Jazz Four Factors: High Marks For Fun, Low Marks For Tanking
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are a week and a half into the NBA season and are one of the league’s most surprising teams.
The Jazz are 4-1 through five games, tied with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Before the season I listed four factors to grade the Jazz on in what was supposed to be a down-year in the standings. Those four factors included youth development, lottery standings, veteran performance, and the entertainment level of the team.
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Here are the letter grades for how they’ve fared through five games.
Youth Development: B
Walker Kessler burst onto the NBA scene with a record-setting night scoring 12 points, grabbing 10 rebounds, and shooting a perfect 5-5 from the floor.
Kessler is the first player in NBA history to record a double-double and not miss a shot from the field in his rookie debut.
More than 4,700 players have stepped foot on an NBA floor, and not one of them had ever accomplished what Walker Kessler did last night for the @utahjazz .#takenote | @WalkerKessler13https://t.co/dh2VBCHoeL
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 20, 2022
The center followed it up with strong games against the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans before falling back to earth against the Houston Rockets.
Simone Fontecchio had his breakout performance against the Rockets in Houston on Monday scoring all 13 points of the game in the fourth quarter as the Jazz came up just short of a comeback victory.
On Wednesday, it was 21-year-old NBA veteran Talen Horton-Tucker who turned heads with his best performance in a Jazz uniform. The fourth-year guard scored 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out four assists in 28 minutes off the bench.
So far, Jazz coach Will Hardy has found opportunities to play three of the five Jazz youngsters at crucial moments during the first week and a half of the season, and they’ve performed reasonably well.
This grade would be an A, but the team was dinged as neither Ochai Agbaji nor Leandro Bolmaro have played meaningful minutes this season.
Lottery Standings: D-
This may seem harsh to hand out an D- grade this early in the season, but the Jazz’s goal was to give themselves the best odds of landing the top overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, they’ve failed miserably.
The @utahjazz have twice as many wins as the 76ers, Lakers, and Nets combined.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) October 27, 2022
Just five games into the season the Jazz already have a 4.5 game lead over the Orlando Magic for the worst record in the NBA, and they’ve built this lead by beating three likely playoff teams in the Western Conference.
Make no mistake, there is plenty of time to rack up losses this season, but if the draft were held today, the Jazz and the Portland Trail Blazers would flip a coin for the 29th overall pick in the first round.
Veteran Performance: A-
With Lauri Markkenen putting up All-Star numbers for the first time in his career, Jordan Clarkson experiencing career-highs across the board, and Kelly Olynyk shooting nearly 70 percent from the three-point line, the Jazz get a near-perfect mark for veteran performance.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 27, 2022
Markkanen looks like a major piece of the Jazz franchise going forward, while Clarkson and Olynyk could be highly sought-after trade pieces with their current production.
Mike Conley and Malik Beasley have yet to shoot the ball well, but their numbers should improve. Rudy Gay’s production has been below-average since a strong opening-night performance, and moving him may prove difficult.
Fun Factor: A+
Remember, above all else, basketball is a game designed to be enjoyed by fans. Through five games, the Jazz have one blowout victory over the Denver Nuggets, two overtime wins against the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans, and a close win over the Houston Rockets.
On top of that, they’ve been fun to watch due to their fast-paced offense, rapid ball movement, and strong individual performances from Markkanen and Clarkson.
The Jazz won’t keep up their current .800 win percentage, so fans wanting more draft lottery balls need not worry yet. Until the wins slow down, enjoy them while you can.
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Utah Jazz Standings