Looking Back At The 2021 Utah Jazz

July 15th, 2021

By Alan Lu

The 2021 Utah Jazz won 52 games in the regular season, which was tops in the regular season this year.  They set a high bar, as they were able to snag the first seed in the West.  Star center, Rudy Gobert was named the Defensive Player of the Year, and scoring guard, Jordan Clarkson was named Sixth Man of the Year this year as well.

After losing game 1 to the surprising Memphis Grizzlies in the first round, Donovan Mitchell became healthy, and the Jazz won four straight to close them out to advance to the next round.  However, the Jazz were disappointing in the second round, as they lost in 6 games to the quicker and more versatile Los Angeles Clippers, and they struggled against them even when Kawhi was out.

Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell played very well this past season, and he consistently made solid plays for his team throughout the regular season and in the playoffs this year.
(Photo:
The Canadian Press, via TSN)

G Donovan Mitchell
2021 (UTA): 53 GP, 26.4 PPG, 5.2 APG, 4.4 RPG, 1 SPG, 44 FG%, 39 3PT%, 84 FT%, 21.3 PER, 57 TS%, 6.2 WS, .167 WS48

Mitchell really thrived this season, as he shot the ball very well, and he was very efficient as a scorer, facilitator, and rebounder this past season.  He looked to be his team’s best player in the playoffs, and he is a very good player in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting guard on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3.5 stars (4 stars potential)

Utah Jazz’s center, Rudy Gobert is now a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, as he won that award again this past season. However, he played terrible defense in the playoffs, as he showed an unwillingness to defend or switch out on shooters.
(Photo:
Utah Jazz, via The Salt Lake Tribune)

C Rudy Gobert
2021 (UTA): 71 GP, 14.3 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 2.7 BPG, 1.3 APG, 68 FG%, 62 FT%, 23.5 PER, 68 TS%, 11.3 WS, .248 WS48

He really excelled as an interior player during the regular season, and while he may never be an elite offensive player nor scorer, Gobert is a very efficient inside scorer due to his rim running and finishing abilities.  He is a gifted shot blocker and interior defender whose defensive skills won him another Defensive Player of the Year award.

However, Gobert really struggled to defend in the playoffs, and he just seemed to not want to go out to defend out on the perimeter to guard shooters.  Because the Clippers went small, they were able to have a bunch of open looks, and Terance Mann ended up scoring 39 points in a decisive Game 6 win over the Jazz.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting center on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Mike Conley played well throughout the regular season, and the long-time NBA veteran point guard made his first All-Star team this year.
(Photo:
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images, via Forbes)

G Mike Conley
2021 (UTA): 51 GP, 16.2 PPG, 6 APG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 SPG, 44 FG%, 41 3PT%, 85 FT%, 19.2 PER, 59 TS%, 6.1 WS, .197 WS48

He played very well during the regular season, and he generally played well in all facets of the game.  However, Conley got hurt in the playoffs, and he was also ineffective in his lone game against the Clippers in the second round, and so he wasn’t able to play more in that series.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting point guard on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

Conley will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Utah Jazz’s forward, Bojan Bogdanovic did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball in the regular season and postseason this year.
(Photo:
Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune)

F Bojan Bogdanović
2021 (UTA): 72 GP, 17 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 44 FG%, 39 3PT%, 88 FT%, 14 PER, 59 TS%, 5.2 WS, .113 WS48

He did a very good job of shooting and scoring the basketball, and he was excellent at knocking down shots for his team in the postseason this year.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G-F Royce O’Neale
2021 (UTA): 71 GP, 7 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 2.5 APG, 44 FG%, 38 3PT%, 85 FT%, 9.9 PER, 60 TS%, 5.6 WS, .121 WS48

He generally excelled as a role player for his team, as he made shots efficiently, rebounded the ball well, and he also played solid defense this year.  He didn’t take many shots though, but O’Neale was a valuable role player that made solid plays on both ends of the floor this past season.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson had a solid year this past season, and he won the Sixth Man of the Year award this year.
(Photo:
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images, via HoopsHype)

