Morning links: Jazz a projected playoff team; BYU’s Jamaal Williams and Taylor Cole make professional strides

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton looked at the projected win totals for NBA teams for the upcoming season using ESPN’s real plus-minus, and the projection has the Utah Jazz making the playoffs.

The Jazz are looking at 44.7 wins and the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference according to the numbers, just narrowly ahead of the New Orleans Pelicans at 44.2 wins and the Portland Trail Blazers at 43.8 wins.

“After losing Gordon Hayward, the Jazz have gone further toward emphasizing defense,” wrote Pelton. “In addition to trading for RPM favorite Ricky Rubio and drafting promising perimeter defender Donovan Mitchell, Utah added defensive-minded reserves Thabo Sefolosha and Ekpe Udoh.”

Pelton then explains what all the additions mean for the Jazz, saying, “The result is a defense that RPM projects second in the league behind Golden State, with just enough offense to put the Jazz slightly ahead of other West playoff contenders.”

The Warriors come in at No. 1 in the West at 62.1 projected wins while the Boston Celtics are at the top in the East with 49.4.

Jamaal Williams pushes Montgomery for starting job

Former BYU running back Jamaal Williams is making a push for the starting job in Green Bay during his rookie season, according to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky.

“Montgomery remains the favorite to open the season as the Green Bay Packers‘ starting running back, but Williams has already started to push him,” wrote Demovsky. “His reps with the No. 1 offense spiked this week to the point where, in Thursday evening’s practice, he took the first snaps in a team period with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the starters.”

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