Utah Jazz 2018-19 Team Preview

  • How’d We Get Here?

    The Jazz smartly secured Joe Ingles and even more wisely, they threatened anybody that watched the Donovan Mitchell workouts with job loss if they leaked how good he looked. They found a team chemistry that worked and put a jolt in the Rockets for a little bit in the playoffs.

    Interestingly, they’re getting the band back together for at least a year, re-signing Derrick Favors to an overmarket one-year deal and Dante Exum to a possibly overmarket three-year deal. It’s a small price to pay for continuity because they uncovered a future MVP candidate in Mitchell and his progression is all that matters anymore.

    Offseason Moves

    Arrivals: Naz Mitrou-Long
    Rookie Arrivals: Grayson Allen (No. 20)
    Departures: Jonas Jerebko, David Stockton
    Retained: Derrick Favors, Dante Exum,

    Depth Chart and Minutes Per Game

    PG: Ricky Rubio (28-30) / Dante Exum (20-25) / Raul Neto (0, 9-16)
    SG: Donovan Mitchell (33-35) / Alec Burks (0, 14-18) / Grayson Allen (0, 7-14) / Nazareth Mitrou-Long (2W)
    SF: Joe Ingles (30-33) / Royce O’Neale (20-26) / Thabo Sefolosha (18-24)
    PF: Jae Crowder (25-28) / Georges Niang (0, 10-20)
    C: Rudy Gobert (31-32.5) / Derrick Favors (24-27) / Ekpe Udoh (0, 9-13) / Tony Bradley

    Position Battles

    Point Guard: It’s going to be more of the same with Ricky Rubio getting the lion’s share of minutes and Dante Exum slowly picking up his workload. Raul Neto will fill in as needed and is a nice third string point guard to carry.

    Shooting Guard: Donovan Mitchell will get all he can eat and from there Alec Burks will battle with Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neale and Thabo Sefolosha for leftovers on the wings.

    Small Forward: Joe Ingles will get starter’s minutes and then the same backups eating from the shooting guard bucket will slide down for a more natural fit here.

    Power Forward: Things get a little bit interesting for the Jazz here, as Derrick Favors is forced to log minutes next to Rudy Gobert but isn’t really a great fit at the four in today’s NBA. Jae Crowder is a much better fit but has been trending in the wrong direction since his trade away from Boston and the passing of his mother. Georges Niang has been consistently improving and it wouldn’t be surprising if he gave good rotational minutes this season.

    Center: This is Rudy Gobert’s show and Ekpe Udoh and Tony Bradley will get tapped in a pinch, but as long as Favors is healthy he’s going to get any leftover minutes here.

    Outlook

    Expectations are high for the Jazz this season and they should improve, but they didn’t address the need for scoring and that’s something they might have to address before the trade deadline if they don’t want to take a step back. They have the talent, coaching and grit to make a deep playoff run and win a lot of games but they lack overall depth so this could spin the wrong way with 1-2 injuries.

    Ricky Rubio

    Total Value: 43/60 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 61/83 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 77

    2017-18 Review: Rubio was beat up on his way out of Minnesota, but he did exactly what the Jazz needed him to do and it helped that his workload dropped to 29.3 mpg. He shot a career-best 41.8 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from the 3-point line, and still managed to hand out 5.3 assists per contest.The assists were a definite sore spot as he set a new career-low and didn’t top 5.0 dimes per game in a month until March, but Rubio did finish with the typical boom in the second half. He was durable and provided continuity so rookie Donovan Mitchell could test his boundaries in a stable offensive system.

    This Year: Rubio is going to lace them up and do it again as long as he stays healthy. The team might edge his minutes downward so Dante Exum can get more run, but he’s still going to play in the high 20s and if anything we’d expect his efficiency to continue improving.

    Injury History: His career got off to a rocky start as ankle and ACL injuries took substantial chunks out of three of his first five seasons. Rubio has been relatively healthy since, however, playing 76, 75 and 77 games over the past three years. That said, he dealt with hip, Achilles and a big hamstring tear that knocked him out of the playoffs. He’s definitely a mid-level injury risk heading into his eighth season.

