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Here’s What’s Right (And Not Right) With Jazz So Far

Jazz players celebrate during a timeout as the Utah Jazz and the LA Clippers play an NBA basketball game at Vivint SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. Jazz won 110-96. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are seven games into their season, and despite breaking in a mostly new roster, the team has a healthy 4-3 record. Here is a look at what the Jazz are good (and bad) at.

While there have been lows, specifically the slow start to Mike Conley’s season, and a bizarre loss on the road to the previously winless Sacramento Kings, the Jazz have carried over much of their identity from last season. 

It’s important to preface any per game statistics understanding the Jazz have the 28th slowest pace of any team in the NBA. With fewer possessions comes fewer raw statistical numbers. Therefore it can be more accurate to look at percentage rankings. 

Here is a look at where the Jazz have exceeded, and fallen behind the 30 other NBA teams.

What The Jazz Are Bad At

Rank: 30th – Assists to turnovers: 1.1 

Rank: 30th – Turnovers per play: 16.8% 

Rank: 29th – Rebounds per game: 50.9 

Rank: 27th – Points in the paint: 42.6

Rank: 27th – Assists per game: 19.7 

If you’ve watched the Jazz, it’s no secret that turnovers have been an issue all season. They’ve recorded 20 or more turnovers in three of their seven games so far, though surprisingly, the Jazz are 2-1 in those games. 

The promising sign, the Jazz haven’t had a 20 turnover game in their last three outings, so maybe they’ve solved this issue. 

The low assist numbers are more concerning, as the team’s offense is predicated on the pick and roll, and drive and kick opportunities. Surprisingly, the team is the ninth-best three-point shooting team in the league, meaning the Jazz simply aren’t taking shots in drive and kick situations. 

They also aren’t finding Gobert often for easy finishes. Gobert is down nearly three field-goal attempts per game. As a player who led the league in field goal percentage last year, those numbers need to go up.

That would help the Jazz low points in the paint ranking as well, though again, that number is skewed by the team’s low pace. 

What Are The Jazz Good At:

Rank: 1st – Opponent fast break points per game:

Rank: 1st – Opponent assists per game: 17.4 

Rank: 1st – Opponent assists per field goals made: .49 

Rank: 1st – Opponent three-pointers made per game: 8.7

Rank: 1st – Opponent 1st quarter scoring: 21.3 

Rank: 1st – Opponent 2nd quarter scoring: 23 

Rank: 2nd – Opponent effective field goal Percentage: 46.9% 

Rank: 3rd – Opponent points in the paint: 41.4 

Rank: 7th – Opponent 4th quarter scoring: 25.1 

Rank: 8th – Opponent 3rd quarter scoring: 26.1 

The Jazz’s best rankings all come on the defensive side of the ball, where the Jazz have once again been stellar to begin the year. The Jazz have the best defensive ranking in the league, which may come as a surprise to many around the NBA after losing Derrick Favors over the summer. 

The Jazz are holding opponents to the second-lowest effective field goal percentage in the league, and aren’t giving up easy baskets in transition. The Jazz have held opponents to the fewest fast-break points in the league. 

While the numbers can be skewed again by the team’s slow pace which limits the number of possessions an opponent has in a game, the low assist numbers on field goals made is a good sign. It largely signals the Jazz are recovering well defensively on pass-outs, limiting the effectiveness of the pick and roll, and forcing teams into isolation scoring opportunities. For the most part, those are bad shots, and the Jazz are benefiting as a result. 

It is troubling the Jazz don’t rank in the top five of any offensive category outside of free-throw attempts per field goal attempt. While that number has bailed them out when they’ve gotten teams in foul trouble (see the win over the Phoenix Suns), it means the offense doesn’t have one mega-strength on which to hang its hat. 

The Jazz will have an opportunity to improve these numbers this week, as they host the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks this week.