3 biggest needs for the Utah Jazz this offseason
The Utah Jazz are one of those teams good enough to make the playoffs every year, but not actually good enough to make any real noise when they get there.
The Jazz have the young star in Donovan Mitchell and the elite defender in Rudy Gobert, but outside of that, Utah is full of a bunch of role players and lack the firepower to truly contend with the big boys.
The problem for the Jazz is that Salt Lake City is not exactly a marquee free-agent destination, so they are essentially left to build their team almost exclusively through the draft and shrewd free-agent signings and trades.
Regardless, if Utah seriously hopes to contend for anything more than a first- or second-round exit next year, it needs to make some moves this summer to bolster its roster.
Here are the biggest needs for the Jazz this offseason.
3. Another Ball-Handler
Do the Jazz even really have a backup point guard behind Ricky Rubio? Dante Exum was originally supposed to be a floor general when he first entered the league back in 2014, but he is mainly a defensive specialist and has been perpetually injured. Raul Neto? Come on now.
Outside of Rubio, Mitchell and Joe Ingles are really the only two guys on the roster who can handle the ball and create, but neither of them are point guards.
All of the best teams in the league have multiple guys who can handle the ball and make plays, both in the frontcourt and the backcourt. But those clubs also have backup point guards who can come in and run the offense.
Utah simply does not have that, and it desperately needs it.
Adding another ball-handler would take a whole lot of pressure off Mitchell. And with Rubio possibly leaving this summer, the Jazz may need to find a few of these guys.
2. 3-Point Shooting
The Jazz shot just 35 percent from 3-point range as a team this season, good for 20th in the league. They were just over 26 percent in their playoff loss to the Houston Rockets. That just isn’t going to cut it if you want to be a legitimate contender.
Utah could always bring Kyle Korver back this summer, as he has a partially guaranteed contract for next season, but the Jazz need more than just Korver. He also might retire.
Outside of Georges Niang, who didn’t really have enough volume to even count, not a single member of Utah’s squad shot 40 percent or better from downtown this season, with Korver and Ingles representing their only two truly dependable long-range shooters. You can make the argument for Royce O’Neale at 38.6 percent, but he only took 2.1 triples per game.
Mitchell is a terrific scorer, but he is not a knockdown perimeter shooter, and it would greatly benefit him to have more shooters to kick the ball out to on drives.
1. A No. 2 Scorer
Utah does not have a good secondary scorer. Period. Ingles is a fine player, but he is not a No. 2 option. Gobert is great in the pick-and-roll because he can finish lobs, but his offensive repertoire is severely limited.
Basically, if Mitchell isn’t scoring, the Jazz’s offense gets thwarted, which is why defenses have been able to key on Mitchell in the playoffs and completely shut down Utah’s offensive attack.
This season, Gobert was actually the team’s second-leading scorer, and Ingles was third. That is not how a contender should look.
Of course, getting that second guy is going to be hard for the Jazz, because free agents don’t really view Utah as a potential landing spot. But the Jazz will have some cap space this offseason, so they should do everything in their power to get someone. Khris Middleton. Tobias Harris. Maybe even Kemba Walker.
Utah may have a hard time convincing those types of players to come, but it needs to at least make an effort. The Jazz could also make another trade play for Mike Conley, which would also help the ball-handling issue in a big way.