clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz hold steady

New, comments

A 2-1 week got Utah back within a game of .500

NBA: New York Knicks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz closed out 2018 with a week that was the epitome of the season thus far. On Christmas Day, Utah bested the Portland Trail Blazers 117-96. They wrapped the year with another big win, over the New York Knicks 129-97. The problem is that in between those two games, they got embarrassed by the Philadelphia 76ers 97-114.

The 2-1 week keeps the Jazz hovering right around .500 at 18-19. The national pundits around the web have kept Utah right around where a .500 team belongs: The middle of the pack. The objective analytical models (USA Today’s Sagarin ratings and FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO ratings) remain bullish on the Jazz, keeping them in the top 10 basically all season.

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 Jazz have returned to their dominant defensive form in December after being mediocre on that end of the floor for the first month and a half of the season. They’re allowing only 100.5 points per 100 possessions this month, which ranks second in the NBA, as they’ve adjusted to teams trying to lure rim protector Rudy Gobert out to the perimeter as much as possible. “I’ve gotten a lot better being able to close out to the shooting bigs but still able to protect the rim,” he said. “It’s tough, but it’s a good challenge and I embrace it.” -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

The Jazz’s resolution: Find out who is the most reliable second option behind Donovan Mitchell. The Jazz might be one second banana away from being a championship contender. Can they shock the world in next season’s free agency and land a player of consequence? Side note: The Jazz were struggling mightily on defense at the beginning of the season. Over the past 15 games, they have the second-best defensive rating in the NBA.

SI.com

Coming off a 2-2 four-game homestand, the Jazz get to start a four-game road trip in Toronto. Getting off to a good start in 2019 will be crucial if the Jazz want to get out of 11th in the West.

NBA.com

The Jazz have now held seven of their last nine opponents under a point per possession, climbing from 13th to fifth in defensive efficiency over that stretch. Over those nine games, they’ve allowed just 78.3 points per 100 possessions in 79 minutes with Derrick Favors (who has started the last six) and Rudy Gobert on the floor together. But it’s going to take more than defense to climb into playoff position and this team is still prone to some ugly offensive performances, like when it shot just 38 percent against the Sixers on Thursday. The Jazz rank second defensively on the road (103.9 points allowed per 100 possessions), but only Dallas has had a bigger home-road differential on offense than the Jazz (7.6 points per 100 possessions), who begin a four-game trip in Toronto on Tuesday.

Rotoworld

Utah is slowly but surely inching its way back towards .500. However, they have a challenging week ahead, as they are about to embark on a four-game road trip, beginning Tuesday night in Toronto.

SLC Dunk

I still believe this team is heading in the right direction since the Korver trade, but that doesn’t mean it has been a smooth ride. However, the schedule eases up in 2019, Dante Exum continues to show promise, and the Jazz offense is still generating open looks. It’s encouraging that they’ve gotten the wins they have with Donovan Mitchell struggling. Utah is a playoff team this year, but it won’t live up to preseason expectations.