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The Downbeat: Western Conference Leading Utah Jazz

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The Utah Jazz start the season 1-0.

NBA: Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz defeated the Denver Nuggets at home on Wednesday night to start out the season 1-0 for the first time since 2012. Let’s get to the Downbeat.

After beating the Denver Nuggets at home, the Utah Jazz’s reward is a revamped Minnesota Timberwolves team. Minnesota lost to the San Antonio Spurs last night and will be looking to get their first win of the season when they have their home opener against the Utah Jazz.

Ricky Rubio will be facing off against his former team for the first time after scoring 9 points, dishing out 10 assists, tearing down 5 rebounds, and 2 steals. Quin Snyder’s hope of a Jason Kidd clone looked prophetic yesterday evening.

Here’s to hoping Ricky can be victorious against his former team tonight in Minnesota.

The Utah Jazz posted their intro video for those outside of Utah who won’t get to see a home game. Let’s just say ... IT. IS. LIT. Seriously, you stoked? I’m stoked. I want to go lift weights right now. I’m ready to roll!

It’s Rodney Hood’s birthday everyone! The 4th year shooting guard turns 25 today. This is also your reminder that the 4th year PG, Dante Exum, is only 22 YEARS OLD. Happy Birthday, Rodney Hood! Hold off from celebrating until AFTER the back to back with Minnesota and Oklahoma City is over.

Alec Burks had probably the best game of his career on Wedensday. In the past when Alec Burks showed out, it was in a loss (partly due to the fact that it was during that tanking season that landing Exum). In this game Alec Burks came off the bench and in 15 minutes he scored 16 points. If Alec Burks has more games like this he could find himself in the Sixth Man of the Year discussion really quickly.

Alec Burks is 4th in the league in PER. It is only after one game and CJ Miles is in the top 10, but fun to see the Return (of the Return of the Return) of Alec Burks paying off.

This is probably a good time to remind you all that we listed this as one of our underreported storylines of this season. If we’re being honest though, we had initially said Dante Exum was going to have a huge breakout year then upon finding out he injured himself had a VERY LAST MINUTE rewrite.

With Dante Exum now facing another potential season-ending injury, the Jazz's ceiling for 2017 has taken a hit. Exum had looked like he was making great strides toward being the No. 5 pick that everyone dreamed he would become. With Exum potentially out for the season, the Utah Jazz have about 25 minutes available to share among their incredibly deep roster.

The storyline that no one outside of Utah is talking about is the return of Alec Burks. Burks has the most to gain from Exum's absence. Burks was outside of the rotation to start preseason, much like how Joe Ingles didn't figure into the Jazz's plans last preseason. For those that remember, it took an early season injury to Gordon Hayward to open the door for Ingles to secure a rotation spot.

Burks had already dealt with two false starts returning from his own injury woes. He’s hoping the third time is a charm, and sometimes charms coincide with curses. With Exum going down, Burks' opportunity presented itself.

While many have rightly predicted that Rodney Hood will be given the opportunity to be the Jazz's leading scorer, Burks could be a darkhorse candidate to take that honor while being a sixth man of the year contender come April. The NBA hasn't seen a healthy Alec Burks for almost three seasons now, and Burks could go from being trade bait to go-to scorer for Utah with the absence of Exum.

But he has to stay healthy first.

It’s only been one game, but I think you all know where this is heading. The Utah Jazz are top ten in net rating led by, you guessed it, their #10 best offensive rating in the league. Yup. All throughout the offseason, we talked about how their offense was going to be this juggernaut and it was just a question of whether the defense could come to play to catch up.

Jokes aside, the Utah Jazz’s offense looked atrocious until that 2nd half where Quin Snyder probably showed his team where he buried the bodies made some big adjustments and the Utah Jazz put it all together on the defensive and offensive end with big nights from Alec Burks, Thabo Sefolosha, and Ekpe Udoh. Tonight the Utah Jazz face off against the Minnesota Timberwolves and they can’t afford to get behind against a Timberwolf team this star studded.