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3 way too early bold Utah Jazz predictions for 2022-23 NBA season

NBA, 2022 NBA Season, Utah Jazz, Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Victor Wembanyama

It’s tanking time for the Utah Jazz in the coming 2022-23 NBA season.

A mechanism has been put in place by the NBA to prevent clubs from going into full tank mode. Even the team with the worst record in the NBA will only have a 14.5 percent chance of getting the first overall draft pick the following season. The NBA has remained competitive because of this.

The Utah Jazz, however, are fully determined to tank, rip apart this roster, and get the ultimate prize in 2023.

The writing was already on the wall following the Rudy Gobert deal. Shopping Donovan Mitchell around is also a sign pointing toward that direction. Without their two greatest players from the previous campaign, the Jazz won’t have a shot in the Western Conference.

But they will have a shot at landing Victor Wembanyama.

The Jazz don’t necessarily have to tank if Mitchell is dealt, since they can wind up with a sizable haul of picks if they do offload him. As things stand, the Jazz are already in a pretty good spot in the Wembanyama sweepstakes after taking into account the four future first-round picks they received in exchange for Gobert. Even if they don’t tank, the Jazz may even use other teams’ picks since they own so many anyway

Then again, it makes more sense for Danny Ainge and the Jazz to fully embrace a rebuild. That means trying to trade their other veterans for even more draft selections. In that scenario, a first-round selection for each of Beverly, Bogdanovic, Conley, and Clarkson should be their asking price. They might not be able to offload all of them, but they could also consider swapping two of those guys for another player in lieu of a bad contract. In any case, if the Jazz are really pulling the tanking trigger, they better fully commit.

Jazz 2022-23 Predictions

3) Victor Wembanyama is the prize

The first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft will be Victor Wembanyama. Nothing else matters for the teams that want him. Not pride. Not integrity. None of that. Any tanking team would be willing to throw all those out the window for even a slight uptick in their odds at the Wembanyama sweepstakes.

Over the years, several highly anticipated prospects have entered the NBA draft. The names Tim Duncan, Yao Ming, Hakeem Olajuwon, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar spring to mind. For his part, LeBron James, whose high school basketball games were broadcast live on ESPN during prime time, may have been the candidate who garnered the most pre-draft hype.

Wembanyama will challenge James for first place on that list.

But what’s the big deal, anyway?

The 7’3 Frenchman has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant. As if that wasn’t good enough, remember that Wembanyama is four inches taller and possesses a wingspan that is four inches longer. Wembanyama has the same size as Rudy Gobert, but he shoots with an NBA guard’s touch, and who can also handle the ball well.

Wembanyama, who is only 18 years old, can run the floor, hit three-pointers, dribble-drive, initiate fast breaks, and provide elite rim protection. What we have seen on film is just scratching the surface of how good he could be.

Scours already project he’ll be better than Chet Holmgren, and that’s saying a lot. Of course, if the Jazz really want to land this big Frenchman, they cannot afford to be half-hearted. They have to go all-in, headfirst, and jump in with both feet.

That means the Jazz will soon show Mitchell out the door.

2) Donovan Mitchell headed out

The Jazz have exerted effort in shopping Mitchell around, but as of this writing, there have been no good enough deals yet.

The New York Knicks still look to be the most viable dancing partner in any Mitchell trade, but the two teams are reportedly still not close to finalizing a transaction. Still, the Knicks have the first-round choices the Jazz want. Ainge’s asking price for Mitchell is quite steep, though. The Jazz want in excess of the four first-round picks they acquired in the Rudy Gobert deal.

In spite of their plethora of picks, though, Utah’s own first-round pick remains its most significant rebuilding asset. Again that underscores the need for the Jazz to fully embrace tanking this coming season. To do that, Mitchell has to go. And to a certain extent, so do other veterans like Jordan Clarkson, Patrick Beverley, Bojan Bogdanovic, and yes, even Mike Conley.

1) Disgruntled Mike Conley also headed out

I’d be one disgruntled pickle if were Mike Conley. Just last year, he after finally made it to the NBA All-Star Game. Now, Conley finds himself on a roster built to fail in 2022. If that won’t make him even a wee bit frustrated, nothing will.

As things stand, though, the Jazz have Conley as their projected starting point guard for the 2022–23 season. He averaged scoring 13.7 points per game on 43.5 percent shooting and averaged 5.3 assists per game last season. The fact that Conley played 71 games and remained healthy throughout the playoffs last season is what matters most.

Having said that, given the Jazz’s bigger picture and grander plans, does it still make sense to keep Conley on board?

The answer is no. The fact is Conley’s true value lies not in his on-court contributions but in the potential assets he can deliver via a possible deal. For sure, Danny Ainge knows this. Seeing Conely end up elsewhere before the 2022-23 season ends should not shock anyone at all.