On paper, the Utah Jazz should be one of the best, most exciting teams in the NBA. Over the last three regular seasons they have lived up to that billing. Unfortunately, the postseason exposes flaws quickly, and Utah has fallen short of even modest goals in each. The Jazz have been exposed as a mess, and that culminated with head coach Quin Snyder stepping down on Sunday after eight seasons.
Snyder was not the problem in Utah. During his eight seasons on the bench he took a mediocre team and turned it into a Western Conference contender. He won the Northwest Division three times -- including in each of the last two seasons -- made the playoffs in six consecutive campaigns and racked up a winning percentage of .623 over that span (294-178). The issue was the postseason, where the Jazz are 21-30 in those seasons and never got past the Conference Semifinals while suffering three first-round exits.
Despite a pairing of perennial All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, plus a solid supporting cast, the Jazz just can't get it together. Mitchell and Gobert are backed up by Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley and Royce O'Neal but bowed out in the opening round of the 2022 playoffs, getting bounced by the Dallas Mavericks 4-2. Yes, Mitchell was hobbled by a hamstring injury during that series, but the Jazz still should have been able to get out of the first round.
There been rumors of a rift between Mitchell and Gobert for years now and it's hard not to see that playing out. The team is far too talented to fall short as many times as it has. Mitchell is a legit star at guard and one of the league's most dynamic scorers. Gobert is 7-foot-1 and regarded as one of the best defensive players in NBA history, while his offensive numbers have improved over the past few seasons. This season he averaged 15.6 points, 14.7 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while shooting 71.3 percent from the field. He finished sixth leaguewide in PER with a career-best mark of 24.76.
Despite those numbers and Mitchell's offensive brilliance, the Jazz can't find a way to make a run when it matters. They are lesser than the sum of their parts, which is an unpardonable sin in the modern NBA.
Snyder did excellent work during his eight years in Utah. He created a contender and sustained the team's success from season-to-season. But a toxic combination of personalities has sunk the franchise. I don't blame him for stepping away from a situation where two star players can't coexist.
The Jazz are a mess and unless big moves are made, that will only continue under a new head coach.