Two teams headed in opposite directions will face-off here on the first full day of the NBA season as the Utah Jazz host the Oklahoma City Thunder. OKC appears to be entering a lengthy rebuild, while the Jazz are going all-in on winning in 2019. Utah is hoping to compete in the Western Conference, while the Thunder are hoping to compete for an early draft pick. Oddsmakers have the Jazz as a nine-point favorite.
ThunderThe Thunder might've had the weirdest offseason of any team. They went all in on winning the past couple of years, pulling off a blockbuster trade that landed them Paul George. After just two years of the George/Russell Westbrook partnership and two first-round playoff exits, they decided to blow everything up.
George was shipped off to the Clippers for a haul of draft picks, and Russell Westbrook was traded to the Rockets. In return for Westbrook, they landed Chris Paul, who they attempted to trade immediately. But because of Paul's contract, they couldn't find any suitors, and now they're more or less stuck with the veteran point guard. They're in a very interesting spot as they're looking to rebuild, while Paul's entering the twilight of his career. Oklahoma City doesn't plan on winning many games this season, and you could reasonably say they're tanking. It's hard to predict exactly what they're going to look like in 2019 because they could trade Paul at any moment.
Chris Paul on the Thunder’s defensive potential: “We’ve got the guys.” pic.twitter.com/umUqw0wLqr— Maddie Lee (@maddie_m_lee) October 22, 2019
All that being said, there are reasons to believe they might not be as bad as everybody expects them to be early on. They still have Steven Adams, who is capable of playing like one of the league's better big men. They also have Shai Gilgeous Alexander, who they got in return for George from the Clippers. They also have Dennis Schroeder, and when you throw in Danilo Gallinari, the roster really isn't as bad as it seems. Everybody is counting them out because of the trades they've made, but I'm not so sure they're going to be a disaster.
Jazz Go BoldWhile the Thunder tore down their team and started building for the future, the Jazz did the exact opposite. The team let Ricky Rubio walk in free agency and made an aggressive move to land Mike Conley in a trade with the Grizzlies. They also went out and signed Bojan Bogdanovic, providing them with some much-needed frontcourt scoring. With Conley, Bogdanovic, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gobert all in the fold, they have one of the best starting lineups in the entire league. While it will be easy to get excited, things might not be so smooth early on. They've got a lot of new pieces, and it could take a while for the chemistry to build and all the guys to start to gel together.
I love head coach Quin Snyder and his staff but it's important not to let expectations get too high this early in the year. I'm also a bit concerned about their depth, especially in the backcourt. Dante Exum is injured yet again, so they really don't have much behind Conley and Mitchell at the two guard positions. Emmanuel Mudiay finally made some progress last year playing for the Knicks, but I'm still not sold on him as a real scoring option as the team's third guard. Utah had a really tough time slowing down Paul when he played for the Rockets, and it'll be interesting to see how they stop him from penetrating here. The Jazz are always known as a defensive team, but they made big moves to upgrade their offense this offseason. It'll be interesting to see if they pay off.
- 24-9 ATS in their last 33 Wednesday games
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS loss
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games vs. Thunder