the BIG3 Championship after a convincing win over the 3-Headed Monsters.

Three weeks ago, former beloved Utah Jazz players Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson along with their BIG3 team Triplets needed some late-game heroics to overcome a tough 3-Headed Monsters squad. Those heroics came in the form of a big-time comeback after trailing by double figures, and more specifically in a breath-taking step-back four-point shot by Iso Joe to seal a 50-48 come-from-behind victory for his Triplets squad.

It was undeniably one of the most exhilarating games and moments in the BIG3’s young history.

Ironically, Johnson and Jefferson took on the 3-Headed Monsters yet again on Sunday afternoon in the first round of the 2019 BIG3 Playoffs. But this time around, there was no need for such a flurry of end-of-game scoring as Triplets instead dominated for most of the contest.

After leading at the half by a score of 26-22, Johnson and Co. quickly pulled ahead by double figures in the second half. And although the 3-Headed Monsters, headlined by Rashard Lewis, Mario Chalmers, Reggie Evans and head coach Gary Payton, went on a bit of a run, they were never really able to make it close again. Triplets went on to win convincingly by a score of 50-39.

Once again, Joe Johnson solidified himself as head and shoulders above the rest of his BIG3 competitors as he shouldered a massive load for Triplets with 26 points in the contest, including a three-point dagger over Evans that served as the game winner. Jefferson was also a major contributor with 10 points on the afternoon.

With the victory over the fourth-seeded 3-Headed Monsters, Triplets will advance to the BIG3 Championship where they’ll take on the Killer 3’s on Sunday, September 1st in Los Angeles. The Killer 3’s are coming off an impressive win themselves where they knocked off the defending champion Power by a score of 50-42.

The Killer 3’s earned the BIG3’s second seed and will present a challenge for Triplets with prominent former NBA talent such as Stephen Jackson and C.J. Watson, who were both excellent in Sunday’s contest. They were also bolstered by the play of Donte Green and former Weber State standout Franklin Session.

Triplets and the Killer 3’s never faced off against one another in the regular season, so it’s fitting that the top two seeded teams in the league will go head-to-head for the first time in a battle for all the marbles.

Next: Utah Jazz notes: Tom Nissalke has passed away, throwback court leaked?

With Donovan Mitchell suiting up for Team USA and former fan favorites in Joe Johnson and Al Jefferson playing in the BIG3, Utah Jazz fans have a lot to keep tabs on this summer in preparation for the upcoming 2019-20 season. Considering Team USA’s recent struggles with a loss to Australia and subpar play from Mitchell, ideally they’ll turn things around and Triplets will come out with a championship to right the offseason ship for Jazz Nation this upcoming week.

Ironically, the BIG3 Championship and Team USA’s first game of the FIBA Basketball World Cup (against the Czech Republic) will take place on the same day (9/1), albeit with Mitchell and Co. hitting the floor at 6:30 AM MT and Triplets going into action at 2:00 PM MT. Regardless, it will be a great day of summer hoops for Utah Jazz fans.



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Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller has her sights set firmly on championship

Jared Woodcox , 2019-08-16 12:00:03

Utah Jazz owner Gail Miller expressed the utmost confidence in the team as currently constructed and made the organization’s lofty goals clearly known.

Every NBA player – no matter their position, experience, team or circumstance – shares a common desire: To win an NBA championship. Even those who may be on a team that has no shot at winning tend to speak of it being their immediate goal in that very season. The players know how hard it is to win a championship, but sometimes they may not fully understand all it really takes. For that reason, at times when players discuss their championship desires, it can sometimes feel like little more than a common cliche or merely the expected talk.

The same can be said for almost any member of a team’s organization to some extent, as even teams in the midst of a rocky rebuild wouldn’t declare anything other than their desire to wend their way toward a championship. However, when certain team execs break out of their conservative norm and truly start opening up about championship aspirations, it’s usually a bit easier to tell when it’s just talk and when they really mean it.

When they really believe their team has a chance.

And in the case of the Utah Jazz, it seems that revered owner Gail Miller most certainly has reached that point. Due to the rock-solid foundation of players, coaches and front office staff already in place, the savvy changes made this summer and, most recently, her very declaration of confidence, it’s clear that she has all the confidence in the world in her team.

Per a recent Salt Lake Tribune article from Gordon Monson, Gail had the following to say about the state of the Jazz:

“With 30 teams in the NBA, there can only be one championship, but I think every 30 years, you ought to have one. It’s our turn. I think we’ve built up to it, we understand what it takes, we’ve put everything in place for it, we’ve given them all the tools they need, brought in the players who I think can do it. There’s no reason why we can’t have that expectation. I don’t know that it will come this year, but I do believe we’ll get there.”

