2018 Utah Jazz Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
This past spring, we took my son, who is eight-years-old, to a Utah Jazz game. It was his second NBA game, but the first was in Orlando, so that barely counts. As we sat there gorging ourselves on snacks, I was struck by one thing above all else - this team is so easy to like. They have star power and they play selflessly. And they really seem to like playing together. It sounds cheesy, but when you see so many guys and teams that seem almost tortured to be there, it is a powerful thing to see a team that is having fun and working hard to maximize what they have together. Now, will that be enough to make them relevant in any real way? We'll take a look. But if you want to see guys playing the game right head to Salt Lake. And try the ice cream - the serving size was considerably larger than my kid's head.
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I was flat out wrong about Quin Snyder. I was colored by my impression of him when he was at Missouri, where he started strong and then kind of drove the program into the ground. But he put in some time after that to get back on track, and he has done a spectacular job in Utah. He was second in Coach of the Year voting last year and is easily in the small handful of top coaches in the league. He prepares very well and is excellent developing players - as has been evident by the play of Ricky Rubio since arriving and by the rapid and impressive success of Donovan Mitchell.
A team needs stars at the core to drive the bus, and this team certainly has it. Rudy Gobert was the Defensive Player of the Year in the league last year and should have been the year before as well. He makes Snyder's job easy on defense, but he is the center of absolutely everything. The other guys can be aggressive and take risks other teams can't afford to because Gobert is there in the middle controlling everything. He'd be an even bigger star if he played in a different market. And Donovan Mitchell was a true revelation - a shock, really - as a rookie last year. At the beginning of training camp, it wasn't clear if he would have a regular spot in the rotation. By April he was dominating the offense and carrying the load like no one has in Utah since Karl Malone. He's like a pack mule - the more responsibility you load onto him, the happier he is. His development was on a consistent upward trajectory last year, and he came into camp having clearly worked on his body, so it seems reasonable to expect the trajectory to continue this year.
2018 Utah Jazz Additions and Departures
The best sign that this team liked what they had, liked playing together, and was doing things the right way? They basically did nothing this offseason. The lone marquee change was through the draft, where they added Grayson Allen from Duke with the 21st pick. That presents a personal quandary for me - I like to pull for this team as much as any but have long enjoyed rooting against Allen. I'm not totally sold on Allen. One of the biggest attributes he has is that he is versatile because he had to change his role and style of play so many times at Duke. I can't shake the feeling, though, that if he was better then he wouldn't have had to change and he wouldn't have stuck around for four years. The team is really high on him, though, and there is certainly a good chance he can find ways to take some pressure off of Mitchell and Rubio.
Beyond that there was just inconsequential shuffling of deck chairs. One Cinderella story won't be happening, as David Stockton, son of Jazz legend John, has left to play in Europe after never making a real impact. He appeared in all of five games, so it isn't exactly a loss beyond the storyline. Jonas Jerebko also left to join the Warriors, but his depth minutes won't be tough to replace. The most interesting free agent addition - again for the story more than the impact - was Jairus Lyles, the star of the UMBC team that stole our hearts in the NCAA Tournament last year when they became the first No. 16 seed to win. Lyles was undrafted but earned a contract after playing in the summer league.
2018 Utah Jazz Futures Odds and Trends
NBA title odds ( from Bovada ) : +7500
Western Conference title odds : +3500
Donovan Mitchell MVP Odds : +4500
Grayson Allen ROY Odds: +8000
Jairus Lyles ROY Odds: +10000
Season win total: 49
Utah was 47-46 ATS on the season, including the playoffs, so there were small losses no matter which side you were on. The team went "under" 49 times and "over" 43, so there were small profits to be made on the under.
2018 Utah Jazz Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
Needless to say, I am high on this team. Well coached, defensively sound, offensively productive, fairly deep - a lot to like. There is the standard asterisk that comes with any team in the West that the conference is very tough so nothing is given. That being said, I expect them to take a step forward from their 48 wins of last year and look for them to go over this win total. And watch out for Mitchell - he's sitting on a huge year.
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