The Utah Jazz are dominating teams in a way Jazz fans never expected. There was a point where the Jazz were on track to have a top 5 pick in the lottery. Oh how things can change when Rudy Gobert is playing at his peak.
The Utah Jazz since Rudy Gobert's return— StatMuse (@statmuse) February 6, 2018
10.9 net rating (1st in league)
50.5% shooting (2nd)
7-2 record (2nd) pic.twitter.com/PsGq8KLYXW
The best part is that the Jazz are doing this sooner rather than later. It isn’t even all-star break which means there’s plenty of time to work their way up the playoff standings. Right now the Jazz are three games out of the 8-seed. Considering their incredible play, they could find themselves higher than that.
Maybe we should have seen this coming when the Jazz were struggling. Rudy certainly did.
We will be fine— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) January 6, 2018
So what happened to the Jazz that made them so good? Probably a combination of a few things. They’re finally healthy, they’re making shots and things have “clicked.”
Here’s a fantastic Twitter thread showing some of the different things that are going so well. Here are some of my favorites parts of the thread.
This is an excellent pre-switch counter by Ricky Rubio. He sees Mirotic and Holiday executing a pre-switch but Mirotic fails to recover into the passing lane. Rubio zips a pass to Ingles, who is left wide open in the corner by this tactic pic.twitter.com/adMBgPjl0J— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) February 6, 2018
Spain PnR gets Ingles a wide open look from 3. Ingles is shooting 49.2% on 197 wide open 3s this year and 48.8% on 496 wide open 3s since tracking data was made public in 2013-14. That puts him in the 99th percentile pic.twitter.com/4xPUIITJbO— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) February 6, 2018
Here's the Jazz running the same drop counter play above for Jerebko, but putting Donovan Mitchell in the action instead (Houston does this with Eric Gordon, too). Note how the drop big (here Chandler) is so deep that he has no chance to even attempt to recover and contest pic.twitter.com/rqbr4WeBDE— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) February 6, 2018
Royce O’neale is becoming a serious weapon for the Jazz! In the month of February he’s hitting 71% of his threes. That’s pretty good.
Utah is getting a ton of traction off simple HORNS sets leading to dribble penetration. Mills comes all the way to the nail to tag Gobert, Rubio finds O'Neale open in the corner. O'Neale is shooting 71% from 3 in three February games pic.twitter.com/ZL5VHApAk7— Mike Zavagno (@MZavagno11) February 6, 2018
His recent fantastic play shows in an awesome February statline of 13 pts, 5.7 rbds, 4 asts and 1.7 steals. This is probably a good time to remember that O’neale is a rookie that Lindsey brought over from Europe. In case you didn’t know, his contract is also an incredible bargain.
Royce O’neale is going to be with the Jazz for the next three years with an incredibly affordable contract. Dennis Lindsey is a wizard.
Rodney Hood has been involved in a lot of trade rumors. Whatever happens, Rodney has been a classy member of the team and has represented the Jazz, and Utah, very well. It’s no wonder when you learn more about his upbringing and his great family.
Eric Woodyard, of the Deseret News, has done fantastic work covering the Jazz this season and posted these videos from Rodney’s father, Ricky Sr., and Rodney’s high school coach giving him encouragement.
Rodney Hood’s father, Ricky Sr., has been having frequent talks with him as his name has been the subject of trade rumors. “What God has in store for you, can’t nobody take from you,” Ricky Sr. said. pic.twitter.com/VaYTprLH8H— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) February 7, 2018
Watch Randy Bolden, Rodney Hood’s high school coach, offer encouragement as he’s reportedly on the trade block. pic.twitter.com/ttXX0tMhBi— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) February 7, 2018
Sometimes we forget that these players have families that will be affected by trades to players. It’s not just the player that goes, but also their wives, families, children etc.
For me personally, my daughter has been in the same elementary school class as Rodney’s nephew. Every day she talks about him and how much he loves the Jazz (she has a very obvious crush). When the trade rumors started I talked to her to explain it she got really sad and told me how sad Rodney’s nephew would be. It’s one of the first times I’ve ever felt the emotion of a trade, and I’m not even involved or related to the Hood family. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the player.
This is all just a good reminder to be civil online and understanding of the feelings the players might be going through. Yes they make a lot of money, but their lives can be uprooted at any moment without any sort of warning, something I never have to worry about.
If you haven’t heard, Donovan Mitchell will be in the dunk contest. But it may be time to consider another Jazzman to join him.