SALT LAKE CITY — Except for the addition of rookie Grayson Allen and the subtraction of Jonas Jerebko, the Utah Jazz team will look exactly the same as it did in 2017-18 with 14 players back from last season.
The Jazz opted to stick with a team that won 29 of its last 35 regular-season games and advanced to the second round of the NBA playoffs.
Here’s a look at the Jazz players and expectations for this year:
Rudy Gobert: After missing a good chunk of games last year and two years before that, Gobert is due for an injury-free season like he had in 2014-15 and 2016-17. The Jazz have proven to win more often with Gobert in the lineup than without (61.1 percent to 36.7 percent). So a healthy Gobert could mean a few extra wins this year.
Donovan Mitchell: What can you say about Mitchell, who looked more like a No. 1 or No. 2 pick last year than a No. 13 pick with his spectacular rookie season? Mitchell has worked on his shot in transition and said he wants to be more of a defensive force this year, but count on him for 20 points a night again this season with slightly better shooting percentages.
Ricky Rubio: The point guard took a while to find his groove in Utah after a slow start. He was one of the main catalysts behind Utah’s late-season surge with several big scoring nights and a strong court presence and should feel comfortable right from the start this season. If he can improve on his career-best 35.2 percent shooting percentage, that will be a bonus.
Derrick Favors: Heading into his ninth year with the Jazz, the big man from Georgia Tech should be happier than ever this year after signing his two-year $36 million contract last summer. Favors seems to have accepted his role as a rebounding, defensive presence who is often the fourth or fifth option on offense. He’s been working on his 3-point shooting, but that’s not where he’ll help the Jazz this year.
Joe Ingles: The Aussie forward made a big jump last year after receiving a big contract as he averaged 11.5 ppg during the season and was the team’s second-leading scorer in the playoffs (14.0 ppg). He’s already declared himself the best shooter in the NBA and if he can live up that proclamation, it could make the Jazz a serious contender.
Dante Exum: This could be a coming-out year for the young Australian, who is still trying to live up to his No. 5 draft pick potential after battling injuries through much of his first four seasons. He’s known for his defense and explosiveness around the basket, but his outside shooting is still a question mark. He won’t be starting as long as Ricky Rubio is healthy, but he could be one of the first men off the bench at either of the guard positions.
Alec Burks: In the last year of his contract, Burks’ days may be numbered as a Jazzman with a diminished role since he was the team’s second-leading scorer a few years back. After being a forgotten man late last season before coming on strong in the playoffs, he has looked good in the preseason but will be fighting with Royce O’Neale and Grayson Allen for minutes as a backup wing.
Royce O’Neale: From No. 15 man on the roster to starting spot in a Western Conference playoff series against Houston was quite a leap for the undrafted wing from Baylor. He initially earned time for his defense but developed his offense as the season progressed and is likely to be the first wing off the bench at the start of the season.
Jae Crowder: After being acquired last February, the son of former Jazzman Corey Crowder brought a toughness and attitude that helped the team to its brilliant late-season rally. This year, he’ll be the top reserve off the bench for Utah and is likely to match his 24-minute per night and 9-point career averages.
Grayson Allen: The former Duke guard was not a popular pick last summer for many Jazz fans, who like other college basketball followers, had seen his antics over the years with the Blue Devils. However, he has quickly endeared himself to the Jazz and their fans with his scrappy play and outside shooting ability. Allen won’t be another Donovan Mitchell, but look for him to play a lot of minutes off the bench at the wing position.
Thabo Sefolosha: We didn’t get to see much of the Swiss-born forward, who went out with an injury in mid-January, just before the Jazz made their late-season surge. Up to that point, he was producing above his career averages in points and rebounds and is being counted on to play more at the big forward position because of Utah’s plethora of talent at the 3 spot.
Ekpe Udoh: One of the most well-liked players by teammates, fans and local media, Udoh won’t play much, but when he does he usually provides the Jazz with timely blocked shots and rebounds.
Raul Neto: As a rookie, he started more than half the games (53), but injuries and an influx of talent have limited him to 81 games total the past two seasons and 10 minutes a game. Barring injuries to others, he’s unlikely to reach 10 minutes as the 12th or 13th man on the roster.
Tony Bradley: The 6-10 center from North Carolina is the definition of a “project,” a young player with talent but mostly potential. With Utah’s crowded roster, expect Bradley to spend most of his time in the D-League again this year.
Georges Niang: The former Iowa State standout has done well in preseason games for the Jazz, but isn’t likely to break into the top 13, barring injuries.