    Outlook: Rubio could easily slide on draft day as many owners don’t know he performed so well last year and the minutes could scare folks off, which won’t be helped by the injury in the playoffs. Minute erosion might not be as beneficial this year as it was last year in maintaining his fantasy value, and the injury risk is there, but he’s still worth taking in the middle rounds of drafts.

    Donovan Mitchell

    Total Value: 27/41 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 45/54 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 79

    2017-18 Review: Mitchell started his Summer League off turning heads and it didn’t really stop until the Jazz were dispatched in the playoffs by the Rockets. He averaged 20.5 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the field, 34 percent from beyond the arc on a healthy 7.0 attempts, and hit 80.5 percent from the foul line. He was even better in the playoffs and threw his hat into the ring for future MVP consideration.

    This Year: The only difference between this year and last year is that the league will be ready for Donovan now and he’ll have had the entire offseason to press forward in his development. But in terms of having an ultra green light and the pressure of a No. 1 player, he was given that early last year and that’s a bridge he has already crossed.

    Injury History: Mitchell didn’t bring any injury history with him out of college and was relatively healthy last season except for a left foot injury that slowed him at the end of the playoffs. We’re not assigning him any real injury risk this season.

    Outlook: Mitchell might have a gear that’s unprojectable and we think he’s going to be on the outer edges of the MVP discussion, but it’s fair to wonder where the fantasy community is going to rate him. Will he get second, third or fourth round hype? It’s going to be hard to lose with him as long as he’s healthy and the question is profit margin.

    Joe Ingles

    Total Value: 40/37 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 62/61 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 82

    2017-18 Review: Hoop Ball Sixer Joe Ingles carried our squads to championships and he helped carry the Jazz into the playoffs and on the national radar. His do-everything game melded dead-eye shooting with savvy playmaking and suffocating defense, and his trash talk game perfectly walked the line between fuck you and fuck this let’s go get a beer.

    This Year: Ingles isn’t sneaking up on anybody this year and at age 30 it’s probably a steady descent from here on out. He’ll be a massive piece of what the Jazz do and he’ll probably get some low-end All Star talk that only hoops nerds like us will be bitching about.

    Injury History: With just three missed games in four years and no real injury history to speak of, we’re pretty optimistic about his chances of staying on the floor.

    Outlook: We doubt the public has caught on and even in intermediate or better leagues it’s probable that Ingles’ ADP remains soft. Let the ADP be your guide but we’re comfortable grabbing him anywhere in the middle rounds.

    Derrick Favors

    Total Value: 105/64 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 103/87 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 77

    2017-18 Review: Favors was left for dead by many of us after the 2016-17 campaign, but to his credit he jumped from 23.7 mpg to 28.0 mpg and let a reduced role lead to greater efficiency and durability. He landed a big one-year deal to keep the band together in Utah.

    This Year: The Jazz roster is virtually the same this season and Favors will be used as a backup center and also at the power forward position. It’ll be interesting to see if Favors tries to slim down in order to get more minutes and also keep weight off of his bad knee.

    Injury History: Favors has racked up plenty of career injuries, with plantar fasciitis starting in 2012 and hip and back injuries kicking in the season following that. Two years ago he started missing games due to knee soreness that eventually was diagnosed as a bone bruise, leading to just 50 games played in 2016-17.

    He leveled out last season and a concussion was his only absence. At age 27 and at his size he should call it a win if he can simply minimize the declines, and he’ll be an injury risk for at least another season.

    Outlook: 9-cat owners will be looking at a chance for real value if he can simply not fall off a cliff. He could easily keep within a round or two of last year’s valuation and he’ll probably be available in the early late rounds, at least. 8-cat owners might miss the boat because he’s a late-round asset with question marks and folks will still be drafting like it’s many years ago.

    Rudy Gobert

    Total Value: 64/61 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 36/28 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 56

    2017-18 Review: Gobert’s knee injuries hid an otherwise down season as his blocks and boards decreased due to increased strength and less mobility. Whereas Gobert had been underrated for so long, he’s actually trending the other direction if he can’t lighten the load a little bit and keep light on his feet to deter all those shots.

    This Year: The Jazz bring the same squad back into this season and he’ll plug into the same exact role as he had last year.

