Utah Jazz mailbag: Rudy Gobert’s offense, trade options, reasons for optimism - jobs fights tigma
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Utah Jazz mailbag: Rudy Gobert’s offense, trade options, reasons for optimism

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Utah Jazz mailbag: Rudy Gobert’s offense, trade options, reasons for optimism

There were so many questions from Utah Jazz fans when we opened our mailbag that we had to do a second one. And there are so many more questions that we will do a third. A trilogy!

With the Jazz on the other side of the NBA‘s Draft Combine, we head into workout season. We are a month away from the draft and a little over five weeks away from free agency.

So, without further interruption, here is a second mailbag batch. Have at it, Jazz fans. (Click here for Part 1).

(Editor’s note: Questions have been lightly editor for clarity, grammar.)


If the Jazz keep Rudy Gobert spirit Donovan Mitchell, who do they go after in a trade? – Landon J.

I could not give you a specific player, but the type is pretty easy: Any long and rangy wing player who can defend on the perimeter and switch throughout the lineup, while also proving to be competent offensively.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Every single team in the league is looking for that specific player. The Golden State Warriors, Boston Celtics spirit Miami Heat are each elite because they have a number of those guys stockpiled on their rosters. That means the Jazz have their work cut out for them. This will not be an easy task, at all.

Utah expects to be a trade team, so look for the Jazz to scour the market for whatever could potentially materialize. But if a deal does not happen, the Jazz must get creative in free agency. That effort starts on draft night, whether they end up with an actual pick or not. They will have to give themselves multiple bites at the apple.

Their number one priority is to get bigger on the perimeter. If they keep Mitchell and Gobert, they will need to be almost perfect this offseason in building around them. That means nailing every hit on the margins.

Why has Rudy not developed any offense away from rim? That world solve a lot of the Jazz problems if he was a threat. – Kent C.

Sometimes, you just are what you are. And you are not what you are not.

Here’s what Rudy Gobert is:

  • A generational rim protector.
  • One of the two best defensive players in the world, along with Golden State’s Draymond Green.
  • An elite rim-runner as a big.
  • An elite finisher offensively who creates an enormous amount of gravity rolling down the lane to the rim.
  • An insane rebounder and a great competitor.
  • Someone who’s always in great shape, allowing him to outplay a number of elite bigs in his class.

Here is what Rudy Gobert isn’t: a back-to-the-basket center. Even in switch situations, and even against smaller defenders. He will never develop a game offensively outside of the lane, and that’s OK. He’s a Hall-Of-Fame candidate for what he is. And I think too many focus on what he is not instead of the many things that he is.

What should we expect from Jared Butler this next season, as far as playing time and usage go? And, double-dipping with a second question, what is the most hopeful part of Utah’s immediate future? – John G.

Butler’s place in the rotation almost exclusively depends on the composition of the roster by the end of July. If the Jazz make a bunch of trades that involve the current backcourt, then there’s certainly a chance that Butler cracks said rotation. The Jazz like him, a lot. They like his offensive upside and he’s terrific with the ball in his hands. His status will also likely depend on how well he plays in Summer League. I think the Jazz want to see him make a leap there.

But, like almost everyone on the current roster, there’s also a chance Butler is not on the team by the end of July. Or, the roster could be so jammed in the backcourt that Butler will not have a clear path to minutes. The range of outcomes for the Utah Jazz this offseason is wide.

The things we know: The Jazz do not want to trade Mitchell, value Rudy Gobert and do not want to take a step back next season. Everything else, in some way, shape or form, is in play.

Justin Zanik’s post-elimination comments seemed a lot more optimistic and positive than most Jazz fans are feeling right now. Is he out of touch with reality, or are we? – Matt A.

I think both are true. I think the Jazz have real warts within their roster. I also think the Jazz are not nearly as far away as many make them out to be. Right now, the Western Conference has proven to be matchup-based. The Warriors have looked tremendous all playoffs because they are deep and talented. They have also played two teams that do not match up well with them (Denver, Dallas), and a third (Memphis) that lost their star player halfway through the series. They have been good and fortunate.

That’s the West right now. There’s no dominant team. There’s no boogeyman.

So, if you are the Jazz, you stay competitive, you shore up what you can and then you play the matchups. The Jazz are going to make changes, but they will do so with the intention of competing for a title. Zanik does not think they are that far away, and this postseason, for the most part, is proving him correctly.

With the Hornets being floated as a potential destination for Gobert with Gordon Hayward as part of the deal, is there any bad blood or ill feelings between one or both parties that would make Hayward coming back uncomfortable? – Marc B.

I’m not reporting on a potential trade. Let’s get that out of the way, for aggregation’s sake. But, if the Jazz were to hypothetically make a trade with Charlotte involving Rudy Gobert, I do not see Gordon Hayward being a part of that hypothetical deal.

Should the Jazz tank next season to try to get Victor Wembanyama? – Jack M.

Barring injury, the Jazz will most likely be too good to tank next season. By the way, Wembanyama is the very definition of a generational prospect. Some team is going to get very, very lucky to be in a position to draft him.

What would you say was the problem with the offense this postseason? Is it simply bad luck? Players were worn down? Non-flexible offense? It’s disheartening that the offense that they’ve worked so hard to improve laid a big egg when it really mattered. – Ryan J.

It was way too stagnant. Mitchell was not great, Gobert could not take advantage of smalls on switches, and Dallas’ switching defense did not allow for any pick-and-roll action. The Jazz missed all of their open shots at the basket, and they turned the ball over way too much. Jordan Clarkson was the only guard that could finish inside the paint. Bojan Bogdanovic expended so much energy defending Luka Doncic that it sapped him offensively when the Jazz needed him to be a lynchpin.

It was certainly a myriad of issues.

More Jazz coverage from Tony Jones:

(Photo of Rudy Gobert: Glenn James / NBAE via Getty Images)

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