Can the Utah Jazz win without an elite perimeter defender

The Utah Jazz got torched by the Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard, and it's a sign that the team doen't have what it needs to compete.
Los Angeles Clippers v Utah Jazz
Los Angeles Clippers v Utah Jazz / Alex Goodlett/GettyImages

The Utah Jazz need help on defense. No matter what one thinks about Walker Kessler and his up-and-down season with the squad, no one is going to question whether or not the team needs more help on defense. They clearly do. The team is really just rocking five guys who can play significant defense at this point and most of them aren't getting the minutes they deserve if they get minutes at all.

Kris Dunn, Kelly Olynyk, Simone Fontecchio, Ochai Agbaji and Kessler are really the only five men who are known to play above-average defense or better. Talen Horton-Tucker is probably the next guy on that list, but he's inconsistent on both sides of the floor, which makes him harder to rely on.

And that's been a big issue all season, not having a reliable perimeter defender to help the Jazz overcome the better scorers in the NBA. The Jazz gave up back-to-back 40-point games to Kawhi Leonard and Luka Doncic respectively, but the last four games have been truly terrible for the Jazz on defense.

Yes, Doncic and Leonard went back-to-back with 40-point games, but the Portland Trail Blazers saw two non-elite scorers in Malcolm Brogdon and Shaedon Sharpe put up 25 points in the same game, after watching Karl-Anthony Towns drop 31 in the game before. That's four straight terrible defensive outings for the team.

And while it's easy to dunk on terrible defenders like Jordan Clarkson, he wasn't even playing the last few games before the Clippers contest. The Jazz just don't really try on defense. At least, the players that Will Hardy, the Utah Jazz's current head coach, keeps playing don't seem to try on defense. Either due to a desire to tank or because he's just not a good coach, Hardy refuses to play his better defenders in key matchups, resulting in these awful outings by the team's defense.

After a hot start to his 2022-2023 campaign, everyone thought Hardy would be able to keep the defense going like Quinn Snyder did, while improving the offense. Right now, that doesn't seem to be the case.

dark. Next. Lauri Markkanen cracks the Top 50 of controversial new player ranking. Lauri Markkanen represents the Utah Jazz in a new player ranking by Bleacher Report, but does this list even calculate the best players?