The Jazz had a disappointing start to the season, but there’s a belief in the league that the team will ascend up the Western Conference standings and land a solid seed in the postseason. However, Utah may be one piece away from competing with the top of the conference.
“The one thing about the Jazz is that they’re short an athlete,” an anonymous Eastern Conference scout tells Marc Stein of the New York Times (via his latest newsletter). “They’ve been exposed a little bit there. They’re short a disrupter on the perimeter — someone who gets that deflection, gets that extra ball, creates some easy baskets for them. They’ve been exposed a little bit by athletic teams.”
The team will be without a few contributors over the next few weeks. Ricky Rubio will miss approximately two weeks as he recovers from a hamstring injury. Thabo Sefolosha is expected to miss several games with a hamstring injury of his own and Dante Exum will be out a few weeks with a sprained ankle.
Here’s more from Utah:
- Donovan Mitchell hasn’t been able to duplicate the success he found during his rookie campaign and it might be because the league has figured him out, as one scout tells Stein (same piece). “He’s not the new kid on the block anymore, so teams are able to guard him a little better,” the scout said. “He’s in a good situation where they have complete trust in him. They’ve given him the keys to the city. And if he has a bad game, they’re going to go to him again the next time. The Jazz are lucky to have him, but he’s lucky to be there, too.”
- Mitchell will have to work on his game to become a more complete player, the same aforementioned scout tells Stein. “He isn’t a pure shooter like Damian Lillard…And he’s not as crafty in his game like C.J. McCollum,” the scout said. “Donovan is trying to develop that — those Tony Parker floaters, those McCollum shots. I think it’ll happen. The real chapter will be written on him next season. Last year he was the savior. This year it’s, ‘What happened?’ Next year will be the stock market correction of where he really is — and I would guess it’s going to be somewhere in the middle. He’s a good player, but he’s got some work to do.”
- The Jazz have just 16 road games left while every other Western Conference team has at least 20 remaining, Brad Rock of the Deseret News writes. Still, Rock cautions that this team may not kick it up a notch in the second half of the season as it did last year. The 2018/19 version of coach Quin Synder’s squad has yet to win more than three straight games.