This Utah Jazz team is different and a win over the Denver Nuggets cements that

This isn't the same Utah Jazz team we saw in October and November.
Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks
Utah Jazz v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
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The Utah Jazz are on a tear. In 15 games they've gone 11-4 and have raised their record from 7-16 to 18-20, and are just a half-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers for the final play-in spot. They've turned their whole season around and with the Lakers falling apart, the season-ending injury to Ja Morant, the Phoenix Suns aging out of contention, and a variety of other variables plaguing teams ahead of the Jazz, they are setting themselves up nicely for an impressive turnaround.

But it's not just that things have started breaking in their favor. They have, but that's not why this is happening. This turnaround is happening because Will Hardy finally woke up and made serious changes to the team. Collin Sexton is in the starting lineup and playing like an All-Star. A perfect compliment to franchise star Lauri Markkanen who's finally healthy and looking like an All-Star again.

Kris Dunn is in the starting lineup and playing great defense. Simone Fontecchio has been given more minutes and is playing solid two-way basketball. Plus, the guys who were causing issues for the Jazz are being put into roles that minimize their weaknesses and maxmimizes their talents. Jordan Clarkson is once again a bench guy, keying up on other teams' sixth, seventh, and eighth-best players. Keyonte George is playing 20 minutes a game and not being asked to carry the offense. Talen Horton-Tucker is sitting next to the Gatorade guys on the bench, handing out drinks.

Players are doing the roles they are best at. There's still some debate as to whether Walker Kessler or John Collins should be starting for the Jazz, as Collins has proven to be unreliable defensively a time or two but so far the team is winning and that's what matters. At this rate, the Jazz may be back in playoff contention beyond the Play-In portion in no time. Especially after this stretch of games is over.

The Jazz have taken on arguably four of the top teams in the East and two of the best teams in the West in the latest stretch of games; with wins over the Miami Heat, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers, and most recently, the Milwaukee Bucks. They lost to the Boston Celtics and have the Denver Nuggets on deck on Wednesday.

A win over the Nuggets changes this team's expectations for the season. Right now this team is in a great spot and the goal is the playoffs right now. But a win over the Nuggets, the defending NBA Champions, may convince the front office to go after a game-changer. Someone who can compliment the Jazz long-term and bring stability to the team.

He'd have to be a two-way forward at this point, replacing either Fontecchio or Collins in the lineup. The Jazz would want to look for someone younger, and a guy who isn't a turnstile on defense. There may be a few of those guys on the block this trade season, we'll just have to wait and see.

And a loss to the Nuggets doesn't ruin the season, it's just with the wins over the Bucks and 76ers coming without their best player on the court (or one of), the Jazz would then be wise to make any trades should they lose to the Nuggets. You don't want to make any major trades if you're not sure the team can go deep into the postseason with the roster at hand.

A win over the Nuggets, especially a healthy Nuggets squad, would tend to lend credence to the idea that the Jazz could match up with anyone in the West and have a shot to take the series. So you would then go and try and improve the roster this season. A loss means you go into the postseason (hopefully) as is, and see what noise you can make before focusing on improving the team in the offseason instead.

That's the only real change a loss against the Nuggets would provide; when do you go for that next great player?

And even then, the Jazz could continue to wreck the league and still show that they should trade for someone this season. Things are constantly in motion but a win over the Nuggets sets a vastly different course for this team.

Next. The Utah Jazz don't need a player like Kyle Kuzma when they already have John Collins. The Utah Jazz don't need a player like Kyle Kuzma when they already have John Collins. dark