Utah Jazz: Suspended season the epitome of emotional roller coaster

Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

Prior to the suspension of the NBA season last week, the Utah Jazz had already experienced an emotional roller coaster throughout the 2019-20 season.

The dog days of summer came a few months early this summer for Utah Jazz fans. Should we be all that surprised though after everything #TakeNote Nation has been through this wild season?

Let me take you back to your high school math days: in trigonometry there is the sine and cosine graphs, which if you recall, looks like a roller coaster with the peaks and valleys that never end.

This suspended NBA season and hiatus has just been the epitome of a crazy six months for Utah Jazz and NBA fans as a whole. It started out with almost the highest of all highs, and championship aspirations for a franchise that hasn’t yet achieved that milestone.

Preseason results were less than encouraging though. The Jazz lost every single game except the exhibition against the Adelaide 36ers, and posted the worst defense in the league.

I took it with a grain of salt given that it was just preseason, but I still had this worry in the back of my head that losing Derrick Favors would come back to haunt the Jazz later in the season.

Then the team opened up the regular season looking a bit unfamiliar with each other. The “blender offense” that Quin Snyder had took from Gregg Popovich’s book wasn’t quite firing on all cylinders, and it was a lot of Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic playing hero ball early on.

That was a bright spot though, as Mitchell looked to be in mid-season form taking a leap in his third year.

Through the first 16 games, Spyda was averaging 25.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. He was hitting clutch shots and playing with the control and poise of a six-year veteran.

Hope was being held out by many that once the new Jazzmen clicked with each other that the team could win games more convincingly without having to be rescued by either Don or Bojan every single fourth quarter.

The Jazz were 11-5 in those first 16 games, tied for third best in the Western Conference. But there still seemed to be this underlying truth that they weren’t good enough to make it last an 82 game season.

The following 14 games, they split an even seven wins and seven losses. That encompassed the longest (and most brutal) road trip of the season, as well as an unconvincing five game win streak.

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Management stepped in and shipped of Dante Exum and two future second round picks for Jordan Clarkson. The move immediately helped relieve the scoring burden on the backs of Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic, and the team won 19 of their next 21 games.

Embedded in that long winning stretch was the death of former NBA Commissioner David Stern. He had taken the game of basketball farther than many people dreamed, and we see all sorts of international backgrounds on the Jazz roster as a result.

Bojan is from Croatia, Joe Ingles is from Australia, and Rudy Gobert of course is from France where he picked up the game of basketball in his teenage years.

After the Jazz beat the Dallas Mavericks on January 25th, their 19th victory in 21 tries, things were looking pretty peachy. They were in second place in the Western Conference, only 3.5 games back of the Los Angeles Lakers for first place, and had beaten the Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers, two playoff-level teams.

The next day, the Jazz’s roller coaster would tank straight to rock bottom. Kobe Bryant was killed in a tragic helicopter accident with eight other people, and the NBA was not emotionally in the right spot to continue playing games.

But tragedy or no tragedy, the grueling marathon of an 82 game regular season would still be unforgiving to the Utah Jazz if they didn’t keep their focus and toughness intact. Their opponents gave them incredible opportunities to take advantage of and rack up some wins that otherwise would have been harder.

The Houston Rockets came into town with no James Harden, Russell Westbrook, or Clint Capela. Yet, the Jazz blew that opportunity. The San Antonio Spurs played without LaMarcus Aldridge, yet the Jazz still lost to that team.

The Denver Nuggets only had six healthy players to play but still edged out the Jazz in crunch time on their home floor. The excuse of losing just one game out of 82 was becoming old, and the Jazz’s only injuries during that time were to Nigel Williams-Goss and Emmanuel Mudiay.


Since capping off 19 wins in 21 tries with Jordan Clarkson, the Jazz have gone 9-10. They fell all the way down to sixth place in the Western Conference and were in danger of being surpassed by the Dallas Mavericks and falling to seventh.

They have never been back in the top three of the Western Conference since late January, but the thoughts of regaining a top-three or even top-two seed resurfaced when the Jazz swept their four game road trip most recently.

The win-loss record itself has been quite the raucous this season, but encapsulated in there have been so many more juicy story lines, such as:

  • Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell’s first All-Star appearance
  • Rudy Gobert’s lack of touches, and his teammates being unwilling to pass it to him
  • Mike Conley‘s resurgence as an above average point guard
  • The fiasco of Mike Conley being removed, then reentered back into the starting lineup in the same hour of time
  •  Mike Conley’s performance when piloting a squad of four other bench players
  • Tony Bradley‘s development
  • A Bojan Bogdanovic buzzer-beater in Houston

Now after two weeks, there’s a good possibility we have seen this rendition of the 2019-20 Utah Jazz for the last time. The novel coronavirus just may have taken out the ending of what would have been a spectacular postseason for the Utah Jazz and the NBA.

The Utah Jazz have had the most publicity of any NBA team over the novel coronavirus, and all for the wrong reasons. Those have been well documented already, so I don’t feel a need to explain it here.

Next. Utah Jazz: Joe Ingles speaks out on chemistry. dark

When we look back on this season in 10 or 20 years from now, one thing is certain: we will remember it as the wildest roller coaster that stalled out near the end of the ride.