The Utah Jazz are an intriguing team heading into 2023-24 NBA training camp. Utah made some changes this offseason by acquiring John Collins via trade. They also had three first-round picks, selecting Keyonte George, Brice Sensabaugh, and Taylor Hendricks.
The Jazz have a talented young team led by Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen had a breakout season, averaging 25.6 points and 8.6 rebounds, per ESPN. He shot 49.9 percent from the field and 39.1 percent from three.
The 26-year-old forward made it to his first All-Star game this past season and won the Most Improved Player award. He had a phenomenal season and is the leader of Utah. They have a roster full of quality players and should be competitive this season.
With that said, here are three burning questions Utah must answer heading into the 2023-24 NBA training camp.
3. Can the Jazz make the playoffs in the tough Western Conference?
The Jazz have a quality roster heading into this season. However, it won't be an easy task to jump into the playoffs. The Western Conference has many talented teams, which led to a close fight for playoff and play-in spots last season.
Utah finished in 12th place in the Western Conference, three games out of the 10th seed, which would have given them a play-in spot. While the Jazz were close and have improved their roster this offseason, other Western Conference teams are on the rise. The Dallas Mavericks are another team that missed the play-in tournament and will fight to make the playoffs this year. They have the star power of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, paired with added depth through acquisitions this offseason.
Utah's road to the playoffs in the Western Conference will be very difficult. They will need their players to take another jump to have a shot at reaching the postseason.
2. How will John Collins fit in Utah?
John Collins had spent his entire career with the Atlanta Hawks and years in trade rumors. Collins was finally dealt this offseason, as Utah sent veteran forward Rudy Gay and a second-round pick.
The 26-year-old forward was a salary dump for Atlanta, as he has three years left on his deal worth $78 million. Collins has shown flashes in his career as a highly productive forward. His best season came back in 2019-20, where he averaged 21.6 points and 10.1 rebounds. He shot 58.3 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. This is Collins at his best in a featured role on a team.
In a smaller role last year for Atlanta, he averaged 13.1 points and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 50.8 percent from the floor and 28.2 percent from downtown.
Collins's role with the Jazz will determine the impact he has. Utah has two other talented bigs, Markkanen and Walker Kessler. Markkanen has played at small forward before, meaning all three could start together. If Collins has a starting spot and is given a more prominent offensive role than last year, he could break out and get back to playing at the level he did in the 2019-20 season.
1. Can Lauri Markkanen continue his success?
Lauri Markkanen had a tremendous season last year, breaking out and becoming an All-Star. The former seventh-overall pick finally found a team he can play at his full potential. Heading into this season, he has a lot of expectations as the leader of the Jazz.
Markkanen proved he can lead the offense as an efficient scorer. The question is: can he keep up the success with an improved roster? While his numbers may go down slightly with a more talented team, Markkanen needs to show he can still be the leading scorer and stay efficient.
The 26-year-old forward has yet to be consistent in his career, and this season is his chance to prove he will stay at an All-Star level.
The Jazz will be a fun team to watch this season, as they have a lot of young talent. Utah has the talent to make a push toward the play-in tournament, but the Western Conference is highly competitive. It will be a close race for the play-in spots, and the Jazz should be among the teams in the mix after the additions they made this offseason.