Utah has been the best team in the NBA so far this season.
The Jazz are currently at the top of the heap with a league-best a 26-6 record. This was a feat that no one expected heading to this season. This has been largely thanks to their all-star duo Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert along with Sixth Man of the Year frontrunner and crucial piece Jordan Clarkson.
This season, Mitchell has been putting up MVP numbers with 24.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 5.1 assists, 1.0 steal in 42.5% shooting from the field.
Gobert has been stellar after signing his $205 million extension thanks to a double-double average of 14.0 points, 13.3 rebounds and 2.8 blocks. He is a leading candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year this season.
Clarkson, who also had a small case for becoming an All-Star this season considering the success of the Jazz. He’s having a hell of a run with 18.3 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists. Despite coming off the bench, he’s the Jazz’s second leading scorer.
But other than the leadership of their stars, there’s a bigger reason why Utah has been so good this season.
Three more guys are currently averaging double figures. Mike Conley is showing great impact as the floor general of Utah with his 16.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.5 steal contribution. Bojan Bogdanovic is showing his effectiveness as well with his 15.3 points per game while Joe Ingles is also dropping 11.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
Other role players like Royce O’Neale (7.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG. 2.4 APG) and Derrick Favors (6.4 PPG and 5.6 RPG 63.6% FG) is also being useful when called upon this season.
The Jazz are currently third in points per game with 116.0 per outing, only behind Brooklyn and Milwaukee. They’re also second in rebounding with 48.4 per game.
Utah’s offensive game has been impressive this season but their defense has been at a high-level as well.
With Gobert’s leadership on the defensive end, Utah is second in defensive rating with 106.8, trailing only behind the Lakers. Their hustle has been a great asset as well as they sit as the seventh best team in the league in the second chance points category.
In their most recent win, the Jazz demolished the Lakers, 114-89, by capitalizing on Anthony Davis’ absence and limiting LeBron James to 13 shots. James only made seven as he finished with 19 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Only two other players from the purple and gold squad finished with double-digits in scoring. Montrezl Harrell finished with 16 points and six rebounds and Markieff Morris had 12 points and nine rebounds.
Utah has certainly been dominant, and they’re doing it with a team-based approach to basketball much like the San Antonio Spurs. They may not share the ball as much as San Antonio, as they average 23.7 assists per game compared to the Spurs’ 25, but that’s a byproduct of having a scorer like Mitchell who takes just under 20 shots per game.
As the Milwaukee Bucks have shown the last couple of seasons, killing in the regular season is no guarantee for success in the playoffs. Their key rotation players have not changed that much compared to last season. Out of last year’s top-eight players in minutes played, the only different man in the group compared to last year is Derrick Favors.
Last year’s Jazz squad fell to the Denver Nuggets after squandering a 3-1 series lead. You can bet that’s still fresh in their minds, and it will be interesting to see how they handle the playoffs this time around. The Western Conference is still a murderer’s row when it comes to serious title contenders, and they’d have to get past some combination of the Blazers, Clippers, Lakers, Nuggets, Spurs, Suns, Warriors, or Mavericks to even make the NBA Finals.
That said, it looks like this year will probably be their best shot to make the Finals since Jordan sank them in 1998.
Do you think can actually win a title? Sound off in the comment section!