The Utah Jazz are the surprise of the NBA. Rookie head coach Will Hardy has already turned the heads of everybody around the league by leading this team to a 10-3 record. Despite a roster that led so many to predict a lottery-bound season, Utah is winning. They're winning on the road, they're winning on back-to-backs, and they're winning against great teams. While thirteen games is still not a huge sample size, it's impressive enough that we have to now look at what precisely the Jazz are doing that's leading to so much success.
The Utah Jazz are sixth in the NBA in assists per game with 27.9. That's the best mark the Jazz have had in 35 years. They're led by Mike Conley's career-high 8.0 assists per game, which ranks ninth in the league. It's not just the point guard, though. There are nine players on the Jazz averaging at least one assist per game. All five starters are posting career-high assist numbers. When people say that sharing the ball is contagious, they need only look at this team for evidence.
this team— Jordan Clarkson (@JordanClarksons) November 10, 2022
The players are having fun. They're sharing the ball, finding the open man, and leading to a great offense.
The Jazz have five players making at least one three-pointer per game while shooting over 38% from three. They are one of only six teams that meet that criteria. The shooting comes from everywhere. Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, and Malik Beasley play the most rotation minutes in the backcourt, and each of them is shooting over 41% from deep on over five attempts per game. Collin Sexton is even coming off the bench and hitting 38% from downtown.
Beasley threes: #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/oSHYh0SJW0— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) November 10, 2022
In the frontcourt, Lauri Markkanen rightfully takes most of the defensive attention, but he's had a down year from three so far at only 34%. Kelly Olynyk has been the best shooter of the bigs so far, hitting a blistering 56.8% of his threes. Even Jarred Vanderbilt, generally known as a non-shooter, has begun taking open corner threes. He's been surprisingly good in those situations, making exactly half of his three-pointers this year. That spread of shooters is nearly impossible to guard. The only starter that can be left open at the three-point line was supposed to be Vanderbilt, but even he is making teams pay for that.
The Utah Jazz rank fourth lowest in the percentage of their points coming from the midrange at only 4.5%. That means 95.5% of the team's points come from the paint, the three-point line, or the free throw line. According to cleaningtheglass.com, the Jazz take the league's lowest percentage of "long midrange" shots. That's modern, intelligent, efficient basketball.
Three starters for the Utah Jazz are shooting above 60% true shooting percentage. Again, this shows the offensive versatility that Utah possesses. Will Hardy has many offensive weapons to work with, which becomes very difficult for defenses to adapt to. Nobody on the Jazz can be ignored. Even the lower volume scorers are highly efficient, so everybody needs to be respected by the defense. Combine that with the passing, and you get open shots by efficient shooters.
The Utah Jazz have the second-ranked offense in the NBA, behind only the Boston Celtics. This comes from a combination of factors, including ranking top ten in effective field goal percentage, assist percentage, and offensive rebounding percentage. The Jazz move the ball, take smart shots, and crash the offensive glass.
The Jazz are first in the NBA in points per game, with 118.8. That is the best mark in the league this season and the best in Jazz franchise history. To put that number into perspective, 118.8 points per game is the 11th highest in NBA history since the NBA/ABA merger. The only team in the last twenty years to have matched that number is the 2020-21 Milwaukee Bucks. The Jazz are helped here by having two overtime games, so this number will undoubtedly fall, but the offense is still potent. Right now, it's at a historical level.
Other interesting stats
- The Jazz rank fourth in the league in points per game from putbacks
- Utah leads the league in total possessions per game
- The Jazz as a team are running 10.04 miles per game when on offense (fourth most), but only 8.1 miles on defense (ninth least)
- There are six players on the team averaging over ten points per game
Stats via nba.com, cleaningtheglass.com, and bball-reference.com