Utah Jazz: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
In 1974, the New Orleans Jazz joined the NBA as an expansion team. The team traded a host of picks for legendary scorer Pete Maravich who averaged 21.5 pointer per game during their debut season. The Jazz would finish their first season 23-59, which remains the worst record in team history. In fact, they are the only franchise in the NBA to have never lost 60 games in a season.
While the team improved to 38-44 in their second season, and there were statistical highlights, such as Pete Maravich winning the scoring title in 1976-77 with an average of 31.1 points per game, they never made the playoffs in their five seasons in New Orleans.
Seeking a permanent venue, the team moved to Salt Lake City. If you were going to bet on the Utah Jazz to make the playoffs, you would have been unsuccessful the first four times, as the team did not make its first postseason until 1983-84. The Utah Jazz odds in their first playoff series were strong as the favorites and they dispatched the Nuggets in five games before falling to the Phoenix Suns. Utah would follow up their success by making the playoffs again in 1984-85, with center Mark Eaton being named Defensive Player of the Year, but they fell in the second round of the playoffs once again. In fact, after missing the playoffs for the first nine years of the franchise’s existence, the Jazz would qualify for twenty consecutive postseasons.
The Utah Jazz odds would change forever when they drafted John Stockton in the 1984 NBA draft and then Karl Malone in 1985. At the same time, the team was bought by Larry Miller who would put the team on sounder financial footing. By the late 1980’s, Malone and Stockton had emerged as stars, forcing the eventual champion Lakers to seven games in the 1988 conference semifinals.
Jerry Sloan would take over as Jazz coach in 1989, a season in which the team won more than 50 games for the first time in team history, and Eaton would once again be named Defensive Player of the Year. In 1992, the Jazz would make the Western conference finals for the first time in team history, and while many experts bet on the Utah Jazz to make the NBA Finals, they would fall to Clyde Drexler and the Blazers in six games.
The 1992-93 Jazz would get knocked out of the playoffs in the first round, the highlight of that year was Malone and Stockton being named co-MVPs of the All-Star game. The 1994 playoffs saw the Utah Jazz odds to make the finals reach their highest point in team history, after defeating the Blazers and Spurs, but the team would lose to the eventual champs, the Houston Rockets in the conference finals. They did trade for shooting guard Jeff Hornacek which would greatly help the Utah Jazz odds of winning their first ever title, now that they had a third star.
The 1996 Jazz would have the team’s closest brush with the Finals yet, as the team took Seattle to seven games in the Western conference finals, falling 90-86 in the decisive game. Some fans wanted to bet on the Utah Jazz being cursed after the 1996 playoffs but the following season, they would finally break through.
Karl Malone would controversially be named league MVP over Michael Jordan after the 1996-97 regular season, and the two were able to square off in the NBA Finals, after the 64-18 Jazz dispatched the Clippers, Lakers, and Rockets. The Utah Jazz odds were long against the defending champs, but they would play the Bulls even for most of the series, before falling in tightly contested Games 5 and 6.
The Jazz and Bulls would rematch in the 1998 NBA Finals, and while more fans bet on the Utah Jazz to beat the aging Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan would hit a game-winning shot in Game 6 to steal the series from the Jazz.
Karl Malone would win his second MVP in the lockout shortened 1999 season, but fans betting on the Utah Jazz to make their third straight Finals would be crushed as the team was bounced by Portland in the second round.
The Jazz were putting together excellent regular seasons, they would go 55-27 in 1999-2000, but they were once again eliminated by Portland, after which Jeff Hornacek would retire.
In 2002-03, the Jazz went 47-35 before being knocked out in five games by the Kings, after which Malone moved on to the Lakers and Stockton retired. The Utah Jazz odds have never been the same since. Fans who bet on the Jazz to make their 21st consecutive postseason in 2003-04, as the team went 42-40, followed by a 26-56 campaign.
A Jazz team led by Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer managed to make the 2007 Western finals, but few people bet on the Utah Jazz to be legitimate title contenders and the Spurs dispatched Utah in five games.
For much of the 21st century the Jazz struggled to find an identity, but that changed when they drafted French center Rudy Gobert in 2013, and then guard Donovan Mitchell in 2017. Gobert would be named Defensive Player of the Year in both 2018 and 2019, and by 2020, both players were All-Stars. Utah then earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs in 2021, but they were upset by the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round. While the team has not been back to the NBA Finals since the Stockton-Malone heyday, the future looks bright in Utah.
1: Frank Layden
4: Adrian Dantley
7: Pete Maravich
9: Larry Miller
12: John Stockton
14: Jeff Hornacek
32: Karl Malone
35: Darrell Griffith
53: Mark Eaton
1223: Jerry Sloan