Utah Jazz

"They’re a trendy pick for a team to make the leap, but they still need to prove it. They don’t have a star but they’ve got quality depth at all five positions and they’ll push Portland at the top of the Northwest. They could grind out a series win if everything goes right. I think they’ll do enough to keep who they want to keep, like Hayward, next summer. … Everyone thinks of them as a big team with Gobert and Favors but they have a bunch of stretch options now with Lyles, Diaw and even Johnson. … They go can really small too with Diaw as their five if they want. … Last year, Hayward and Hood tried to do too much in clutch situations. Now you plug in Johnson as a late option and Diaw as a playmaker and Hill as a complementary shooter and they’re much harder to guard late in games. … That Hayward and Hood pairing could be one of the best wing combos for a decade. Hood actually has a higher ceiling than Hayward and he’s in the conversation among young two guards who might push into the West All-Star conversation with guys like Devin Booker and CJ McCollum. Hood has size, ball skills, he can score and he makes good decisions. He’s calm on the ball and smart. … Everyone wants a guy like Hayward so he’s always in trade rumors, but I just don’t see him moving. I bet there’s a 90% chance he’s back with them. …  Hill was a great answer at point guard. He’s an established, plus defender, lots of playoff experience, consistent. … Exum is a forgotten man. It’s time to see if he’s progressed with his shooting at all. … Will Burks get more than 15 or 20 minutes a game? He’s a name to watch for possible trades. … Johnson going to Utah felt like Pierce to the Clippers. They will manage his minutes and save him for the stretch run. … It’s fair to wonder how much Diaw has left. … Lyles is going to be a breakout player. He gets overlooked because they added all the vets but he’s ready to make a jump. He can shoot, he can guard all types of fours. … Gobert and Favors can really pound you on the glass and they defend so well. They can control the pace, post you up, finish around the hoop, take away all your offense from inside 10 feet. You don’t want to play them together the whole game but you’re not in a hurry to sub those guys out. … Favors is a workhorse, very good rebounder, good defender and a good scorer too. There aren’t a lot of holes to his game. Would you rather have him or Paul Millsap? He’s getting into that conversation. … Gobert is their most irreplaceable guy. He’s the difference between them being OK and very good. … They have the right personnel and the right style of play to be the NBA’s best defense."

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