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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz fall despite fast start

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A 3-1 start to the season hasn’t helped the Jazz with a couple of publications.

NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Through the first full week of the season, the Utah Jazz are 3-1. The team has racked up wins over the Oklahoma City Thunder, Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns and suffered an ugly loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on national television.

The pacing and hand wringing about the defense that occupied all of our time during the preseason has proven to be a time-waster. Utah currently leads the league in defensive rating at an absurd 92.14. The offensive rating is a concern, though, sitting at 99.36, 27th in the league. The Jazz offense we were all expecting has only made a brief appearance in Saturday’s drubbing of the Kings.

This season was supposed to be different, and I still think it will be, but so far it has been much of the same from the past few years. That, plus a few upstart teams that no one saw coming (looking at you, Minnesota Timberwolves) has the Jazz on a slight downslide in some of this week’s NBA power rankings around the web.

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

Mike Conley’s first two games in a Jazz uniform couldn’t have been much uglier, as he misfired on all but four of his 27 field goal attempts and had almost as many turnovers (six) as assists (eight). Not that anyone with the Jazz was worried about the point guard’s fit in Utah at that point. Conley looked like himself in Saturday’s blowout of the Kings, when he had 12 points and eight assists. The Jazz hoped that Conley’s arrival would benefit Donovan Mitchell, and the early returns on that are positive, with the young star guard averaging an efficient 23.7 points (68.1 true shooting percentage) in the first week. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

Nothing like a game against the Kings to get things back on track. The defensive issues from the preseason clearly haven’t carried over, as the Utah D looks as stout as ever behind Rudy Gobert. The offense has struggled to start the year, but Donovan Mitchell has been great and Mike Conley finally started knocking down some shots. It should only go up from here as the new pieces get used to each other.

SI.com

Bojan Bogdanovic’s arrival has given Utah a major scoring upgrade on the wing. The 30-year-old is a sharpshooter from three, and he’s a defensive asset against forwards like LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard. He ultimately may be more impactful than Mike Conley in Utah.

NBA.com

After ranking last in defensive efficiency in the preseason, the Jazz are back to No. 1 on defense for the games that count, with their opponents having taken only 56% of their shots (the league’s lowest opponent rate by a healthy margin) from the restricted area or 3-point range. Donovan Mitchell has been efficient at high volume (his true shooting percentage of 68.1% ranks third among 38 players with at least 40 field goal attempts), but Mike Conley’s struggles (4-for-27) over the first two games kept things equally ugly on the Jazz’s end of the floor until they had the fortune of playing the Kings on Saturday. They’ll get to play Sacramento again this week, but three of Utah’s next four games are against teams -- the Suns (!) and Clippers -- in the top three in offensive efficiency through Week 1.

Rotoworld

Bojan Bogdanovic twisted his ankle in the first half of Wednesday’s game and needed help exiting the court. He did return to that contest but was unable to play Friday vs. the Lakers. However, Bogey was back in action on Saturday and scored a game-high 26 points (10-of-18 FGs) to go along with five triples, four rebounds, one assist and a steal.

SLC Dunk

Alright, I admit it. I dropped the Jazz a couple of spots in my rankings this week as well. The defense looks incredible, but until the offense starts clicking a little better I just couldn’t justify leaving Utah in that 4 spot. The Jazz remain behind the Clippers, Bucks and Nuggets, and I also slid the 76ers ahead and couldn’t in good faith leave Utah ahead of the Lakers after that showing in Los Angeles last week. Come back to us, Mike Conley.