December has been cold to the Utah Jazz. Heading into the month, fans were getting excited about the four-game win streak the team was on. Early on in the month, things were still going great. Donovan Mitchell scored 41 points on Dec. 1 and on Dec. 4, the Jazz beat the Wizards by 47 points to extend the winning streak to six straight games. Then everything fell to pieces.
In the 12 games since the win over Washington, Utah has won just two games and has been outscored by an average of 11 points per game (that’s including the two wins, which were both double-digit wins).
Very little about this month has been fun and it could end up being the defining part of the season.
Utah currently sits at 15-21 with a game against the Cavaliers Saturday. Assuming things play out the way they would on paper, Utah will enter January with a 15-22 record having gone 4-11 in December. The schedule will get easier, but according to Tony Jones, it’s possible the Jazz might need time to recover from the losing they’ve been doing.
The thing that would worry me if I were a Jazz fan: It may take a few weeks in January to shake off the effects of this December schedule. The winning may not start as soon as the calendar flips. It really may be difficult to mentally recover from this— Tony Jones (@tribjazz) December 28, 2017
It also won’t help that five of Utah’s first seven games in January will be on the road, including four straight from Jan. 5-12. But it’s really frustrating that a poorly thought-out schedule and a bad run of injuries could sink an entire season and push the Jazz into the lottery.
The rookie sensation Donovan Mitchell was present for BYU’s 69-45 win over Portland Thursday.
Mitchell wasn’t the only Jazzman present to witness the Cougars’ win. He was joined by Raul Neto and Nazareth Mitrou-Long.
It’s nice too see Mitchell becoming part of the community, going to events and anchoring himself to Utah’s culture. That isn’t done in one night or by attending one event, but it’s a start.
At the BYU game, Cougars’ leading scorer, forward Yoeli Childs, had his post-game interview interrupted by Mitchell and was positively giddy about it.
The Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon wrote about Mitchell’s growing pains as he has risen to become the leading offensive weapon for the Jazz.
Goon noted Mitchell’s increase in offensive production from his early games where he wasn’t a key rotation player, but pointed out the not-so-good stuff that comes with being a rookie in a high-usage role.
Mitchell also has had a net rating switch from positive (plus-8.2) to negative (minus-6.7). His turnovers are up and his assist ratios are down this month. As he becomes more of a focal point, teams move him up the scouting report and more NBA stars try to test him on defense, some of his numbers have taken — and will continue to take — a hit.
And that’s fine with the Jazz as long as he’s learning. A smile eased over coach Quin Snyder’s face after the coach heard a quote from Mitchell about how important studying the scouting report has become to him.
“That’s something that I’m glad he’s recognizing,” he said. “There’s a difference between being reported on personnel who you are versus a game plan, which is more what you do. It’s his credit that he’s transitioned into that as far as people prepare for that.”
We all know Mitchell isn’t perfect and we overlook some of his flaws, at least for the time being. But it’s something to keep in mind to avoid asking too much of the rookie.
In other news, rookie Tony Bradley has been called up to the main squad.
We have recalled Tony Bradley back up to the squad. pic.twitter.com/I9FsoD4CX5— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 29, 2017
With just two guys on the active roster who can actually play center, Bradley might be good for a few spot minutes here or there should Quin Snyder need another big body to occupy some space.