No. 35: Utah Jazz

Ultimate Standings 2012

Updated: September 6, 2012, 5:42 PM ET
By Max Klinger | ESPN The Magazine

Last year's rank: 62
Title track: 88
Ownership: 29
Coaching: 77
Players: 48
Fan relations: 37
Affordability: 28
Stadium experience: 66
Bang for the buck: 50

In a one-franchise state like Utah, fan loyalty is always there for the taking. Even during a rebuilding year, the Utah Jazz have managed to score near the top of the NBA in areas such as "show commitment to community," "have players that act professionally on and off the court" and "have an honest ownership." That polling is underscored by deeds like the one Derrick Favors undertook this summer when he logged 1,500 miles driving to some of Utah's most remote towns to host youth skills clinics (fan relations jumped 17 spots). Some might gripe about non-dazzling second-year coach Tyrone Corbin or a team that didn't even garner an All-Star invite last season, but the Jazz's minimalist philosophy earned them a surprising playoff bid, proving that one of the league's most consistent operations can get it done even during an off year. That stability is reflected in a team that made improvements in nearly every category in our poll. Even if EnergySolutions is one of the older arenas in the NBA, it remains below the average in cost categories like ticket prices, parking, soda and hot dogs. Besides, the Beehive State has always been a place that is proud of qualities that other franchises might consider shortcomings: Even as eight player contracts are set to expire this season (plus four more with team options), Jazz devotees won't stop believing that a #JazzTitle is within reach.