    Injury History: Gobert suffered a left knee hyperextension and bone contusion that sidelined him in the 2016-17 postseason, and in 2015-16 he missed 21 games with a sprained MCL to that knee. Last year he suffered a bone bruise to his right knee and missed about a month, and then suffered a sprained PCL to the left knee and missed 15 games due to that. The left knee is a concern but outside of these sort of freakish contact injuries, he has been pretty healthy with other problem areas for big men.

    Outlook: There could be some Gobert fatigue in the marketplace after he has cost owners in 2-of-3 seasons but he’s still an early round center and the fourth round is perfect if you can get him there.

    Jae Crowder

    Total Value: 166/160 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 226/212 (8/9 cat)

    Games Played: 80

    2017-18 Review: Crowder was dealt to Cleveland last offseason as part of the Kyrie deal and was a massive letdown. He saw his playing time slashed and he posted the second-lowest field goal percentage of his career. A mid-season trade to the Jazz helped him rebound a bit but he was far enough off his Boston numbers to burn anyone who drafted him.

    This Year: Utah’s a really nice spot for role players, just like Boston was. That leaves a little room for hope here as Crowder can become a competent 3 & D guy again with a little help from shooting regression. He’d be a nice fit as the starting power forward but might not get the nod over Derrick Favors (he didn’t start at all for Utah last season), so we’ll treat him as a high-minute reserve for the time being.

    Injury History: Crowder stayed mostly healthy last season but the year before that had a few nicks and bruises, including groin, ankle and elbow problems. He sprained his MCL the year before and plays a pretty physical game but he’s only a low-level risk coming off of last season.

    Outlook: If you think a bounce back is in order, Crowder will have the makings of a top-150 guy unless his shooting spikes again. He’s fine to take in the last couple of rounds in 12-team formats but doesn’t have a ton of upside.

    Dante Exum

    Total Value: 395/394 (8/9 cat)

    Per-Game Value: 251/282 (8/9 cat)

    Games Played: 14

    2017-18 Review: Exum continued to battle the injury issues that have defined his NBA career to this point, though he was able to return for the end of the season and looked pretty good in the playoffs. His length and athleticism stood out on the defensive end, showing why he was a high draft pick in the first place. In limited action he was able to post 3.1 assists and 0.6 steals in 16.8 mpg.

    This Year: The Jazz took a bit of a risk in signing Exum to a three-year deal, but they clearly believe in his physical tools and have a nice track record of player development. He’ll be the backup point guard with some hidden utility in potential multi-guard groups. More than anything, Exum just needs to stay healthy.

    Injury History: Exum missed most of the season with a separated left shoulder and then suffered a hamstring strain in the postseason. He sat out the 2015-16 season with a torn ACL and missed time in the 2016-17 season due to knee issues. There’s definite injury risk here.

    Outlook: Exum has decent potential as a steals and assists player but he’s not worth taking in re-draft leagues with fewer than 20 teams. Unfortunately we haven’t seen enough of his game lately to conclude that last season’s elevated steals rate was anything more than a blip.

    Thabo Sefolosha

    Total Value: 266/248 (8/9 cat)

    Per-Game Value: 154/118 (8/9 cat)

    Games Played: 38

    2017-18 Review: Sefolosha had a nice year going before a sprained MCL ended his season prematurely. In 21.2 mpg he had averages of 8.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 0.8 3-pointers.

    This Year: There’s going to be a little rust and the addition of Crowder will put some pressure on his workload, but Sefolosha’s low-maintenance offensive game and defensive prowess make him a perfect cog for the Jazz’s machine. He’ll get minutes.

    Injury History: Sefolosha sprained his right MCL and later underwent surgery that ended his season. The year prior he dealt with a sore groin, a groin strain and a sore knee and had his leg broken by the NYPD before that. At age 34 he’s a moderate injury risk but a decreasing workload should mitigate those concerns somewhat.

    Outlook: Sefolosha usually ends up posting late-round value in 9-cat leagues and has enough to crank out enough steals to maintain specialist appeal. We’re not expecting him to exceed 20 minutes a night again, however, so his all-around game might be best left for the back end of 14-team drafts and beyond.

    Ekpe Udoh

    Total Value: 248/220 (8/9 cat)

    Per-Game Value: 269/229 (8/9 cat)

    Games Played: 63

    2017-18 Review: Uodh made it back to the NBA after two years overseas and helped hold down the frontcourt fort when Rudy Gobert got hurt. He ended up posting three or more blocks in 11 games, returning specialist value in a deep league or streaming capacity.

