They’re that close. Closer than many of us would believe, though.
The Utah Jazz aren’t looking like the 42-40 franchise. They’re looking far more superior than it.
None will ever forget what was satirically a “giveaway” — or rather — a huge blow to the Los Angeles Lakers, in which was Kobe Bryant’s final game that he’ll ever play in the association. We know how much he scored and how many shots he took just to get the amount, but it was certainly enough to make a strong fourth-quarter comeback, sending the Jazz to a miserable regular season exit.
Ultimately, Utah missed the eighth-spot by one game to the Houston Rockets, in which they already clinched even before that Jazz/Lakers game was over.
But like many teams, injuries rattled the Jazz, causing them to miss the postseason for the fifth-straight season. But this year, were finally seeing a poised, yet very-competitive team.
The Jazz have looked nothing short brilliant, after adding great veteran pieces towards their bonding youth. That youth has been led by their potential starters: Fuure All-Star Gordon Hayward, sixth-year PF Derrick Favors, fourth-year C Rudy Gobert, third-year SG Rodney Hood, and George Hill, who’ve only played 12:24 minutes together on the court this season.
THE JAZZ CURRENTLY RANK:
- 5th in the Western Conference (1st in Northwest Division)
- 3rd in Field-Goal Percentage (.477)
- 7th in Three-Point Field Goal Peecentage (.366)
- 9th in Defensive Rebounding (34.4)
- 8th in Blocks (5.5)
- 23rd in Fewest Turnovers (13.1)
- 21st in Fewest Personal Fouls (19.7)
BUT UNFORTUNATELY ARE:
- 24th in Scoring (100.2)
- Last in Steals (6.1)
- 28th in Assists (19.3)
- Last in Offensive Rebounding, but 9th in Defensive Rebounding
- 28th in Field-Goals Made
If you look at this Utah-team, the best attribute about them is their cohesive depth. Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw, and Shelvin Mack, who are ALL former-Hawks, provide outstanding chemistry, mentorship, and scoring off the pine.
It doesn’t end there, either. More young talent graces Utah’s fifteen-man roster. And my favorite of them all is none other than second-year Forward Trey Lyles.
I belive if anything, Lyles is THE MOST IMPORTANT player for the Jazz. If you look at how big of an impact he was on Utah’s Summer League team, the expectations were really high for him prior to the season — but he just hasn’t lived up to it, even with the absence of Favors. I mentioned this earlier in my full-recap of Utah’s tough 106-99 battle versus Golden State.
You can view it here.
So the answer to this question remains to be seen, for many Utah fans: Could we finally witness a fully-healthy Jazz team before the All-Star break. We haven’t even seen Alec Burks, who was really thriving in the 2013-14 season (14 PPG). He has yet to appear in a single-game, and has played just 58 games the two seasons prior. But there’s still so much to improve on wilst Utah being banged-up. Jazz’s third-year Head Coach Quin Synder noted about their lack of communication on the defensive-end:
“We’re going to have to be very, very good defensively in order to be successful.” Snyder noted after a preseason loss to Portland. “We can’t make those mistakes. People are gonna hit shots, they’re gonna make plays, but we can’t not communicate — or leave a guy open because we didn’t talk. Just breakdowns like that, we can’t afford to have.”
These guys are highly capable of dominating the Western a Conference. They’re a slow half-court offense, being last (91.2) in Pace, and as Snyder preached, they have a resounding defense (third in Defensive Rating).
This team is going to be a strong pleasure to watch, but it’ll be later in the season.
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