Utah Jazz: Record last season: 40-42
Postseason results: None
Additions: George Hill, Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw, Joel Bolomboy, Henry Sims
Subtractions: Trey Burke, Trevor Booker
Biggest move: Trading for George Hill
Projected finish: Sixth in the Western Conference
Entertainment ranking: 11. Their stylistic nonconformity—big, imposing and intentionally slow—is welcome in a league filled with Wannabe Warriors. A strong summer spent adding experience and depth sets up a long-awaited playoff push.. — Ben Golliver
Preseason Power Ranking: 8. “Sleeper” is a familiar and easily applicable sports trope. Oftentimes, we all have the same sleeper, which renders that sleeper no longer a sleeper. That’s where we’re at with the 2016-17 Utah Jazz, who have parlayed good health, young talent and savvy veteran pickups into a glittery outlook and potential to be pleasantly fun.
We should all be here for this. The Jazz figured out how they like to win last season, mixing staunch defense with timely shooting and balanced scoring. In the process, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert quietly blossomed into an enviable core. Every move the front office made seemed to push the right buttons. I cape for Boris Diaw like Boris capes for a frothy espresso. — Jeremy Woo
One number: 84,484. The Jazz added three accomplished veterans in Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson. Together, they’ve played 84,484 minutes in their careers. Nobody on Utah’s roster ended last season with as many as 14,000.
The new vets will provide a boost to the Jazz’s callow—though enviably talented—young core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum. Hill gives them stability at point guard, allowing the 21-year-old Exum, who missed last season with a torn left ACL, to ease back into the rotation. A capable shooter with a long wingspan, Hill can be a role player on offense while seamlessly integrating himself into a swarming defense.
Johnson and Diaw give Utah flexibility in the frontcourt—not to mention loads of playoff experience. (The team has not been to the postseason since 2012.) Johnson can shoot from the outside and carry the offense for brief stretches. The crafty Diaw will help to match up with small-ball lineups on nights when Gobert is ineffective.
The Jazz enter the season with less hype than other young squads, but if Quin Snyder can find the right combinations with his deep roster, they’ll be a tough out every night. — Rohan Nadkarni
Scouting report: They don’t have a star, but they do have one of the deepest rosters in the league. I could easily see them hitting a dominant stretch and cracking 50 wins. . . . Everyone thinks of them as a big team with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, but they have a bunch of stretch options now with Trey Lyles, Boris Diaw and even Joe Johnson. Their wings are all interchangeable too. . . . They struggled a lot in the clutch last season with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood trying to do too much one-on-one. Now you plug in Johnson as a late option and Diaw as a playmaker and George Hill as a complementary shooter, and they’re much harder to guard . . . The Hayward and Hood pairing could be one of the best wing combos for a decade. I think Hood actually has a higher ceiling, and he’s among the young two guards who might push into the West All-Star conversation. He has size, ball skills, he can score and he makes good decisions. He’ll need to adjust to moving off the ball more this year. . . . Lyles is a candidate as a breakout player. He gets forgotten because they added all the vets, but he can shoot, he can guard all types of fours. . . . Utah is one of the few teams that can still really count on its traditional [big-man] pairing, because Gobert and Favors really pound you on the glass and they defend so well. They can control the pace, post you up, finish around the hoop and take away all your offense inside 10 feet. Gobert is almost a defense by himself. He’s the difference between them being O.K. and very good.
Bottom Line: Now even deeper, the Jazz will be one team no one in the West wants to see in the first round.