Of course, she maintained her realism by saying that she doesn’t know that it will come this year. Obviously, one never knows. Injuries, poor chemistry, unforeseen changes or a million other unpredictable changes could surface and get in the way. I’d guess the vast majority of NBA fans believed the Golden State Warriors would repeat as champions this past year, and yet it was instead the Toronto Raptors who took the crown.

But the way she spoke so boldly with statements such as: “It’s our turn.” “We’ve built up to it.” “We understand what it takes.” “We’ve put everything in place.” “There’s no reason why we can’t have that expectation.” speak volumes to just how confident she is in what the Jazz have been and finally managed to put together.

Gail clearly knows and sees what all of us Jazz fans have picked up on all summer – that the 2019-20 iteration of this Jazz team, as well as future squads that stem from this one, are going to be special.

And while the new-look group yet has a lot to prove, she’s absolutely right in being confident and believing that they’re capable of achieving at the highest level. This Jazz team is as talented as they come. The front office has strategically and meticulously identified and patched up their weaknesses. They have the depth, versatility and overall skill to compete with any team in the NBA.

2019-20 could very well be their time.

It’s easy to fall into a pessimistic mindset that the team will be over-hyped, that they’ll fail to live up to expectations or that they’ll yet again be good but just not good enough. And any or all of those could prove to be reality when all is said and done. But rather than dwelling on those feelings, Jazz fans would be wise to instead adopt the same attitude as Gail Miller.

If ever there was a Jazz team to believe in, this would be the one. The organization has taken all the right steps. They have a clear and exciting path to success ahead. They’re as well-equipped as they’ve ever been.

Next: Utah Jazz: Success of 2019-20 season hinges on ascent of Donovan Mitchell

And let’s not forget, two teams in the last four seasons have won their franchise’s first-ever championship.

Why can’t it be the Utah Jazz’s turn this time around?



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Ed Davis calls joining Utah Jazz his best opportunity to win a championship

Jared Woodcox , 2019-08-03 14:44:02

Ed Davis has high confidence in the Utah Jazz’s ability to help him achieve a life-long dream of winning an NBA championship.

If you’ve been following The J-Notes, or truly any Utah Jazz media coverage in general this summer, then you’ll probably have picked up on one very consistent and repetitive theme. The Jazz are all-in on pursuing a championship this season. And that buy-in starts at the top with management and the star players, then trickles down throughout the roster to even the second unit and depth guys.

Seemingly everybody in the Jazz front office and on the roster is focused in on the single target of winning an NBA Championship. Sure, that’s the goal every season and it’s extremely common to hear players speak of their hope and desire to do as much. But this year, it’s more than just a fleeting wish. Their desire to win a championship actually has teeth to it and is a real possibility.

The addition of Mike Conley then later Bojan Bogdanovic unarguably propelled the Jazz to that level. Their presence on the Jazz roster is what first began to turn heads that they, paired with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, could truly form a championship-caliber team. And from there, the Jazz were able to attract meaningful players that wanted to win to round out their already staunch roster.

Ed Davis was perhaps the most key addition outside of Conley and Bogdanovic. And his reasoning for joining the Jazz certainly came as a result of recognizing just what a special group was being put together. In a recent sit-down with UtahJazz.com’s Aaron Falk, nearly the first words out of Davis’ mouth were to discuss winning a championship.

When asked what drew him to Utah, Davis boldly stated, “Being on a contending team.” He then followed up that declaration with the following:

“It’s my dream to win a championship and I felt like this was the best opportunity to do that with this franchise.”

From there, Davis went on to explain that Utah’s experience, star players and good core group surrounding those stars all made the Jazz an appealing destination for him. And one he truly believes can compete for the NBA’s ultimate prize.

Although we don’t have a sure knowledge of which teams were all interested in Davis this summer, considering his reputation and basketball acumen, it’s safe to say that he had several suitors. The fact that he chose the Jazz over any of them speaks volumes about how the team was perceived among free agents this summer, how Dennis Lindsey, Justin Zanik, Quin Snyder and Co. have altered the organization’s culture for the better and how prolific the group of Conley, Bogdanovic, Mitchell, Gobert and the rest of the solid role guys are.

