Jazz is hungry to show it can claim the title – Cache Valley Daily
Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert flexes his muscles after scoring against Los Angeles Clippers Nicolas Batum in the second half of an NBA basketball game on Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo / Rick Bowmer)
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – After setting the best regular season record a year ago, the Utah Jazz are thirsty to show they can take it to the next level and fight for an NBA title.
It will not be an easy task for Utah. Jazz has gone from being an outsider to a team that no opponent takes for granted.
“We ain’t gonna sneak up on nobody“said goaltender Donovan Mitchell.” For us, we have to keep doing what we’re doing, but come out with fire, hunger and an advantage. “
Other players echoed Mitchell’s sentiment as the Jazz held their media day on Monday. Utah will be hosting a training camp in Las Vegas this week ahead of its opener against San Antonio on October 4.
A few new faces have joined the squad during the offseason, but much of the core that has experienced disappointing early NBA playoff exits each of the past two seasons remains intact. Utah lost a 2-0 lead to the Los Angeles Clippers in the Western Conference semifinals last season and lost to Denver in seven games a year earlier after relinquishing a 3-1 lead.
Learning from those playoff failures is a top priority heading into a new season.
“You don’t have many of these windows in your career”Said center Rudy Gobert. “It’s a great opportunity for us, whatever happens, to be the best we can be. It’s exciting after all these years of losing and learning, losing and learning, to be part of a group that wants to do something even better.
Gobert credited his stint with France at the Tokyo Olympics for helping them make defensive improvements. Mitchell, who took three weeks off from basketball before diving into his ankle rehabilitation, said he has also focused on becoming a better defender.
“I think there is another level that I can go to,” Mitchell said. “I’ve said it every year, but I think it’s the truth.”
Utah hasn’t done much to shake up their roster over the summer. Mike Conley returned to Jazz. Rudy Gay and Hassan Whiteside also signed as free agents and Eric Paschall came to Utah via a trade with Golden State. The Jazz also drafted Baylor goalie Jared Butler with the 40th pick overall.
Gay, Whiteside and Paschall fill in the holes left by Georges Niang and Derrick Favors. Niang signed with Philadelphia as a free agent and Favors was traded to Oklahoma City.
Continuity does not equal complacency with Jazz. Utah expects the veteran additions to be more than stopgap solutions.
“I don’t like the expression ‘get it back’,” said coach Quin Snyder. “This is not what we are trying to do.”
Utah enters training camp without the players treating serious injuries. Mitchell said he was completely healed from the ankle injury he sustained at the end of last season. Conley began yoga to help strengthen his hamstrings with improved mobility and flexibility.
Additionally, all Jazz players, coaches and staff are vaccinated against COVID-19 before the regular season.
“It’s everyone’s choice, but the fact that our players and… the whole organization chose to do this to protect each other says a lot about them,” said GM Justin. Zanik.