NBA analyst mistakenly calls the Utah Jazz ‘one wing short’

Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Phoenix Suns (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

Phoenix Suns top 3 wing defenders: Mikal Bridges, Jae Crowder, Torrey Craig

Average DBPM: 0.6

As previously mentioned, the Suns’ average DBPM among their 3 best wing defenders outscored the Utah Jazz’s by a paltry 0.6 to 0.5. Calling the Suns’ defensive wing depth better than the Jazz’s feels trite. On the other hand, observing the differences between the two is a little more fruitful.

The Suns are the first team on this list to boast three positive DBPM figures among their 3 best defensive wings. On the other hand, Mikal Bridges, their best wing defender, posted a vastly inferior score to the Jazz’s Royce O’Neale, at 0.8 to his 1.7. In other words, Phoenix has better defensive wing depth, but the Utah Jazz have the best wing defender between the two teams. In fact, even Joe Ingles and his 0.7 DBPM is extremely close to Bridges’ 0.8 figure.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking to make the case that the Utah Jazz are a defensive wing short compared to their Western Conference brethren, you need not look any further than the Arizona desert. Although, it’s worth noting that the Jazz were third in the Association in team defensive rating last season at 108.9, while the Suns were not far behind, finishing the regular season tenth with a rating of 112.1.

A perfectly reasonable question arises: how, then, is there any case that the third best defensive team in the league last season is in need of an extra defensive wing? Well firstly, there isn’t, and they aren’t. However, in comparing these two Western Conference powerhouses, one would be remiss to exclude a comparison of their big men. Rudy Gobert, 2x Defensive Player of the Year, posted a 2.5 DBPM last season. Deandre Ayton posted a neutral 0.0 mark.

How you interpret this data is subjective: you could argue that the Utah Jazz don’t need an extra defensive wing because they have the best rim protector in the NBA to compensate for wing mistakes. Or, you could argue that the Jazz’s wing defense is demonstrably bolstered by his presence, and is clearly lacking in depth compared to the Phoenix Suns, who roster three quality defensive wings in the absence of such elite rim protection.

However you slice it, the Utah Jazz and the Phoenix Suns boast extremely similar caliber wing defenses, and neither team has much to complain about in that department.