His calling the Jazz his best opportunity to win a championship was enormous praise. And it isn’t a statement that Utah fans should take lightly. Sure, perhaps he didn’t receive interest from other top teams in the league and so the statement was merely an expression that the Jazz were the most promising team actually interested in him, albeit against lackluster competition.

But considering how friendly Davis’ contract is with the Jazz and knowing all he brings to the table, I’d wager he turned down some pretty attractive opportunities from teams that will be jockeying with the Jazz for playoff positioning. Davis has always been about as real and genuine as you can get, and his declaration that he liked the path to a championship that the Jazz offered is very much a testament to what they’ve built.

I’ve spent weeks on The J-Notes aiming to convince or reassure the general masses that the Utah Jazz are indeed a championship-caliber squad. But if you don’t believe me, then definitely believe the confidence of the players. Ed Davis may be the latest to speak of Utah’s championship desires, but he’s far from the first or only. Yes, they’ll have to do more than just speak on it, they’ll have to execute on the floor to their highest potential. But the talent and belief is certainly there, immediately forming a rock-solid foundation.

Next: Utah Jazz should be featured on Christmas Day instead of New Orleans Pelicans

And if the Jazz are able to compete for a championship, Davis most certainly will be a key piece to that. As Rudy Gobert’s backup at the center position, he’ll have an enormously crucial task of holding down the fort and anchoring the defense while the Stifle Tower rests. As a high-motor guy with impeccable rebounding ability, he figures to be a heaven-sent for the second unit.

His ability to impact the game combined with the well-rounded and deep nature of the rest of the Jazz roster has most certainly set the team up to be a contender to reach Davis’ long-held dream of winning an NBA championship.



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Are Utah Jazz being over-hyped or can they really win a championship?

Jared Woodcox , 2019-08-02 03:47:37

The Utah Jazz are facing significantly higher expectations for next season. But is the hype justified or just setting fans up for disappointment?

Make no mistake about it. The Utah Jazz have had an incredible offseason. The addition of highly respected veteran Mike Conley instantly elevated the team to a new level, and the subsequent signings of Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay added much-needed firepower and depth.

The team has rightfully been showered with praise for their moves this offseason, with many lauding their ability to overcome the small-market obstacles that have plagued them for so long to be come a projected powerhouse. In a recent article from The Athletic (paid subscription required), Zach Harper placed them on a list among the West’s elite, along with a projection that they’d be in the mix for the top overall seed in the conference and possibly a top 5 offense and defense.

That’s definitely high praise and even higher expectations – especially for a team that was just the fifth seed a season ago and was bounced in the first round of the playoffs – even with all the changes. But Harper has been far from the only one to express how prolific the Jazz figure to be next season. The Ringer has given them high marks along with other writers at The Athletic, including Utah’s very own Tony Jones, along with many other experts and media members alike, both inside and outside Salt Lake City.

This has led to an outpouring of excitement and hype from Utah Jazz fans. Much of that is deserved and well-placed. There’s just no denying how much more talented Utah got this summer. But based on some recent outcomes, it’s also justifiable to wonder – are the Jazz really going to be able to compete for a championship or is this little more than premature offseason hype?

We’ve seen this kind of hype in the past. Although ESPN’s official power ranking from this season was pretty disrespectful to the Jazz, placing them at ninth in the NBA, some experts from the sports media giant last summer projected the Jazz to finish as high as second in the West. After ending the 2017-18 season in style and advancing to the second round of the playoffs, many thought that by running it back the Jazz could be something special.

Instead, Ricky Rubio reverted to his former inconsistent ways, Donovan Mitchell struggled with health early in the season, the awkward personnel fit with few shooters on the roster reared its ugly head and the Jazz finished well below their expected mark by dropping to fifth in the West. Yes, they were better than a typical fifth seed and a stauncher team than their record indicated, but the disappointment culminated in a first-round loss to the Houston Rockets which felt like a discouraging step in the wrong direction.

And along that vein, 2018-19 wasn’t an anomaly. The Jazz have made somewhat of a habit of underachieving in recent seasons. The following pair of tweets from NBA Advanced Stats Writer John Schuhmann tells a pretty disconcerting story.

Namely, based on Utah’s average point differential during the last five seasons, their expected wins were significantly higher than where their record ended up in reality. In both 2015-16 and 2017-18, the Jazz earned seven less victories than what was expected based on their incredible point differential mark. That’s a significant difference that would have led to a much higher seed and better postseason opportunities in every instance.

