The Utah Jazz Desperately Need to Avoid Another NBA Postseason Failure or Risk a Major Rebuild

Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, and the Utah Jazz have been a consistently great regular-season group since 2016-17. The problem is that they have yet to advance past the second round of the playoffs.

The more early exits the Jazz rack up, the more the rumors swirl. The most popular one has always been breaking up the Mitchell-Gobert duo, but that’s gaining extra traction this year.

And now there’s another to add to the list — LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers are interested in Utah head coach Quin Snyder when if Frank Vogel gets fired after the season.

The Jazz are facing more pressure entering the 2021-22 postseason than any other.

If they don’t make a run, Mitchell could be out the door, Snyder could depart for LA, and the franchise would be heading straight into a complete and total rebuild.

The Utah Jazz have built a reputation of NBA postseason failure

Utah Jazz regular-season records the past five seasons, per RealGM:

  • 2020-21: 52-20, 1st in the Western Conference
  • 2019-20: 44-28, 6th in the Western Conference
  • 2018-19: 50-32, 5th in the Western Conference
  • 2017-18: 48-34, 5th in the Western Conference
  • 2016-17: 51-31, 5th in the Western Conference

Utah Jazz playoff results the past five seasons:

  • 2020-21: Lost in six games in the second round to the Los Angeles Clippers
  • 2019-20: Lost in seven games in the first round to the Denver Nuggets
  • 2018-19: Lost in five games in the first round to the Houston Rockets
  • 2017-18: Lost in five games in the second round to the Houston Rockets
  • 2016-17: Swept in the second round by the Golden State Warriors

In five years, the Jazz had three 50-win seasons and three playoff series victories.

If it happens again, the franchise could be facing a massive rebuild

The Utah Jazz need to avoid another postseason collapse or risk an NBA rebuild and lose star Donovan Mitchell.
Donovan Mitchell and coach Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz talk during the first half of the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns. | Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Regular-season record and playoff results in 2021-22? TBD.

Before a March 23 game against the streaking Boston Celtics, Utah sits fourth in the Western Conference standings at 45-27. Another 50-win season is easily within reach.

But the Jazz are 2.5 games behind the Warriors for the possible third seed in the West playoffs and just one game ahead of Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in a battle for the fifth seed.

If the season ended today and Utah earned a No. 4 seed, they would have home-court advantage for a series against the Mavericks. If the two teams flip flop, home-court advantage would go to Dallas.

The winner faces a likely matchup with the defending conference champions and first-seeded Phoenix Suns, who have the best record in the league.

If the Jazz can get through a first-round series and at least take the Suns to seven games, it might be enough to keep the faith in Utah. Anything less, and the Mitchell-Gobert-Snyder trio is in serious danger.

The New York Knicks are already hoping to land Mitchell via Bleacher Report. Now LeBron and the Lakers are hoping to replace Vogel with Snyder, per CBSSports.

Everything the Jazz do depends on Donovan Mitchell

The traditional stats may not bear it out, but Mitchell is having his best season as a pro. The eye test shows it, but most importantly, Spida has recognized the weight placed on his shoulders.

Via a story by Tony Jones of The Athletic, the 25-year-old has changed his diet, focus, and leadership in the locker room.

But he’s done it because he knows he has to. Because the Jazz have to win in the playoffs.

“I think I’m really at a point now where we’ve made the second round, and we want more,” Mitchell said via The Athletic. “We crave it.

“The ultimate goal is for us to be the last team standing. That’s the sign of the ultimate winner.”

Recognizing the pressure, he added, “Our burden is huge. We have to be at our all-time best for us to take another leap. We have to be the best that we can be.”

The Utah Jazz need to make an NBA postseason run now, or they’ll be staring down the barrel of a rebuild. After a half-decade of consistency, that’s not where Mitchell, the organization, or its fans want to be.

All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.

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