2017-18 Season Review: Utah Jazz

A look inside the ups and downs of the Jazz's 2017-2018 season, along with the teams biggest surprises and MVP.

Entering The Season

Heading into the 2018 season, the Utah Jazz were a prime lottery candidate. Following the loss of Gordon Hayward (the face of the franchise), in the 2017 offseason, there was little sense of direction for Utah. It seemed that their roster was just good enough to float around 40 wins and maybe sneak into the eighth seed, but eventually get swept due to little offensive production. Because that was the big question mark for the Jazz, who could consistently score? I believe at the start of the season, Rodney Hood was the early favorite to take the reins of the offense. However, despite Hood's success in earlier seasons, it was quickly understood that he wasn't capable of being 'the guy' offensively. And as we all know, this resulted in Hood (along with George Hill) being sent off to Cleveland for Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose (who was later traded). It's safe to say that the preseason predictions for the Jazz, couldn't have been further from the truth. 

Biggest Surprises (Excluding Donovan Mitchell)

With no all-stars on the team, the Utah Jazz's playoff run became even more inspiring as they were forced to receive significant contributions from some unlikely candidates. Now obviously, peoples minds immediately gravitate towards Donovan Mitchell. However, we will get to his impact later. For now, let's focus on guys who didn't receive much praise from the media, but were instrumental in the team's success. 

Ricky Rubio: An endlessly ridiculed player, it seemed that much of the NBA had already given up on the seasoned veteran. With little to no jump shot, many felt the elite facilitator didn't have a place in today's NBA. However, after signing with the Jazz in free agency, Rubio went on to start all 77 games he played in this season, averaging over 13 points and five assists along the way. Also shooting over 35% from three while maintaining great defense, Ricky finally confronted the demons that had haunted him for so long. 

Derrick Favors: Heading into the 2018 season, Derrick Favors was seen as a cap space problem that Utah was hoping to trade for any sort of asset. Struggling with injuries in 2017, Favors averaged just 9.5 points a game on 48% shooting. However, this past year, Favors averaged over 12 points a game on 56% shooting. Going from an expendable asset to one of the more reliable scoring options for Utah, don't be surprised if Favors signs a substantial contract this coming offseason. 

MVP - Donovan Mitchell

Taken with the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft, Donovan Mitchell was undoubtedly the steal of the year. With expectations relatively low as he entered the year, certainly, no one expected Mitchell to become the Jazz's offensive leader, averaging over 20 points a game. Also playing in 79 of Utah's 82 games, Mitchell certainly never hit a rookie block. In fact, Donovan only got better as the season wore on. A crucial part in both of Utah's extended win streaks, it's truly astonishing that a rookie guard can lead a playoff offense. 

And yes, the case can be made that Rudy Gobert was more critical to the Jazz's success. After all, before Gobert's return, the Jazz were a measly 19 and 28. And I am in no way discrediting Rudy's excellence. However, the way I see it, regardless of Gobert, the Jazz are still a solid defensive team. But without Mitchell, the Jazz's offense would have been horrendous, and likely had kept them out of playoff contention. 

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