Things are going a lot better than expected with Rudy Gobert out. The Utah Jazz are 6-4 so far since their best player went down as a result of a dirty play.
The team has made quite a few adjustments and have seen some significant results. Utah has also seen several players step up to fill the void filled by the team’s leader. Hopefully, this bodes well for Utah’s future not just in this season but in those to come.
So the stat of the game last night had to be Utah’s 38 assists. I didn’t type that wrong, the Jazz had 38 dimes against the Clippers. And that isn’t a major anomaly based on their recent play. Including the last night’s game, Utah has three 30-assist games in their last six games. In case you’re wondering, they had zero before those six games.
Andy Larsen took note of the insane total, which is the second-highest total of any team this season, and shared his observation of how the Jazz got to that number.
Just as remarkable, or maybe even more, was just how egalitarian the Jazz's assist distribution was. Despite the huge assist total, no Jazz player ended up with more than six assists. Ricky Rubio, Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles had six. Alec Burks and Royce O'Neale had five. Derrick Favors four, Jonas Jerebko had three. And Thabo Sefolosha, Ekpe Udoh, and Tony Bradley had one each.
Not only have the Jazz increased their assist totals recently, they’ve been cutting back on turnovers — a major early season issue for the team. In the last four games, Utah has turned the ball over 10.3 times per game.
My weekly rave about Donovan Mitchell is due. And this week he has risen even higher in the eyes of the national media and not just me. Mitchell has climbed the Kia Rookie Ladder to the number four spot.
I would try to find a way to embed the video or something like that, but my computer hates nba.com for some reason, so you’ll have to follow the link yourself or settle for this highlight reel from his performance Thursday.
Following the game against the Clippers last night, Utah Jazz radio play-by-play man David Locke talked about Alec Burks, who had a personal season-high 28 points to lead the Jazz in their 126-107 win.
Alec has been working really hard to change his game and he saw the result of all that hard work tonight. The East coast road trip was a disaster for Alec, but he continued to work. His assistant coach Jeff Watkinson has been working with Alec to get wider in his stance. When you think of Alec, you think of that tall, rhythm, bouncy dribble. That left him with poor balance and the inability to stop on drives. Playing with a wider stance and shorter, choppy steps gives him the ability to stop in the lane before he is in trouble, keep him on his feet, pick his spots so he can attack, pull up or pass.
Burks has averaged 16.5 points in the last four games while shooting 54.7 percent from the field and an even more impressive 56.3 from three. If only we could get Rodney Hood and Alec Burks to play well simultaneously.
Shams Charania of the Vertical wrote about the resurgence of Derrick Favors and his role in Utah
Through nine games in place of Gobert, Favors has averaged 16.8 points, 8.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 blocks...and has had performances of 25 points and 11 rebounds against Orlando, 23 points and seven rebounds against Chicago, and 24 points and 12 rebounds against Brooklyn during the stretch.
Charania also quoted Derrick Favors on how he has handled the situation
“It was frustrating at first the past year or so dealing with the up-and-down role and minutes, but I’ve stayed confident,” Favors told The Vertical. “I’ve put the time in and that has helped me stay motivated with myself. At the end of the day, I wanted to take advantage of the opportunity and hold it down while Rudy was out. I’m taking advantage of the opportunity and showing everyone that I’m healthy. I want to prove to everyone that I’m the same guy. I’m 100 percent. I’ve been feeling healthy all summer and into the season, and I’m the same player.
It’ll be very interesting to see how this all plays out when Rudy Gobert returns from injury.
On the subject of Favors, he is certainly mindful of the rumors that he may be traded, but is choosing to not focus on them. This from Charania:
“I let my agent, Wallace Prather, talk to Utah and talk around the league, I just focus on myself,” he said. “I’m aware of the talks, and the value I have, but I just focus on the opportunity I have now, and I know I can help whichever team I’m playing on in this league.
“I’m not taking the opportunity in front of me for granted.”