Utah Jazz Details
The Jazz operate out of Utah’s capital of Salt Lake City. They moved to Utah—from New Orleans, if you were wondering where the team got its name— in 1979. The team struggled for a time after moving to Utah, but in 1984, they began a streak of qualifying for the playoffs that remained unbroken until 2004. Jazz legends and Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone led the team during the streak, and the Jazz twice made it all the way to the NBA Finals—losing both times to Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dynasty.
The Jazz are still seeking their first championship. The team plays its home games at Vivint Smart Home Arena, which opened in 1991 and also hosted events at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
The challenge for the Jazz this year will be moving forward—not looking back. After a lengthy decision-making process, star forward Gordon Hayward left the team that drafted him and signed instead with the Boston Celtics. With Hayward on the team last year, the Jazz defeated the Clippers in a seven game first round series to win their playoff series since 2010.
Still, the Jazz are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and they still have the pieces to compete. French-born center Rudy Gobert will look to fill the hole left by Hayward’s departure and will likely emerge as the face of the franchise. In the 2016-17 season, Gobert set career highs in points per game, rebounds per game, and minutes per game. He also led the league in blocks, averaging 2.6 per game. Gobert is an inch over 7 feet tall and is only 25, and the Jazz will hope he’s capable of another breakout year. The Jazz have also signed defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha, and they’ll look for Donovan Mitchell—their 2017 first round pick, 13th overall—to make an immediate impact in his rookie year.