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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz continue to inch toward top 10

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A 3-1 week gave the Jazz a bump for the fourth consecutive week

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are finally enjoying some time at home. After wrapping their road trip last Monday with a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, they started a four game home stand with three wins over the Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls.

Donovan Mitchell has stepped up in the absence of, well, literally every point guard on the roster due to injury. His performance earned him a Western Conference player of the week award as well as a lot of recognition in this week’s power ranking blurbs. Utah continues to creep back toward the top 10, even breaking that barrier in the Sports Illustrated rankings, as well as my own.

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

Donovan Mitchell’s sophomore season hasn’t been smooth sailing, but the past few games have been the most productive stretch of his career. Mitchell averaged 33.3 points and 7.3 assists in the Jazz’s three wins, shooting 53.6 percent from the floor. He has been phenomenal as a fill-in point guard with Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto all out due to injuries. The Jazz need Mitchell to be a star to pull off a second-half run like they did last season. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

The early-season conclusion: The Jazz defense that was so dominant a year ago - best in the NBA! - either was a mirage or had badly regressed. One month into the season, reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert and the Jazz defense ranked 21st in the NBA in defensive efficiency. What it looks like now: The Jazz are just fine, and the defense is again dominant. Since Nov. 16, the Jazz have ranked second in the NBA in defensive efficiency. Two factors might have been at play early in the season: Over the first two-plus months of the season, the Jazz played the NBA’s most difficult schedule. And I’ve also heard NBA executives say that the NBA’s offseason rules emphases about more freedom of movement for offensive players affected the physical Jazz as much as any other team. They’ve now won 9 of their past 13, and have the Western Conference’s easiest remaining schedule.

SI.com

This past week Donovan Mitchell was particularly in his bag, putting up 31.5 points (48.4% shooting overall and 48.6% from three), 5.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game while also getting at least one block or steal in each contest. And he did all of this to help push the Jazz to the cusp of the eight seed.

After having his scoring drop from month-to-month in 2018, Mitchell came out scorching hot in the new year, in which the Jazz are 5-2. And those two losses were in Toronto and Milwaukee.

If January is going to be a fruitful month in Utah, it will come down to how much Mitchell can do while basically every other guard on this roster is hurt. So far, he’s been amazing.

NBA.com

Donovan Mitchell has answered the call and the Jazz have taken advantage a softer stretch of schedule. With Ricky Rubio out, Mitchell has scored 33, 33 and 34 points over Utah’s three-game winning streak (he had never before scored 30-plus in two straight games) and averaged 28.3 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 58 percent) as the team has won five of six for the first time this season. He has shot 14-for-27 on pull-up 3-pointers over the six games, having ranked 19th in pull-up 3-point percentage (29.3 percent) among 23 players with at least 100 attempts prior to that. The Jazz are in a tie for eighth place with the Lakers (who they thumped on Friday), have a lot more home games to play between now and the All-Star break, and are 9-2 at Vivint Smart Home Arena since the start of December.

Rotoworld

The Jazz are rolling in 2019, having won four of their last five games. Unsurprisingly, Donovan Mitchell has been a critical factor in their recent success. Over Utah’s past five games, Mitchell is averaging 30.4 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.6 dimes, 1.0 blocks, 1.2 steals and 3.8 treys. The Jazz are also set to benefit from the NBA’s most home-heavy second-half schedule, as they play 25 of their final 41 games at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

SLC Dunk

Mitchell’s resurgence over the last week is well documented. Also important to getting back within shouting distance of the playoffs was the recent revival of Joe Ingles. Over the three game win streak to close the week Ingles got back up to 15 points per game shooting 43.5 percent from behind the arc on nearly 8 3-point attempts per game.

Things are going well for now, but this performance on a shallow guard rotation isn’t sustainable. Get well soon, Ricky Rubio and Dante Exum.