JAZZ NOTES

Jazz Notes Grades: Can Utah Enter Postseason Picture In January?

Jan 4, 2024, 2:49 PM

Utah Jazz Jordan Clarkson Notes Grades...

Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) questions referee Ed Malloy (14) after seeing a replay of a foul call as the Utah Jazz and Detroit Pistons play at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. Jazz won 154-148. (Photo courtesy of Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Photo courtesy of Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – After starting the season 7-16, things looked rough for the Utah Jazz.

But, they turned it around as 2024 crept closer and have won nine of their last 12 games. Can the Jazz sneak into the playoff picture before the end of the month?

On the Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson and Chandler Holt gave the Jazz weekly grades in various categories.

The Jazz received grades on veteran performance, youth development, standings, and fun factor.

Utah had a lot of players return from injury in December. Because of this, others fell out of the rotation.

Rookie forward Taylor Hendricks is the perfect example of this.

However, Keyonte George returned from his foot injury, Walker Kessler played well in a bench role, and Simone Fontecchio continued to make an impact with his shooting and defense.

This all led to a B grade for the young guys.

The veterans are the reason that the Jazz have been winning games though.

Lauri Markkanen has done his usual All-Star things, Jordan Clarkson has thrived in his return to the bench, and Collin Sexton emerged as a Most Improved Player candidate.

The veterans got their best grade of the season at a B+.

For standings and fun factor, Utah also received some high grades.

The Jazz still sit in the 12th spot in the West but they continue to inch closer to that 10th seed. Considering you have to get wins to move up and Utah has done that, they got a B- grade for standings.

Lastly, the fun factor. Winning games is fun and the Jazz were a competitive team to close out December. Other things like Clarkson’s triple-double and Utah’s revenge against Dallas led to an A grade.

Can The Utah Jazz Enter The Postseason Picture?

The question should be will they enter the top ten in the West because there is no doubt that they could if everything falls their way.

Despite only being one game out from the 10th seed, it will be a difficult climb.

The three teams ahead of the Jazz (Golden State, Los Angeles, and Phoenix) have a lot of talent and playoff aspirations. On top of this, Utah has a very tough schedule in January.

Luckily for the Jazz, there are a lot of very winnable games to close out the month.

Utah entering the top ten in the West is dependent on other teams having a fall from grace. Outside of unpredictable injuries, here are some teams who are candidates to fall in the standings.

Houston sits in 8th and their success this year has caught some by surprise. With a new head coach and a few new additions, a cold streak is very possible for the Rockets.

Golden State is not the same team that it has been in years past. With an aging core and a competitive division, the Warriors could continue to fall further and further under .500.

New Orleans holds the 6-seed in the West. With a long injury history and a league-average offense, the Pelicans seem like one of the more unpredictable teams in the Conference.

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Chandler Holt is a co-host for the Jazz Notes podcast and a Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com, specializing in all things basketball and football. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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