Jazz 2022-23 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

It was less than two years ago that the Utah Jazz put the finishing touches on the best record in the NBA for the 2020-21 season at 52-20.

Yet it seems like ages ago.

Utah bowed out in the second round of the playoffs that season, lost in the first round in 2021-22 and now enters a new campaign after an offseason of turmoil that seemed to indicate the end of an era.

First, head coach Quin Snyder stepped down after eight seasons and six straight playoff appearances. Then, the team traded three-time Defensive Player of the Year and four-time All-NBA selection Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

As if that wasn't enough, three-time All-Star Donovan Mitchell was included in trade discussions throughout the offseason. Moving him would have signaled a complete rebuild, especially after the Jazz landed four first-round picks in the Gobert deal.

With Mitchell leading the way, Utah at least has a chance to compete for a playoff spot as it navigates a 2022-23 schedule that was just released.

2022-23 Jazz Schedule Details

Season Opener: Oct. 19 vs. Denver Nuggets

Championship Odds: 200-1 (FanDuel)

Full Schedule: 2022-23 Regular-Season Schedule

Top Matchups

Dallas Mavericks

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There figures to be some extra motivation for the Jazz when they lace it up against the Dallas Mavericks.

After all, Dallas ended Utah's season when it won their first-round series in six games. It was a difficult loss for the Jazz since Luka Doncic wasn't even healthy for the entire series, but they also struggled to stop Jalen Brunson.

Brunson is no longer on the Mavericks, so that's one less thing for Mitchell and Co. to worry about this season.

These games stand out for more than the revenge factor, though, as showdowns with Doncic can be measuring-stick opportunities for Mitchell. Dallas is also trying to prove it belongs in the upper echelon of contenders and that its Western Conference Finals appearance wasn't a one-year fluke like the Atlanta Hawks reaching the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals.

Positioning in the West will be on the line in these head-to-head clashes as well.

If the Jazz are going to be in a spot to challenge the likes of the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies or others, they have to play well against other teams trying to do the same.

Dallas is one of those teams.

Denver Nuggets

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The Denver Nuggets are also one of those teams.

The Mavericks, Jazz and Nuggets finished in the Nos. 4, 5 and 6 seeds, respectively, a season ago, and a first-round matchup between Denver and Utah is a realistic possibility. Home-court advantage could come down to how well each side fares in these head-to-head games during the regular season.

What's more, Utah's frontcourt will have the chance to see how it stacks up against an elite talent without Gobert in these contests.

Nikola Jokic won the last two MVP awards and figures to be a significant problem for a group that no longer has such an elite defender leading the way. It's not all about the frontcourt, though, as the return of a healthy Jamal Murray could rekindle the show he and Mitchell put on inside the Walt Disney World Resort bubble in 2020.

Denver won that first-round series in seven games with Mitchell scoring more than 50 points twice and Murray pouring in 50 points two different times as well.

They matched each other shot for shot in a memorable showdown that helped define one of the strangest and most fascinating stretches of recent NBA history. If they can do that again, these games will be appointment viewing.

Season Forecast

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All hope is not lost in Utah.

It is no secret that there appeared to be some tension between Mitchell and Gobert when the two All-Stars were paired together. Perhaps moving the big guy and fully giving the team over to Mitchell will improve chemistry on the floor and lead to more winning.

The 25-year-old is also capable of taking over games as a go-to scorer, and the Jazz picked up solid role players in the Gobert trade in Patrick Beverley, Malik Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt. Throw in the veteran leadership of Mike Conley, a spark off the bench from Jordan Clarkson and the shooting of Bojan Bogdanovic, and there may be a contender in place.

However, Gobert is a major loss.

The 30-year-old is the best interior defender in the league who so often cleaned up the mess when opposing guards blew past Utah's perimeter players off the bounce. There is a reason the three-time All-Star is a six-time All-Defensive selection, and the Jazz will take a significant step back on that end.

This team has a clear ceiling that was in place even with Gobert down low.

It lost in the first or second round in each of the last six seasons and surely won't take a step forward without its All-Star big man and with the uncertainty still revolving around Mitchell this offseason.

A playoff run may be in store, but it won't be a deep one.

Record Prediction: 44-38

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