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NBA Power Rankings: Utah Jazz rise after beating East powerhouses

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A 2-0 week over the cream of the Eastern Conference crop has the Jazz climbing

Milwaukee Bucks v Utah Jazz Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

We’re through the first 10 games of the 2019-2020 season, and it’s not too early to say the Utah Jazz are for real.

In years past, when the Jazz faced a tough schedule to begin the season, we saw the record slip under .500 (sometimes considerably). People would panic and the only assurance others could offer was “it will get better when the schedule gets easier.” Those people were right, and Utah would stack wins upon wins in the games they should’ve won. Come playoff time, though, the schedule doesn’t get easy. We saw that when Utah got effortlessly bounced in the first or second round a few times.

Fast forward to this year, when the schedule has been equally difficult to years past. Last week saw two of the Eastern Conference favorites visit Utah and the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks were sent back disappointed. Instead of needing the schedule to ease up, the Jazz are 7-3, rolling with the punches and routinely beating some of the top teams in the league. It’s earning them some respect in this week’s NBA power rankings.

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

Bojan Bogdanovic’s four-year, $73 million contract looks like a bargain for the Jazz so far. He has averaged 21.8 points in his first eight games for Utah -- sitting out a loss to the Lakers because of a sore ankle -- in extremely efficient fashion. He’s a field goal shy of the exclusive 50/40/90 territory. He’s shooting 45.5% from 3-point range, including the buzzer-beater from the corner that beat the Bucks and put the exclamation point on his 33-point performance. -- MacMahon

CBS Sports

Utah picked up close home wins over the 76ers and Bucks, two of the Eastern Conference’s best teams. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 33 points in the win over the Bucks, including the game-winner at the buzzer, and Mike Conley added five 3-pointers. Meanwhile, the defense just continues to suffocate opponents.

SI.com

Mike Conley’s struggles have earned much of the headlines, but Utah’s defense will keep the Jazz a top-five team in the West throughout 2019-20. No team allows fewer threes per game. Only the Clippers allow fewer shots within six feet. Such a profile portends 50 wins, even if the new additions take time to adjust to their surroundings.

NBA.com

Going back to March, the Jazz have won 13 straight regular season games at home, where they picked up wins over the Sixers and Bucks last week, holding the latter (and their fourth-ranked offense) to their worst offensive output (100 points on 107 possessions) in the last 52 regular season games in which Giannis Antetokounmpo has played, though still needing Bojan Bogdanovic’s buzzer-beating three to win. The two-time reigning Defensive Player of the Year is the anchor, but the Jazz’s defense has been strongest on the perimeter. They’re in the top six in opponent 3-point percentage (30.6%, fifth), the (lowest) percentage of opponent shots that have come from 3-point range (34%, sixth), and the (lowest) percentage of their opponents 3-point attempts that have come from the corners (16%, second), having allowed just nine corner threes in nine games. The team - Brooklyn - that ranks third in 3-point percentage is in Utah (and will have a rest advantage) on Tuesday.

Rotoworld

The Jazz notched two very impressive wins last week, beating the two Eastern Conference powerhouses. On Wednesday, they squeaked past the Sixers, and on Friday they knocked off the Bucks. Utah has not allowed more than 105 points in a single game this season.

SLC Dunk

Call me a homer, but I’ve got the Jazz higher than any of the rankings we track here at 4. I’ve got them plugged in behind the Clippers, Lakers and Celtics. I’m still hesitant to buy into Boston, but 8-1 is getting hard to ignore.

The Jazz schedule was insanely tough over the first 9 games and Utah came out of that at 6-3. The only “bad” loss of the three was a 1-point road loss to the Sacramento Kings, who were absolutely desperate for their first win of the season.