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The Utah Jazz -- A Top 10 Defensive Team?: The Downbeat #1522

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Are the Utah Jazz a top 10 defensive team? Should Arby's file copyright infringement against the Utah Jazz?

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz might not have looked like it at the beginning of the season but in the month of January they are the 11th ranked team in defensive efficiency.  ELEVENTH!!!!  What's even nuttier is they are putting together consistent defensive outings.  While they have found themselves on the losing side of over half of those outings they were never more than a few points away from winning with the Houston game being the only exception.

The Utah Jazz are averaging 100.5 points per 100 possessions in the month of January.  It comes as little surprise that Rudy Gobert has been the behemoth of the change.  His level of defensive intensity has put the starting lineup in another stratosphere.  What has been hurting the Jazz, though, is their offensive efficiency.  Their offensive efficiency is 101.4 points per 100 possessions with a total Net Rating of 0.9 points.  The Utah Jazz are not leaving themselves much room for error.

The unfortunate truth about Utah is they are a young team with a lot of inexperience.  As their shooting guard position has become a roulette of 10 day contract players that inexperience will likely not turn the corner over the season unless Dennis Lindsey has mercy on Elijah Millsap's soul.  (PLEASE HAVE MERCY!)

There is a major opportunity for improvement in the short term.  That opportunity?  Turnovers.  As in don't serve the opponents turnovers like you're Arby's.  The Jazz rank #2 in the league right now in opposing points off of turnovers for the month of January.  Opponents on average score 20.8 points per game from Utah Jazz turnovers.  This is indicative of a young team.

This isn't as much as an immediately correctable behavior as it is a symptom of development.  If this stat was lower (see also, last year) it shows that players are not learning their limits.  We can expect to see this stat begin to fall naturally as players like Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert, Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood, and *insert 10 day contract player here* gain more experience.  What will most likely keep this number on the high side of league is the rotating door of 10 day contract players.  Their mistakes will be high.  Exum's mistakes will most likely be high as well.  The curse of a 19 year old as we can see in past years and as recently as Giannis last year.

But if the Utah Jazz can take down their mistakes and even average as little 3-4 points less on points off of turnovers that turns a lot of these easily winnable games from losses to wins.  The fun part about this Jazz squad is the improvement from where they are now to where they can be is very in-reach.  With the a good coaching staff in place these improvements will come far more naturally.

Courtesy of Jody Genessy:

I don't know about you but the staff here at SLCDunk has a Gobertner.  (Have fun with the pronunciation of that one)  Rudy Gobert is our leader and we follow his every command.  What Gobert has done in this season is nothing short of spectacular.  It is special.  For those loyal Jazz fans who have watched their team sit in the mire of mediocrity, your patience is being rewarded with the best gift from France since fries and Statue of Liberty.  I know Amar posted this already but for you non stat geeks let me tell you why this is so important.  Amar created a stat called Delta Defense.

The formula finds rates of production for defensive rebounding, blocks, steals, turning the ball over, and fouling. It individually calculates the rates a player has (for a career or season) and adjusts that against normative NBA means for those factors. A more complicated version of this was being devised that gave bonus points for reaching certain values, but man, I have a life. No really, I do.

What Amar's findings present us is that we have a special player in Rudy.  His season is spectacular.  The stat does rely heavily on defensive rebounding which can oft times lie about a player's defensive ability.  READ ABOUT IT MEOW.

Here is another fun Gobert stat.  The Utah Jazz for the month of January are allowing a league best and low 35 points in the paint.  Thank you Gobzilla.

Enes Kanter is active again and eligible to play.  He came off the bench in the last game.  What your thoughts?  Should Enes Kanter return to the starting lineup or come off the bench?