Beyond the Toronto Raptors: Previewing a strong Northwest division

Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Toronto Raptors - Norman Powell (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors – OG Anunoby (Photo by Ron Turenne/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Utah Jazz

Key additions: Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic

Key departures: Derrick Favors, Ricky Rubio

Finally, finally. The Utah Jazz have the point guard that can take them to the next level. Conley has consistently flown under the radar as one of the leagues best facilitators, and now has all of the pieces around him – including new addition Bogdanovic – to make his mark on the biggest stage.

Losing Favors and Rubio is a blow, but as a like-for-like replacement, Conley makes up for it immediately. Adding depth players like Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Ed Davis give the Jazz one of the best rosters in the league from top to bottom.

Offensive outlook

With Conley running point and Donovan Mitchell beside him in the backcourt, this team could well be an offensive juggernaut for the first time in a while. Mitchell stuttered in his second year, but a sophomore taking 20 shots per game – leading the team – is a lot to ask. With Conley and Bogdanovic, as well as Joe Ingles, the burden has now been lifted.

Defensive outlook

It’s fairly simple, as long as the Jazz having Rudy Gobert – the reigning Defensive Player of the Year – anchoring this defense they’ll be top 10. With all the other pieces collectively around him, this Jazz defense can be as good as ever. Conley and Mitchell could form a menacing backcourt with two wings that are deceptively good on both sides of the ball.

Overall projection: 52-30

From top to bottom, this roster feels like the cream of the crop in the Northwest Division. Quin Snyder has the combination of youth and experience on his roster, as well as a plethora of options to create different lineups. Fluidity is what it’s all about in the NBA.

Next. Staff survey of biggest questions for the Raptors. dark

With a bit of luck, the Jazz could claim to number one seed in the Western Conference. The LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers have top-end talent, but the Jazz might just have the edge this season.