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Will NBA Parity Help The Utah Jazz?

May 20, 2024, 3:30 PM

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SALT LAKE CITY – The dynasty era in the NBA appears to be over, and that should be good news for the Utah Jazz.

With the Denver Nuggets elimination at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday night, no team will have won back-to-back titles in the NBA since the Golden State Warriors in 2017 and 2018.

Even more surprising is that with the Nuggets’ second-round exit, the NBA will crown its sixth different champion in six years for the first time since 1975-80.

NBA Parity Should Benefit Utah Jazz

This year, either the Timberwolves, Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, or the Indiana Pacers will win the NBA title, only one of whom, the Celtics, are in what could be considered a near-dynastic run.

Boston is competing in its third consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, and is making its fourth trip in the last five seasons.

Dallas is in the conference finals for the second time in its last three seasons but hadn’t previously won a playoff series since 2011.

Indiana is in the conference finals for the first time since 2014, while Minnesota will make its first appearance since 2004.

It’s a novel outlook for the NBA which had seen one of LeBron James or Stephen Curry make the NBA Finals for 10 straight seasons between 2011-2020, but has now ushered in a new era of stars who are competing for titles like a game of musical chairs.

What should excite Jazz fans about the teams remaining in the playoffs is how their rosters were built.

The Celtics (Jayson Tatum), Timberwolves (Anthony Edwards), and Mavericks (Luka Doncic) all found their best players in the draft.

They didn’t acquire talent solely due to the reputation of the cities they play in, or the championship histories of those franchises. Those teams drafted well, developed those picks into stars, and then added complimentary talent through trades and free agency.

Though they didn’t draft Tyrese Haliburton, the Pacers acquired the guard in a trade for Domantas Sabonis, the previous face of the franchise, and have since built a roster around him with trades and through the draft.

While these teams still found success through luck and patience, they aren’t the result of franchise legacy, the team’s geography, the market size, or the weather, none of which favor the Jazz.

Why Is There More NBA Parity?

Due in part to James and Curry reaching the twilight years of their careers, a lack of league expansion, and a reformed collective bargaining agreement, there’s never been more parity in the NBA.

James and Curry dominated the league for more than a decade, but as of today, there’s no true superstar who is ready to rule the league for the next several seasons.

Nikola Jokic has been far and away the NBA’s best player having won three MVPs in the last four seasons, but has just one Finals appearance to show for it.

Minnesota’s Edwards and the San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama are superstars in the making, but the league’s new CBA has made it more difficult than ever for teams to build dynastic supporting casts.

Ultra-punitive luxury taxes, trade restrictions, and frozen draft assets have been put in place to prevent teams from making five consecutive runs to the Finals like the Warriors did over the last decade.

Those penalties have also spread stars across the league more thoroughly, decentralizing the talent away from the NBA’s traditional power franchises.

And, with the league’s refusal to expand over the last two decades, teamed with the influx of international talent, deeper teams are finding more success in the playoffs than ever before, while the top-heavy rosters of yesteryear are struggling to advance in the postseason.

Can Jazz Throw Their Name Into The Hat?

Though small market teams are more competitive than ever, there is significant work to be done before the Jazz can compete for an NBA title.

While a different team has won the championship over the last six years, those rosters all featured one of the league’s top five players.

Until the Jazz find their next superstar, a deep playoff run will be difficult, and, there’s no guarantee that star will return the team to greatness overnight.

It took the Timberwolves, Mavericks, and Nuggets four seasons to make the conference finals after drafting Edwards, Doncic, and Jokic.

The Pacers didn’t win a playoff series in four seasons under Sabonis, and it wasn’t until year two of Haliburton that they finally broke through.

The NBA has never been more hospitable to small-market teams, and recent history proves that with good drafting and savvy trades, every franchise has a chance to compete at the highest level.

While the Jazz won’t compete for a title in the immediate future, there appears to be a realistic pathway to contention, and that’s a significant upgrade over the past five decades.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

 

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Will NBA Parity Help The Utah Jazz?