Gordon Monson: Can the Jazz win a title? The answer is yes, if they will.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) wraps up with Sacramento Kings center Dewayne Dedmon (13) and Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes (40) as the Utah Jazz hosts the Sacramento Kings, NBA basketball in Salt Lake City on Monday Oct. 14, 2019.

They’ve been thinking about it for months now.

Mike Conley brought it up at a recent fan gala.

Other newcomers, like Jeff Green, said it was a major reason he came to Utah.

Team owner Gail Miller identified it as the Jazz’s main emphasis and primary goal.

Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell got a running start at it, underscoring the intention all the way back to last season.

Winning a championship.

That’s what the Jazz say, in whispers now, they are centered on these days.

But as the reality of the season bears down on them, starting Wednesday night at home, players are wrapping their mitts around the degree of difficulty in the goal. It will be an arduous climb, requiring from the Jazz every large and small particle of their bodies and minds, every chunk of force and focus they can stir, and some useful cooperation and good fortune from the basketball gods.

It’s not so much the harsh indicators from the preseason, a span that saw the Jazz struggle in joining their talents, in putting together their defense in a way that had made them such a pain for opponents last season. That will come, they said.

“A lot of it is a sense of urgency,” said Mitchell. “We’ve just got to go out there and compete. A lot of it is just figuring each other out and communicating. We have it.”

Said Gobert: “We have to keep grinding and get better every game.”

“It’s going to take some time,” Ed Davis said.

But the sacrifice and the embrace of the push and pull over the next eight months, if they’re being optimistic, which they are, six months, if they aren’t, the dark places they must wade through are heavy on their minds.

“If we’re going to go where we want to go, we have to be one of the best defensive teams,” said Gobert. “For us, it’s finding an identity. Being who we are.”

Quin Snyder said the Jazz must be “more determined” on the defensive end: “That has to be a focus for us. … It takes work.”

None of this will be easy. And the Jazz are fully aware. That’s not the question. The question teeters on what’s possible.

Are the Jazz good enough, great enough, to really contend for that title?

Some outsiders say the authentic shot will come next season, not in this one.

But the Jazz themselves believe — at least they hint that they believe — that they are.

The adjustment period will run headlong into the regular season, what with half the players new to the Jazz. No matter how talented a group might be, especially in a system like Snyder’s, at both ends of the floor, it takes communication and coordination to make it work. Even last season, when the Jazz were more familiar with each other, but not quite as strong offensively, there were stretches during which the team lurched.

Remember that early 50-point loss to the Dallas Mavericks, when the Jazz could not stop the points from pouring over them? That was the same collection of players that by season’s end had fully aligned themselves as the team with the second-best defensive rating in the league. When it came to the postseason, the Jazz lacked the explosiveness and efficiency on attack necessary to buoy them up when the defense lagged.

So, they bolstered their offense in the offseason, gaining Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Green in the process, and perhaps compromising their defense, or, at a minimum, changing it en route.

The offense is coming along. There were times during the preseason when the ball was popping, the shots were dropping and the offense was, as Snyder put it, “taking care of itself.”

“We’re not worried about the offense,” said Mitchell. “Shots are going to fall.”

There were other times when the system looked a tad foreign to the newcomers. Two operative words spoken through that period were “reads” and “process.” The Jazz had to recognize what the defense was doing against them, and what they had to do to take advantage of it. And they had to dial in as quickly as possible to make all of that natural rather than methodical.

“We have a lot of guys willing to make plays for each other,” said Royce O’Neale. “We can be really good.”

With the rugged road the Jazz face in the West — namely, the Clippers, the Lakers, the Rockets, the Warriors, the Nuggets, the Blazers, among others — they will have to get off to an acceptable, if not exceptional, start. The reading and processing and drinking out of a firehose must be mastered in a hurry.

If they come together in good time, if they coordinate their resistance in a top-five manner and that offense makes shots that certainly will be created in Snyder’s blurring blender, spacing the floor, rolling to the basket, hitting deep balls, they can contend for their title.

The Jazz are skilled enough, gifted enough. The question then becomes, are they tough and tenacious enough and lucky enough. The success of the season will depend on good health and what their brains grasp and what their wills dictate.

Which is a whole lot better than what they’ve worked with in their past — a team that honorably got the most out of itself, but that lacked the talent required to make a real run.

Now that that run can be made, it’s a matter of whether it will be made.

It’s possible, if the competitive force is there, if the price is properly paid.

Gobert wrapped it up succinctly when he said: “It’s on us.”

GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Jake Scott weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone, which is owned by the same parent company that owns the Utah Jazz.