G Jordan Clarkson
2021 (UTA): 68 GP, 18.4 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 43 FG%, 35 3PT%, 90 FT%, 17.1 PER, 55 TS%, 4.2 WS, .111 WS48

He shot the ball very well, as he excelled as an offensive player this year, and he was able to win the Sixth Man of the Year award this past season.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Utah Jazz’s forward, Joe Ingles played very well, and he was a finalist for the Sixth Man of the Year award this past season.
(Photo:
Alex Goodlett/Getty Images, via KSL Sports)

F Joe Ingles
2021 (UTA): 67 GP, 12.1 PPG, 4.7 APG, 3.6 RPG, 49 FG%, 45 3PT%, 84 FT%, 15.9 PER, 67 TS%, 7 WS, .180 WS48

He had a strong, all-around season, and Ingles was very efficient at making plays on both ends of the floor this year.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

C Derrick Favors
2021 (UTA): 68 GP, 5.4 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1 BPG, 64 FG%, 74 FT%, 19.7 PER, 66 TS%, 5.1 WS, .237 WS48

He excelled as an interior player this past season, but he struggled to score or defend nearly as well in his team’s second round series loss to the Grizzlies.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

F Georges Niang
2021 (UTA): 72 GP, 6.9 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 44 FG%, 42 3PT%, 96 FT%, 11.4 PER, 60 TS%, 2.6 WS, .108 WS48

He excelled as a shooter, and he played above average defense this past season, but he really struggled to knock down shots in the playoffs, especially in his team’s second round series’ loss to the Clippers this year.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Niang will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

F Ersan Ilyasova
2021 (UTA): 17 GP, 3.8 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 39 FG%, 44 3PT%, 100 FT%, 12.1 PER, 58 TS%, 0.4 WS, .122 WS48

He played very well in limited minutes this past season, but he barely got any run in the playoffs this year.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G-F Miye Oni
2021 (UTA): 54 GP, 1.9 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 35 FG%, 34 3PT%, 83 FT%, 6.4 PER, 52 TS%, 0.9 WS, .081 WS48

Oni generally defended well when he was on the court, but he will need to improve his offensive skills in the meantime.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

His contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

G Trent Forrest (Two-Way)
2021 (UTA): 30 GP, 2.9 PPG, 1.5 APG, 1.5 RPG, 45 FG%, 19 3PT%, 100 FT%, 11.2 PER, 55 TS%, 0.7 WS, .106 WS48

He played very well in limited minutes, and he did just about everything well, sans an outside shot.  He’ll need to improve his three-point shot, and he barely played in the playoffs, but Forrest is a versatile guard that may have what it takes to be a regular rotation player on the Jazz’s team next season.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G Matt Thomas
2021 (TOR/UTA): 45 GP, 3.1 PPG, 1 RPG, 39 FG%, 34 3PT%, 86 FT%, 9.1 PER, 52 TS%, 0.2 WS, .031 WS48

He is a sharpshooter that didn’t shoot the ball very well this past season for Toronto or Utah, and he also didn’t pass the ball much or defend well, either.  He’ll need to go to a team where he can get consistent playing time so that he can better show off his shooting skills next season.

2021 Season Grade: D (D+ w/TOR, F w/UTA)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Thomas’ contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

F Juwan Morgan
2021 (UTA): 29 GP, 1.2 PPG, 1 RPG, 47 FG%, 31 3PT%, 43 FT%, 8.5 PER, 53 TS%, 0.3 WS, .105 WS48

He generally excelled as a rebounder and defender in limited minutes this year, but he didn’t shoot the ball nearly as well as he did last year, and he especially struggled to make threes efficiently this past season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Morgan will be a restricted free agent (RFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G-F Jarrell Brantley (Two-Way)
2021 (UTA): 28 GP, 2.3 PPG, 1 RPG, 48 FG%, 43 3PT%, 100 FT%, 16.6 PER, 61 TS%, 0.5 WS, .172 WS48

He barely played this year, but he played very well in limited minutes for Utah on both ends of the floor.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G-F Elijah Hughes
2021 (UTA): 18 GP, 1.7 PPG, 33 FG%. 35 3PT%, 75 FT%, 8.4 PER, 49 TS%, 0 WS, -.013 WS48

