The initial belief of all that they will head towards rebuild this season have boosted Ochai Agbaji and the Utah Jazz to defy the odds and expectations.
In an interview with HoopsHype’s Mike Scotto, Agbaji noted that Utah started to have that chip on their shoulders once the belief around them has shifted.
“Just like the standings, it’s kind of hard not to pay attention to stuff like that when that’s frontline news, and you hear it and see it in some places. I think that gave everyone a chip on their shoulder early on in the season that we’ve kind of carried on,” Agbaji said. “We still have that chip on our shoulder now every night going out there, competing, and playing hard no matter what.
“It (chip on the shoulder) was more collective. Coach Hardy and the guys came together when we had our team meetings. We talked about this stuff, having that chip, playing with it every night, and not forgetting about what people were saying before the season when we didn’t have that success and trying to continue and build on that success.”
After years of failure to make a deep playoff run, the Jazz have traded their main core of Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic – making everyone around the league that they will head towards new beginnings.
But this season, the Jazz are turning heads with the amount of future assets they compiled and still in a competitive state. Led by Most Improved Player candidate Lauri Markkanen, Utah remains alive for a potential play-in appearance as 12th-seeded team of the West (35-38).
With this, Ogbaji and his fellow Jazzmen are certainly building a great future of their own that will lead Utah to a much greater basketball heights.