The Jazz wouldn’t have been able to take Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley to the Western Conference finals

Minnesota Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert (27) and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley (10) in Game 1 of NBA second-round playoff series Saturday, May 4, 2024, in Denver. Although they are on the ropes in the Western Conference finals, the former Jazz stars are a big reason the T-Wolves made it this far.

Over the past few weeks, as Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley fought their way into the Western Conference finals with the Minnesota Timberwolves, I’ve seen countless Utah Jazz fans express appreciation and joy in seeing the former Jazzmen find success.

The Jazz faithful spent nearly a decade standing behind Gobert, loving him, defending him and hoping that he would be a part of a Jazz team that would make it back to the NBA Finals. Conley spent just three-and-a-half seasons with the Jazz, but he did the same thing in Utah that he’s done in all three of his NBA stops, he endeared himself to the fanbase and became a favorite.

It’s easy to root for their success and it’s great to see them on a stage that spotlights their talent and continued dedication to competing at the highest level.

And while most Jazz fans have enjoyed rooting for the former Jazz stars in the postseason, there have been many who have wondered if the Jazz gave up too early in deciding to move into rebuilding mode.

What if the Jazz had kept Gobert, Conley, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Donovan Mitchell, Bojan Bogdanovic and the rest of the gang and tried to make it work?

Is the success that the Timberwolves are experiencing what the Jazz could be having right now, rather than watching the playoffs happen without them?

No, because it’s not just about Gobert and Conley. The success that Minnesota is having is due to the sum of its parts.

As good as the Jazz were during the Mitchell and Gobert era, and even when they had their most successful postseason runs (that ended in the second round at best), they didn’t have the kind of talent or supporting cast that the Timberwolves have.

They didn’t have someone like Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Naz Reid and Jaden McDaniels.

Even when the Jazz’s roster seemed promising with Ricky Rubio, a young Derek Favors and Joe Ingles, Royce O’Neal and Jae Crowder, when they first landed Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson, it still wasn’t as good as what the Timberwolves have now.

And the Timberwolves languished for years before making it here — 17 years with just a single playoff appearance. They leveraged much of their future to land Gobert and then Conley to add to a roster that has an incredible amount of talent. That’s not to say that they deserve this more than other teams. Rather, I say this to show how hard it is to actually put together a team that is capable of winning a title.

Minnesota Timberwolves guard Mike Conley reacts after he was called for a foul against the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Dallas Mavericks;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Dallas Mavericks</a> during Game 2 of the Western Conference finals, Friday, May 24, 2024, in Minneapolis. | Abbie Parr, Associated Press

When the Jazz finally decided to move on, to blow up the team and trade everyone away, it was because they were out of options. There were no minimum contract players that were going to come in and give them what Edwards, Towns, Reid and McDaniels give to the Wolves (Hassan Whiteside, Danuel House Jr. and Trent Forrest weren’t going to be able to make it happen). The asset cupboards were bare, the money was too tight and the Jazz were not good enough.

This Timberwolves team is more talented than any team the Jazz have put together for decades, and it still might not be enough. Tuesday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves will fight to keep their title chances alive. Trailing 0-3 against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference finals, it’s a tall order and it seems near impossible that they will be able to come back from this deficit.

But, the success of the Timberwolves to this point cannot be denied, and it’s a level of success for Gobert and Conley that they wouldn’t have been able to achieve with the Jazz.