The Utah Jazz are really good, like really good.
Tonight, against Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies, the Utah Jazz were dominant from start to finish and knocked off the Grizzlies for the second time in a row, 121-105.
There was brilliance from multiple places in this one as we saw the Jazz continue their surprising level of play. Probably the most impressive was the play from Lauri Markkanen. Markkanen is blossoming into a star under Will Hardy. Tonight, Markkanen scored 31 points (11/15 from the field, 4/6 from three), grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked 4 shots. Just silly numbers from a guy that was combined with Collin Sexton in the Donovan Mitchell trade. It’s hard to understate just how good Markkanen has been. He’s scoring in a myriad of ways, whether it’s in transition, in the post, or shooting from distance. He’s showing an ability to score from all three levels that have got to start earning him a little all-star buzz. Obviously, it’s early in the season, but how long until we don’t have to say that anymore? With this win, the Jazz are now 6-2 and are the #3 seed in the west. Can Markkanen keep this up? If so, the Jazz may be looking at their all-star in Salt Lake City.
Collin Sexton, the other part of the Donovan Mitchell trade, also looked great. On the night, Sexton scored 15 points and led the Jazz in plus-minus at +19. I had written this before, but the big question for Sexton this season was could he be a winning player? He’s certainly showing that. Sexton is playing within the offense and making everyone better. He’s also hitting shots in a multitude of ways also. His athleticism and drive are impacting games in a big way, and there’s no reason to believe he can’t sustain this level of play with the level of unselfishness that is being displayed by this Jazz team.
We could do a deep dive on every player, but they were all fantastic so let’s just mention that as a team, the Jazz shot 47% from the field, 40% from three, and dished out 26 assists. This remarkable play is a testament to each player’s willingness to buy into the system and into each other. It’s also a testament to Will Hardy’s ability to coach. The Jazz are making everything look easy. Their system doesn’t look complicated, and it’s creating great looks. Each player is playing to his strengths and is making great reads within a brilliantly simple offense. Each possession there’s no wasted movement; each pass, screen, handoff, or cut has meaning. Just no waste. And the same goes for the defense. The Jazz are rotating, filling lanes, and helping all on a string. They’re not the best defensive team in the league, but they certainly make things hard on opposing offenses. The Jazz offense has cooled off some and sits at #15 in the league in efficiency. What’s impressive is the defense that has settled into the top 10 at #7. These things are starting to look sustainable.
The question now becomes, how good can this team become?