UTAH JAZZ: Unwatchable? Take Note…
By Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
ESPN Senior Writer, Zach Lowe, has a yearly tradition where he publishes his League Pass rankings. The list has nothing to do with who is good or who he sees as a title contender. It more so has to do with what teams will be worth your time to tune into on NBA’s league pass service which lets you stream all out of market NBA games for the new price of $ 99.99. For example, the Detroit Pistons will likely not finish as a top 15 team this year, but Lowe ranks them at 16 due to the watchability and intrigue factor of a player like Cade Cunningham mixed with Ivey, Bey, Duren and Bogdanovic. Will the Pistons be any good? Absolutely not. Will they be fun to watch? Absolutely.
When these rankings came out, Jazz fans may have been excited to see where this new look Utah Jazz squad sat. I wont spoil the whole article, but for Jazz fans you wont have to scroll down far. 30th. Lowe put the Utah Jazz 30th in terms of how badly he would want to watch this team on any given night. There are 30 NBA team’s total. If we do the math that qualifies for dead last. He cites the roster, still singed by the fire that was this NBA offseason. 4 of the 5 starters gone. 14 new faces. A plethora of combo guards who have no fear when it comes to hoisting a shot. His criticisms of the team, the uniforms and so on are all valid. He showed some excitement for Sexton, he likes the energy of a certain Jarred Vanderbilt, but he like many others see Utah as a team purposely headed in the wrong direction.
Sure, being blander and more unfun than the Indiana Pacers or the San Antonio Spurs stings a little bit. Jazz fans could make some arguments there, but Lowe puts things in perspective. For fans of basketball outside of the beehive state, the Jazz are a tanking team who just sent away the majority of their team that was a perennial playoff contender and the one seed in the West two years ago. They blew it all up intentionally and for basketball fans, that is not worth paying attention too for a year or so until those compiled draft picks consist of actual flesh and bone.
The rest of the world may not be too keen on watching the Utah Jazz, which let’s be honest, is not indicative of this team being good or bad, that’s just an evergreen statement. But for Jazz fans, I believe excitement should still exist. Of all the years following the team, it is fair to say the organization has never been in a place like this. The later future has never appeared brighter. It is uncertain and unsure, but for fans who have yet to experience that, it can be a whole lot of fun. If you couldn’t help but gripe about effort and defense with last year’s team, I promise you will find players putting that work in this year. If you were discouraged by a lack of leadership or direction last year, you will see glimpses of it this year. If you felt like previous teams had hit their ceiling, fear not, there is no ceiling this year. There are no expectations, no criteria needing be met, no reasons to be discouraged or bothered if the team stumbles here and there. The only reason to be upset will be a late lottery pick.
It is about the small things this season. Player development, establishing a winning culture, getting the team familiar with coach Hardy, getting the team familiar with one another and prepping this team and organization for future greatness. The chemistry, the hustle, the heart should all be improved even if the winning is definitely not. For fans who had to sit through the slog of last years team, just hoping they would eventually turn a corner, I expect that this team will make up for it. Not in wins, not in highlight plays or big names but rather in pure intrigue and heart. Enjoy the wonky lineups, or the jersey’s themselves, or the sure to be cheaper tickets. It won’t be fun for everyone in Utah, but for a good chunk of fans, people will enjoy this team mixed in between a Cavaliers or a Timberwolves game now and then. They will be bad, but by no means should Jazz fans remove them from their number one spot in their watchability rankings.