Utah Jazz: Sorting fact from fiction 10 games into the season

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 21: Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 21: Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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SALT LAKE CITY, UT – NOVEMBER 01: Thabo Sefolosha
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – NOVEMBER 01: Thabo Sefolosha /

The Utah Jazz have a top 5 defense

The Utah Jazz have always hung their hats on the defensive end of the court. It’s been their calling card. The one hope that Jazz fans had heading into the season, was that the defense could carry them to hard-fought wins. For the most part that has been the case for the Utah Jazz this season…then the Jazz played the Rockets.

Utah had the third-best defense in the NBA heading into Sunday’s game. After the beat down to the Rockets, they dropped to No. 10. In one game, they went from a 98.3 defensive rating to a 101.6.

The Houston Rockets may have the best offense in the NBA, and James Harden had a historic night. So as long as we are not facing them every night, I think our defense will continue playing like a top three defense. Let’s just focus on the numbers prior to the game against Houston.

The Jazz were only allowing 96 points per game, and 100 points per 100 possessions. Both top 5 in the NBA. They are playing suffocating defense due to their incredible length. They force teams into bad shots. They are in the top 10 for limiting shots in the corner and at the rim, and are top 5 in opponent field goal percentage for those shots. They are also creating turnovers now, with 9.5 steals per game.

Rudy Gobert has continued to be a dominant presence on the defensive side of the court. He is leading the league in blocked shots per game and block percentage. Just like seasons past, his presence is always felt in the paint, and most players don’t even consider challenging him.

He’s not alone. The Jazz currently have three players who have a top 20 Defensive Rating; Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, and Thabo Sefolosha. Across the board the Jazz have very few negative defensive players. Only two primary role players have a negative defensive plus/minus, Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell is at minus-0.3, is likely going to be on the positive end as he gets more and more accustomed to the speed of the NBA.

The Jazz being No. 10 in defensive rating is not going to last long. They are a bona fide top three defense, and after this upcoming home stand they should be back as a top five defense.

Prediction: Fact