UTAH JAZZ

Jazz Roster Grades Ahead Of Trade Deadline

Feb 3, 2023, 3:03 PM | Updated: Feb 9, 2023, 5:23 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz are through week 15 of the NBA season so it’s time to examine how they’ve fared in 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 how they fared ahead of the NBA trade deadline.

Utah Jazz Four Factors: Week 15

Youth Development: A

After a rare down week from both Jazz rookies, Walker Kessler and Ochai Agbaji had bounce-back performances in their last three outings.

Kessler averaged 12.3 points, 10.0 rebounds, and a dominant 4.3 blocks in just 24 minutes per game. The rookie also shot an efficient 81 percent from the floor as his offensive skillset continues to develop.

Agbaji averaged a far more modest 3.3 points and 2.3 rebounds this week, but hit two big threes for the Jazz in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s win over the Toronto Raptors.

The rookie wing continues to refine his role with the Jazz, but coach Will Hardy has made a consistent effort to get Agbaji onto the floor in high-leverage situations, and more often than not it’s paid off.

NBA Standings: C

Once again, the Jazz find themselves in no man’s land in the NBA standings, sitting at eighth in the West, not good enough to automatically qualify for the playoffs, and not bad enough to have a shot at a good lottery pick.

The Jazz are up two spots from last week’s rankings and have won seven out of ten overall, giving fans hope that they could make a push for a guaranteed playoff spot in the top six of the West.

Until the Jazz reach the trade deadline it’s hard to know exactly what their plans are, and there are still 30 games left in the season to decide whether to make a serious push for the postseason or to fall back into the lottery standings.

The Jazz are a half-game out of the sixth seed and a guaranteed best-of-seven series in the playoffs, and one game out of the 11th seed and a late lottery pick, so all options are on the table.

Veteran Performance: A

The play from the Jazz’s veterans throughout the season is the reason they’re still in the hunt for a playoff spot, and fans should appreciate that.

Lauri Markkanen was named to his first All-Star team on Thursday, a miraculous achievement considering the player most thought the Jazz were getting back when they traded away Donovan Mitchell in September.

But beyond Markkanen’s consistently fabulous play, the rumored interest ahead of the trade deadline in the rest of the roster has offered a glowing review of how the Jazz vets have performed.

Malik Beasley is arguably the most popular name ahead of the deadline as a plug-and-play knockdown shooter. The Jazz are likely asking for a first-round pick in exchange for Beasley and seem likely to get it.

Though Jarred Vanderbilt has been moved to the bench in favor of Kessler, there remains a high level of interest in the forward which could fetch the Jazz another valuable asset at the trade deadline.

Kelly Olynyk continues to draw interest from Eastern Conference contenders, while the Los Angeles Clippers are rumored to have their eye on Mike Conley.

The Jazz have found a way to turn Markkanen into an All-Star, and the rest of the veteran rotation into players with high trade value. That’s a delicate tightrope to walk, and the Jazz haven’t once looked like they were in danger of falling.

Fun Factor: B+

After a week of double-digit decisions, the heart-attack Jazz were back in their last three outings as each game was decided by ten points or fewer.

Kessler’s play alone has been worth the cost of admission, but nailbiting wins against the Dallas Mavericks and Toronto Raptors provided extra excitement in the team’s last two outings.

Can the team keep its cohesion leading up to the trade deadline? That remains to be seen, but it’s been a fun ride so far.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Jazz Roster Grades Ahead Of Trade Deadline