The Utah Jazz and slow starts have become nearly synonymous in recent years. Ever since Quin Snyder took over, his guys have started significantly worse than they’ve ended. Don’t believe me? Check it out:
- 2014-2015: Started off 17-33 (.340) but finished 38-44 (.463)
- 2015-2016: Started off 19-25 (.432) but finished 40-42 (.488)
- 2016-2017: Started off 7-8 (.467) but finished 51-31 (.622)
- 2017-2018: Started off 19-28 (.404) but finished 48-34 (.585)
- 2018-2019: Started off 18-20 (.474) but finished 50-32 (.610)
Now obviously some of those are worse than others, but the trend is there. Was this due to difficult schedules early in the season? Have new additions needed time to adjust to their new teams and/or roles? Is Quin Snyder’s offense really complicated and challenging for new players to get comfortable in?
Whatever the reason, these starts have come back to bite them more often than not. Playoff races and seeding have been impacted by early-season results. Now let me be clear, I love that the team is usually peaking at the right time in the playoffs. That can matter a whole lot more than a playoff seed. But man I want my cake and I want to eat it too! It sure would it be nice if they didn’t take half a season to get everything running on all cylinders.
After the first two games of the season it was looking like it might be more of the same. Sure they beat the OKC Thunder, but Utah made it pretty difficult on themselves having to come from behind. The defense looked solid but the offense struggled. The atrocity in LA against the Lakers can hardly be called basketball with how many turnovers and poor plays were made. Again, it was looking like this team might take some time to get it going.
And then the Sacramento game happened. I was in the arena for that one and it was one of the least stressful games I’ve ever watched. They pounced early and never let up until the game was completely out of reach. The offense was clicking and the defense was suffocating. It was amazing. The 32 point trouncing was one of the earliest blowouts Utah has had in some time.
And then last night happened. Woof. Another game with a billion turnovers and some missed opportunities. The difference this year is that the Jazz have won 2 games that they probably would have lost last year. That’s why the front office went and got a guy like Bojan Bogdanovic. So the back and forth continues as this team tries to gel early on.
With how the West is stacking up this year (yet again), the Jazz can’t afford bad losses in the early goings if they want home court advantage come playoff time. As of right now, FiveThirtyEight has the Jazz slotted in at the 4 spot, but the West is so tight. A game here or there could mean a lot more then than it does now.
So will they be able to buck this trend and start right? Or will they see themselves looking up in the standings having to climb yet again?