Like most teams who usually make their most veteran players available for trade, Utah are protecting their younger core of players, shielding three specific athletes against any trade possibilities.
We are talking about the Finnish star, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji who were deemed off-limits for trade to other teams in the NBA. It seems as if the the rest of the roster is available or at least, the Jazz are open to consider negotiations.
In Markkanen’s case, he was always thought of the least likely player in Utah to be transfered out. He has not only emerged as a possible franchise player for his team, but there’s also a very big chance for the 25-year-old to make his first All-Star appearance this campaign. Just today, we included Markkanen in our prediction of Western Conference players who will be making the All-Star bench next to Lebron James.
The Jazz star has now jumped 10 points in regards to last year’s average score (to 24.8), and shooting a precise 43% from the three-pointer line and 59.1% from inside the arc. The Finnish international just might be the biggest candidate to winning the award for the player who’s progressed the most this season. After some high and lows with Chicago and Cleveland, seems like the Finnish giant has finally awakened to become the leader that Utah so desperately needed.
Utah benefits out of the Donovan Mitchell trade
Markkanen was one of the major assets traded to Utah in the Donovan Mitchell saga, but not even Cleveland could’ve foreseen how valuable he would become. Ochai Agbaji was another player to arrive in that transfer, although he hasn’t been nearly as productive. After going in and out of the rotation earlier in this season, he’s been averaging 20 minutes per game over Utah’s last 10 encounters.
Kessler also hasn’t been playing much but when he is, he sure is productive. Walker’s playing average 20.1 minutes per night, and racking up 1.9 blocks per game which just goes to show how active he is during his playing time. That means he has a higher block rate than 30-year-old Rudy Gobert ever had in his career, at 7.8%.
Let’s remember Agbaji (22 years old) and Kessler (21 years old) are still young, this last one’s making a strong case for this Rookie of the Year award.
The @utahjazz‘s rookie of the year contender @WalkerKessler13 is officially an 80 overall in @NBA2K for the first time! 🥳🎉 pic.twitter.com/qZoOieP3Pz
— Dawson | 25-26 (@DawsTakesNote) January 26, 2023
The Jazz likely didn’t expect to be playing as well as they are this campaign, but they won’t let this get in the way of thinking in the long-term and taking good care of their young assets for the future. Markkanen and the rookies are young enough to hang around in Utah for a while, but it sure makes sense to make some cash out of their current veterans, while they have the chance.
The Jazz are tenth in the West with a 25-26 record, as they lost their last time out in Portland against the Trail Blazers (134-124). Some of our recommended sport betting sites believe Utah have more chances of not entering the conference’s top 8 at the end of regular season (+240) than actually making it to the playoffs (-300).
Utah is currently preparing to receive the 72nd Annual All-Star Game in Salt Lake City on Sunday, February 19th.