With the NBA Trade Deadline just over a month away, Feb. 6 to be exact, the Utah Jazz find themselves ascending in the Western Conference standings.
After struggling to start the new campaign, partly due to Mike Conley struggling to shoot the ball, the Jazz have seemed to finally find their groove. They are winners of eight of their last 10, sit sixth in the West with a 21-12 record, and are now a mere 2.5 games back of the second-seeded Denver Nuggets.
Despite their recent stretch of excellent play, the Jazz may be still a piece or two away from becoming a legitimate threat to win the NBA title. Let’s analyze two individuals who could aid the organization in their quest for a banner.
The Cleveland Cavaliers center is playing the best basketball of his career this season, but on a youthful Cavs squad amidst a full-fledged rebuild, he is doomed to tally empty numbers unless he is dealt. That is where the Jazz come in, a formidable club in need of what the 28-year-old can bring to the table.
Thompson is an ideal backup for Rudy Gobert. Someone who can enter the game and immediately make an impact on both ends, most importantly as a rebounder. Utah ranks 29th in the league in offensive rebounds per game and dead last in field goal attempts. There is no man better suited to provide assistance in these specific aspects of the game than Thompson, who is pulling down 10.1 boards per contest, with four of them coming on the offensive glass alone.
His uncanny ability to grab teammates’ misses could earn the Jazz a few extra possessions on a nightly basis, which can often make the difference between winning and losing, especially in a tight game. Not only that, but he is also someone who provides contagious effort and energy when on the court, sets bone-crushing screens, and is an intelligent defender who can contest shots at the rim — a coach’s dream.
Thomspon would fit in beautifully in Utah as one of the first guys off the bench for Coach Snyder.
The Jazz roster is lacking when it comes to playoff experience. To take that next step, it helps to learn from others who have been there and done that. Former NBA champion Andre Iguodala can provide invaluable leadership to this up and coming group.
Iggy won three titles as a member of the Golden State Warriors. He’s been on the grandest stage and steps up when it matters most, as shown by the Finals MVP award that he earned in 2015.
Even though the Iguodala is not the star he once was for most of the Warriors’ dynasty, the soon to be 36-year-old remains an elite perimeter defender, a nifty playmaker, and boasts a terrific basketball IQ. To put it bluntly, Iguodala is a winner, and Utah could place themselves in the conversation along with the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets.
According to Omari Sankofa II of The Athletic, Memphis is seeking either a first-round pick or young prospect with potential in return. Whether or not the Jazz seriously pursues the forward will likely come down to how the team is playing heading into the trade deadline.
If they can continue to win and thus catapult themselves into a top seed in the conference at the time of the deadline, sacrificing a future protected first-rounder that is very likely to fall outside of the lottery may be worth it in order to go all-in on trying to win their first title in franchise history.