How Did The Utah Jazz Go From Bottom Feeders To Playoff Hopefuls?

Jan 17, 2024, 6:46 PM

Utah Jazz Keyonte George playoff...

Utah Jazz guard Keyonte George (3) smiles after a series of 3-pointers in an NBA game against the Indiana Pacers at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. The Jazz won 132-105. (Photo courtesy of Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

(Photo courtesy of Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – After starting 7-16, it looked like the Utah Jazz were in full rebuild mode after exceeding expectations in the 2022-23 season.

However, Utah rattled off 15 wins in 19 games to find themselves with a positive record in the postseason picture.


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The biggest reason for Utah’s recent hot streak is obvious.

Lauri Markkanen missed eight games from late November to early December and the Jazz went 3-5.

In the eight games after his return, Utah went 6-2.

Over the last 15 games, Markkanen has averaged 25 points and 9.2 rebounds on 51.1/41.4/90.6 shooting splits.

But one All-Star level player isn’t enough to carry a whole team.

Collin Sexton has stepped up as debatably the second-best player on the roster, averaging 20.6 points and 4.9 assists over the last 15. Sexton has scored 20 or more points in 9 of his last 12 games as well.

On top of Markkanen’s steady play and Sexton’s emergence, Will Hardy figured out a rotation that benefits almost everyone involved.

Keyonte George, Jordan Clarkson, and Walker Kessler were moved to the bench and have thrived in their new roles.

With 42 games under their belts, the Utah Jazz sit in the Western Conference’s 9-seed.

They are just 2.5 games from the 6-seeded New Orleans Pelicans and 3 games from falling back to 12th.

Utah looks onto Oklahoma City before going on a 6-game road trip starting in Houston.

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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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How Did The Utah Jazz Go From Bottom Feeders To Playoff Hopefuls?