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Taking Notes: Utah Jazz’s defense could be special

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A look back at the Utah Jazz’s opening week.

Utah Jazz v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

The Utah Jazz finished Week 1 of their season with a 2-1 record against three formidable division foes. The Jazz very well could have been 3-0 save for a halftime heave by Jimmy Butler or last minute Rudy Gobert turnover in Minnesota. Let’s go through some of the highlights and trends of that first week.

Summary

W/L: 2-1

Vs Denver Nuggets: Win

At Minnesota Timberwolves: Loss

Vs Oklahoma City Thunder: Win

The Triad

We’ll refer to three different stats as the triad throughout the season. These stats are Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, and The Utah Jazz finished the week with a defensive rating of 99.5 and an offensive rating of 105.1. The Utah Jazz have a net rating of 5.6. Most importantly the Utah Jazz do not have the slowest pace in the league at 94.8. They’re the 28th slowest.

Triad

Stat Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Stat Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Offensive Rating 105.1 99.8 102.4 100.9 104 105
Defensive Rating 99.5 99.1 100.2 102.3 104.3 104
Pace 94.8 94.7 94.7 96.6 96.1 96
Net Rating 5.6 0.7 2.2 -1.4 -0.3 1

Offense

The Utah Jazz offense is the 15th best offense in the league. We talked a lot before the beginning of the season that the Jazz were going to have one of the best defenses in the league, but their offense might be lacking. If their offense was anywhere in the teens this team could be scary good. Well ... week 1 is over and the Jazz offense is 15th and the Jazz almost had a 3-0 week against 3 playoff teams.

Offense - League Ranking

Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Offensive Rating 15 26 24 27 24 22
FG % 2 7 17 28 25 22
3P% 13 20 12 22 13 8
AST 3 10 20 22 21 17
eFG% 3 8 16 26 21 18
TOV% 28 30 30 27 28 21
ORB % 27 24 23 25 24 26
OPP PTS OFF TOV 22 30 27 25 24 21

The Utah Jazz’s FG% was second in the NBA while ranking as 3rd in assists (thank you, Ricky Rubio). They’re 13th in 3P% and that is most likely due to Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors taking a combined 3.3 3 pointers a game and not hitting a single shot.

Defense

When Dennis Lindsey added Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha, and Ekpe Udoh in the offseason to the Utah Jazz roster, we had an idea that they would be great fits in Utah’s defense, but not like this. The Utah Jazz already are second in steals in the NBA. These numbers came against what project to be three of the best offenses in the league: Denver, Minnesota, and Oklahoma City.

They’re 3rd in blocks and 8th in defensive rating. If you can escape the first week of the season with the 8th best defensive rating against those three teams then you’re in good shape. The Utah Jazz made teams with elite offensive players suffer. Just imagine what they’ll do against the likes of Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Chicago. If Utah’s defense continues like this then they’ll be in good shape the rest of the season and in the playoff race.

Defense Ranking

Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Defensive Rating 8 4 3 3 6 7
DRB% 9 20 19 15 11 10
Opp. TOV% 3 5 3 2 2 2
Steals 2 4 2 1 1 2
Blocks 5 3 3 3 2 4
OPP PTS PAINT 1 7 2 1 2 5

Leading Scorer of the Week

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

After the first week of the season, we have a 3-way tie for the leading scorer of week 1. That tie is between Ricky Rubio, Rudy Gober, and Joe Ingles. This was an interesting storyline going into the season as it was a mystery as to who would lead the Jazz in scoring and it doesn’t look to be solving itself anytime soon. The Utah Jazz have had three games and 3 different leading scorers.

Each one of them averaged 14.7 ppg. I still can’t decide whether it’s a good thing if Joe Ingles is the Jazz’s leading scorer or not. Having Joe Ingles be your leading scorer is something you do on NBA2K when you’re trolling opponents online. In real life? Okay, take that back. Now that I think about it, let’s have Joe Ingles be our leading scorer. Sign me up.

Worst of the Week

Utah Jazz v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Donovan Mitchell has had himself a rough first week of the NBA season. Nothing says “Welcome to the NBA” more than having to guard Jamal Crawford, Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, Gary Harris, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamaal Murray, Russell Westbrook, and Paul George 3 days in 4 nights. Let alone score on them.

Adding insult to injury, Rodney Hood being out due to last minute gastric distress and then a calf injury forced Donovan into more minutes and the starting role. We thought he’d be ready for the starting position, but the NBA is a cruel beast and the starting position had other ideas. Donovan even had to play out of position due to Raul Neto being out the first two games with an injury. Donovan finds himself as the only player on the team with a negative win share and VORP.

That should change as the game starts to slow down and the Jazz don’t face the Mad Max Fury Road that is the Western Conference quite as much. Donovan is going to be good, but the Western Conference is going to test him early.

Best of the Week

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

It’s tempting to go Joe Ingles or Ricky Rubio for this, but this goes to Ekpe Udoh. We knew he was a great defensive player in Europe, but, holy cow, this guy is good defensively. Udoh has a block percentage of almost 15%. FIFTEEN PERCENT. Not too mention he has a defensive box plus/minus of 8.6. With Ekpe Udoh the Utah Jazz have elite rim protection for 48 full minutes.

Udoh just swallows up rebounds. He makes Rudy Gobert look like he’s underachieving and Rudy Gobert is not underachieving. This is just what it’d look like if Rudy Gobert went up against an opposing team’s backups. That has to strike fear into every opposing coach as they’re trying to gameplan for Utah. It used to be that you wouldn’t attack Utah in the paint until Gobert left the game for a rest. Now? The paint is closed. Shut down. Now you have to test Gobert and that is going to result in more turnovers, blocks, and misses.