Utah Jazz All-Star Mailbag
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In the latest edition of the Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson answers your mailbag questions about the Utah Jazz as they enter the All-Star break.
Despite losing three of four to close the first half of the regular season, the Jazz own the best record in the NBA at 27-9 and sit 2.5 games ahead of the Phoenix Suns.
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Jazz All-Star Mailbag
Anderson: I think three things are working in the Jazz favor on this front. First of all, they already own the best record and do so by a somewhat decent margin. I know 2.5 games doesn’t seem like a lot, but it puts them on pace to win the West by five games.
For reference, last season the Los Angeles Lakers won the West by 3.5 games and the Milwaukee Bucks won the East by 2.5 games. So while a few bad weeks could certainly erase the Jazz lead, 2.5 games is probably a bigger margin than it seems.
Second, the Jazz likely have as much reason to compete for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs as any team in the NBA. The Jazz know they have an advantage playing at home with the altitude, would love to open and close a series in Salt Lake City, and seem to be one of the teams truly aiming to have as many fans as possible in the arena once the postseason starts.
Third, Quin Snyder doesn’t look to have any interest in resting his players. I thought the Jazz looked worn out by the end of the first half of the regular season, hence the three losses in four games, but the Jazz seem determined to push through that.
I get it if it earns them home-court advantage, but you don’t want to burn out your roster in the meantime.
Anderson: I think the first half of the season was about establishing an identity for the Jazz. Now I won’t be surprised if the second half of the season is about finding branches to work off of that identity.
The Jazz simply blitzed teams into oblivion in their first meetings this season, but as we’ve seen with the Clippers, Nuggets, Heat, and 76ers, those teams adjusted and got the better of the Jazz in their second meeting.
Now it’s time for Snyder to readjust his gameplan to counter those teams ahead of the postseason and that could include a few variations to his roster.
It’s important to note the Jazz have gotten by swimmingly without using the two-big roster very often, so I doubt we’ll see it as a mainstay, but Derrick Favors has proven to be a trustworthy postseason performer so maybe it comes back in time for the playoffs.
Additionally, Snyder could adjust how he closes games, including using Ingles at times in place of Bojan Bogdanovic who is starting to get targetted by opposing offenses late in games.
Anderson: I tweeted yesterday I thought the Jazz could use a villain, and PJ Tucker might be the best villain in the NBA currently.
I think having someone who sets that type of attitude could help relieve pressure from Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert who are extremely nice guys but need to be able to carry some attitude in the playoffs.
Dennis Rodman did it for the Chicago Bulls, Draymond Green has done it for the Golden State Warriors, and I don’t think it would be the worst addition to a Jazz roster that may need to little more belief in itself, especially when it gets labeled as the bad guy.
However, they don’t really have the pieces to trade for Tucker unless they move Joe Ingles or Royce O’Neale which would be a significant downgrade at this point in their careers.
The good news is that if Tucker can’t be moved in a trade, he should be a good candidate for a buyout, and could potentially land with the Jazz that way. I think it’s a longshot, but Jazz fans would love him if he landed in Utah.
If I didn’t answer your questions here, I addressed it in the podcast, so listen in the player above, or subscribe here.