UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Sit In No Man’s Land In NBA Standings

Dec 2, 2022, 3:26 PM | Updated: 3:27 pm

Collin Sexton of the Utah Jazz and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns...

Collin Sexton of the Utah Jazz and Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are through week six of the NBA season so it’s time for another check-up on the four factors of a successful season.

The four factors — youth development, lottery standings, veteran performance, and fun factor — were laid out before the season as a grading system for a team that wasn’t quite rebuilding but wasn’t competing for a championship.

Here’s out they fared over the last week.

Utah Jazz Four Factors: Week Six

Youth Development: C-

Some ups and downs for the Jazz’s youth this week as Walker Kessler and Talen Horton-Tucker found themselves benched at separate points over the last seven days.

Kessler was removed from the Jazz game against the Chicago Bulls in favor of Udoka Azubuike after he struggled to deal with the size and physicality of Andre Drummond.

The rookie center returned to the lineup in Wednesday’s win over the Los Angeles Clippers where he scored five points, grabbed four rebounds, and blocked for shots in 22 minutes.

Through 21 games Kessler had the eighth most blocks in the NBA and had played at least 115 minutes fewer than each of the seven players above him.

While Kessler shined against the Clippers, Horton-Tucker was benched in favor of Nickeil Alexander-Walker.

Horton-Tucker had struggled in two of the Jazz’s three previous games, combining to shoot just 29 percent from the floor and 25 percent from the three-point line in his last three appearances.

Meanwhile, Ochai Agbaji and Leandro Bolmaro haven’t seen the floor save for garbage time against the Clippers.

Lottery Standings: F

Now more than a quarter of the way into the season, the Jazz find themselves in no man’s land of the NBA standings.

At 13-11, the Jazz own the seventh-best record in the West, not good enough for a guaranteed playoff spot, and not bad enough for a good lottery pick.

The Jazz could get value out of the season by either qualifying for the playoffs outright or getting a top-10 pick in the draft, but getting neither would be a missed opportunity.

There’s plenty of basketball left to play, but the Jazz are in standings purgatory at the moment.

Veteran Performance

Another middling performance from the Jazz who saw strong outings from several veterans, while also dealing with the absence of Mike Conley.

Conley hasn’t played in nearly two weeks, and it’s severely hindered the Jazz’s ability to compete.

However, the Jazz starting lineup of Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Kelly Olynyk have played admirably in his absence.

Markkanen averaged a team-high 23.5 points while shooting a terrific 54 percent from the floor and 48 percent from the three-point line.

Clarkson hadn’t shot the ball well until Wednesday’s game against the Clippers where he turned in a season-high 33 points, earning the Jazz the win.

Sexton’s awareness remains a work in progress on both ends of the floor, but despite his inconsistency, he’s averaged 17.8 points, 6.0 assists, and has shot 60 percent from the floor and 42 percent from the three-point line.

He also has a team-high +6.8 plus-minus.

Olynyk added 16.5 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three, while Vanderbilt is adding 10.5 points and 9.0 rebounds while shooting 73 percent from the floor.

Vanderbilt’s double-double against, the Clippers, including 10 points in the fourth quarter was key to the victory.

Elsewhere, Malik Beasley has gone cold knocking down just 24 percent of his 8.4 threes per game over the last four outings, while Nickeil Alexander-Walker had his best week of the year averaging 8.3 points and 2.3 assists in 19 minutes off the bench.

Fun Factor: B-

This was perhaps the least entertaining week from the Jazz finishing with a 1-3 record, including a loss at home to the sub .500 Bulls.

Poor execution on the last possession against the Phoenix Suns robbed the team of a chance to send the game to overtime, and they were down double-digits for the majority of the fourth quarter against the Golden State Warriors.

Getting Conley back will be a major boost for the watchability of the Jazz, and there’s a good chance he returns in the next week.

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