The Utah Jazz were included in a fresh set of power rankings released this morning by the national media writers. How did the Utah Jazz fare in this week’s edition of power rankings?
For the Utah Jazz, the past seven days have been rough. Tonight they will conclude their longest road trip of the season against the Philadelphia 76ers, less than 24 hours after an embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. Despite putting up a franchise high 49 points in one quarter, they still lost by 20 points to the defending champs, which illustrates just how putrid the other three quarters were.
For a while it seemed like Utah was about to turn the corner with their heartfelt win over the New Orleans Pelicans and close loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, despite not having Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert in either of those bouts. Combine that with the return of Ed Davis and the upcoming soft schedule after December 4th, it wasn’t hard to get carried away with visions of Jazz-domination dancing in our heads.
That is still a possibility, as there is much more basketball left to be played in the regular season. But for now the Utah Jazz have a big reality checklist to look at, namely:
- Can the offense function without Donovan Mitchell or Bojan Bogdanovic?
- Can the bench players be relied on?
- Will the lackluster shooting of Joe Ingles and Mike Conley continue to plague the offense?
According to my eye test, the Jazz simply haven’t been balanced offensively. There are times when they don’t move the ball enough, getting trapped into too much hero-ball from Mitchell and Bogey. There are also times when they are unselfish to a fault, passing up great looks that get forced into contested mid-range jumpers, or even turnovers.
Here is how the Utah Jazz have been trending in power rankings this regular season (with the current week in bold lettering):
ESPN: 7th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th
CBS Sports: 6th, 9th, 13th, 7th, 8th, 8th, 12th
NBA.com: 7th, 7th, 11th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th
Bleacher Report: 5th, 7th, 7th, 7th, 9th, 8th, 12th
Sports Illustrated: 6th, 9th, 13th, 8th, 8th, 11th, 11th
Hoops Habit: 6th, 9th, 12th, 10th, 7th, 9th, 12th
This week the Jazz’s average ranking was 11.8, as opposed to last week’s 8.8.
In other words, the consensus is that the Utah Jazz are slowly trending in the wrong direction. Were it not for the come from behind victory in Memphis last week, the Jazz could have been dropped in the bottom half of the league. John Schumann of NBA.com had this to say:
“Defense is supposed to travel, but the Jazz have allowed almost 116 points per 100 possessions over a five-game trip that ends in Philadelphia on Monday. They allowed the Pacers to score as many points in the paint (58) with Rudy Gobert back in the lineup on Wednesday as they allowed the Bucks to score without Gobert two nights earlier. Then, after a win in Memphis, they allowed the Raptors to shoot 13-for-19 from 3-point range in a 77-37 first half.”
In just a one week span, the Jazz’s defense dropped from first in the league to 11th. That illustrates how heavily Utah relies on Rudy Gobert to be their backbone on defense. Grant Hughes of Bleacher Report included this tidbit in his power rankings:
“A sprained ankle prevented Rudy Gobert from doing anything about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s 50 points last Monday, and it’s easy to imagine how the league’s best interior defender might have changed the result of a game Utah only lost by four…
It’s not the end of the world when a West team stumbles on a five-game swing out East, but Utah’s 12-8 record still reads as underwhelming.”
The Utah Jazz have a chance to make a statement tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Jazz were the victorious team in the last contest between the two teams, but despite playing at home and the 76ers not having Ben Simmons for the majority of the game, it still came down to the wire. I get that a win is all that matters at the end of the day, but that was not a very convincing win in my eyes.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, I think it will take more than a week’s worth of impressive play to truly surge in the power rankings. They have consistently been inconsistent this year, and as of right now are still yet to play four solid consecutive quarters of basketball in a win against a playoff team.
It might take another “Wake Up!” call from Quin Snyder, or perhaps a trade after December 15th to juice up this Jazz locker room. If the Jazz fail to improve from where they are at right now, it will be a major disappointment considering how hyped this team was in the offseason.