An All-Star snub wasn't the only disappointment the Jazz endured this season.
While Utah's front office set their eyes on free agency, the draft and preparing for the next season's NBA campaign, we have the luxury of sitting back and looking at a season full of what-ifs and could've-beens.
Although the end result was disappointing, it wasn't all that bad for Utah. Let's look back at some of the biggest ups and downs throughout the past season.
The man best remembered for a barely missed full-court heave back in his college days has finally shown a lot more consistent flash in his third season as pro—a pleasant surprise for Jazz fans.
Despite averaging about one less minute than he did the previous season, Gordon Hayward's offensive numbers improved significantly. Just comparing his physique of now to when he first got into the league is also interesting to note. The wiry, baby-faced forward still looks similar to how he did when he first arrived, but there is certainly a new sense of confidence in his shot and overall game that he never had before.
He's put on more muscle, he attacks the rack with more assuredness and he just seems much more at home. Sure, physical growth and mental growth are to be expected, but it's another thing to consistently perform better on the floor.
For a team in need of a guy who can balance the role of facilitator and scorer, Hayward has shown he isn't afraid to take a shot. His attempts shot up from 159 to 246 this season, but his jumper is still shaky.
After going 48-percent from the field the season before, Hayward's percentage dipped into the 43-percent range, but that is to be expected if you're attempting more field goals. Beyond the arc, however, he went from being a 34-percent three-point shooter to a 41-percent sharpshooter—something he should really be proud of.
While some Jazz fans were likely fearful Hayward would sort of stick in developmental limbo and take the reduced role on the bench to heart, he's actually stepped his game up and the numbers reflect it. He scored a total of 782 points his last season, but in 2012-13 he scored 1017 points—a solid raise in scoring output.
If the upward trend continues, there's no telling how great Hayward could potentially become for a team that desperately needs him to gradually accept a bigger role as soon as he hits his developmental plateau. Although the season as a whole was bleak, Hayward's improvement was a pleasant surprise.
An underrated big man on a somewhat underrated squad, Al Jefferson just can't get a break.
His solid line this season of around 18 points, nine boards with a block per contest as the leading scorer and rebounder on a team who was alive and well in the playoff hunt was worthy enough of an All-Star selection.
Despite the respectable numbers and the team staying competitive, fans weren't sold on Big Al. To be fair, LaMarcus Aldridge and David Lee slightly edged Jefferson statistically, but numbers aside, Jefferson really deserves a lot more shine than he gets.
In a league where the traditional back-to-the-basket archetype of big man is a dying breed, Jefferson is a rarity. He is almost an instant double-team as soon as he catches the ball on the block, and it sure would've been great to see him put his post moves on full display in a huge venue like the All-Star Game.
Being as humble as Al is, it's safe to say he probably didn't think much of the snub, but it sure would've been really cool to finally let such an underrated player get some love and represent the Jazz while doing it.
If you watched the 2011-12 Utah Jazz, you'd notice that team was deathly afraid of scoring three-pointers.
Well, it's not that they were afraid; they just seriously lacked the personnel to knock in long range jumpers, and the proof was in the pudding.
Thankfully, Utah addressed this concern by adding two lethal sharpshooters this past off-season—Mo Williams and Randy Foye, both of whom were members of the Los Angeles Clippers the previous season.
With a lethal one-two punch of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap in the paint, acquiring two gunners seemed like a sure-fire way to finally torch teams with a brutal inside-out approach predicated off double-teams and diverse scoring options.
Well, it sounds really cool on paper, but it didn't pan out that way.
Their 98 points per game this season stayed virtually the same (a decrease in nine tenths of a point from the previous season), attempts were up to 16.9 per game (from 12.7) and makes were slightly better with 6.2 per game this year (from 4.0 the previous year, but it still wasn't enough to get the job done.
There was no drastic revitalization of their collective offense, and technically, they scored less than they did per game last season. Sure, these are just numbers, but for two sharpshooters like Mo and Foye to not have as much of an impact as people suspected was certainly unexpected.
On paper, it seemed as if two proven shooters would dynamically energize Utah's performance, but it ended up being a big disappointment, and perhaps one of the biggest ones in a season full of them.
In sports, the epitome of euphoria is victory. Now imagine the entire planet (aside from diehard fans, of course) counting you out, and you can go ahead and amplify that euphoria by about a thousand times.
The Jazz knew this feeling twice early on in the season when they relished the opportunity to play spoiler to arguably the most overhyped disappoint of a championship favorite in recent memory.
With everyone counting them out, the Jazz managed to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in two straight meetings; the first of which ended up being the infamous defeat that led to Mike Brown's immediate firing as Lakers head coach.
The sight of Kobe Bryant giving Mike Brown the death stare while a raucous EnergySolutions Arena was roaring in delight was one of the NBA season's most iconic moments, and it was brought to you courtesy of the underdog Utah Jazz.
Although hindsight tells us the Lakers were a fatally flawed team, it doesn't make the shock and awe of the Utah Jazz victories any less enjoyable as sports fans rooting for the little guy.
For a time the Jazz were looking pretty solid in the Western Conference, and for them to consistently outplay the heavy favorites is certainly one of the biggest surprises of the entire NBA season, let alone the Jazz individually.
It didn't take a psychic to figure out what the biggest disappointment for the Jazz season was. For any team, missing the postseason is a huge disappointment, but for a team like the Jazz, who battled as hard as they could in the final month, the pain of coming up short digs a lot deeper than it would for a team in the midst of rebuilding.
While it certainly could be said that the Jazz were figuring out how to pick up the pieces after their Jerry Sloan-era teams gradually fell apart, this was a team that was just as a capable as any of the others as far as competing was concerned. They weren't rebuilding, they were gearing up for a postseason run whether it was one-and-done or a first round upset only to lose in the semifinals.
The Jazz wanted to win just as bad as any other squad, and there's no question raised expectations for this season were warranted. Nobody wants to make the playoffs one season only to miss them the next. Nobody.
The West was far more competitive overall this season, and the Jazz were right in the fight for most of the campaign. For them to fall off the wagon the way they did meant that the Jazz were taking a slight step backwards from getting swept in the first round of the 2011-2012 playoffs.
A trip to the lottery certainly doesn't hurt, but for some Jazz fans hoping the team would improve upon last year's frustration, the end result is all the more frustrating.
Sure, they didn't officially make it to the playoffs, but the Jazz had their own Game 7 of sorts on April 17th. When the Jazz had the opportunity to put the onus on the Los Angeles Lakers by winning their final game of the season, they came up short by double-digits. They were literally playing for their entire season that single night, and they came up short.
Clearly, they weren't ready that night in Memphis against the Grizzlies, and perhaps now they still need another season to prepare themselves and pick up the pieces of a fractured season.
This is a team that needs to find its identity, and even though many hoped they would've accomplished that by the end of this season, it's apparent they're still a work in progress.
Yes, this was one of the biggest disappointments for the Utah Jazz, but it only means the fruits of their labor will be much sweeter when they eventually carve out their ideal image as a team.