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How a Misfit Jazz Team Could be a Contender in 2022-23

Could a band of misfit players, the NBA's youngest head coach, a disgruntled star, and a fiery, unapologetic Jazz executive, be a contender?

Donovan Mitchell may want out, and regardless of whether the Utah Jazz deal him away in a blockbuster trade, his contract runs through the 2024-2025 season. Mitchell has long seen himself as the alpha when paired with Rudy Gobert. 

If Mitchell were to play out his contract with Utah, it would be his time to prove his abilities as the No. 1 option and to lead a team to contention. Additionally, this effort would help increase his trade value to a level that would meet the high returns Jazz executive Danny Ainge is expecting.

Furthermore, this path would require a patient exploration into centering a whole team system and roster around Mitchell. Whether Ainge can have the patience and ingenuity to do so, it is yet to be seen. If the roster stays as is, for now, first-time head coach Will Hardy will have his hands full.

Malik Beasley once had a very promising future, but injury and personal off-court issues have led to a drop-off in production last year. He joins the Jazz in his sixth season in the NBA and at only 25 years old. Beasley is both looking to prove himself as a person and basketball player and hopes he can do that with the Jazz. 

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Patrick Beverly has been unceremoniously passed around the league but has made a name for himself, defensively, everywhere he's been and is always ready to leave it all on the court. Jarred Vanderbilt is also in a position having to prove it and win more minutes and a larger contract as he looks ahead with a bright future. And, of course, the Jazz players that remain on the team after the fallout of the past couple of seasons are all here trying to prove themselves.

Maybe a team full of players facing uncertain futures (in the league as a whole) can band together to compete on a level that exceeds expectations and contends in the Western Conference. It's possible if Coach Hardy and Jazz executives can align their plans and ideas to climb to contention with Mitchell at the center and build with the draft prospects on the horizon. 

All this will only be possible and gelled together with breakout performances from players proving their worth in the league.


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