Dog Days Appear To Be Wearing On Jazz
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are through week ten 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, NBA standings, veteran performance, and fun factor — were laid out before the season as a grading system for a team that isn’t quite rebuilding but isn’t competing for a championship.
Here’s out they fared over weeks nine and ten.
Utah Jazz Four Factors: Week Ten
Youth Development: C
It’s been a mixed bag for the Jazz youth over the final two weeks of 2022 as Walker Kessler continued to perform well, while other youngsters struggled to see the floor at all.
Kessler scored in double-digits in three of his last six outings including a strong 12 point, 14 rebounds, two block double-double in the Jazz win over the Washington Wizards on the 22nd.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) December 20, 2022
In four starts during the stretch, Kessler averaged 10.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks while shooting 74 percent from the floor. Despite finishing the six-game stretch with a 2-4 record, the Jazz were only outscored by one in Kessler’s 140 minutes on the floor.
However, Talen Horon-Tucker, the Jazz second-best young player this season has failed to play two of the Jazz’s last six games and averaged just 6.8 minutes when he did see the court.
Similarly, Ochai Agbaji has made only four appearances in the Jazz’s last six outings averaging 4.8 minutes per game.
NBA Standings: D
The Jazz continue to find themselves in no man’s land between competing for a top-six seed in the Western Conference playoffs and improving their odds in the draft lottery.
Currently, the team owns the ninth-best record in the West, sitting a half-game ahead of the Golden State Warriors for the 10th seed.
The NBA standings through Dec. 29!
— NBA (@NBA) December 30, 2022
The best options for the Jazz by the end of the season will be to either finish strongly in the playoff picture or firmly in the high lottery.
Currently, they’re doing neither, and that will have to improve if they hope to change their low grade.
Veteran Performance: B+
Jazz fans can likely stop waiting for a drop-off in Lauri Markkanen’s performance. The forward continues to put up high-level All-Star games and the last two weeks were no different.
Markkanen averaged 27.0 points, and 8.0 rebounds while shooting an incredible 53 percent from the floor and 51 percent from three on more than nine attempts per game over the last six games.
Jordan Clarkson also continues to play well averaging 21.2 points and 3.8 rebounds while dishing out 3.0 assists.
The only real argument against Lauri Markkanen would be if the Jazz complete fall apart as a team over the next month.
Otherwise, he's an All-Star in every sense of the word. Consistent, dynamic, hits huge shots, carries a big load, makes highlight reel plays.
— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) December 29, 2022
Collin Sexton returned from his hamstring injury and has provided a spark off the bench averaging 14.0 points and 2.7 assists while leading the team with a +6.0 plus-minus in just under 19 minutes per game.
On the flip side, Mike Conley’s shooting numbers have cratered as the veteran guard is averaging 8.0 points per game on 37 percent shooting from the floor and 28 percent from three.
Fun Factor: C
For the first time this season, the Jazz fun factor has truly begun to slip, thanks in large part to a 2-4 record over their last six games and some less-than-inspiring performances in the stretch.
The Jazz lost by an average of 24.5 in road games against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Cleveland Cavaliers to begin their recent stretch, before two poor results against the lowly San Antonio Spurs and the shorthanded Golden State Warriors.
Four games shy of the midway point in the season the Jazz appear worn down by the dog days of the NBA calendar.
Though the schedule lightens up slightly in the coming weeks, the team has to push through the next month and a half before the All-Star break, or things could get ugly.
Utah Jazz Scoreboard
Utah Jazz Team Leaders
Utah Jazz Standings