On Wednesday night the Utah Jazz improved to 14-4 with a 116-104 win over the Dallas Mavericks, moving their current win streak to 10 games. The Lakers loss last night subsequently moved the Jazz into the top spot in the West. Will Utah be able to sustain this kind of success?
According to statmuse.com , the Jazz are currently 1st in offensive rating and 4th in defensive rating. This kind of play is what the team will need to keep up in order to compete with the stacked squads in Los Angeles. They will have to continue to play close to perfect basketball if they want a real chance to come out of the highly competitive Western Conference.
Utah's roster has blended well so far, and their chemistry is a big part of the success. It was only a few months ago that rumors were swirling about the relationship between Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. The league was shutdown, and all fingers were pointing at Gobert for his carelessness and joking about the Coronavirus, then being the first major athlete to test positive for the virus. Eventually, we all got over it and so did Mitchell. You ever get into a big fight with a friend and then after you guys reconcile, you become even closer? Maybe that's what happened with these guys because the chemistry between the two is evident. Gobert put up 29 points and 20 rebounds last night and his elite defensive skills will have him in the Defensive Player of the Year consideration. Mitchell started off very slow this year but has turned it around and is on an All-Star pace averaging 23 PPG. Maybe the spat with Shaq will motivate him to continue this elite play?
Utah's depth is another reason to be encouraged. Mike Conley is healthy this year and that has a been a big factor. Jordan Clarkson has been great off the bench, dropping 31 points last night and touting an average of 18 PPG. My preseason pick for 6th Man of the Year, he has shown great command of the offense when Conley is on the bench and has a great knack for scoring. Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic are both providing double digit points as well. Royce O'Neale has played great so far and is averaging over 30 minutes a game because of how well he is defending opposing teams best wing.
The mix of scoring and defense is creating a perfect blend for this team. Everyone has a role and plays it to the best of their ability. No drama, no ball hogs, no BS, just winning. Time will tell if Utah can keep up this kind of success, but the development of their young core has definitely turned some heads. If they can keep up this kind of play through the playoffs, they could be the biggest challenge for the Lakers attempt to repeat as Champs.
2020-21 Utah Jazz Team & Player Stats (n.d.). Retrieved January 28, 2021 from https://www.statmuse.com/nba/team/utah-jazz-45/2021/stats