*This article was added/adapted from the October 2023 issue of Rookie.
22-23 Season Results
Regular season: 37 wins, 45 losses, 12th in the West
Playoffs: Did not advance
Key player moves
Taylor Hendricks (R)
Kiyonte George (R)
Bryce Senserbaugh (R)
Projected Roster for 23-24 Season
PG Collin Sexton, Kris Dunn
SG Jordan Clarkson, Kiyonte George, Tyler Horton-Tucker, Ochai Abaje
SF Lauri Markkanen, Simone Fontecchio, Taylor Hendricks, Bryce Senserbaugh
PF John Collins, Luka Samanic
C Walker Kessler, Kelly Olynyk, Omer Utseben
Season 23-24 GOOD & BAD
GOOD – Quick Win Now Turnaround
For the first half of last season, Utah was the furthest thing from tanking. Despite the departures of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Utes stabilized under new head coach Will Hardy, winning six of their first eight games and going 29-31 in the first half. The addition of John Collins means Utah is officially on a win-now path. They may not be a championship contender, but they’re already solid.
BAD – Defense needs to improve
Under Will Hardy, the Utes are known for their wide-court utilization and transition game. The offense was very potent with a variety of off-ball screens (pin-downs, flares, etc.). The defense, on the other hand, has been less than stellar. With a fast-paced offensive game, the defensive efficiency rating is near the bottom of the league. The Utes need to improve and stabilize their defense to become a contender.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH
- Height in the frontcourt
After acquiring John Collins on the cheap, the Utes will have an incredibly tall frontcourt next season. After a successful first season in Utah, 6-foot-9 forward Lauri Markkanen will move to small forward and be flanked by John Collins (207) and Walker Kessler (216). Veteran big man Kelly Olynyk will serve as the backup big man. The size of the frontcourt is among the best in the league.
- The role of John Collins
With so much emphasis on the frontcourt, it’s important for John Collins to adjust to his new role. In Atlanta, Collins served as Trae Young’s two-on-two partner, but also as a stretch big who could step out to the corner and wing and shoot threes. Collins’ ability to spread the court with Lauri Markkanen and move between the paint and the 3-point line will be very difficult to defend.굿모닝토토
- The Magic of Will Hardy
Head coach Will Hardy, born in 1988, has excelled in his first season at Utah, especially on the offensive end, where he has raised the level of the Utes’ offense by calling for spacing and clever off-ball movement. Hardy, a former San Antonio video analyst, proved the “Made in San Antonio” mantra to be true. Here’s what he’ll look like in his second season.
Stats from 22-23: 25.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 49.9% FG, 39.1% 3PT in 66 games.
Gone are the days of battling injuries and being undervalued. The 2022-2023 season was arguably Makanen’s best yet. Not only did he average a 20-point season for the first time in his career, but he was a dominant offensive force, scoring in the mid-20s, and it’s safe to say that he’s now the de facto ace of Utah. He’ll move back to the big wing next season, and it’ll be interesting to see how he performs.
22-23 Season Stats: 20.8 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.4 apg, 44.4% FG, 33.8% 3PT in 61 games
Clarkson’s performance last season allowed Utah fans to let go of some of their Donovan Mitchell woes. Bombing defenses with daring pull-up threes and transition threes, Clarkson’s offense was something that any guard would envy. There are ups and downs, but that’s part of Clarkson’s style. He signed a two-year extension following his opt-in last summer, ensuring that his prime years will continue in Utah.
Stats in 22-23: 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.3 blocked shots, 72.0% FG in 74 games.
For Utah fans, Kessler is the belly of the ball. The amount of assets they received in the Rudy Gobert trade was enough to make them happy, but Kessler, who was one of the flip side of the deal, has shown a defense and under-the-basket presence that Gobert envied in his rookie season. Kesler, who has already traveled to the World Cup with Team USA, will lead the Utes’ big men next season alongside Makanen and Collins.