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Conley, Mitchell’s Defense Could Lead Jazz To Finals

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives into defender Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Utah Jazz in the second half during Game Four of Round Two of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Vivint Smart Home Arena on May 6, 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Rockets beat the Jazz 100-87. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr./Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz already have the two-time Defensive Player of the Year on the roster with Rudy Gobert. Add the capabilities of Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell, and the Jazz defense could take them all the way to the NBA Finals.

Mike Conley didn’t seem concerned after the Jazz’s preseason 133-99 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday. He complimented the Bucks, said Utah still has a lot to improve on and that they will get better the longer they play together.

Conley didn’t seem fazed at all by the loss. The improvements, he said, will come.


That should give some reassurance to Jazz fans just under two weeks before the start of the season, and if they want more comfort, they should listen to True Hoop’s David Thorpe.

On the most recent Full 48 Podcast with Howard Beck, Thorpe said the Jazz are truly Western Conference title contenders, all thanks to Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and a potentially historic defense.

“They could have made the (Bojan) Bogdanovic move and kept (Ricky) Rubio and I would not have them top 4 in the West,” he said.

Thorpe mentioned that Conley doesn’t take bad shots and is a good defender. The lefty point guard will also take a lot of pressure off of Mitchell because he won’t have to handle the ball as much this season.

“I see him impacting both sides of the ball and I see him impacting (the team) on leadership and he has lots of playoff experience,” he said.

Thorpe said what the Jazz have lacked in the past is good shooting. He doesn’t believe that should be a problem now that they have Conley and Bogdanovic on the team.

Ironically, the two new Jazzmen were a combined 0-14 against the Bucks.

Thorpe also believed Mitchell will make a leap in development this next season, especially on defense. He said Mitchell can make up for his lack of size with his strength.

“If I knew Donovan Mitchell, I would have him watch tape of Marcus Smart,” Torpe said. “Mitchell can make a run at (being that type of player). Last year he was fine on defense on an elite defensive team. I think he can be a sledgehammer on defense this next year with Conley. I think they can be a dynamite defensive backcourt, maybe the best defensive backcourt with help from Rudy Gobert.”

Thorpe said if Mitchell becomes a better defender, the Utah Jazz could be the best defensive team the NBA has seen in modern times.