Utah Jazz; Young, Wild, and Free

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Casey Slaughter, Sports Editor

LeBron James went home to Cleveland, Kevin Love joined him. Carmelo Anthony got paid big to stay in New York. Pau Gasol joined forces with the rejuvenated Derrick Rose in Chicago. Asian sensation Jeremy Lin and former Jazz headache Carlos Boozer joined an aging Kobe in LA.

Amongst all these big moves, the local Utah Jazz were also able to quietly get better…and younger. They retained swingman Gordon Hayward with a max contract of $63 million. They made a trade to acquire one of the best 3 point shooters in the NBA, Steve Novak from the Toronto Raptors. They resigned guard Ian Clark, and signed tough guy Trevor Booker in free agency, as well as young guard Toure’ Murry. In a stacked draft featuring Andrew Wiggins, and Jabari Parker, the Jazz came away winners after they selected the 18 year old Australian man of mystery Dante Exum with the fifth pick. Then they selected Duke forward Rodney Hood after he slid down in the draft to the twenty-third pick, in a pick many people are labeling the steal of the draft. 

Oh yeah, they also hired their fourth coach in 33 years in Quin Snyder. “The Mad Scientist” has  implanted his system, and the players are responding well. He is looking to play up tempo and lock down on defense.

The Jazz were very pleased with the offseason work of many of their  players and are looking forward to this season. Team leader Gordon Hayward was granted the opportunity to try out for Team USA to play in the FIBA World Cup. He ultimately ended up getting cut from the team, but that experience is etremely valuable. Dante Exum was a member of the Australian National Team and was roommates with new Jazz pickup Joe Ingles. Jazz giant Rudy Gobert was arguably the MVP in his French team’s upset of tourney favorites Spain. These 4 players experience is expected to help lead this young team during the season.

This team is still expected to finish near the bottom of the extremely tough Western Conference. Win projections have pegged the Jazz anywhere from 18 games won up to 30, but most predict about 26 wins for average age for the team is a low 23.9 years old. The oldest player, Novak, is just 31. Youth usually transfers on the court to some great moments, however there are also plenty of moments where you just don’t want to watch.

This Jazz team should be a lot of fun to watch, but wins might still be hard to come by. The Jazz finished the preseason with a record of 5 wins and 3 losses. The season has been up and down with some great wins, especially a 102-100 win over the NBA’s newest super team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Gordon Hayward hit a step-back jumper at the buzzer after LeBron James fell down and sent EnergySolutions Arena into a frenzy.

However, five days later they gave away a game to an Indiana Pacers team missing some of its best players including Paul George. Their record currently stands at 5-7 as of November 19. This season will be all about improvement, more than wins and losses.