The Utah Jazz have completed their 2019 NBA Preseason. They finished their warm-up games last night at home in a 126-118 loss at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, finalizing their preseason with a 1-4 record (0-4 against NBA teams). Obviously, it’s preseason. It’s really hard to get a solid grip on anything in the preseason due to so many moving factors. Because of this, we should try to keep our takes on the Jazz lukewarm, avoiding anything too hot for now. That being said, there were still several observations that I noticed from watching the Jazz this preseason. Here are five of them.
Donovan Mitchell is going to enjoy space
There was a lot of talk this offseason about how much more space there would be on the floor after acquiring Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic. After a small sample size this preseason, I think it’s safe to say that Donovan Mitchell is going to heavily benefit from this space, and thoroughly enjoy himself this year. Mitchell looked great in every game he played this preseason. In four games played, Mitchell averaged 18.3 points per game on 48/37/83 splits. He did his best work last night against Portland, scoring 22 points in the first half on perfect 4-4 shooting from three. He ended the half on a barrage, scoring 12 of the Jazz final 13 points. He would finish the game with 27 points on 9-19 FG.
Mitchell looks like he’s scoring so much easier. Granted, again, it’s preseason and defense is really going to clamp down once games start to count. Because defenses have to spread the floor more now, and can’t just collapse on Mitchell once he beats his man on the perimeter, he’s able to flow more through the lane and make better, more controlled, shots and passes. I think my boldest take that I’m entering the regular season with is that Donovan Mitchell is going to be the best player on the Utah Jazz this season. I had been on the fence on whether or not he could leapfrog Rudy Gobert until watching the preseason and seeing how much easier the game was coming to him with this space. We’ll see how this take ends up for me at the end of the year, but for now, I’m rolling with it.
Defense is going to take some time to synchronize
Perhaps the biggest area of concern that those watching the Jazz this preseason had, was defense. The Jazz finished five games in the preseason with a defensive rating of 111.4. This was worse than any other NBA team in the preseason, and actually even worse than the NBL New Zealand Breakers who played two NBA teams this preseason. If you take out their game against Adelaide, the Jazz sported a 120.6 defensive rating. They didn’t hold any of their NBA opponents to less than 126 points. Even last night, with Rudy Gobert starting and their roster at full (preseason) strength, The Jazz surrendered 38 points to the Blazers in the first quarter, including 31 points in the first 7 minutes of play. This was mostly because the Blazers couldn’t miss, but the Jazz defense did look out of sorts. The main takeaway here is not that the Jazz are going to be the worst team in the league, because we all know that’s absolutely not going to happen. But it’s going to take some time for the Jazz to come together defensively. Losing Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder, two guys that really helped make up their defensive identity and flexibility, will take some time and work to try to get used to. Everyone knows that Quin Snyder is a defensive-scheming genius, but it will take him some time to acclimate to his new personnel. With a two-time DPOY anchoring the defense in the middle, things are going to be just fine.
Jeff Green is a certified bucket-getter
The Utah Jazz are going to get buckets out of Jeff Green. It doesn’t matter if Green ends up starting, coming off the bench, playing 10 minutes a night or 25 — he’s going to score the basketball.
Green best showing this preseason was when he dropped 20 points in 22 minutes against the Pelicans last week on 8-9 shooting, and showed Jazz fans what he can do. He finished the preseason averaging just under 13 points per game on 68 percent shooting and 47 percent from three (!!). After Donovan Mitchell, I think Jeff Green had the best preseason out of anyone in a Jazz uniform. He looked very comfortable in Quin Snyder’s offense, and seems to be just what the Jazz need needed to fill a role of a secondary scoring option, whether it be with the starters or second unit.
Joe Ingles is going to do whatever is best for the team
After the Jazz brought in so much firepower this offseason, someone has to take a backseat, and it’s going to be Joe Ingles. It seems, at least right now, that Joe Ingles is going to be coming off the bench for the Jazz this season. Even though he will probably be finishing games and playing in the most important minutes, it might have been easy for Joe Ingles to get offended or upset at getting moved to the second unit. But, as most of us know, Joe Ingles is the best teammate in the world, and that didn’t happen. He wants to do whatever is best for the team, no matter what that actually means for him personally.
Quin Snyder, pregame vs. Portland, said he’s been using Joe Ingles to test out different lineups and rotations “because he has such a corporate knowledge.” pic.twitter.com/dbgEFZX1Qt— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) October 16, 2019
It was awesome in last night’s preseason game to see Joe Ingles bring some fire off the bench. He came in, and without missing a beat, started to splash threes and talk some smack in true Joe Ingles mid-season form.
It’s going to be really fun to see sixth man Joe Ingles. It’s also going to be fun to see how Quin Snyder utilizes Joe and keeps him involved in games without having him in the starting lineup.
The regular season just needs to start for Bojan Bogdanovic
I’m really not worried about Bojan Bogdanovic. Even though he did shoot 27 percent from the floor and 25 percent from three in five game this preseason, he’s absolutely going to be just fine. The preseason just needs to be over, which it is, and he can put this all behind him and focus on basketball games that count against his team’s record. He’s an elite shooter. I’m confident that once games start to actually count next week, we’ll see Bojan starting to rip nets again and get back to his real self.