Key Narratives to Follow in Jazz’s Performance After the All-Star Break

 

The Utah Jazz are back at it on Thursday night when they host the Charlotte Hornets at the Delta Center. Utah is still in striking distance of making the play-in tournament, but there’s not a lot of room for error if Utah is going to make the playoffs for the first time under the Will Hardy regime. Either way, there isn’t a shortage of storylines that Jazz fans should be keeping a close eye on.

Let’s take a look at three storylines Jazz fans should be monitoring as we approach the home stretch.

Rookies Development

The two trades that saw Kelly Olynyk, Simone Fontechio, and Ochai Agbaji leave town have now cleared a path for the rookies to get much-needed live reps at the NBA level. It appears Keynonte George has taken his game to the next level, but what about Brice Sensabaugh and Taylor Hendricks?

Hendricks has looked raw in his short time in Hardy’s rotation, and Sensabaugh is still looking for his first real opportunity. Keep in mind that Hardy is on the record, saying Hendricks will be in the rotation for the remainder of the season. Can either player make some noise like George has been able to do over the last month?

Hendricks certainly has the skill set to succeed in today’s league, but still may be a couple of years away from being a real difference-maker. How Hendricks plays over the next 25 games will contribute to helping Utah’s front office decide what type of players are needed moving forward.

Collin Sexton Starting SG of the Future?

At the start of the season, it appeared the best-case scenario for Sexton was to be the Sixth Man of the future in Utah. He’s flipped the script on that outlook and now has a firm grip as the starter at the shooting guard.

Sexton isn’t only scoring at a high clip, but is Utah’s most efficient scorer behind Markkanen. He’s shooting 48.7% from the field and 39% from long distance. There’s no question he can start in this league, but how about on a championship contender?

Utah will be on the lookout to upgrade its starting lineup this offseason, and Sexton could be part of a package to bring a star in, or he could have a future in Salt Lake City. How he performs post-All-Star-Break will go a long way in deciding his future.

Jazz Fans in for a Mini-Tank?

Is Utah going to let the foot off the gas and secure a top-10 draft pick this year? If Utah falls to the bottom 10 teams, then the pick is theirs. If it is anything better than a bottom-10 finish, then the selection goes to the Oklahoma City Thunder. That should be the No.1 thing on Jazz fan’s minds after what happened last season.

Getting the pick would be nice, but so would paying off the debt. We know that Jazz CEO Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to pull the plug on the season. However, there were rumors that Utah’s players weren’t happy with the trades at the deadline. Playing for the pick with Markkanen’s contract extension looming may not be in Ainge’s best interest.


 

 

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