In 2016-17 by these metrics, the Jazz finished only three wins below their expected rate. However, Utah was ravaged by injuries that season in what some measures indicated could have otherwise been a 60-win season if they’d stayed healthy.

A lot of that inability to live up to expectations has to do with what Schuhmann pointed out in his second tweet, the Jazz struggled to finish close games. That 89-101 record in games that were within five in the last five minutes is a total knife to the chest. You would expect a team of Utah’s caliber and with the success they’ve enjoyed the past three seasons to be better in those types of situations.

The point of all this is that, while it’s true that on paper the 2019-20 Jazz team is far superior than any of those groups listed here (and perhaps superior to any team since the legendary Finals squads of old based on what we know of the situation right now), they’ve also struggled to live up to expectations before. Recent history would indicate that even when fans and media members are high on the Jazz and like their chances, they haven’t quite been able to live up to expectations.

So should we be worried about a repeat occurrence of that this season? Well, it’s certainly feasible that it could happen again. There’s always that chance that things just don’t click, that injuries strike, or that players simply under-perform or fail to get better. The cynic in me is scared to get overly excited about this team knowing their reputation for heartbreak.

However, the optimist in me is having a hard time not being overly giddy about the season ahead for the Jazz and what it may hold.

And perhaps that’s the best message I can aim to portray here. Could the season be yet another disappointment? Well, sure, I suppose so. You always have to let a season play out and see what comes of it.

But even as skepticism tries to shine through, I feel comfortable saying that Jazz fans have every right to be excited about this upcoming season. Mike Conley is a significant upgrade over Ricky Rubio, and represents exactly what the team needed in terms of a second creator and scoring threat for the Jazz. Bojan Bogdanovic excellently fills Utah’s former shooting void and should fit the Jazz DNA like a glove.

The rest of the guys added depth and versatility unlike anything the Jazz have had in recent seasons. Meanwhile, Donovan Mitchell appears primed for a massive breakout season, Rudy Gobert is entering his prime and should continue to be a force for Utah on both ends of the floor. Projected Starter Royce O’Neale could be in for a career year and Joe Ingles will enjoy a less demanding role that could produce massive dividends.

Not to mention, one of the largest former problems mentioned above was that the Jazz simply haven’t been able to find a way to win close games. In the past two seasons, a lot of that has had to do with Donovan Mitchell being their lone closer option who was easily honed in on and overwhelmed by opposing defenses. Now, however, the Jazz have a number of guys capable of closing big games, especially newcomers Conley and Bogdanovic.

Not only that, but with such a deep team, the Jazz will hope to find themselves playing in less closely contested games, as ideally their well-rounded attack will keep opponents backpedaling all game long.

The nice thing about this Jazz roster is that while they by no means boast the best duo in the league – combos such as LeBron James/Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard/Paul George are among some of the first to come to mind – they very well could have the best overall starting five, and almost certainly have the most potent 10-man rotation from top to bottom.

Does that automatically make them the best team or the favorite in the playoffs? Of course not. The NBA is a star-driven league and obviously we’ve seen what those elite guys can do in a playoff series as they carry a team on their backs. But the Jazz shaved down their weaknesses significantly and have a nice touch of star power of their own with each of Mitchell, Gobert, Conley and perhaps even Bogdanovic flirting with that All-Star caliber line.

In other words, while nothing is guaranteed and even in a best case scenario in terms of chemistry and health, a championship will still be exceedingly difficult for Utah, that chance and opportunity is most definitely there. They have the depth and well-roundedness to be a top regular season team. I agree with Zach Harper wholeheartedly in their ability to compete for the number one seed in the West.

And from there, well, anything could happen. Of course top seeds aren’t a given to make the Finals, but home court advantage and recent history have proven that more often than not, the one or two-seed in either conference is the one that advances to the Finals. If the Jazz are as prolific as their roster has the potential to be in the regular season, they could put themselves in a great spot come playoff time.

And once the postseason rolls around, they are constructed such that they can push and compete with any team in the Western Conference.

So, yes, especially given Utah’s checkered history when it comes to elevated expectations, it’s wisest to exercise caution and not get too overly excited about their championship odds when we have yet to see the new-look squad play a single game together. However, I’d also say that Jazz fans are justified in giving in to the hype a little bit and showing more optimism than usual for the season ahead.

Next: Utah Jazz: What is Royce O’Neale capable of next season?

Because the 2019-20 rendition of the Utah Jazz is masterfully constructed, extremely deep and light on weaknesses.

