Should the Utah Jazz be Title Favorites?

Winners of 21 out of their last 23 games, the Utah Jazz currently have the NBA’s best record at 25–6. So is it time to anoint Utah as title favorites? Let’s first look at how they’ve gotten where they are.

The Jazz are the definition of a team. They don’t rely on multiple superstars to carry the load. Yes Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are All-Star caliber players. They however, wouldn’t garner the superstar ranking in most people’s eyes. Mitchell, who is the team’s leading scorer averaging 24.5 points, is just 17th in the league scoring. Yet the Jazz have made it work exceptionally.

Utah currently has six players averaging double figures scoring wise. This team based approach on offense has led the Jazz to top-three rankings in points per game (third-most), three-point makes per game (most), and three-point percentage (third-highest).

Utah has the league’s best record at 25–6. Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Offense isn’t the only thing Utah has going for them either. The Jazz have also been dominant on defense this year. A big reason for that is Rudy Gobert. The French big man is currently second in blocks per game at 2.8 per game. Gobert remains one of the league’s best rim protectors and anchors on defense.

For Utah as a team, they find themselves in the top-five in points allowed per game (third-fewest), field goal percentage allowed (third-fewest), three-point makes allowed per game (fewest), three-point percentage allowed (fourth-fewest), and blocks per game (fifth-most). Gobert and company have been able to stifle opponents all season.

The question is will Utah’s phenomenal play continue into the playoffs?

Rudy Gobert, like usual, has been Utah’s anchor on defense. Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

If you just look on the surface of last season most would say no. The Jazz blew a 3–1 lead in the first round to Denver, leading to an early exit. That doesn’t tell the full story however. First, Utah was without Bojan Bogdanovic who is currently averaging 15.3 points per game while shooting 39.3% from three. To dismiss his absence as nothing would be foolish. Second, their was no home-court advantage. Yes I know no one had home-court, but Utah is a team that especially thrives at home. Just look at their home record this season (14–2, best in the NBA).

That is why the Jazz may be able to achieve some postseason success this year. Utah appears to be headed for the one seed in the Western Conference. And even without fans this year, Utah has been dominant at home. If fans are able to eventually attend games come playoff time, the Jazz will only receive a bump in home-court advantage. The team also has Donovan Mitchell’s postseason progression to look forward to. Last year Mitchell was dominant in the playoffs. He averaged 36.3 points per game (led the NBA), and made 4.7 threes per game (led the NBA). If he is able to even come close to reciprocating that, Utah will have a great chance to make some noise.

Donovan Mitchell flashed superstar potential during last year’s postseason. Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

The Jazz also have one more thing going in their favor this season: the emergence of Jordan Clarkson off the bench. Clarkson will almost certainly be the sixth-man of the year, and for good reason. He’s the team’s second leading scorer, averaging a career high 18.3 points per game. Clarkson gives Utah’s second unit a spark many teams don’t have.

For these reasons I think it’s time everyone starts taking the Jazz seriously. Obviously until they prove it in the postseason there will be some doubt. I won’t be shocked however, if Utah makes a title run.

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Jacob Burns

Jacob Burns

University at Buffalo ’20 | BA in Communication | Writer for The Sports Scientist & Kicks N’ Cleats