UTAH JAZZ

Veterans Get Top Marks In Jazz Week 2 Four Factors

Nov 4, 2022, 2:41 PM
Collin-Sexton-Utah-Jazz...
Utah Jazz guard Collin Sexton (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s the end of week 2 in the NBA so it’s time to check on the four factors that will determine the success of the Utah Jazz season.

The Jazz opened the week with a loss to the Denver Nuggets, and knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies in back-to-back games, but ended the week with a loss to the Dallas Mavericks to open a three-game road trip.

Here are the grades for the Jazz four factors this past week.

Utah Jazz Four Factors Week 2

Youth Development: C+

I was tempted to give the Jazz an incomplete grade this week considering Walker Kessler and Simone Fontecchio played a combined four minutes over the last four games due to illness that has spread within the team’s locker room.

However, that would discount the amount of time that Ochai Agbaji saw for the shorthanded Jazz.

Agbaji averaged 19.3 minutes through the first three games of the week before recording a DNP-CD in Wednesday’s loss to Dallas.

The Kansas product contributed 6.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in his three stints, shot 42 percent from the floor and missed all six of his three-point attempts.

Agbaji failing to knock down a three is a bit concerning as he projects primarily as a 3-and-D wing at the NBA level, but he showed chops as a rebounder and slasher.

Coach Will Hardy said the Jazz were caught off guard by Agbaji’s natural timing cutting to the rim and lauded his rebounding effort.

Talen Horton-Tucker had a strong performance in Monday’s win over the Grizzlies scoring 13 points and grabbing five rebounds but struggled otherwise.

The Jazz get credit for finding nearly 20 minutes a night for Agbaji with the shorthanded roster, even if he doesn’t figure to be a consistent part of the rotation when the team is healthy. But overall, this wasn’t a terrific week for rookie development.

Lottery Standings: C

If the playoffs started today, the Jazz would still have homecourt advantage in the first round, but their 2-2 performance over the last four games might be a more accurate perspective on who the team projects to be than their 6-3 overall record.

The Jazz went winless on the road and undefeated at home against three teams that project to make the playoffs in the West.

But, Mike Conley rested in the Jazz first outing against Memphis, perhaps the first true sign that winning above all else is not the priority. Still, the Jazz swept the Grizzlies.

The good news for Jazz fans who value lottery balls over wins is only the Houston Rockets seem to be successfully tanking in the West this year, with San Antonio and Oklahoma City both having records of .500 or better so far this year.

It’s early, there’s no reason to sound the alarm on the Jazz getting caught in the no man’s land of NBA team building.

Veteran Development: A

Another stellar week for Jazz veterans as Lauri Markkanen is making an early push for an All-Star bid, Jordan Clarkson averaged an impressive 6.0 assists per game, and Collin Sexton found his groove on the offensive end.

Over the last four games, Sexton is averaging 16.5 points per game, shooting 50 percent from the floor and 39 percent from the three-point line.

That’s a sign that his knee is improving along with his confidence.

Kelly Olynyk has come back to earth after his stellar start to the season averaging 10.8 points and 3.5 rebounds while battling foul trouble most nights.

But Jarred Vanderbilt and Mike Conley continue to make strong contributions in the starting lineup.

Overall, it was another strong week for the veterans who have done little to hurt their trade value.

Fun Factor: B+

The Jazz drop a full letter grade from last week’s rankings due to their uncompetitive outing in Denver before blowing a 15-point second-half lead against the Mavericks.

However, the two wins over Memphis have been as exciting to watch as any Jazz games this season, and both victories offered plenty of storylines.

Even in their losses, the Jazz have remained incredibly watchable, and that deserves some extra credit despite the .500 record.

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Veterans Get Top Marks In Jazz Week 2 Four Factors