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Jazz Mailbag: Do Jazz have more moves to make?

What decisions does the team need to make by the trade deadline? And does team have a rebounding issue?

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder calls a timeout during game against Miami at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City, Nov. 13, 2021.
Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder calls a time out during the game against the Miami Heat at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 13, 2021.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

Here we are, about a third of the way through the 2021-22 NBA season, as a good a time as any to check in with Utah Jazz fans and answer some of the questions that have cropped up since the last time we opened up the mailbag.

The first question came from @RyanStipUTES, who asked if the Jazz are in a good place with the current team or might they try to do anything at the trade deadline?

Two parts to this first question with the first being, are the Jazz in a good place with the current team?

Well, there are a few components to this. Chemistry-wise, I think the Jazz are still figuring out how to play with Rudy Gay since he missed the first month of the season and the same can be said for Hassan Whiteside, who is also trying to get up to speed. The good news on those fronts is that both players seem to be meshing well with the team, are highly regarded and well liked by everyone so there shouldn’t be any problems with them progressing throughout the season.

The next component is looking at where the Jazz are in the standings and what they’ve produced on the court. The Jazz have been third in the Western Conference standings through most of the season, just behind Golden State and Phoenix. That seems like a good place to be, but the Jazz haven’t produced a string of really meaningful wins. Some of that has to do with the schedule and some of it has to do with some lackluster performances.

Be that as it may, the Jazz are in a good spot and have plenty of time to ramp things up and round into form.

Finally, when analyzing if this team is in a good place you have to think about what things could look like by the end of the season, which brings us to the second part of the original question; do they try to do anything at the trade deadline?

There’s a lot that could happen between now and the Feb. 10 trade deadline. For example, what if the Jazz shoot up the standings and take over the No. 1 seed and look just as good if not better than they did last season? Then they might not want to change things too much.

No matter what there are some decisions that need to be made.

Joe Ingles is on the final year of his contract and if the Jazz are going to move on from Ingles after this year they might want to think about moving him so that they can actually get something in return. If they let him walk at the end of the season, they won’t have the money to replace Ingles at anything more than the veteran minimum.

The Jazz also need to decide what to do with Miye Oni, who has pretty much fallen out of the rotation, at no fault of his own. The Jazz’s depth chart is just a little more robust this season and that makes Oni the odd man out. The Jazz need to decide by Jan. 7 whether they want to guarantee Oni’s contract for the rest of the season, and if they don’t, that would leave the Jazz with two roster spots to fill (the already-open roster spot and the one that would be left by Oni).

I would think the Jazz will either fill an open roster spot off waivers after the trade deadline, or do a little bit of dealing just to create some more depth for an insurance policy through the latter half of the season. But in all honesty, it might seriously depend on what happens over the next six weeks of play.

In order to answer this question, I’d like to put into context what offensive rebounding looks like across the league. The difference between the team that allows the least number of offensive rebounds and the team that allows the most is just 3.5 rebounds per game, and the Jazz are roughly in the middle of the pack.

So do they really have a rebounding issue? Not according to the numbers and league averages.

It’s what happens after an offensive board that the Jazz need to focus on. The Jazz are 10th worst in the league in opponent second-chance points with 13.3 per game through the first 23 games, that’s where the concern should be. If a team gets an offensive board against the Jazz, they need to be in better position to defend that second possession.

Of course, the simple answer is to just not allow the offensive board, and the Jazz can definitely cut down on those by putting in a little more effort. If the wings stop ball watching and work to grab some of the longer rebounds that would probably net them a couple more rebounds per game.

I understand that the Jazz get beat a lot by crafty, scoring guards, but to be fair, those guards are beating a lot of teams. The idea that if a team allows an opposing player to score more than 30 points it means the team is bad or that they can’t win in the playoffs is a fallacy.

Devin Booker averaged 28.2 points per game in the Finals against the eventual champion Milwaukee Bucks last season; Stephen Curry averaged 30.5 points per game in the Finals against the title-winning Toronto Raptors a couple of years ago; and LeBron James nearly averaged a triple-double with 34 points, 10 assists and 8.5 rebounds per game against the Golden State Warriors in the 2018 Finals, and the Warriors won the chip.

A team’s highest scoring players, the ones that are most skilled and counted on by their team, are going to score a lot of points, and they’ll do it no matter how far into the playoffs they get.

Donovan Mitchell averaged 32.3 points throughout the playoffs last season and that did not stop teams from beating the Jazz. So, yes — the Jazz can win a championship with guards dropping 30 on them every other game. Actually, every other game wouldn’t be that bad in the playoffs.

Real Salt Lake made it to the Western Conference Finals, so to say that the Jazz go further would mean saying the Jazz will make the NBA Finals. I don’t think I’m ready to say the Jazz can do that.

But, making it just as far as RSL did is right where expectations should be for this team. Another first- or second-round exit for the Jazz in the playoffs would be a disappointment.

Eric Paschall would get more playing time on a team that did not have Rudy Gay ahead of him in the rotation. It might seem harsh, but that’s just the way it is.

Paschall did a great job filling in through the first part of the season while Gay was rehabbing from offseason surgery, and there’s no doubt that Paschall has a place in this league. But, on this Jazz team, as constructed, he’s not going to get more playing time unless someone is injured or there are some major moves made.

The great news is that Paschall is an inexpensive guy who is wonderful to have just in case. It’s really a luxury for Paschall to be on the Jazz’s bench as an option. If Gay is in foul trouble or if he gets hurt, or if something happens to another player and the matchup calls for a more traditional type of power forward, we already know that Paschall can fill in and work within the Jazz’s system.

If you would like to have your question answered, send it to me at stodd@deseretnews.com with “mailbag” in the subject line, or you can send it to me via Twitter @NBASarah with the hashtag #UtahJazzMailbag.