The Utah Jazz fell to the Golden State Warriors 0-4 in the Conference Semi Finals.
Through adversity, skepticism, and injury, this young team put the Utah Jazz back on the map.
Last season, the Utah Jazz went (40-42) and missed the playoffs for their fourth straight season. Knowing a change had to be made, administration went out and signed free agents George Hill, Boris Diaw, and Joe Johnson. With young defensive star Rudy Gobert growing into his role, anticipation and expectation were both high for the 2016-2017 season.
The Utah Jazz did not disappoint.
Plethora at the Point
At the beginning of the season, people thought the Jazz were crazy for their depth at the guard position. George Hill, Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, and Dante Exum served as guards on roster.
However, through rotational experimentation and player development, each player found their role by the end of the year, and post-season. George Hill had a career season, averaging nearly (17) points, and (4) assists per game. Shooting guard Rodney Hood took strides this year, despite injury, and came up clutch in more than one occasion.
Dante Exum, and Shelvin Mack found their way to leading the second unit, and both made big plays for Utah in the post-season. Alec Burks fell with injury in the post-season, and Raul Neto found some floor time as well. Their excess of talent at the point proved to be a deadly weapon, take note other NBA teams.
Rudy Gobert has made his case for the Defensive Player of the Year award, after averaging: (14) points, (12.8) rebounds, and (2.6) blocks per game.
The team as a whole took to a defensive mindset, and were one of the best in the league. On average, opponents scored only (96.8) points a game, the lowest across the NBA. They ranked (2nd) in opponent field goal percentage, and (1st) in opponent two-point percentage.
Utah completed the season with a (105.3) defensive rating, (3rd) in the league. Through defensive dominance, this team found their first (51-win) season since 2009-2010.
The Utah Jazz accomplished more than most this season. They finished (51-31) , the 5th seed in the Western Conference. They clinched playoff birth for the first time since 2012, and won their first playoff series since 2010. Gordon Hayward found stardom, and earned his first All-Star appearance. Quin Snyder may finish as runner-up for the Coach of the Year, and Rudy Gobert has all but been named Defensive Player of the Year.
This season was a huge victory, and laid groundwork for success to come. Take note Jazz fans, the future is bright.
All stats and information provided by ESPN and NBA.com. Featured image provided by Sports Illustrated via Google Images.