Power rankings roundup: Utah Jazz still stuck outside top 10

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz. Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz still haven’t played well enough to climb back in the elite tier of title contenders, according to national media.

The Utah Jazz won two of their three games this week, all without their starting point guard Mike Conley. That in and of itself is a victory, although none of the three games were convincing that the Jazz have improved this season.

Utah lost to Oklahoma City on their home floor, never leading the game after the first quarter. Before the season started I pegged the Thunder to potentially be “the most forgotten team in the NBA” and pull off surprising victories against the league’s best.

The only contender the Thunder have beaten so far is the Philadelphia 76ers, but their defeats to the Rockets, Clippers, Bucks, and Lakers were decided by five points or less. They’ve been in the thick of the playoff race with the Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns, and their defense has hovered in the top half of the league all season long.

Having said that the Jazz still looked out of sorts in a game they should have won. The Thunder were at the end of a grueling back to back whereas the Jazz were well rested from the weekend coming off a solid win over the Grizzlies.

Thanks to Donovan Mitchell the Jazz were able to flip the script Wednesday night in Minnesota. There was noticeably more ball movement offensively, leading to more efficient shots for everyone. The Jazz ended the week grinding out a win over the Golden State Warriors at home. The game was much closer than it should have been, but I was proud of how the Jazz were able to take care of business in the fourth quarter.

Bogdanovic tied a franchise record for three pointers made in a game with eight triples, and in the midst of all this Rudy Gobert quietly had a monstrous week on the glass, grabbing 16 boards per game and shooting 76 percent from the field.

Here is how the Jazz fared in the week nine power rankings across the nation:

ESPN: 7th, 7th, 6th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 12th, 12th, 13th 

CBS Sports: 6th, 9th, 13th, 7th, 8th, 8th, 12th, 13th, 12th 

NBA.com: 7th, 7th, 11th, 7th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 13th, 12th 

Bleacher Report: 5th, 7th, 7th, 7th, 9th, 8th, 12th, 13th, 12th 

Sports Illustrated: 6th, 9th, 13th, 8th, 8th, 11th, 11th, 12th, 12th 

Hoops Habit: 6th, 9th, 12th, 10th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 12th, 12th

For the past few weeks the top 12 has been the same group of teams locked in place. However, the Dallas Mavericks just lost Luka Doncic for a couple weeks with a moderate ankle sprain, and their schedule ramps up in difficulty against the noticeably better Eastern Conference.

The Brooklyn Nets have been next door neighbors with the Jazz in the power rankings for a few weeks now. The returns of Caris LeVert and Kyrie Irving still seem distant, and if the Jazz maintain their momentum from the past two wins there’s a good chance they can leapfrog up to 10th or 11th in the power rankings next week.

Notable Quotes:

via John Schumann of NBA.com:

"“The Utah offense had both its least efficient game of the season (90 points on 101 possessions against the Thunder) and its most efficient game of the season (127 on 99 in Minnesota) in the span of three nights last week. The big difference in the two games was the performance of their bench, which had another rough night on Friday, when the Jazz were outscored by 17 points on a little more than 27 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor.”"

via Tim McMahon of ESPN.com:

"“The Jazz’s lack of depth has reached an alarming stage, an issue exacerbated by Mike Conley’s sore hamstring…The Jazz haven’t figured out how to generate offense without a finishing/scoring threat at the 5, a role Derrick Favors used to fill when Rudy Gobert rested. Utah averages only 90.3 points per 100 possessions in Ed Davis’ 170 minutes.”"

The keys for the Utah Jazz to have a successful week are:

  1. Get Mike Conley back on the court
  2. Find effective rotations
  3. Get back to playing elite defense

Conley is close to a return, and has expressed that he would “play through anything” were it not for the training staff being cautious with him. That’s always good to hear that our Jazz players are willing to play through pain, and I am really liking everything I hear from Conley as far as his demeanor and personality.

The big question is whether his return will help or hurt the Jazz immediately. Utah is 3-2 with Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell in the backcourt, and Joe has looked a lot more comfortable as a starter than the sixth man. How will Quin Snyder juggle the lineups?

The Jazz bench came up big against the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Jazz controlled the game up by 14 going into the fourth quarter. Then they fell flat against the Warriors. If the bench group, namely Emmanuel Mudiay, Ed Davis, and Jeff Green can prove that was more than a flash in a pan, the Jazz will be in good shape.

Fortunately the Jazz will be facing the Magic, Hawks, and Hornets this week. None of those teams are lauded for their depth, and hopefully Utah can figure out how to play effective lineups for all 48 minutes of the game.

As much as I’d love to see the Jazz go undefeated this week, they are still figuring each other out. They will have to stay on their toes against the young Hawks and Hornets, who each have their own laser scorers when they get into rhythm. Preventing easy three point looks and getting back on transition defense will be key if the Jazz want to avoid embarrassing losses.

dark. Next. What if the Utah Jazz had kept Wesley Matthews?

The sleeping monster of the Utah Jazz hasn’t woken up yet, and don’t expect it to come alive this week. 2-1 and some tinkering with lineups is what I’m expecting, with a slight uptick in power rankings for week 10.