He is an athletic swingman that showed a promising ability to make threes, but he really struggled to do any one thing particularly well in limited minutes in the NBA.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

C Udoka Azubuike
2021 (UTA): 15 GP, 1.1 PPG, 44 FG%, 80 FT%, 10.3 PER, 60 TS%, 0.1 WS, .119 WS48

He is a strong, physical center that was drafted in the late first round of the 2020 NBA Draft.  Azubuike didn’t play much and he was oft-injured this year.  He didn’t shoot the ball well from the field, but he was surprisingly good at knocking down his free throws this year, and he showed some promise as an interior player in the limited amount of minutes he received this past season.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Head Coach:
Quin Snyder
2021 (UTA): 52-20, 6-5 in the playoffs
Coaching career: 323-231, 19-26 in his playoff career

Utah Jazz’s head coach, Quin Snyder coached his team to a league best 52-20 in the regular season. Unfortunately, his team then had a very disappointing finish in the playoffs, as they lost in 6 games in the second round of the playoffs to the Los Angeles Clippers this year.
(Photo:
Francisco Kjolseth/The Salt Lake Tribune)

He led his team to a league-leading 52 wins during the regular season, and he helped the Jazz surpass expectations in that time span to clinch the first seed out in the West.

After handling the Memphis Grizzlies in 5 games, the Jazz were ousted in 6 games by the Los Angeles Clippers in their second round series.  It was a very disappointing series for the Jazz, as they struggled against the smaller, quicker Clippers, the Jazz did a poor job of defending three-point shots against them, and they really struggled to defend in that series down the stretch.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head Coach of the Utah Jazz
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Utah Jazz’s Season:

The Jazz had the best record in the NBA during the regular season, but they had a disappointing finish in the playoffs this year.  They really didn’t adapt or make the necessary adjustments, and their defensive woes and inability to score consistently led them to an early ouster in the second round of the playoffs this year.

The 2020-21 Utah Jazz’s Season Grade: C+

The Utah Jazz’s Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Rudy Gobert
F Royce O’Neale
F Bojan Bogdanovic
G Jordan Clarkson
G Donovan Mitchell

Key Reserves:
G Jordan Clarkson
F Joe Ingles
C Derrick Favors

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
G-F Miye Oni
G Matt Thomas
G Trent Forrest (Two-Way)
G-F Jarrell Brantley
The 30th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
C Udoka Azubuike
G-F Elijah Hughes

Impending Restricted Free Agents:
F Juwan Morgan – Not Expected Back

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
G Mike Conley – Not Expected Back
F Georges Niang – Not Expected Back
F Ersan Ilyasova – Not Expected Back

The Utah Jazz are most likely trying hard to re-sign Mike Conley, but Conley is an impending free agent that will be one of the best free agents on the market. Any team with cap space would probably willing to sign him, and so Conley may not feel obligated to stay with Utah. The Utah Jazz also have so much money tied to other players that it may not make much sense for them to pay Niang or Ilyasova when they can find replacements elsewhere.

2021 NBA Draft Picks:
#30

Projected Offseason Plan for the Utah Jazz:
Despite having a very good regular-season record, the Utah Jazz had a disappointing finish in the playoffs.    The Jazz don’t have much cap space to work with, so they’ll likely try to re-sign all of their players, most notably Mike Conley, but Conley could opt to cash out to sign elsewhere in free agency.  This might put the Utah Jazz in a bind, as they could potentially run the danger of having a thin bench next season if they lose Conley to another team.

In the draft, they will likely need another scorer that can shoot and defend, and they may need more playmakers and athletic 3 and D wing players in the process.  They do have one draft pick, as they have the last pick of the first round this year.

The 2022 Utah Jazz’s Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Finish:
53-29, 2nd in the Western Conference in 2022

Expected 2022 Season Outcome: 
The Utah Jazz are expected to finish near or at the top of the standings to snag a top 4 seed out in the West, but they’ll need to add more offensive firepower and improve their perimeter defense in order to make a deep playoff run next season.

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