So we are finally moving away from the Donovan Mitchell/Rudy Gobert era in Utah, although Donovan Mitchell remains on the Utah Jazz roster all signs point to him being eventually dealt. Despite his name continually being linked to the New York Knicks the Utah Jazz are not 100 percent sure what exactly they want from the Knicks in return. Supposedly they turned down an offer of Obi Toppin,Evan Fournier, and 5 first round picks, me personally I would have took that deal because the Jazz have not had a formidable power-forward since Carlos Boozer last suited up with Deron Williams in the 2000’s and Obi Toppin looks like he can average 18-24 points per game depending on the amount of minutes Will Hardy would be willing to give him next season.
For the meantime the Utah Jazz are built to make a run at the 6th-8th seed in the Western Conference assuming Donovan Mitchell remains on the team going into the season. Mike Conley,Bojan Bogdanovic,Rudy Gay,Malik Beasley and newcomer Talen Horton-Tucker are far from slouches and if Will Hardy gets everyone to buy in going into next season the Jazz will be very competitive in the West. I’d like the see what the Jazz can get in return for Donovan Mitchell to better gauge what we could be looking at next season but the addition of Talen Horton-Tucker will surely pay off. I recall in Dallas this past season where Talen went off for 42 points and everyone was buzzing about how that was exactly what we needed from Russell Westbrook. Talen was aggressive all game getting to the basket, his shot was going and he was hitting jumpers from all over the floor that game.
Few Laker fans argued Talen Horton-Tucker was a bust but I highly disagree as it is rather difficult for Talen to flourish when you have too ball dominant wings in LeBron and Westbrook and Davis in and out of the lineup didn’t help much as far as gaining continuity. The 2020-2021 season Frank Vogel figured out midway through the series he needed Talen out there as he seemed to be the only player aside from LeBron and Davis who could put any sort of pressure on Phoenix’s switch heavy defense. Whether Talen starts on the Jazz this coming season or comes off the bench I think he is guaranteed to average at least 14-17 points per game assuming Hardy gives him the playint time and looking at the Jazz’s roster at the moment he will have no reason not to play him. Will Hardy’s job won’t be too difficult he already has one building block in Talen let’s hope CEO of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge finds a gem as he looks to find Donovan a new home.
You’ve got to love Danny, he did a formidable job on the Boston Celtics in the 2010’s specially in the Isiaah Thomas era which was short lived but TD Garden was buzzing and the Celtics were very competitive making multiple Conference Finals appearances and yes they made it all the way to the NBA Finals this past season without him but he was also responsible for drafting Jayson Tatum,Jaylen Brown,Marcus Smart,and Robert Williams III who were integral parts to that Celtics roster this past season. Danny made bold moves in Boston, pairing Kyrie Irving with Gordon Hayward was one of them. Unfortunately that never worked out due to injuries but there was no doubt Ainge looked to pull the envelope in Boston and I believe he will do the same in Utah over the next few years. Maybe the plan will be to tank the season and look to draft Victor Wembanmaya who is projected to be a first ballot hall-of-famer in the making assuming he pans out?
I personally don’t believe that will be the coarse of action for Danny Ainge going into next season, he likely wants to trade for a player who could have upside to be a possible top 10-15 player in the NBA and gamble on Talen Horton-Tucker becoming a star in Utah. That is a gamble I would take as Talen has all the tools to become a star in Utah, he’s got the wingspan and athleticism to be an exceptional defender and if he can become a knock-down shooter he could be special. Talen is unselfish and will be a triple threat next season being able to be a threat at the top of the arc with his off the dribble game and jumper while also being able to attack the basket relentlessly and collapse defenses to get other players open looks. His post game isn’t too shabby either, he really is unique as a combo guard being able to practically do everything on both ends and I can’t wait to see his fruition this coming season. Salk Lake City won’t be in the doldrums for too long, the Mitchell-Gobert era was a flop but there is always an opportunity to create something better and Will Hardy and Danny Ainge will be sure to do that going forward.