The Jazz and The Bucks — Underrated NBA Teams To Watch

Philip Alexander, Author

With all the free agency signings in the NBA, it’s easy to guess which teams are championship contenders. But the thing most people forget are those special teams that people don’t really talk about — teams that can compete with these championship contender teams.

The stats, provided by ESPN, show that the Utah Jazz and the Milwaukee Bucks are teams to watch.

Utah Jazz are slightly underrated. Yes, the Jazz are currently a playoff team, but this team is only going to get better over the next couple of seasons. This team can compete with the Warriors, which recently signed Demarcus Cousins. Although the Jazz lost Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, George Hill and other role players, the team has managed to get by without them, with a 51-31 record last season.

With the athletic and talented Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz looks set for future seasons. In his rookie year, Donovan Mitchell put up 20.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and all this while shooting 43.7 percent from the field and 34 percent from behind the 3-point line. In addition, he was always in the Rookie of the Year conversation against Ben Simmons, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Another player that stands out on the Utah Jazz roster is Rudy Gobert, a defensive beast who can grab boards and score in the paint. He averaged 13.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 2.3 blocks and 0.8 steals. He won Defensive Player of the Year last season.

Grayson Allen, a rookie this season, looks decent. Some say he was a steal. He was the 21st pick in the first round. While playing for Duke, for four years he averaged 14.1 points, 3.2 rebounds, and three assists while shooting 43 percent from the field and 38 percent from three.

Joe Ingles, a small forward, is a decent perimeter defender. He put up 11.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists while shooting 46.7 percent from the field and 44 percent from beyond the arch.

During a three-team trade last season, the Utah Jazz received another perimeter defender, Jae Crowder. He contributed 9.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.2 assists.

Other key players on the Jazz’s roster include Derrick Favors (PF), Dante Exum (PG), Alec Burks (PG), Rick Rubio (PG), Raul Neto (PG), Georges Niang (PF), Royce O’Neale (SF), Tony Bradley (C), Thabo Sefolosha (SF), Ekpe Udoh (PF), Tyler Cavanaugh (PF), Naz Mitrou-Long (PG).

Last season the Milwaukee Bucks finished with a 44-38 record. They are looking to do better this season with a young and talented roster.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the first person that stands out on the roster, not because of his hard-to-pronounce name, but because he is a 6’11”, 23-year-old who is only getting better. His nickname is the “Greek Freak.” Both of his brothers play in the NBA. He usually plays a forward position but is able to run a guard position with his ball-handling capabilities. He is even in the MVP conversation. Last season, he played 75 games and put up 26.9 points, 10 rebounds, and 4.8 assists while shooting 52.9 percent inside the 3-point line and 30.7 percent outside. Although he struggles with shooting the ball, he is an amazing player who can do almost everything on the court. Not to mention he can play defense, averaging 1.4 blocks and 1.5 steals last season.

The Bucks also have Malcolm Brogdon, former Rookie of the Year, a 25-year-old scorer who is bound to only become better. During last season, he scored 13 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists while shooting 48.5 percent inside the 3-point line and outside 38.5 percent.

Another player, Thon Maker, is a 7’1”, 21-year-old with a long NBA career ahead of him. Last season, he scored 4.8 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and had 0.6 assists. Although he didn’t do much, remember he is still very young and was only playing 16.7 minutes while a player like LeBron James had 36.9 minutes per game, the player with the highest minutes per game last season.

This year’s free agency, the Bucks also signed Brook Lopez for $3 million, a big man who can do most things on the court. Last season when he played for the Lakers, he scored 13 points and grabbed 4 rebounds and 1.7 assists. (This was almost a career low since when he played for the New Jersey Nets, now named the Brooklyn Nets, he grabbed 3.6 boards. He shot 47 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3.

An underrated scorer on the team, Khris Middleton (SF) played all 82 games and scored about 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4 assists, and all this while shooting 46.5 percent from the field and 34.5 percent from 3. He’s not as young, at 27 years old, as the other players mentioned, but he gives good scoring all around the court.

Other players on the roster include Donte DiVincenzo (SG), Christian Wood (PF), Ersan İlyasova (SF), Matthew Dellavedova (PG), Trevon Duval (PG), Eric Bledsoe (PG), D.J. Wilson (PF), John Henson (PF), Pat Connaughton (SF), Sterling Brown (SF), Tony Snell (SG), Jaylen Morris (SG), Jodie Meeks (SG).

Folks at Santa Fe High also have their opinions on underrated teams.

Carlos Rivas, a sophomore, says, “Minnesota Timberwolves.” He also said, “Clippers, Tobias Harris on the come up, underrated.” Harris was on the bench; now he is the starting small forward.

Zack Cole, a PE teacher and a basketball coach, says, “I feel that the most underrated NBA team coming into the season is the Denver Nuggets. They have one of the best big men in the entire league in Nikola Jokic. He is the next superstar that is going to take over the NBA. Also, the Nuggets have already knocked off the defending champs, the Golden State Warriors.

“I know that the season is young but they are the only team to have beaten the Warriors at this point in the season,” Mr. Cole continued. “The Nuggets also have All Star forward Paul Millsap. He is known around the league as one of the best players at his position both offensively and defensively. The Nuggets play in the Western Conference, which is known to be the toughest conference in the league. With this being said, they will have their chance to prove themselves against some of the best teams the NBA has to offer.”