In other words, Jazz fans, it’s finally OK to believe, for a change. Next season’s team is going to be an incredible one with the potential to compete at the highest of levels.

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Newest players have championship on the mind

Jared Woodcox , 2019-07-29 12:00:19

Ed Davis and Jeff Green have made it clear – the Utah Jazz are set to compete for a championship during the upcoming 2019-20 season.

When two of the newest Utah Jazz players, Ed Davis and Jeff Green, were officially introduced, they made their reasons for joining up with the squad extremely clear. One, as discussed here on The J-Notes just last week, was to team back up with former teammate and friend Mike Conley. The other, which should excite Jazz fans to no end, was to win a championship.

As quoted in a recent article by Eric Walden of The Salt Lake Tribune, when Davis was asked about his main motivator for joining the squad, he had the following to say:

“At this stage of my career, I wanted to play on a veteran team, a team that has a chance to contend for a title at the end of the year. That was the main thing for me.”

Jeff Green immediately echoed the sentiment, clearly exhibiting confidence in the Jazz being a team that is built for a deep playoff run. Perhaps even one that will take them all the way to the finish line.

Along those same lines, both players made it evident that they’re excited about the make-up of this current roster that has a great blend of young talent infused with experienced and successful veterans. Green figures to add to that experience as he mentioned that one unique aspect he’ll bring to the table is his knowledge of arriving at the NBA Finals and being able to share what it took to get there. He, of course, knows firsthand as he was a member of the 2018 Eastern Conference Champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

While most NBA fans tend to overlook the Jazz as any sort of real threat and will likely continue to do so, it’s actually hard to argue that the feelings of Green and Davis are misplaced. This Jazz team as currently constructed has all the makings of a potential powerhouse that can compete with and potentially topple any team in the West.

It starts with a rising star in Donovan Mitchell, who has almost single-handedly managed to keep the Jazz relevant the past two seasons. It continues with a defensive anchor and star in Rudy Gobert, who has been the backbone of Utah’s defense the past two seasons. Naysayers may try to discredit Rudy and claim he isn’t truly a star. But his back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year Awards would say otherwise.

The other encouraging makings come from Utah’s flashiest new additions Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, providing the Jazz with two more electrifying scorers who both bring a no-nonsense, unrelenting work ethic and determined attitude to a Jazz team that already enjoyed one of the best cultures in the league. Conley patches up a significant void the Jazz have had of a secondary scorer, ball-handler and creator to take pressure off of Mitchell while Bogdanovic represents a fix to Utah’s lack of shooting which has been a major Achilles heel.

Last of all, Utah has role players and reserves that absolutely hit the mark when it comes to guys who can round out a championship-level team. This includes a steady and reliable Joe Ingles, a rising 3-and-D extraordinaire in Royce O’Neale, the ever-promising Dante Exum, a young and high-potential guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and an encouraging diamond in the rough prospect in Georges Niang.

And not to mention, of course, that group also includes the newly introduced Jeff Green and Ed Davis, who are prolific role players that figure to fit the Jazz like a glove and seamlessly play much-needed roles as well.

Green obviously realized these aspects of this exciting Jazz team very quickly, as he stated the following in the recent press conference:

“There’s a lot of guys that open space, it’s gonna create a lot of shots for everybody. There’s gonna be a lot of opportunities for people to have great games. And I feel like with an unselfish group, we have a lot of guys who can be proud of that. That’s what you look forward to — a team that’s very unselfish and gonna play for each other.”

Utah’s well-rounded, deep and unselfish group may very well be what most sets them apart. In a Western Conference that’s absolutely loaded with dynamic duos such as Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James and Anthony Davis, James Harden and Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic, to name a few, you could argue that Utah’s starting five is as complete and talented as a whole of any group in the conference.

Not only that, but they’re loaded with exceptional bench pieces at every position, including guys who have started very frequently throughout their careers as has been the case for Ingles, Green (who both figure to be reserves with O’Neale projected to start at the four-spot) and Davis.

Last, but certainly not least, this is a Jazz team that has long been known for playing stellar defense, which is a trait that isn’t likely to fade away any time soon. And as the old adage goes – defense wins championship.

Next: Utah Jazz: The return of Iso Joe and Big Al was glorious

In short, it isn’t hard at all to see why Utah’s newcomers Green and Davis are thrilled about their odds as members of this new-look Jazz team. A quick perusal of the roster – analyzing the talent the Jazz added and realizing the specific glaring weaknesses they patched up – makes it all too clear.

The Utah Jazz truly are a potential championship contending team next season.



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