In a game that went back and forth through three quarters, the Utah Jazz got a major boost at the perfect moment from Georges Niang to beat the Orlando Magic.
The Magic got a big contribution from Terrance Ross who scored 24 points off the bench as well as Mo Bamba who had a big impact on the game in the first half against the Jazz’s second unit.
For Utah, Donovan Mitchell was spectacular scoring 32 points on 21 shots while slinging 6 assists. Rudy Gobert was a force on the defensive end guarding Nikola Vucevic and grabbing 17 rebounds.
Rational Reaction #1: Donovan Mitchell is a top 15 player
Jazz fans have known this was possible. All that was needed was for the efficiency to follow the incredible talent. What we’re watching night after night is a player figuring everything out and adding new elements to his game night after night. It’s really fun to watch.
Mitchell is bursting with talent. He’s got an incredible ability to score the ball and he’s now combining that with great playmaking. He’s averaging over 5 assists per game since the Conley injury and looks comfortable managing the offense. Can you believe he’s only in his third year?
Rational Reaction #2: Rudy Gobert is a top 15 player
Gobert is as dominant as ever right now. He obliterates shots at the rim, swallows up perimeter players and then puts incredible pressure on the rim on the other end.
Every night Gobert takes on as much responsibility as anyone else on the Jazz. Losing Derrick Favors in the offseason meant Gobert was going to need to step up even more in some areas like rebounding and he’s absolutely done it. It’s an incredible burden but he has held up in every way needed.
Overreaction #1: The Jazz are the best team in the league
Well, they’re close. It’s obvious that the Jazz are playing lower level opponents and that’s helping them win despite losing Mike Conley.
But when Mike Conley comes back, and if he can get some of his touch around the rim back, maybe they can be.
Someone who is really missing Conley is Bojan Bogdanovic who’s having to handle a large amount of offensive burden. At times he is able, but it’s clear that Conley’s playmaking at the beginning of the year was helping Bogdanovic get open looks and lanes to the rim.
Let’s hope that hamstring can get fully healed and Conley can get back on the floor soon.
Underreaction: Georges Niang is a solid rotation player
It was wierd some of the backlash Niang received online for responding to criticism. These last few games have proven just how good Georges Niang is for the bench unit.
Sure, he struggles to be an impact defender at times, and could probably improve his rebounding. But he does put a lot of effort into his defense and tends to be in the right spot most of the time.
But for whatever criticisms you give him, he’s a fantastic offensive player for the bench. The ball moves when he’s on the floor because he’s a good, willing passer. The other thing that helps is that Niang is a lights out shooter from three. Niang was 5/8 from three tonight and was a big reason the Jazz blew the game open.
Having a steady shooter like Niang on the floor will help the Jazz immensely as they move towards the playoffs. Clarkson and Mitchell are drawing attention from defenders which is going to provide a lot of open looks for Niang who is now shooting 45.3% from three.
And it shouldn’t be surprising he’s doing this now that he’s not sharing the floor with Jeff Green, who was a big minus while on the floor. And with Mitchell’s heightened playmaking, expect the Minivan to keep rolling!