    This Year: Udoh won’t be counted on as more than emergency depth, but Gobert’s injury history means you should at least remember his name.

    Injury History: Udoh’s dealt with knee and ankle problems in his career (including knee surgery back in 2013) but those came over three years ago so there’s not too much risk here.

    Outlook: Udoh can be added to help boost your block totals in a pinch but he’s a tough sell outside of 30-team leagues otherwise.

    Alec Burks

    Total Value: 261/265 (8/9 cat)

    Per-Game Value: 295/298 (8/9 cat)

    Games Played: 64

    2017-18 Review: Burks’ once-promising career has been racked by injury, and while he finally got into 64 games after playing 100 in the previous three seasons combined he watched Donovan Mitchell burst onto the scene and steal all the minutes at the two spot.

    This Year: Burks returns as the backup at shooting guard but will now have to contend with rookie Grayson Allen. We’re not expecting him to be a permanent fixture in the rotation but he’s a nice depth option and can get buckets on a Utah team that generally lacks scoring punch.

    Injury History: Burks’ career hit a big speed bump in 2016 when he fractured his fibula. Since then he’s undergone ankle (twice) and knee surgery, though he stayed off the injury report last season. Despite the positive steps we have to treat him as an injury risk.

    Outlook: Burks can pick up scoring slack in a hurry but won’t be a serious fantasy option until injuries strike. We’ll see if he can get a contract year bump but just staying healthy would probably do him more good than forcing the action. He’s just a watch-list guy in the vast majority of leagues.

    Royce O’Neale

    Total Value: 259/259 (8/9 cat)

    Per-Game Value: 310/313 (8/9 cat)

    Games Played: 69

    2017-18 Review: O’Neale was an afterthought for the Jazz but ended up earning his way into the rotation after signing an unguaranteed deal as an undrafted free agent. He had a decent run in the playoffs and a few multi-cat games in the regular season that caught our attention but there wasn’t a ton to pursue for fantasy.

    This Year: O’Neale should have a rotation job from the get go and could end up being one of the first wing players off the bench. We’d like to see his steals and threes increase a bit beyond the volume bump, but he’s a solid option for Utah to call on.

    Injury History: O’Neale’s injury history is pretty clean.

    Outlook: There’s some potential in very deep leagues, especially if he can get into the low twenties regularly. O’Neale still has the looks of a plodder barring drastic improvements, however, so he’s just a late-round option even in 20-teamers.

    Grayson Allen (R)

    2017-18 Review: Allen, one of the most polarizing players in college basketball, was a solid shooter and playmaker whose competitiveness led to questionable plays and an ugly reputation outside the Duke bubble. It’s a nice toolbox to bring into the NBA.

    This Year: The Jazz won’t ask for a ton out of Allen, and for him the big key will be consistency. Just come in, make your open threes and find open teammates when the opportunity arises. Nice and simple role for a solid role player skill set.

    Injury History: Allen reportedly picked up an abductor (a muscle in the hand – not to be confused with the adductor) strain in the pre-draft process and had some minor nicks and bumps in college because of his hard-nosed style.

    Outlook: There’s not a lot here for fantasy owners in year one, though he might be able to deliver enough popcorn numbers (threes, rebounds, dimes) to catch your attention in deep leagues. We’d look for higher upside.

    Raul Neto

    Total Value: 359/368 (8/9-cat)

    Per-Game Value: 394/413 (8/9-cat)

    Games Played: 41

    2017-18 Review: Neto had a shot at a larger role when Ricky Rubio struggled early and Dante Exum suffered another long-term injury, but he himself dealt with a number of ailments and couldn’t do anything of note beyond a few singly productive games.

    This Year: He’ll be Utah’s third point guard.

    Injury History: Neto fractured his wrist on March 11 and missed 13 games. He also missed three games with an ankle injury and 15 games with a knee sprain and concussion. There was also foot soreness, a hamstring issue and a vague left leg injury. He’s only suited up in 81 games over the last two years so he’s a moderate injury risk, even in limited minutes. In keeping with the theme he strained his hamstring right before camp.

    Outlook: Neto is one of the league’s better third point guards but isn’t someone you’ll need to consider for fantasy purposes.

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