Utah Jazz Revelations: Defense Is Still a Big Problem
Welcome to the latest edition of Utah Jazz revelations! The concept is simple. The Jazz play a game, I watch the game, then turn around and give you three key takeaways from said game. Really, it’s a three-step process.
The Jazz are nearing the end of their six-game road trip, and they made certain to play like it in their 147-114 loss.
This was a porous showing throughout the entirety of the night, and despite their best efforts to cut the game to single digits in the 3rd quarter it wasn’t meant to be.
For every bucket Utah scored, Brooklyn would get three. Sloppy offensive play led to turnovers, leading to Brooklyn buckets, and ultimately uninspired, unmotivated defensive effort.
REVELATION #1: Utah’s defense is pitiful more often than not
If you read the last article that was posted pertaining to the Wizards game, you will remember me telling you to pump the brakes on the defense holding Kyle Kuzma and Jordan Poole to 108 points.
Turns out, that feeling was correct as when the Jazz are faced with a halfway competent offensive team, they still give up way too many points.
Brooklyn set a new season high with 147 points scored in regulation. That’s 14 more points than their prior season high, courtesy of the Utah Jazz.
153 given to New Orleans and the 147 to Brooklyn qualify for the most points allowed by the Jazz this year and tied for the 3rd highest number of points allowed this year.
That’s two bottom tier defensive performances in a 4-game span, leading me to believe this may not be an issue that is fixed anytime soon.
If it wasn’t for the scheduled luxury of having the Wizards and Hornets in the middle of this trip, the defense may have given up even more season lows.
The average continues to slide as the Jazz sit 23rd in the NBA, allowing 119.9 Points per game.
We have seen this team play capable defense in the past, but we have yet to see them find any consistency within. Utah is either defensively sound or just an absolute train wreck.
It may go beyond a locker room pep talk, as we await the results of the looming trade deadline.
REVELATION #2: The Jazz are mediocre and they know it.
This quote from Coach Will Hardy In the postgame tells you what you need to know:
Coach isn’t sugar coating anything. He knows this Jazz team is likely play-in material at best, but a far cry from the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
Jazz fans likely need to accept that as well. It can be fun to fantasize during win streaks about climbing up to the six seed and making some noise, but realistically this team doesn’t have that type of staying power.
Like any team in year two of a rebuild the Jazz flashes of brilliance aren’t meant to last. The good play will be canceled out with bad play in a few games time, and that’s ok.
After getting blasted by Brooklyn (a team below .500) the Jazz are now 13-5 against teams below .500.
Utah is also 11-19 against teams with a winning record this season.
If you simply use the Western conference as a base, that would give Utah more wins against winning teams than the following: Golden State (7), Portland (7) and San Antonio (4).
It also gives them as many wins against teams with a winning record as the Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks.
By pure definition, this cements Coach Hardy’s point.
The Jazz aren’t bad, they can string together multiple wins against solid teams, but they aren’t good either, evident by giving up 147 points to a Brookyln team that averages 114.
In terms of taking care of losing teams, Utah’s 13 wins is actually tied sixth for wins over teams below .500.
The Jazz are better than the worst, and worse than the best.
JONES 27 TWEET
REVELATION #3: Keyonte George is reason to watch, when the Jazz aren’t worth watching.
The game was ugly for Jazz fans, and it is in those moments when you’re about to change the channel, that you have to dig deep in your fandom heart and find a reason to hang around.
More often than not for teams in the midst of a rebuild, that reason is the youth movement.
With three first round picks rostered, there should be plenty of buzz, right?
Wrong. Taylor Hendricks (9th overall pick) and Brice Sensabaugh (28th overall pick) have spent the majority of the year with the Salt Lake City Stars and will seemingly continue to do so barring any trades that clear veteran presences from the rotation.
And as disappointing as that may be for some, fans have found their reason for hope withing the 16th overall pick, Keyonte George.
Like most rookies, George has been dubbed the future of the league in one game only to turn around and receive no second half minutes in the next game.
He is still finding his place, style and rhythm in the highest ranks of hoops, and last night was another positive showing from the former Baylor Bear.
In the last 4 games prior to Brooklyn, George had a combined 30 points (7.5 PPG) and 15 assists (3.8 APG) but was shooting a paltry 23 percent from the field (5/22).
Against the Nets, George had his highest point total since December 30th with 21 points, and his most effective shooting night since the January 15th win over Indiana.
He logged nearly 27 minutes, going 6/11 from the field (54.5 percent) and went 3/7 from distance, including this sick buzzer beater:
Here’s a sample of Keyonte getting inside and finishing the tough runner:
He went 6/7 from the line, getting there more than any other Jazzman.
George also had 3 assists, including this tough half court heave to Ochai Agbaji:
On a night where everything seemed bleak, at least Keyonte George gave fans something to smile about it.
The Jazz take on the Knicks in New York.
The Knicks have won 7 straight, and any type of showing similar to last night will easily result in another atrocious loss.
Can the Jazz bounce back? Find out at 5:30 tonight.