Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets are two small market powerhouses that you may not have taken note of during the offseason. Other franchises have hit the headlines with big players’ movement being pronounced in Lakers, Clippers and Brooklyn Nets.
The two franchises made a considerable trading effort which is worth noting. Last season, Nuggets won 54 games in the Western Conference. Nuggets then dealt the 25-year-old forward Jerami Grant and acquired Jamal Murray.
Most of Nuggets players are below the age of 25, and thus they require a stabilizing player which Grant will provide. Grant can play anywhere in the frontcourt. Then lottery pick Michael Porter Jr. will be back, and they will enjoy the benefit of continuity by retaining their entire playoff rotation.
On the other hand, Utah Jazz made a huge deal; they dealt Mike Conley, a player considered among the best in the NBA but never to be an All-Star. They acquired Bojan Bogdanovic in a free-agent deal. Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles’ combination might be the best shooting and prominent duos in the league.
Utah Jazz is not known to many despite having a good record in the past three seasons. Gobert, the defensive player of the year, sobbed after Carmelo Anthony took his All-Star. He failed to get the most votes from the fans compared to well-known Carmelo.
To a certain degree, Nuggets and Jazz have less national following compared to Lakers, Celtics and Knicks. But it does not mean that they are entirely invisible. In 2019-20 season, Jazz has 17 games on TNT and ESPN while Denver has 16 games. On the other hand, Lakers has 26 plus games on ABC.
Previously, the teams had problems keeping superstars, in 2017, Gordon Hayward left for Boston, Anthony and Deron both headed to New York. But those deals were a great advantage to Nugget and Jazz.
While it may seem like the team has no capability of luring players into their market, they have made great feat. Denver recently acquired Millsap from Atlanta. Jazz acquired Carlos Boozer from Cavaliers. In 2017, they received seven All-Star and Future Hall of Fame Joe Johnson.
Utah Jazz, in particular, believes that there is a perceived disrespect especially to Gobert’s All-Star rejection and also to Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell had an embarrassing campaign to win the Rookie of the Year Award. The team also has less coverage by the writers.
The sidelining of Jazz and Nugget might be partly associated with the history of Salt Lake City being hostile to black players. But gamblers aren’t ignoring them given that they have a higher winning average of 53.5 compared to Lakers with 51.5 winning.