The Cinderella story of this NBA season, the Utah Jazz, had an unbelievable start to the season, becoming the first team in the NBA to reach 10 wins and held the number 1 seed in the western conference as of 6 days ago.
After getting rid of their Longtime head coach Quin Snyder, and trading away their two superstars in the offseason, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the Jazz looked like they were in a tanking mindset. With three first round picks and a chance for the most beloved prospect since Lebron, the 18 year old 7 foot 4 french phenomenon Victor Wembanyana, the NBA fandom wrote this team off before they even stepped on the court, but it seems this Frisky Jazz team never wrote back. The Big question is will they continue to win, and as I see it, the regression is coming and before you know it, and the hot takes like “the Jazz are better without Donovan and Rudy” will be non-existent.
After going 10-3 to start the season, the Jazz are on a three-game losing streak. They dropped a tough road game against the Bradley Beal-less Wizards Saturday night, surrendering 54 combined points to Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma.
They then went back-to-back to Philadelphia, where Joel Embiid had one of the most insane single-game performances we’ve seen in NBA action in a long time. As a Jazz fan, Embid’s 59/11/8/7 stat line and 27 points in the fourth quarter were gut wrenching to watch.
The Utah Jazz’s three-game losing streak and the first sad boy hours of the 2022-23 season were completed last night when they lost their first home game against the Knicks, and were outscored badly in the fourth quarter. Jalen Brunson treated Mike Conley like he was a piece of fresh fruit, putting him in the blender and eating him up whenever they matched up.
Lauri Markkanen, who has looked like the reincarnation of a young Dirk Nowitzki at times this season averaging a career high (21.3 points), and Jordan Clarkson who is 2nd on the team in scoring (19 points), have both failed to reach 20 points in three straight games. Their third option Mike Conley, who had career highs in several categories in his 15th year, has scored 16 points in the last three games while shooting 5-25 from the field and 2-15 from three.
A concerning stat for The Jazz is they are the ranked 4th in team opponent 3 point percentage with 32% and 1st in opponent percent of points from three pointers, in simple terms means that opponents are missing a lot of 3’s against the Jazz, and this number is inevitable to go up.
One comparison that skeptics have drawn for this team is the 21-22 Washington Wizards, who started the season with a 10-2 record. Both teams started out hot after being given low win projections, and the Wizards ended up collapsing with an season ending record of 35-47.
I think the question we were all asking ourselves, was this Jazz team ever good? Did we ever know what we were watching? Any fan of this team knew the losing streak was inevitable, but I think this Jazz team just came “down to earth” and still believe this team is good enough to make a playoff spot in the west, or at least be in a play-in game.
Jazz fans have been “pleasantly surprised” by the level of effort and intensity displayed by these players under new head coach Will Hardy. Jazz players have seemed to rally behind the new head coach even with his age (34), which is younger than their starting point guard Mike Conley (35). Lauri Markkanen has shown that he’s made a jump after his four seasons of mediocrity. Jordan Clarkson has been a different player than in recent years with his role as a starter. Mike Conley has been fantastic as a floor general averaging the 5th most assists in the league.
The bench is leading the league in scoring with 44 points a game and players like recent acquisition Collin Sexton are putting up 13 points a game on 22 minutes and Malik Beasley scoring 12 points a game shooting 41% behind the arc.
Despite having no business being a playoff team, this team appears to be fighting for a spot, which is very impressive. For some reason the fans love this team, and they will continue to support the Jazz as they battle through the ups and downs of an unusual season.