Jazz mailbag: What Jazz fans are looking forward to

In last week’s edition of the Jazz Insiders newsletter, I wrote about four Jazz home games that could draw some big buzz in the upcoming 2022-23 NBA season. I mentioned opening night, Rudy Gobert‘s return with the Minnesota Timberwolves, a nationally televised showdown with the New York Knicks and, finally, the return of Royce O’Neale with the Brooklyn Nets.

To my surprise there were quite a few people on social media who disagreed with the return of O’Neale being a game that would be circled on the calendar. I figured that a returning player who was developed from an undrafted end-of-bench player to a starter, coming to town with a big Eastern Conference team would be of interest.

There were certainly more people who were looking forward to the Jan. 20 games before there were people disinterested, but it got me wanting to reach out to the fans and find out what they were looking forward to this season, especially if it turns out to be a full rebuilding/tanking season for the Jazz. What is it that the fans are really excited about? Or, not excited about?

So, I put out the call, and as always the readers and Jazz fans came through.

For a lot of the fan base, getting excited about a rebuild isn’t about any one game, it’s about the entire process and journey from bottom dweller back to contender. As @ExpertBrah put it on Twitter, “New coach, hypothetically a slew of new young players. Stoked to see the new beginnings.”

It’s hard to think about what things are going to look like in the future and accept that an era of basketball is over, but there are silver linings and change can be just as exciting as anything else. It’s scary and there are a lot of unknowns moving forward, but that’s all part of the journey and the excitement.

If the Jazz are going to be in full rebuild mode, there are going to be a lot of nights when watching the Jazz just isn’t going to sound appealing. I’ll still be there, watching and bringing you all the insights and info, but you might find it more interesting to watch the teams that the Jazz are getting draft picks from.

The Timberwolves are going to be giving the Jazz quite a few picks over the next few years, so seeing how the Wolves fare is going to be really intriguing. Do you actively root against Gobert and the Wolves, hoping that the Jazz get a more valuable pick in the draft? Or do you root for success for Gobert in his new home, even if it means the Jazz’s draft pick won’t be as good if the Wolves win a lot of games?

On that note, there could be more trades coming and more draft assets racked up, so it might not just be the Wolves. Jazz fans could end up watching a lot of NBA games hoping for wins and losses purely based on future draft value.

On that note, if the Jazz are keeping the draft assets they collect, it could be very interesting for Jazz fans to become more invested in college basketball and paying attention to the up-and-coming stars that could someday lead this team.

There are certainly fans who are not going to be excited about anything that happens during a rebuild or during bad seasons, where losing is more important than winning. Some fans have said that they are going to check out completely if the Jazz goes into tank mode, and that’s understandable.

But, most of the fans are looking for any and every reason to stay invested. Who is going to step up? With more opportunity for minutes is someone going to break out and become more than just a role player? Is there a burgeoning star just waiting in the wings right now that just needs their chance in order to shine?

There are already a lot of young players on the Jazz roster — Jared Butler, Udoka Azubuike, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Walker Kessler, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, Johnny Juzang, Simone Fontecchio — and Jazz fans are excited about seeing how they develop over the next couple of years. So am I!

Another thing to potentially be excited about is the opportunity to see some games when tickets are reselling for low prices. And, as @esClassic notes, if you get to check out one of the other young teams in the league, it could be a lot of fun.

“I’m mostly looking forward to the games with a ton of good young talent. Hopefully cheap tickets to games like Magic, OKC, Detroit etc.”

Of course, it’s important to point out that here we are in late August and we still don’t really know for certain what the Jazz are going to look like this season. We don’t know who will or won’t be on the 2022-23 roster and so there’s a lot of uncertainty that makes it difficult to know what to be excited about.

“I have no idea,” @BeninatorCoombs said on Twitter when asked what he was looking forward to this season. “I’m in a state of limbo right now because I don’t know what the team will look like tomorrow, let alone when the season starts.”

I really couldn’t have said it better myself.

A fan holds a valentine for Donovan Mitchell as the Utah Jazz play the Houston Rockets at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

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