How to face 2022-23 as a Jazz fan during a rebuilding season
With rebuild in motion, upcoming season will be different for the Jazz and their fans. But here are some silver linings to keep in mind
This NBA season is going to be very different for a lot of Utah Jazz fans.
This is nearly an entirely new team, with a new coach and new people in positions of power. The colors are new, the court is new and the expectations, or lack thereof are new. Traversing this new terrain as a fan won’t be easy, but together we will find the silver linings and shine a light on the things that will give hope for the future while applying a critical eye to everything that happens.
The path forward has changed and things may seem a bit murky right now, but there are things to look forward to and things that we can all be certain of even in the middle of all the uncertainty.
Here’s what to keep in mind during the 2022-23 season:
Conflicting feelings are OK
Of course you want to see the Jazz succeed, nobody wants to cheer for their team to lose. But you also want the Jazz to have a high lottery pick in the upcoming draft, so you want the Jazz to lose quite a bit.
That’s OK. Those are normal feelings for a team in the infant stages of a rebuild.
You want for players on this team to develop and progress and become more than they are now. But success now for some of the players on this team might mean that they are the pieces that will need to be traded away later for the eventual stars that could lead this team to a title.
That’s OK. You need players to walk so that the future Jazz can run. You won’t forget their contributions or their development, and if this all ends up with the Jazz hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy in a few years, all of the conflicting feelings and heartache will have been worth it.
Scouting for the future
It’s going to take a while to get to know the people you’re cheering for. From rookies Simone Fontecchio, Ochai Agbaji and Walker Kessler, to newcomers, Jarred Vanderbilt, Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton and many others, to head coach Will Hardy and assistant general manager David Fizdale. There’s so much that’s new about this team, but one thing that hasn’t changed is basketball.
There is a chance that not a single player that is on this team right now will be in a Jazz jersey once the rebuild turns the corner and the Jazz are aiming for true NBA success. But, there is also a chance that this year could unearth some of the future talent that the Jazz will desperately need when the time comes.
Evaluating the growth and improvement and fortitude of players through the course of a season, and even during every single game, has always been a part of being a fan of the game and now it’s more important than ever for the Jazz.
Not only are you searching for every flicker of light and glimmer of what could possibly be NBA greatness, but as I said before, some of the players on this team are going to become trading pieces in the future. The value of future trades are dependent on a certain amount of growth and potential.
So, continue to watch this Jazz team with the same critical eye that you watched previous teams. The results may not be as exciting, but the Jazz still have to find basketball players who can be a part of the future.
Don’t forget about the other 2023 picks the Jazz own
The Jazz have their own 2023 pick in the upcoming draft, but they also have some others, which gives Jazz fans some other things to root for this season.
The Jazz will get the least favorable 2023 pick between the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets and the Philadelphia 76ers. Conventional wisdom tells us that the Nets and the Sixers are probably going to be pretty good this season, making both of those picks less favorable than Houston’s. But Jazz fans can definitely hope for catastrophe to strike in Brooklyn and Philly.
The worse those teams fare, the better draft pick the Jazz will have in 2023.
The Jazz also have a 2023 pick coming from Minnesota. I think it would be foolish to expect the Timberwolves to be bad. Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Co. are going to be a formidable group. And it might be hard for Jazz fans to root against the success of Gobert, even in a new market. But the lower the Wolves are in the standings, the better the draft pick for the Jazz.
The Jazz need their fans
I’ve been around many bad basketball teams and seen how much it helps to have a fanbase that supports them, even during the dark years. There are teams that go through rough patches that still have their fans on their side, like Philly and Sacramento and Golden State and Washington. Those fans keep the arena raucous and showed up even when they knew to expect losses. And the players who were there when things turned around did not forget the loyalty of the fans.
I’ve also seen what it looks like during a regular season game in Detroit or Houston when the team was destined for the lottery and it’s bleak. When there’s more empty seats than occupied ones, and you can easily hear people’s conversations during an NBA game, it feels sad and lonely in an arena. Those teams can’t talk about how the building filled up even when they were at the bottom of the standings.
It’s easy to give up on a team when they are bad. But it’s rewarding to endure the bad days so that the good days can feel even better.
Coverage will be better this season
Since the COVID-19 pandemic upended the sports world there have been a number of changes to the amount of access reporters have to players. For the entirety of the 2020-21 season, all interviews were conducted via Zoom. Reporters couldn’t even be in the same room with the coaches or players.
Last season we got a little bit closer, able to be in an interview room with the coaches and players, but that left very little room for individual conversations or one-on-one interviews.
This season, beat reporters will be back in NBA locker rooms. That might not seem like a big deal to fans, but I assure you that the locker room is a place where relationships are built and that with greater access, you, the reader, the fan, will receive better coverage.
Being able to walk with coaches, executives and players in the tunnels and to talk with them next to their lockers, that’s where some of the best insight comes from. Sports reporting thrives on being able to have contact and close conversations with athletes and I’m very excited to feel like I’m once again going to be able to bring you the best possible coverage.
Don’t forget, this is supposed to be fun
You will not be watching the Jazz in the playoffs this year. There will be more losses than wins. There will be frustration, confusion, anger, sadness and general feelings of despondence.
But, there will also be moments of hilarity and there’s going to be a lot of weirdness. There’s going to be hope, joy, inspiration and most importantly, fun. That’s what this is all supposed to be about and don’t forget it. Don’t forget to have fun as a Jazz fan this season. There’s going to be plenty of opportunity for it.