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Opinion: What NBA schedule makers must think about 2022-23 Utah Jazz (hint: it’s not good)

Release of the 2022-23 NBA schedule is telling for the Utah Jazz — for a couple of reasons

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Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell leaves the floor after Game 6 first-round playoff defeat to Dallas in Salt Lake City.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell leaves the floor after a Game 6 first-round playoff game against the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, April 28, 2022, in Salt Lake City.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

I think that we could all probably agree on some general statements about the NBA, their television partners and how they market the best players, the up-and-coming players and the All-Stars of the league.

  1. The NBA wants eyeballs on the best teams in the league.
  2. The NBA wants eyeballs on the the most marketable players and on the top talent.
  3. The NBA’s broadcast partners want to televise games that offer intrigue and a competitive atmosphere that include big names and bright stars.

The NBA schedule for the 2022-23 season was released Wednesday and while the schedule only included dates, teams and times, it said a whole lot more.

The Utah Jazz, who had 26 nationally televised games on their schedule last year, are slated to play in just four nationally televised games this coming season.

Last year the Jazz had four appearances on TNT alone. This season the Jazz will play in one TNT game and three games slated for NBA TV. They are not scheduled to play any games on ABC or ESPN. The only other teams whose schedules are void of ABC and ESPN games are the Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic — three of the four worst teams in the NBA last season.

So which Jazz game did the NBA’s television partners see as being important enough to broadcast nationally? Is it when the Jazz will face Rudy Gobert and the Timberwolves for the first time on Oct. 21 in Minnesota? No. Is it when the Jazz face any of the top teams in the league or those who could make an NBA title run? Nope.

The Jazz’s lone TNT appearance will be against an Eastern Conference team that didn’t even finish in the top 10 in the conference standings last season. Why would that be? Well, that Nov. 15 home game is against the New York Knicks, the team that has long been rumored to be the most likely trade destination for Donovan Mitchell.

These things are not a coincidence. Basically the prime-time television scheduling bigwigs looked at the NBA schedule and are firmly betting against the Utah Jazz being any good in the 2022-23 season and fully believe that a deal will be made that sends Mitchell to the Knicks.

For Jazz fans, looking deeper into the schedule won’t make them feel any better. Ten of the Jazz’s first 11 games are against teams who are expected to be in the hunt for a Western Conference playoff spot, and if the schedule makers and their TV partners are right about the Jazz being a subpar team next season, that could mean a really rough start with a lot of losses, one right after another, setting the tone for a long season.

Utah will get an attention boost during All-Star Weekend, Feb. 17-19, when the NBA world and all of its brightest stars will descend on Salt Lake City, but outside of that, the NBA is not expecting the Jazz to be a major part of the narrative that shapes the upcoming NBA season.


Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) drives on Utah Jazz forward Bojan Bogdanovic (44) as the Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks play Game 4 of their playoff series at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News