The Utah Jazz are still trying to make the leap to an NBA title contender. They need a better balance to do it.

Whether it’s a crime or a defense, a two-line linebacker or a small ball, the team needs to put everything together to take a step forward.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder talks to Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley (10) during a break in action, in an NBA action between Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves in Salt Lake City, Monday, November 18, 2019.

The Utah Jazz boasts both of the NBA’s most advanced youngsters in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert is arguably the league’s leading edge defender.

But despite this, this is a team that cannot simultaneously achieve sustainable excellence both in terms of offense and defense, with years of great double-edged lines. elite defense but unparalleled firepower, followed by a roster upgrade that included small-ball firing and resulted in unparalleled weapons but ample deterrence.

Either way, postseason frustration and heartbreak have been a consistent result.

Following the Jazz ‘s preseason victory over the Clippers on Thursday, coach Quin Snyder made an idea that was unique to that night’ s call to a 3 – point ability, but which could, honestly, be a greater mission statement the current status of the team:

“You have to find a balance,” he said.

That really matters. The question is, when their games really get rolled up on Wednesday in Portland, will this be the last season that they rule it out? Is this finally the time when they take the next big step towards competitive competition?

They are definitely taking a good game:

“Defense must be our driving force,” said Bojan Bogdanovic.

“[We are] just trying to find an identity, and stressing the offensive head, ”said Jordan Clarkson.

However, those similar ideas may be true. The team’s offseason mechanics looked like a promising-if-not-perfect reflection of that idea, anyway.

Importantly, they retained Clarkson, the sixth, microwave second unit last year and the offense raised the fat air; they were reunited with big man Derrick Favors, who gives Utah defensive acumen opportunities to sit Gobert without a crash, and at which the offensive collaboration with Joe Ingles should provide an easy bucket; and took a label on Shaq Harrison’s defensive ace, which should, if nothing else, provide a skill that is consistently plausible, as opposed to tantalizing inconsistency but ultimately adding disturb Emmanuel Mudiay.


They are finally finding the right combination of offensive explosion and defensive endurance. Also, the depth on this year’s roster needs to carry the team more efficiently through those times when not everyone is available – due to injury, much-needed rest from the tight roster, or hand- short stature as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.


Their defense will not take a big step forward. Their lack of size hurts them in the regular season. Their lack of pace hurt in the playoffs. Did they deal enough with the last one? The offense should be among the best in the league again, but can the defense return to form? Also, can this rush withstand an extended absence by a key player? We’ll see.


The Jazz has made it clear – another early postseason ouster, for whatever reason, would represent a major failure. They bring back two All-Stars. Their high school player is healthy again. Their point guard is renowned. The sixth of them to achieve good status returns. They’ve moved up the big backup space that so often downplayed last season’s hard-earned gains. This team should be better than it was a year ago. He still feels a step or two behind the league’s elite teams, though.

At the same time, the return from Bogdanovic ‘s injury moves forward almost as another important thing, although Mike Conley’ s reputation has been a frequent talking point in recent weeks.

Does that contribute to a better balance and a better team, though? The Jazz believe that, but admit that they need to see the team in action against a legitimate challenge to make the right decision.

“As long as expectation, water always finds its level, the competition always tells us the truth,” said acting vice president Dennis Lindsey. “With that, we are very comfortable with the organization we have put together, and we hope to make a good account for ourselves. “

Indeed, there is an organizational belief that this year’s roster provides Snyder with a valuable combination of continuity, experience and flexibility.

Including Favors among a group that moved to the league’s No. 1 offensive streak, after Clarkson, construction seems to be a key ingredient in this new recipe for progress.

“With Fav, it just opens a lot of things. For all I know, with Quin ‘s cunning mind, we may start different guys every game, ”said Ingles. “Maybe it’s a matchup thing – because, of course, the Lakers are starting big, so Fav may be starting those games but not [against] other teams that play small. I definitely think it gives us more options with Fav. ”

Favors, for his part, quickly added that others will handle the heavy lifting – he’s just here to dig things around the edges.

“We are very good [defensively] right now – we still have more work to do, ”he said. “Of course, with Rudy out there, we’re a top defensive team, but coming off the bench, I want to make sure we don’t let go too far.”

Gobert, who is proud to be one of the league’s top defenders but who also carries openly for more offensive opportunity, naturally accepts the duality of the Jazz’s way forward. At the same time, he clearly states, “Our goal is to be the best defensive team in the league.” On the other hand, he says with confidence that he can “be better at attacking my husband,” and that, “I can knock the middle of something that I’ve been working for several years, and I think now is the time to get used to it. ”

Snyder has pledged to make better use of the likes of Bogdanovic, Conley, and Clarkson in the second year of his program now that he has a firmer grip on their strengths and options, and highlighted his guard in particular. point as a player to help the team find a better balance this time around.

While most of the focus on Conley this season has been revolving around his early boot struggles and then his true effectiveness beyond the arc in the playoffs, his coach has an eye towards Conley’s performance on the other side of the ball.

“I want him to be aggressive and instinctive – I think that’s when he’s at his best,” Snyder said. “And one thing he’s been committed to, and he’s been in the bubble and even the time off has changed that, defensively. He can be present at the ball, which is something that really helps our team. ”

Conley then followed the fall-dominoes pattern of tying the last team’s boldness to someone else’s victory, noting that he is only the high school member of his own back court, and that it is an ongoing ascent Mitchell who will eventually lead the Jazz fortune.

“Donovan, his year last season and then moving in this year, he’s a better leader, he’s a better player, a better man overall, and we’re excited to see where it’s growing and continuing, ”said Conley. “Because the sky is the highest level for him, and we can go that far.”

To advance the full circle, Mitchell – with the scoring upside in last year’s postseason saying the league was alive – said naturally – ” we have to make sure that something that we are carrying is protected. ”

However, the process is not important to him only because it generates the results associated with it. Deleting an opening play will not cut around now.

“We blew a 3-1 lead. We lost in the first round. And there is no time for that. There is no time for a slow start. We cannot be complacent when we are up. And we need to start focusing more on the details when we are down. We have to keep playing the same way throughout, ”said Mitchell. “Maintaining the same consistency on the defensive end, on the offensive end, focusing on the small details, and not going back on it. There is no day where we can perish. … This is not easier for me to do. We have to come out ready to go because losing in the first round is just no more. ”

Ultimately, as long as the Jazz take the hardest steps toward the goal of bringing Larry O’Brien ‘s competition cup to Utah, nothing else matters.

It’s not about crime vs defense, big big vs vs small ball leagues; no, the real balance they are looking for is to spout the talent on the team with the heights they intend to reach.


2014-15 • 38-44 (.463); no playoffs

2015-16 • 40-42 (.488); no playoffs

2016-17 • 51-31 (.622); defeated Clippers 4-3, lost to Warriors 4-0

2017-18 • 48-34 (.585); defeated Thunder 4-2, lost to Rockets 4-1

2018-19 • 50-32 (.610); lost to Rockets 4-1

2019-20 • 44-28 (.611); lost to Nuggets 4-3