NBA Rumors: Utah Jazz Considered As ‘Most Likely Challenger’ To L.A. Lakers & L.A. Clippers In 2019-20 Season

Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz is congratulated by Donovan Mitchell #45
Christian Petersen / Getty Images

The 2019 NBA offseason gave birth to new powerhouse teams in the Western Conference. After the Golden State Warriors got dethroned by the Toronto Raptors and lost Kevin Durant in the 2019 NBA free agency, several NBA teams became more aggressive, building a roster that could help them contend for the NBA championship in the 2019-20 NBA season. Despite acquiring D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade deal with the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Kevin Durant, the Warriors aren’t considered the favorite to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy next year.

According to Sean Deveney of Heavy, the top two teams who are expected to be in a close fight to represent the Western Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers. Both Los Angeles teams have made massive improvements to their rosters this summer with the Lakers pairing LeBron James with Anthony Davis, and the Clippers acquiring both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. However, other powerhouse teams like the Denver Nuggets, Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, and the Utah Jazz won’t let the Lakers and the Clippers take all the spotlight next season.

Of all those teams, Deveney believes that the Jazz are the “most likely challenger” to the Lakers and the Clippers.

“The Lakers and Clippers are battling within Southern California, but both expect to be Finals contenders. The Rockets made the headline-grabbing acquisition of Russell Westbrook and having two former MVPs in the backcourt will keep Houston under pressure to win now. Utah, meanwhile, had an outstanding offseason that makes the Jazz the most likely challenger to the L.A. teams. And two teams that were solid last season and should develop more this year, Portland and Denver, are also expecting to be contenders in the West.”

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After suffering an early playoff exit last season, the Jazz decided to find a better supporting cast for Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert this summer. Though they parted ways with the likes of Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Raul Neto, and Jae Crowder, the Jazz have made incredible additions on their roster in the 2019 NBA offseason. These include Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green, and Emmanuel Mudiay.

The Jazz’s offseason moves may not be as big as what other powerhouse teams made this summer, but their roster, as currently constructed, undeniably has a realistic chance of dominating the Western Conference and contending for the NBA championship next season. The Jazz still have plenty to work on in the 2019 NBA offseason, but if they manage to grow together and build chemistry, they will definitely be a huge headache, not only to the Lakers and the Clippers, but to all the powerhouse teams in the league.

As Mike Conley said, the Jazz only have one “ultimate goal” in the 2019-20 NBA season and that is to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy to Utah.