The SLC Dunk podcast is back with a discussion on the exciting early success of the 5-2 Utah Jazz. James Hansen and Calvin Chappell talked about how good this team is and who drives their success. Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk, Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, and Will Hardy have shown impressive work.
This brings up some obvious questions. Are the Jazz tanking or not? Should they be tanking? The great thing about Utah’s current position is that either direction they go is a positive one. If they win a lot of games, that’s great. That means the roster is better than expected, and everyone got to develop in competitive games. If they lose a lot of games, that’s great too. That means the team’s own first-round pick is more valuable, and the young players will likely get more development minutes.
We also discussed the possibility of a trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Jazz are in a position where they can take a trade that makes them worse, gives them valuable draft picks, and simultaneously helps the Lakers get better, so they aren’t ahead of Utah in the lottery standings.
The conversation then led to the performance of rookie head coach Will Hardy. Hardy has taken a team of score-first players and led them to be a great passing team. The players are playing hard for their coach and winning tough, grind-it-out games. They’ve already shown the ability to win in the clutch, a massive weakness for past Jazz teams. How good is Will Hardy? Is it too soon to tell?
Finally, we talked about the Finnisher, Lauri Markkanen. How sustainable is his early performance? We talked about his scoring, poor outside shooting, and ability to impact the game in off-nights.
The Utah Jazz are fun. They’re proving people wrong left and right, including us! If they keep up this pace, they’ll be in a good position. If they don’t keep up the pace, that’s ok. They’ll have a lottery pick to help them next year.