The Utah Jazz may have one of the worst records in the NBA but thanks to the Phoenix Suns back-to-back, we know they’re markedly improved.
The Utah Jazz were smart to sit Talen Horton-Tucker, one of our recommendations, as it opened up the offense and allowed more guys to distribute the ball more often. Horton-Tucker had a nasty habit of taking bad shots and trying to drive to the rim when he should instead kick it out. It’s a problem the Jazz still have with Jordan Clarkson but removing one of two men who have that issue has seemingly remade the offense completely.
And after facing a team as stout as the Phoenix Suns in back-to-back outings and nearly knocking them off in two straight games, it’s clear the Jazz are a much-improved team on offense. Even if Bradley Beal didn’t play, having to face off with Devin Booker and Kevin Durant is a tough task for anyone to deal with.
So for the Jazz, namely Lauri Markkanen, to match someone like Durant shot-for-shot was a much-needed sight to see. The Jazz aren’t where they should be by now, however. They’re just 4-9 on the season in a year where many thought, ourselves included, that number would be flipped after 13 games.
The Jazz still need to get some help from the front office to right the ship, as guys like Jordan Clarkson and Horton-Tucker are still holding the team back, and the Jazz need to get Walker Kessler back from injury so that he can help fortify a pretty poor defense.
But until major moves are made, the Jazz are likely to continue to lose close games. You can’t win championships when your second-best player can only do one thing well, and in this case it’s Clarkson and his ability to score points and not much else.
The team needs a better second option than Clarkson and needs a stronger bench. Until some help arrives and Kessler gets healthy, we expect the Jazz can still compete with the best teams in the league, but may not have the needed talent to knock off those better squads.