Are we anointing Rudy Gobert too fast?
While the big man is one of the best rim protectors in the NBA, but does that alone make him a top-20 player in the league? He still is a question mark on the offensive side of the ball and he still needs someone to get him the ball in order to be a factor. Gobert is a great defensive player, but as we saw last year, he can be a liability if you are asking him to guard for outside the perimeter.
Failing to keep Gordon Hayward will be a huge blow to this team. Hayward was a star who was reliable to give you 20-24 points a night. With weapons like Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood of the team, Utah should be able to weather the storm in the regular season. Utah has enough pieces that could lift them to the playoffs, and maybe even further depending on a favorable first round match up.
Like a Dennis Smith Jr, Donovan Mitchell is a rookie to look out for this season. He can put up points in a hurry and his no slouch on the defensive side of the ball. Playing behind Ricky Rubio will do wonders for Mitchell’s game. Unless there is a unforeseen injury, don’t expect Mitchell to get bumped up to the starting line-up this season, but he will more than likely be the sixth man on this rugged roster.
A healthy Alec Burke will also help with the scoring load Hayward leaves behind. Derrick Favors needs to say to stay away from injury because when he is on the court, he is one of the leagues best plus/minus players.
If Gobert can be the player everyone projects him to be and players like Hood and Johnson can be consistent this season, Utah will be just fine without Hayward.
Regular Season Prediction: 45-37