The Utah Jazz have put us through an absolute roller coaster recently. Generally, I feel like that saying is way overused and not the greatest descriptor. But it couldn’t be more true in this case. I mean just look at this:
Utah Jazz last 21 games in one emoji:— StatMuse (@statmuse) March 7, 2020
Consistently inconsistent I guess? Just when you think they’ve got things figured out and are headed in the right direction again, everything spirals out of control. Just when you’re ready to move on from this season and see what we can do in the summer, they right the ship and look like they could do damage in the playoffs. So which is it?
Honestly, I have no idea.
By season’s end it’s usually true that you are what your record says you are. At this exact moment, the Jazz are 41-23 and 4th in the West. That’s pretty dang good. Maybe not quite what we were hoping for this season, but they’re in the mix.
However, even with the recent winning streaks and that 4-0 road trip making things look up again, I had my concerns. Yes they were winning and yes they looked better. But something still seems... off. I can’t put my finger on it, but let me show you what I mean. Here are the Net Rating and average +/- of the starters and rotation players over the last 15 games:
- Rudy Gobert: Net Rating -5.7, +/- -3.6
- Donovan Mitchell: -7.8, -5.1
- Bojan Bogdanovic: -5.9, -2.9
- Royce O’Neale: -2.2, -1.1
- Mike Conley: 3.0, 1.9
- Joe Ingles: 0.6, 0.7
- Jordan Clarkson: 12.2, 6.1
- Georges Niang: 9.0, 2.3
- Tony Bradley: 15.6, 3.6
In exact opposite fashion to earlier in the year, it’s actually the bench leading the charge lately. I remember vividly being enraged at the starters gaining a lead, getting a rest, and the lead not only evaporating, but teams getting a 5+ lead on the Jazz instead. Every game the starters were +20 and the bench was -14. Now? It seems like the bench unit has gelled really well and is killing opposing benches. When the starters come back in all of the energy and flow seems to disappear. Last night was a perfect example.
It’s great that Quin Snyder appears to have finally found a bench rotation that works really well. But what the heck happened to one of the best starting lineups in the league?! I don’t want to start pointing fingers directly because they are all to blame.
Is it effort? Is is chemistry? Is it selfishness? Is it a lack of trust? Is it complacency? All of the above? They’ve demonstrated over a large sample size earlier this season that they can be one of the very best in the league. Ultimately, the question isn’t if they can get the job done, but how they can get back to it. They’ve got 18 more regular season games to figure it out.