So much Utah Jazz stuff today. Let’s get right into it!
The Utah Jazz beat the Golden State Warriors last night. Sure. I didn’t think it was going to happen so I didn’t even watch the game live. (It was a ‘rest’ night for me, as I need to be healthy for the playoffs.) Utah is most likely heading into conflict with the Los Angeles Clippers, and likely starting things off on the road.
But no matter what happens in Game 82, this Jazz team has won the division and won 50 games. And those two things are really amazing. I’m happy to have seen this team climb all the way back up to relevance. And, honestly, Gobert is the primary reason why it happened.
Thanks Andy; man, take a look at that. You have to hand it to Rudy. He’s been unstoppable this year. Also, I love beating the Dubs.
This is savage. I need my Bishop.
Is Rudy Gobert the defensive player of the year (DPOY)? Damn right he is. And it’s not just Utah Jazz fans saying it. Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype details the numbers that support Rudy - but the key reason to click on this is to read the quote from OTHER NBA players and what they had to say about Gobert.
Click on the article. Read it. And weep for joy.
Aaron Falk, of the Pulitzer Prize winning SLTRIB caught Kevin Durant getting in on the Rudy hype-train.
Kevin Durant had some high praise for Rudy Gobert last night: "He's changed their team." pic.twitter.com/1V55YOHHTJ— Aaron Falk (@aaronfalk) April 11, 2017
It’s clear that people really think Gobert is a huge problem. It’s not just Kennedy, Jazz fans, and NBA Players. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork to laud Gobert. For example, here’s Spencer Davies of Basketball Insiders:
Spencer does list six players, Anthony Davis, Hassan Whiteside, Kawhi Leonard, Andre Roberson, Draymond Green, and Rudy. On Rudy, Davies had this to say:
The Utah Jazz have been the sneakiest team in the entire NBA this year. Locked in for their first postseason appearance since the 2011-2012 season, it’s been a banner year for Quin Snyder’s group.
Utah has established itself at the top of the league defensively, allowing just 96.7 points per game to opponents on 44.2 percent from the field. The anchor of this bunch has been Rudy Gobert, or the “Stifle Tower.”
Davies breaks down the traditional and challenging numbers that Gobert puts up, and makes the case we all want to read:
Green was tabbed by the majority of writers to win the DPOY award this season, but the emergence of Gobert and how it has launched the Jazz into the middle of the Western Conference playoffs -- with a record the franchise hasn’t seen since the days of Jerry Sloan — should be enough to alter that mindset.
Awesome job Spencer! Read the full piece here, Jazzfans!
Outside of Rudy, there’s more to write about as well. The whole team is catching fire right now in the media. Check out Jonathan Tjarks’ work here for The Ringer:
One of the best teams in the West has no postseason experience as a group. The roster as we know it could dissolve over the summer. There are so many questions left in Salt Lake City. We’ll finally get some answers in the playoffs.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about the Utah Jazz. When they last made the playoffs in 2012, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were their best players, Gordon Hayward was their third option, and Derrick Favors and Alec Burks had small roles off the bench. Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, and Joe Ingles weren’t even in the league yet. The Jazz have no postseason experience together, which is fairly unusual for a team that has won 50 games. Because they missed the playoffs in 2015 and 2016, they have never been the plucky upstart happy to win a few games in the first round. Utah has skipped a bunch of steps in the team-building process.
The crucible of a seven-game playoff series exposes a team’s underlying fault lines. It’s not just a head-to-head matchup against one of the best teams in the NBA; because coaches typically shorten their rotation and give more minutes to their best players, it’s a head-to-head matchup against the best version of one of the best teams in the NBA. Every minute of game action, and every decision a coach makes, becomes precious. Unlike in the regular season, coaches can systematically plan against their opponents and tailor their rotation to attack their weaknesses over the course of a specific series. A team can change dramatically between the beginning of a playoff series and the end. How the Jazz think about themselves, and their reputation around the league, will be shaped in large part by what happens over the next few weeks.
READ IT ALL HERE! Jonathan breaks down the Jazz season, and their future off-season. But also writes loads and loads about specifics. He writes about what Rudy Gobert is capable of vs. Small-Ball; Quin Snyder’s flexibility; Rodney Hood; Dante Exum; Gordon Hayward as a 1st option; and much more. There’s nothing better you will read all day.
Of course, our Dear Leader Basketball John had this to say:
Ha ha. true. But the key point here is that Utah has done a great job getting from point A (the lotto) to point B (possibly still getting home court). And Kristian Winfield of our very own SB Nation had to say this:
This is a return to relevancy for a proud franchise that has fallen on hard times recently. The last time the Jazz won 50 games, Jerry Sloan was head coach and Deron Williams was an All-Star, averaging 19 points and 10.5 assists to compete with Chris Paul for the title of league’s top point guard.
Star power often defines success in the NBA, but there’s also power in numbers, and that’s where Utah has its biggest strength.
Hayward may be the Jazz’s most recognizable name, but Rudy Gobert has emerged as the favorite for Defensive Player of the Year after missing out on an All-Star nod. His impact has been tangible for a Jazz team controlling the paint on both ends of the floor.
And they’ve thrived in part without Derrick Favors, a talented power forward whose nagging injuries have both kept him off the floor and put a stake in his career-best production a season ago.
Utah has two talented, but oft-injured wings in Hood and Alec Burks, who have helped power the team into its second postseason appearance this decade. The Jazz signed George Hill over the summer, who’s averaged a career-high 17 points per game in when healthy.
Instead of rushing the process, the Jazz remained patient and built through the draft. Trey Lyles, Joe Ingles, and Dante Exum are a trio of young players who are still navigating the early stages of their careers.
That’s why adding Joe Johnson, who scored 13 fourth-quarter points against the Warriors, gave Utah an experienced leader and battle-tested scorer off the bench. Need proof? He scored his 20,000th point last week.
Boris Diaw’s addition has borne similar results, brushing off his invaluable experience and requisite savvy onto a young Utah squad.
Now, I don’t know if I’d call Joe Ingles a ‘young’ player, but hey - it’s not like SB Nation goes out there and lets just anyone write for their Dot Com. Read some of Kristian’s other stuff, but start with this one!
Jeez. There’s just too much stuff today. Let’s take a breather.
I was so worried when this happened in last night’s game. Dante went six rows deep thanks to his Kangaroo twitch muscles.
It’s been a long time coming, but I’m glad we’re finally back! The Utah Jazz will be playing the Los Angeles Clippers in the 1st round of the NBA Playoffs. And it’s never too early to start hating on the Los Angeles Clippers. It’s fun for me because while their franchise has been a joke for nearly fifty years their very recent relevance has made this rivalry hilarious.
Man, I’m forming my rebuttal right now. But it’s not all good out West. Our small market bros who cover the Sacramento Kings are going into a much different post-season. This is sobering.
Things that have changed since the Sacramento Kings last made the playoffs https://t.co/WeZbqnZhNh— Greg (@gwiss) April 11, 2017
It’s kind of a downer, but I don’t want to end this Beat on the down. So let’s go to Rudy Gobert:
5️⃣0️⃣— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) April 11, 2017