Utah Jazz
(Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The Utah Jazz look to define themselves as a contender in the Western Conference this year. This will mark their 5th season since they last appeared in the postseason. During this drought they have been dead last in the West, but also have just missed the playoffs twice, including last season.

2015-2016 Record- 40-42 (9th in Western Conference)

The Jazz took an interesting approach to getting to that record.

The offense was a non-factor basically all season long. They finished the season ranked 28th in the league at 97.7 PPG.

On the other side of the ball, this Utah team was a wall to all opponents it met. They finished the 2015-16 as the 2nd ranked defense in terms of PPG, at 95.9.

The Jazz will need to see an increase on the offensive end if they are going to put themselves into the playoffs.

This season provides them with an interesting opportunity to not only contend for a playoff spot, but also to win the Northwest Division.

The Nuggets figure to be a non-factor. The Trail Blazers seem to be stuck in place in terms of how they finish each season without a huge contributor to accompany Damian Lillard. The Thunder are going to be a wild card, as we look to see how they handle the loss of Kevin Durant. That leaves the young Timberwolves squad that has a lot of hype around it, but questions as to how their youth will factor into their play.

The Jazz had a few additions this offseason that they hope will help them. Boris Diaw is an older veteran who will not only help with this fairly young team in terms of experience, but also comes from another solid defensive team in San Antonio.

The other additions are Joe Johnson and George Hill. They both have been solid offensive factors for their teams in prior seasons, but have been on downhill slides in terms of scoring. However, they also add more veteran presence that could benefit the team down road.

As far as the rest of the team, they will continue to rely on their top option in Gordon Hayward. Hayward has seen a steady increase in stats throughout his tenure in Utah, and they hope that continues this year. Hayward averaged a career-high 19.7 PPG, but saw a decrease in shooting percentages and assists. That may not play as big of a factor though if this team can start to move the ball around and score more.

The Jazz will open their season on Tuesday night against their division rival, the Portland Trail Blazers.

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