This is not a mistake. This is not a typo. Following a 2-1 week with a loss to the Boston Celtics and wins over the Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves, the Utah Jazz remained in exactly the same spot in all 7 of the NBA Power Rankings we’ve been tracking this season. I also left them at 7 because who am I to mess that up?
Rookie Donovan Mitchell continues to lead the Jazz as Utah tries to lock up a playoff spot. He has scored at least 20 points in a season-high nine straight games and has 43 games with 20 points this season. That’s the most by any rookie since Blake Griffin had 55 games such games during the 2010-11 season. -- Evan Kaplan
Ricky Rubio has never been to the playoffs before. The Jazz have been a surprise team for a lot of people, but Rubio has always been a player that’s come under scrutiny while in Minnesota. He has a chance to prove a lot of those doubters wrong in the playoffs.
Ricky Rubio scored 23 points (with five threes!) in a revenge game against the Wolves on Sunday. The Jazz’s defense will give any opponent trouble in the playoffs. A lottery pick would have been nice, but I’m excited to see what Donovan Mitchell can do come the postseason, and what impact that experience will have on his promising career.
At one point this season, the Jazz were 5-19 on the road. Since then, they’ve won 14 of their last 15 road games, and the only loss came in overtime in San Antonio. The turnaround pretty closely coincides with Rudy Gobert’s return to health, though the improvement has been almost as big on offense (9.2 points per 100 possessions) as it’s been on defense (12.0). Joe Ingles and Ricky Rubio have combined to shoot 53 percent from 3-point range over the 15 games, with Rubio going 5-for-6 from beyond the arc in a big road win over his old team on Sunday. In his first nine games back from shoulder surgery, Dante Exum has exceeded expectations and provided a real lift off the bench, with the Jazz having outscored their opponents by 17 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.
Donovan Mitchell is on pace to become just the fifth rookie over the last 30 years to average at least 20 points, three rebounds and three assists per game. The other four are Allen Iverson, Michael Jordan, Tyreke Evans and Blake Griffin.
That loss to the Celtics wasn’t as bad as you think. Boston was missing Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, but consider the talent still on that team. Jayson Tatum was this year’s #3 pick. Jaylen Brown was last year’s #3 pick. Should the Jazz have won that game? Probably. Should the Jazz be able to break a zone defense? Absolutely. But even with the Celtics’ injury woes, they’ve won 7 of their last 8. The Timberwolves game was much more important this week, and the Jazz took care of business there.