As the NBA All-Star festivities are in the books and the extended break is upon us, all eyes and minds are on the final leg of the season and how each team will close out.
Story lines abound during this closing stretch. Who accentuates the tank and who tries to sneak into the playin? Who enters the playoffs on a hot or cold streak? How are injuries across the league and reshuffled rosters going to change the landscape over the final few games?
The Utah Jazz have a lot of questions to address as we close the season but they’re frankly all a matter of perspective. Let’s dive a little deeper and explain why.
On one hand, the Utah Jazz are an excellent team with superb offensive talent, a multi-DPOY winning player, and enough depth to weather a small storm or present different looks to opponents.
They’re one of the winningest teams of the past couple years and all the surface level stats back them up as a contender. Take a look at one such metric, eFG% Advantage, that measures the average shooting advantage a team generates over its opponent.
Historically, this has been an excellent predictor of team success in the regular season. We can see Golden State, Utah, and Phoenix dominate this metric. It isn’t everything, as we could point out several contenders hanging around league average.
However, it’s a great foundation. From this perspective as well as other analytical approaches, the Utah Jazz have great prospects ahead of them.
On the other hand, several eye test indicators give the impression that the Jazz are a house of cards waiting for an unsuspecting gust to upend things.
Whether it be losing to the Detroit Pistons to close out a road trip or falling to the LA Lakers right before the All-Star break, there’s a large group of games that give even the casual observer some angst.
Were oddsmakers to have placed a line on the frequency of postgame comments like “We knew we had to put the foot down but we just didn’t do it”, the over/under would be astoundingly high.
Throughout Jazz Nation you have all sorts of fans. There’s a lot of optimism and hope, while others are nervous or resigned to an inevitably disappointing postseason.
It feels like the average Jazz fan has all but completely removed a title (or even a conf finals) from their realistic expectations this year.— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) February 18, 2022
The short term future for the Utah Jazz isn’t all that is a matter of perspective. Looking beyond this season with large tax bills, increasingly few draft picks, aging rotation players, and the pattern of stars not sticking with their drafted team has the fanbase and league asking hard questions.
Is Quin on the hot seat? Is Danny Ainge looking to overhaul this roster? What does a championship roster around Donovan Mitchell look like? Is a retool or rebuild on the way sooner than later?
The perspectives of the national media are clear while what’s reported locally is cloudy at best. One’s thing for sure: the next couple weeks to years will be some of the wildest Jazz Nation has ever seen.
So that just leaves us to decide what perspective to have on it all.