3 reasons the Utah Jazz are built to counter the Los Angeles Lakers

Utah Jazz (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
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Utah Jazz continuity

As previously mentioned, the Lakers will endeavor to incorporate Russell Westbrook, a system within himself, and LeBron James, a (more efficient) system within himself. Last season, Westbrook finished 8th in the NBA with a Usage Rate of 38.7. Directly below him, we find none other than LeBron James, clocking in at an extremely similar 38.6.

It’s no secret that both James and Westbrook are accustomed to dominating their team’s offenses. The predominant concern for the Lakers this season will be determining Westbrook’s role. He is, infamously, a walking triple-double, but his career effective Field Goal percentage (eFG) of 46.7% does not bode well for his fit with James, who traditionally thrives alongside floor spacers and secondary playmakers. Russell Westbrook’s poor shooting is the stuff of legends, and his style of playmaking has not been described as “secondary” in any context throughout his NBA career.

Furthermore, the Lakers are bringing in seven(!) new bodies besides Westbrook. The Utah Jazz, meanwhile, made adjustments on the margins, but will likely be running back a similar core group featuring Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert, Mike Conley Jr., Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson.

There is great value in continuity. These guys know how to play under Coach Snyder, they know how to play with each other, and they know their roles. They certainly won’t have the same conflicting Usage Rates. Mitchell actually paced both Westbrook and James in Usage Rate last season, with a robust 39.1 mark. The next highest ranking member of the Utah Jazz in that stat was Jordan Clarkson, who racked up his 33.8 usage rate as the team’s sixth man. In other words, Clarkson was quite often carrying the offense with Mitchell off the floor.

The Lakers will not have the luxury of staggering James and Westbrook in that same fashion. That’s what happens with two guys who are making over $40 million dollars a year: they both expect to be on the court in critical moments. Time will tell if the two superstars can co-exist in the same lineup. Time has already told us that the Jazz’s main rotation players can.