The Utah Jazz have boasted a series of initiatives, mottos, or slogans for the upcoming season. Among these were toughness, playing hard, and being different. As fans awaited tipoff, Vivint Arena projected the 2022-23 season intro video (below): “Different team. Different us.”
The Jazz demonstrated just how different they are this year in a shocking blowout win of division rival Denver Nuggets, posting a final score of 123-102.
During the Quin Snyder era, the Jazz were one of the worst teams at forcing turnovers, specifically those in live-ball scenarios leading to fast breaks. Last year’s squad averaged 7.2 steals (20th) and 12.0 opponent turnovers (29th).
Tonight, the Jazz secured 10 steals and logged 21 opponent turnovers. Wow! What a difference!
The activity level was infectious and really threw off the Nuggets. Five players recorded five or more rebounds and seven players recording one or more steals. The Jazz led 75-53 at the half, just six points shy of their 1st half franchise record.
That fact right there is a dead giveaway something abnormally great was also taking place.
Utah had a 3PA frequency of nearly 46% (last year’s avg 47%) and was hitting at a 50% rate (last year’s avg 40%). Combining that high level shooting with such a drastic volume advantage is fairly rare.
Conversely, Denver took just 27% of their shots as 3’s and hit just 23%. Hence, the blowout.
What was the fan response?
This Jazz team is so much more fun than last year— James Hansen (@hansenjames) October 20, 2022
That’s the first actual fun Jazz game since…?— JustWIN Zanik (@UtahJazz6Man) October 20, 2022
I don’t know how to feel about winning.— Mark Slava Ukraini (@iwasmmueller88) October 20, 2022
But I am very content with watching a team that *cares*
Fans are over the moon at how entertaining the team is. After a season wrought with turmoil, bad vibes, and indifference, it’s a breath of fresh air to see something “different”.
Interestingly, most fans did anticipate this season to be a transition year with a significant amount of losses en route to a high draft pick. A solid win like this can be interpreted a myriad of ways:
- This Jazz team features way too many good players to be one of the worst teams
- Impressive wins early may stoke the trade fires
- Jazz may regret such a win come end of season
- Developing a winning culture may/may not be worth such wins
Such takes will extend throughout the entirety of the season. For now, bask in the entertainment value of the team. They are different and we’re loving them for it!
Four Factor Advantages
Offense: 119.4 (91%tile)
Defense: 100.0 (74%tile)
eFG% Advantage: +9.0
TOV% Advantage: -1.4
OREB% Advantage: +15.9
FTArate Advantage: +7.2
Stud of the Game
With such a win as this, there’s no wrong choice, but Lauri Markkanen really stands out.
17 points on 12 shots with 4 boards, 4 assists, 2 steals, and a turnover. His awareness in distributing the ball, crashing the boards, and using his length was all very impressive.
He matched up against Jokic on various plays and with the help of Walker Kessler in a help role, was able to disrupt entry passes and alley oops.
Dud of the Game
Few of those Jazz men that saw a healthy share of relevant minutes played poorly. Kelly Olynyk, however, ran into spots of trouble throughout the game and was limited in his impact potential.
Olynyk started off nice with excellent passing and hitting two 3 balls. However, he soon ran into foul trouble earning himself five personal fouls and a technical by game end with 3 turnovers and a team worst -8 plus-minus.
He was active defensively, like many of the others, but found himself in risky situations that often backfired. Such is the nature of an aggressive, turnover generating defense without rim protection.
- Jarred Vanderbilt’s energy, aggressiveness, and motor produced incredible opportunities on the glass; he snagged 12 rebounds in the first half alone
- Collin Sexton, potential season-long 6th man for the Jazz, put up 20 pts on 12 shots with 5 rebounds and 2 assists; he’s making his way back from that ACL injury
- Walker Kessler continues to demonstrate why he’s likely to be a long time NBA vet and is deserving of more minutes now: 12 pts, 10 rbs, 1 ast, 1 stl, 1 tov with a +12 plus-minus in 23 mins
- The Jazz, predictably, suffered defending the rim where the Nuggets scored on 80% of their attempts
The Utah Jazz take to the road for a 3-game trip Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves. The matchup will feature former Jazz great Rudy Gobert with Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley playing their former team for the first time since the trade.
Minny secured a win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Wednesday night on the back of Gobert’s 23 points and 16 rebounds.
The game tips off at 6:00 MST.