Few teams have been as active as the Jazz since the end of last season, however, that action hasn’t necessarily led to the desired results. Most were quick to crown Utah the champions of the off-season (non-Clippers division) when they not only pulled off a massive trade to bring in veteran point guard Mike Conley, but also signed the efficient Bojan Bogdanovic to a four-year, $73 million contract to give their depth on the wing some scoring punch. Yet, while the Jazz have started the 2019-20 with a respectable 25-12 record, they haven’t played to the level that most expected back in early October.
Is there anything left for Utah to do to improve its standing in the Western Conference? Let’s get into it.
Latest updates, rumors, analysis for Utah Jazz before trade deadline
A few days ago, James Herbert of CBS Sports brought up how the Jazz should make a play for Suns C Aron Baynes. Hebert mentions how it would make Utah’s interior defense pretty formidable for a full game, already stacked with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. Jordan Clarkson and Emmuanuel Mudiay are mentioned as players who could make the deal work, but I’d say Mudiay makes more sense than Clarkson. The Jazz have Mike Conley, a true PG, and Donovan Mitchell, an All-Star caliber combo guard. Clarkson is in that combo guard vein, but is better suited to play the 2. Either way, I think a minor move like this makes the most sense for the Jazz.
— Ben Zweiman
What’s Going on With Mike Conley?
Conley remains without a timeline for his return from a hamstring issue suffered in early December, but the bigger concern might be whether or not the Jazz even want the 32-year-old back in their rotation. Conley was playing some of the worst basketball of his career leading up to the ailment, averaging just 13.6 points and 4.6 assists with a gruesome 43.9% effective field goal rate. While it’s definitely hyperbole to suggest that Utah is better off without someone as generally consistent and talented as Conley’s proven to be the past decade, the team’s numbers in his absence tell a pretty interesting story. Across the Jazz’s past 15 contests - a span of time where Conley’s logged 19 minutes of work - the squad owns the Western Conference’s second-best offensive rating (116.4) and its best net rating (8.6).
Do the Jazz Have Any Trade Assets Left?
It’s simply hard to envision Utah making much of an impact as a buyer at the NBA’s trade deadline this season. The Jazz do have three second-round picks in this year’s NBA Draft; however, their 2020 first-round pick is tied up with protections due to the aforementioned Conley trade and Dante Exum, the team’s former lottery pick from 2014 and possibly its biggest remaining trade chip, was already shipped to Cleveland in a deal to bring in veteran scorer Jordan Clarkson. Now, to be fair, in the immediate aftermath, that transaction has worked in Utah’s favor. Exum was barely seeing the floor for the Jazz, while Clarkson is now definitively the team’s sixth-man, registering 13.4 points and shooting 37.5% from distance in his seven appearances for Utah. Still, even when Conley gets back and Joe Ingles returns to the bench, the Jazz only have a solid seven-player rotation before getting into the likes of Emmaunel Mudiay or Georges Niang. They could certainly use some more help on the wing, though, to their credit, they do currently lead the NBA in 3-point shooting rate (39.0%). It’s just a matter of sustainability.