The Utah Jazz looked ghastly against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday, giving up 40 points in the first quarter, and 75 points in the first half. Powered by Kevin Durant who seemingly couldn't miss throughout the opening quarter of action, the Jazz fell into a hole they couldn't get out. The defense was atrocious all night long and that was even with the team starting Kris Dunn and Walker Kessler, the team's two best defensive players.
Normally, this wouldn't have been such a cause for alarm. Durant is still a very good shooter, and sometimes you have games like this. Yet, there's a reason to be worried about the remainder of the season; the Jazz traded away Simone Fontecchio, Kelly Olynyk, and Ochai Agbaji, the team's third, fifth, and seventh best-rated defender according to their DBPM.
Turns out that you may need good defensive players in the NBA after all, at least if you want to win.
The Jazz made a move that may in fact sink whatever hope they had for the rest of the year, as the team will no longer rely more on Jordan Clarkson and Keyonte George, two of the worst defenders the team, has, as well as Talen Horton-Tucker and Taylor Hendricks. Horton-Tucker hasn't had meaningful minutes in months and when he's on the court he single-handedly tanks the offense, while Hendricks has all the sure-footedness of a baby deer learning to run.
The Jazz gave away good players for draft picks and potential, which is just the silliest thing the team could've done. It mirrors the moves that sank the team last year, when the Jazz traded away Mike Conley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Malik Beasley, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker.
The Jazz fell apart after those moves, and it's very likely that the team will see similar issues this year as well. Especially if the horrid defense against the Suns is just a taste of things to come.