When the Utah Jazz traded for former Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley and signed Bojan Bogdanovic this summer, it seemed as though they had a legitimate case as contenders in the Western Conference.
Donovan Mitchell finally had a point guard that could get him the ball and score (Conley) and Bogdanovic would provide some much-needed scoring and a nice perimeter option.
Indeed, the Jazz have had some success in the early parts of the season. They improved to 10-5 after beating the Golden State Warriors on Friday night, and they rank No. 1 in the NBA in opponents scoring average (101.2) and defensive rating (101.1) according to Basketball-Reference.
However, Quin Snyder’s team is still struggling to score the ball. Despite tremendous starts from Mitchell and Bogdanovic, Conley has struggled with efficiency, and Joe Ingles has been a disappointment thus far. The Jazz also lack scoring depth — not a single player is averaging double figures off the bench.
Utah’s defense will always give them a chance. But the best of the rest in the Western Conference can score and defend. Most notably, the Clippers and Lakers.
With that in mind, the Jazz should look to make a deal to add some scoring. Fortunately, there is a front court player who could be the perfect fit off of Utah’s bench.
Portis wasting away in New York
Suffice it to say, the New York Knicks signings have not exactly panned out. Elfrid Payton has missed numerous games due to injury, and the likes of Wayne Ellington and Taj Gibson are hardly seeing the floor.
As the dysfunction grows in the Big Apple, the Jazz should explore a move for Bobby Portis. Another free-agent signing from this past year, Portis is only averaging around 23 minutes per game and his presence might be stagnating the growth of Mitchell Robinson.
Portis has also had a tough start to the year. He is averaging just 9.3 points through the first 15 games while shooting below 40 percent from the field. That said, he would be a great fit in Utah.
The Jazz had actually shown interest in signing Portis this past summer:
Hearing Bobby Portis has significant interest in coming to the Utah Jazz. Portis is a restricted free agent for the Washington Wizards. He’s a power forward/center who is a good perimeter shooter. Eight days until free agency starts
— Tony Jones (@Tjonesonthenba) June 22, 2019
And with good reason — Portis is the kind of stretch four that would excel in Utah. He is shooting close to 39 percent from deep on 2.6 attempts per game.
But Portis can also bang down low, as he is averaging 6.7 rebounds (2.0 offensive boards) per contest. His ability to play inside-out would seem to fit well with the likes of Mitchell and Conley.
Portis would be the perfect bench scorer that can work in pick-and-pop while also drawing defenders out to the perimeter and opening up the paint for Rudy Gobert.
Perhaps most importantly for the Jazz, Portis has a team option for next season. If he does not pan out in Utah, they can simply wave goodbye and get over $15 million off the books.
The Jazz might have to get creative in making the money and assets work, but it is going to take some aggressive moves to win in the West.