The Utah Jazz will soon put their team to the test against a tougher slate of opponents starting in a week. What are realistic expectations for how well they perform?
January has been a great month to be a Utah Jazz fan. Thanks to a soft schedule this club has been able to gel most of its pieces together after giving fans their annual scare in the early part of the season.
They put together what will likely be the longest winning streak of the season at ten games, and won 18 of their last 20 games. During that stretch they boast the top net rating and offense in the league.
In an effort to prevent the hype train from getting completely out of control, last fall Spence Checektts of ESPN 700 released a video detailing what he deemed to be “responsible hype” and expectations for the Utah Jazz this season.
He said that about 53 wins and making it to the conference semi-finals was attainable, but added a catch: anything beyond that would be gravy.
While the Jazz did get significantly better across the board by adding Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic to the core of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, the rest of the Western Conference also added significant talent.
Out of the 15 teams in the conference, there were only three teams I expected to have a noticeable drop-off from last season, those being the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies, and Oklahoma City Thunder. Everyone else in the conference was hoping to do even better than they had the previous year, the Jazz included.
Long story short, we were right about the West having a lot of competition this season, but not quite the way we expected it to. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks are my biggest surprises and both look to be playoff locks this spring.
We were also right about was the parity of the conference. The Lakers have been the clear top team all season long, but finding the second best team has been a difficult task. The Clippers, Nuggets, Jazz, and Rockets have traded off the second seed loads of times the past month alone.
This leads into our first slide: