The Utah Jazz were one of the biggest winners of the summer with the team’s front office receiving a ton of praise for their offseason dealings. While the Jazz were unable to form a new dynamic duo for their team — something that turned out to be a bit of a norm among other teams — the squad received a significant upgrade through the signing of a number of key pieces. Simply put, Utah were already a very formidable side last season, and their success in the offseason only made them an even stronger side — or at least it was supposed to.
Fast forward a few months later and the Jazz have had a good start to the new campaign, winning three out of their first four contests. However, with regards to the aforementioned key pieces that were brought on in the offseason, it has been rather hit or miss. In particular, 6-foot-8 forward Bojan Bogdanovic has been off to a scorching start, while it has been quite the opposite for veteran point guard Mike Conley.
For his part, Bogdanovic signed with the Jazz last summer on a four-year $73.1 million deal. The 30-year-old was rewarded with the biggest contract of his career following two productive seasons with the Indiana Pacers. Bogdanovic took over as the team’s new starting power forward following the summer departure of Derrick Favors.
In his first three appearances for the Jazz, Bogdanovic is currently averaging 23.7 points (on 53.3 percent shooting), 4.0 rebounds, 1.0 assists, and 1.3 steals, while also knocking down 3.3 three-pointers per game on a 45.5-percent clip. Safe to say, the Bosnian national has acclimatized well to life in Utah.
The same, however, cannot be said about Conley. After spending the first 12 years of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies, the 6-foot-1 guard was shipped off to the Jazz this offseason, along with the $67 million he is owed over the next two years.
Conley, whose arrival frees up Donovan Mitchell to play his more preferred role at the two spot, has struggled mightily in his first three starts for the Jazz. He is currently averaging 7.8 points (on a miserable 20.0 percent fro the floor), 2.3 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 0.5 steals, and 2.8 turnovers thus far.
In Monday night’s 96-95 win over the Phoenix Suns, Conley logged only one point on 0-of-7 shooting, along with two rebounds, an assist, a steal, a block, and three turnovers in 20 minutes of action. Backup point guard Emmanuel Mudiay (six points, three rebounds, three assists) outplayed Conley off the bench, but he too was rather pedestrian.
The good news for Conley and the Jazz here is that the 32-year-old guard has had a history of slow starts in the past. We fully expect him to get out of this funk sooner rather than later, as he is just too good to play at such an atrocious level.
Utah are considered to be one of the dark horses to challenge for the Western Conference title this year, and it goes without saying that both Bogdanovic and Conley will play a pivotal role in how successful this team will end up this year.