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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz continue descent

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The Utah Jazz made a trade and went 2-2 this week.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz had a problem, and everyone knew it: shooting. Dennis Lindsey addressed it when he shipped Alec Burks out for the return of former Jazz man Kyle Korver. The trade happened on the heels of a 121-88 loss to the Indiana Pacers, when again the Jazz couldn’t buy a bucket, a trend early this season.

The trade produced immediate dividends with an impressive performance against the Charlotte Hornets, but then Utah stumbled again, allowing a 20-0 run to blow a 19-point lead and losing to the Miami Heat Sunday. Suffice it to say, for the purposes of the power rankings, the Korver trade hasn’t moved the needle.

NBA Power Rankings

Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
Publication Preseason Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21
ESPN.com 7 7 7 6 5 6 7 12 12 13 12 11 9 6 5 3 8 9 7 9 12 7
CBS Sports 6 6 9 13 7 8 8 12 13 12 12 8 6 3 4 4 10 8 6 10 13 6
SI.com 6 6 9 13 8 8 11 11 12 12 12 11 9 7 6 6 8 7 7 8 8 8
NBA.com 5 7 7 11 7 8 10 12 13 12 13 8 6 3 3 3 7 7 6 9 9 6
Rotoworld 7 7 7 9 7 5 6 12 12 12 12 7 7 3 4 3 9 8 7 9 12 7
USA Today 4 4 4 6 5 7 9 12 12 12 11 9 4 3 3 3 9 6 6 12 12 9
FiveThirtyEight 5 6 8 7 5 6 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 5 4 4 5 6 5 11 11 10
SLC Dunk 4 4 6 7 4 6 8 11 13 12 11 8 6 3 3 3 8 6 6 10 10 8

ESPN.com

The trade for Kyle Korver addressed Utah’s desperate need for perimeter shooting, but the Jazz must figure out its issues when Rudy Gobert rests to have any hope of living up to high preseason expectations. The Jazz have a net rating of plus-3.2 points per 100 possessions with Gobert on the floor; it’s minus-14.6 when he sits. As valuable as Gobert is, there shouldn’t be such a steep dropoff with Derrick Favors playing center against second units. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

I was so ready to say that Donovan Mitchell had righted the ship (and therefore the Utah Jazz had righted the ship) after the Jazz won two road games in a row and Mitchell scored an efficient 29 points in one and an efficient 30 points in the other. Then the Jazz dropped a game to the Miami Heat Sunday while Mitchell scored 18 points on 24 shots. I’m still a Jazz believer; I still think that once their schedule gets easier after Christmas, this team will be just fine. But losses like that, and the two blowouts to the Pacers, make me doubt myself.

SI.com

The trade for Kyle Korver could backfire on the Jazz. The sharpshooter is sure to open up the floor on offense and be a reliable option from distance, but he could also be too much of a defensive liability for a team that is only 14th in the league in defensive rating.

Rudy Gobert on the back end should help cover up some of Korver’s deficiencies, but with more and more teams pulling their big men from the basket, there’s no guarantee Korver will consistently have a seven-foot French security blanket waiting at the rim.

But when Donovan Mitchell is shooting almost seven threes a game while making below 30%, adding one of the greatest shooters in league history is probably the right call no matter how much he may hurt the defense. The Jazz are the fourth worst three-point shooting team in the league this season, and that wasn’t going to change without a move.

Utah is no longer taking anybody by surprise, and that could be playing a role in its slow start. Injecting Korver into the rotation might be the difference between going on a December run or falling into a slump like the one the Jazz had last season.

NBA.com

Before they added Kyle Korver via trade, the Jazz added Donovan Mitchell, who had missed 2 1/2 games with a rib contusion. Mitchell’s value was pretty apparent on Wednesday and Friday; He carried his team down the stretch in Brooklyn (scoring the first seven points of the game-deciding 9-2 run) and then dropped 30 points in Charlotte. Jae Crowder’s second start (over Derrick Favors) in the last five games had the Jazz up 20-6 in Miami on Sunday before Favors checked in, but that lead was gone before halftime and the Jazz remain in 14th place in the West. The good news is that, after a crazy three weeks of travel in which they went 5-7 and scored less than a point per possession, they’ll get some nights at home this week.

Rotoworld

For a team that planned to make a deep run into the playoffs this season, sitting at two games below .500 in December is not what Utah fans had in mind coming into the year. However, it is important to note that the Jazz have had a brutal schedule to start the season. Of the 24 games they’ve played, 16 have been on the road (a league-high) versus just eight at home (a league-low).

SLC Dunk

This team is still getting blown out too often for me to be on board with anything more than middle-of-the-pack. The immediate impact of the trade (the Hornets win) was promising, but it remains to be seen what the long term impact will be.

I think it was a move in the right direction, but I also think more moves need to be made if the Jazz are going to come anywhere near preseason expectations. Continuity sounded great, but hasn’t worked in the slightest.