How can the Utah Jazz compete for the championship next season?

Mike Conley throws up shot late in Game 7.
Mike Conley is a key part of Utah's plans. Photo by USA Today.

After an exhausting seven-game series defeat at the hands of the Denver Nuggets, the Utah Jazz will now gear up for an important offseason that could make or break their championship hopes for the years to come. While it’s true that Donovan Mitchell already voiced out his long-term commitment to the franchise, it’s already common for superstars to demand a trade out of their teams and join a more serious contending team.

However, the Jazz doesn’t have to make drastic changes for next season. The injury to Bojan Bogdanovic hurt them against the Nuggets, particularly when they found it very hard to score in Game 7. But they should get Bogdanovic back next year, along with the core of Mitchell, Mike Conley, and Rudy Gobert. Continuity will be the major focus of Utah’s offseason, along with securing a spitfire gunner to bolster their bench.

Secure Clarkson in free agency

It’s not a secret that Jordan Clarkson‘s arrival in Utah became the cure to their early-season struggles. Clarkson bolstered their bench and provided that much-needed scoring punch when Mitchell takes his rest. However, the former Cleveland Cavalier is also entering unrestricted free agency in the offseason, and it’s a sure thing that a number of teams will take an interest in his services.

Utah will definitely have the inside track on Clarkson. The 6-foot-5 combo guard was given an important role as the team’s sixth man, leading to more playing time. Given his skill set and his unique tendency of being a streaky shooter, it seems like a sixth man role is perfect for Clarkson. On top of that, the Jazz desperately needs him to be able to maintain their status as an elite contender, which presents a mutual interest between the two parties.

Find a sweet-shooting big man to back up Gobert

Utah’s frontcourt depth behind Gobert is so thin that the team opted to field in a 23-year-old rookie in Juwan Morgan to back him up in the playoffs. It’s not a knock on Morgan, but it’s also a fact that Jazz head coach Quin Snyder wanted to space out the floor with five players who can all shoot from the outside.

Having said that, the Jazz should tap a stretch big man to reinforce their second unit. Paul Millsap will become an unrestricted free agent, and a reunion should be much-welcomed by Jazz fans. Markieff Morris‘ blend of long-range shooting and inside toughness could also be an intriguing free agency target.

Build on continuity

Again, the Jazz front office doesn’t have to make any big changes to their roster. Conley finally found his footing in the Jazz’ system in the playoffs, and Mitchell and Gobert got a new lease of life in their partnership. With Bogdanovic coming back next season, the team will be hard to stop as they continue to grow their chemistry on and off the court.

The team should also hope that Gobert will come in next season with a much-improved outside shot, at least in the mid-range. If Gobert can make that shot on a consistent basis, it will give Mitchell more leeway to drive down the lane.


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