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Jazz lose big to Thunder

The strategic losing is taking effect and it’s going to have great long-term benefits

Utah Jazz v Oklahoma City Thunder Photo by Zach Beeker/NBAE via Getty Images

In a game the Utah Jazz had very little incentive to win, they lost convincingly to the Oklahoma City Thunder 130-103.

With Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton out with injuries, the playmaking wasn’t quite there for the Jazz. This has been an opportunity for Talen Horton-Tucker to develop. There were some frustrations, including two times where THT stepped out of bounds on three point shots, but he’s showing an ability to get players involved. Tonight he had 5 assists, but that wasn’t near enough to help the Jazz offense overcome the length and athleticism of the Thunder.

With Lu Dort blanketing him all night, Lauri Markkanen had 20 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 42% from the field. In these games without Sexton and Clarkson, the Jazz are very lacking in the number of playmakers on the floor to draw some gravity from Markkanen. If Sexton and Clarkson are out for a long period of time, the Jazz will continue to struggle. That said, Markkanen still had a solid game, he just wasn’t able to knock down the three. Tonight he was 0/5 from downtown.

Walker Kessler, who was recently named Rookie of the Month for the Western Conference, had a big first quarter and ended the game with another double-double with a line of 10 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks. Kessler has been a revelation this season and there’s no doubt he’d be a top-5 pick if they re-selected this draft. It’s easily one of the biggest surprises this season. The fact he’s even being mentioned in the same breath as Paolo Banchero for Rookie of the Year is a testament to how good he’s been. The next step for him is to continue to develop. For the rest of this season, we’ll see a lot of time for the young players on this team to continue developing. Kessler should take this opportunity to develop in ways he might not have been able to if the Jazz were seeking better playoff positioning.

As the Jazz continue the season, don’t be surprised to see the Jazz trying new things. Tonight we saw Ochai Agbaji handling the ball more and even initiating a few sets. There were mixed results but that’s the benefit of a season like this, it’s a chance to work on things you can’t normally. It wasn’t even that long ago that Agbaji was glued to the bench, now he’s knocking down threes and looking like a piece for the future.