Jazz

How the Jazz Can Become a Contender This Summer

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Surprisingly enough, it won’t take a lot of moves for the Utah Jazz to make the jump to being an elite team in the Western Conference, but it will definitely take a while to get used to if it happens. Like we’ve all been able to see, Donovan Mitchell was an absolute steal for Utah halfway through the first round — but hey, they’re not complaining.

Now Utah has its next franchise cornerstone, and they shouldn’t hesitate to build around him while they still can. This then helps bring up the question of what’s next for the team. Obviously, the ultimate goal is a championship, and that’s something that Mitchell seems poised to bring to Utah while being the center of it all.

With the way their starting lineup is at the moment, I don’t see them getting out of the second round of the playoffs, if that far. Ricky Rubio has had his great moments with the Jazz, but Utah needs a younger, more athletic guard to better mesh with the way that Mitchell plays.

They’ve got bigs in Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert and a solid wing player in Joe Ingles to round out a solid starting lineup — but here’s how they can make some major changes.

The first comes with the pursuit of a current player on the Los Angeles Lakers who will be more wanted by the time the regular season is over and will quite possibly want to get out of Los Angeles. For a while, especially at the beginning of this season, the fate of Julius Randle in terms of staying with the Lakers long-term was in question.

Fast forward to just past the All-Star break, and he’s somehow still in purple and gold while Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. got the boot in a deal with Cleveland at the deadline. He’s back in the full swing of things, and the fact that he’s being more appreciated by Los Angeles shows in his numbers.

Randle is now the third-leading scorer on the team behind Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram. Both Ingram and Kuzma are expected to be part of the next big three in the NBA, with point guard Lonzo Ball running the three-headed monster.

This still puts Randle in a spot where he could look at his other options, and the Jazz would be in a spot where they could pursue him in free agency without giving anybody up on their roster in return. Put Randle and Ingles on the wing, and defenses are going to have to adjust to the fact that Randle isn’t afaid to rain three-pointers on them if he’s left open, just like Ingles.

Adding the current Lakers power forward to the mix is the first of two moves that I would hope they would make over the summer, with the second one involving a trade with the Chicago Bulls. There’s no question that despite not having a great record this season, it’s not like anyone expected them to come out of the gates swinging.

They too have a young core that’s trying to figure out the best way to grow together, but they could really use the help of a veteran point guard to help keep it all from falling apart. They may not be able to get just that, but the Jazz can offer a solid deal to them in return for point guard Kris Dunn.

If Utah is willing to part ways with Jae Crowder and Jonas Jerebko over the summer, it’s a deal that would make financial sense and logical sense, as you can see here. Make that deal with the Bulls happen, and you could go with a starting lineup of Kris Dunn, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, Julius Randle, and Rudy Gobert.

Not only do I think that this kind of lineup would do plenty damage to any opponent, but I believe that it’s a squad that could find themselves right in the mix of a deep playoff run and serious chance at the NBA Finals. Because they’re from Utah, nobody is really going to buy into this unless you’re a super fan of the Jazz, but that’s okay.

They like being the underog, anyway. In case you haven’t already figured that out.

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About Keith Rivas

Keith is based In Salt Lake City and covers the Jazz for TLSM. Follow him on Twitter @mrkeithrivas for all things Utah Jazz.

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