The Utah Jazz should still be considered winners of NBA free agency, despite the Clippers landing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George. With the players brought in, Utah is making a case to be among the favorites to make the Western Conference Finals. They improved their team drastically by signing a point guard who can score, a guard who can score, and a power forward/center who is a solid defensive presence in the paint.
LA Clippers’ Free Agency Signings Overshadow the Real Winners — the Utah Jazz
NBA Free Agency came to a halt on July 2 after being quite frantic over the 48-hour period. That all changed in the early hours of July 6 when Kawhi Leonard decided where he was going to play next season. Until the Clippers made their moves, many basketball pundits had the Jazz as having made the most team improvements.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George signing with the L.A. Clippers are the recent prominent news of free agency. While at first glance, many tip the Clippers as having won free agency by signing these two players. However, one has to consider that they had to trade their future point guard and veteran small forward, along with many draft picks, to make the deals happen. As great as they became, they did lose a lot as well.
While they didn’t bring in the names like Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, or Paul George, Utah should still be among the favorites.
Utah Jazz Free Agent Moves Add Depth
The Jazz were already a great team but are now pretty stacked. They don’t just have players with certain skill sets—they have all-around players. Not only that, they have depth having signed players with playoff experience.
🛡Round 2, Battle 2🛡
Boston Block 🆚 Home Celtics Victory
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) June 4, 2019
First, they traded for Mike Conley, a playmaker who can knock down shots from anywhere and has excellent court vision. In return, they lost veteran three-point shooter Kyle Korver, Jae Crowder, and Grayson Allen.
Bojan Bogdanovic signed with the Jazz—he is a sharpshooter like Korver. They signed Ed Davis after letting go of Derrick Favors. Both of these players are power forward/centers and are physical in the key. Their strengths are their ability to block shots and grab rebounds on both ends of the court. Davis could be the wiser option as he is more physical in the key.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 6, 2019
Bringing in veterans Jeff Green and Emmanuel Mudiay were both important acquisitions. Mudiay is similar to Conley and seemed to have restored his career in New York last season. It is hard to say how Mudiay’s career is going to go, which makes him a reasonable gamble to back up Conley. He was supposed to take the league by storm when drafted. That didn’t happen, and now he is in Utah with a team who has a legitimate shot at winning the West. There is definitely a big upside potential.
Green has been to the playoffs before as well and is an outstanding defender who can get rebounds and baskets in the paint with his physicality.
Utah Jazz Hitting All the Right Notes on Offense
Before the Utah Jazz signed these players, they already had a good team that made the playoffs two years’ running. Utah is wise in how they play basketball by playing to their strengths. They drafted Donovan Mitchell two years ago—a player who is athletic, a high flyer, can drive off the dribble, drain shots from anywhere, create plays for his team, make plays for his team, make his free throws, and is an excellent defender. Mitchell is an all-around NBA player.
Their offense was ranked in the middle of the pack at 17th scoring 111.7 points per game. Signing Bogdanic and Conley helps change that as they both can score from anywhere on the court.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) June 26, 2019
Jazz Defense Ready for the Tough West
Utah is a solid defensive unit, led by center Rudy Gobert who was a two-time Defensive Player of the Year according to nba.com. Gobert’s height makes it difficult for opponents to make baskets in the key. Gobert makes the opponent take jump shots in the key. Their offense stems from their defense as the plays they make help them on the other end of the court. Utah is a pass-first team, waiting for open looks, and scoring points in transition. They control the tempo of the game, but it starts with their defense.
For example, they were a top-ranked team in defense ranking fourth, allowing their opponents to only score 106.5 points per game. Utah may have just become the top defense in the league by signing players who are defensive specialists, both in their starting five and in their bench.
The Jazz is a versatile team who can make shots from anywhere, play defense, and have excellent court vision. They are surely amongst the favorites to win the West, even if their transitions lacked the star appeal of the two L.A. teams.
Embed from Getty Images