The 2021-22 season is officially in the books for the Utah Jazz. As Jazz Nation reflects on what the team's plans are this offseason, I can’t help to think about how much the landscape of the NBA is shifting, and what it means to Utah moving forward.
This is good news, folks. I’m talking about the death of the Super Team.
Lebron James started this mess, with his decision to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and take his talents to the Miami Heat. The move led to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances which netted Miami two championships.
It created an “if you can’t beat them, join them” atmosphere where future Hall-of-Famers would jump ship and team up in a quest for a championship ring. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, and Anthony Davis headed the list.
Well, the greener pasture isn’t so verdant anymore. It’s the Conference Finals and all the players mentioned above are at home watching.
The best players still standing (with the exception of Jimmy Butler) are all homegrown guys with their respective teams. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole, Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Hero make up the long list of talent that are still with their first team.
Apparently, watching the same movie over and over again is bad for business. The NBA playoff ratings are soaring and haven’t been this high since 2018. This will also be the first year since 1977-81 that there will be a different NBA champion in four consecutive years.
This is the formula that fans have been craving. It’s healthy for the small market teams, and apparently good for the NBA pocketbook as well.
Now let’s get back to the Jazz, and their early first-round exit. If we rewind just one year ago and compare that outcome to what this year's Final 4 teams did, the results are very encouraging.
- Boston Celtics: Lost in the first round
- Miami Heat: Lost in the first round
- Dallas Mavericks: Lost in the first round
- Golden State Warriors: Didn’t make the playoffs
Now, I’m not saying that the Jazz are going to win a championship next year, but there’s a chance. I definitely couldn’t say that when Durant joined forces with the already defending champion Warriors.
I understand this doesn’t solve the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert playing together issues. It certainly won’t change Utah's inability to sign a top-tier player in free agency.
But it does keep me engaged. It gives me hope. Parity is back, and as a fan, that’s all I can ask for.
Follow Patrick on Twitter @pbyrnes_patrick.