The Utah Jazz are on the brink of success not seen in more than a decade. Utah controls its own destiny for not just a playoff spot, but also home court advantage in the first round. The last time the Jazz made the playoffs in back-to-back years was when they made it four years in a row from 2006-10 — the Deron Williams/Carlos Boozer era (and some guy named Jerry Sloan was there too).
Utah has been rebuilding nearly every year since 2012. The only year we weren’t was last year when the Jazz won 51 games on the back of Rudy Gobert and Gordan Harwood. With the latter leaving, it seemed like a new rebuild (termed a “pivot”) was in order. But this team has surpassed all expectations and become a great team.
Perhaps some evidence of how much this team has accomplished comes from a comment by Doc Rivers following last night’s game.
Some individuals have previously claimed the Jazz regressed this year no matter what happens. And based on a pure win/loss perspective, maybe they’re right. But stats, the eye test, logic, and apparently Doc Rivers say this year’s team is better.
In other news that made me smile, the Jazz will be signing David Stockton for the rest of the season.
Sources: The Jazz plan to sign guard David Stockton, son of Hall of Famer John Stockton, for the remainder of the season. His second 10-day contract ended Thursday.— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) April 6, 2018
Thursday’s game was a special moment for Stockton the Younger. He had already recorded his first points with his dad’s former team, but that night he scored in front of Jazz fans.
Stockton for three—his first made bucket in SLC pic.twitter.com/rjPammX5Dv— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) April 6, 2018
David himself was pleased with the environment and the love and support from the fans.
Incredible atmosphere in Vivint tonight.. Thank you Jazz fans for creating a great moment for this home town kid. #TakeNote— David Stockton (@dstockton32) April 6, 2018
Seeing David on the court brings so many different emotions, from nostalgia to hope for the future for this kid. I really hope he can do what Joe Ingles did and force his way into NBA rotations instead of being a human victory cigar.
Zach Lowe in his regular column “10 things I like and don’t like...” boarded the Dante Exum train briefly to #takenote of the young guard’s recent success. He praised the Australian for his newfound aggressiveness in driving to the rim and how controlled he is during those drives. Lowe also brought up a neat little stat.
Utah has scored 1.2 points possessions anytime Exum drives and shoots, or dishes to a teammate who shoots after one or zero dribbles, per Second Spectrum -- a mark that ranks 14th among 300-plus who have recorded at least 50 drives.
Watching Exum attack teams with reckless regard to their feelings or ankles is akin to pure joy. It’s been awesome to have him back, be part of the rotation, and have a notable positive impact for the team.
Update on the Western Conference playoff race: it’s still crazy and borderline impossible to predict. In the Eastern Conference, eight teams have clinched the playoffs, with a couple of teams now jostling for better seeding, but the West hasn’t figured it out yet, with eight teams still vying for spots 3-8.
I couldn’t find playoff clinching scenarios, but I’m pretty sure the Jazz get in with one more win and a loss by either the Timberwolves or Nuggets. That could be right or wrong, but the simple truth is that if the Jazz win out, they get the 4th seed and that’s all we will hopefully need to know.
There is also a chance the Jazz get the 3rd seed. That would require the Trail Blazers to lose at least one of the next two matchups (at San Antonio and at Denver) and for Utah to beat Portland in the season finale. It’s a little messier than that, but suffice it to say, there’s a decent chance Portland and Utah could be playing for the 3rd seed on April 11.
Last, but not least: Joe Ingles. He made Utah Jazz history last night by making his 200th 3-pointer of the season.
No player in a Jazz uniform has ever hit 200 triples in one season, at least, not until yesterday.
The Pick and Roll, an Australian basketball site, broke down how Ingles has been an underrated part of the success of this year’s team. It included this glorious quote.
As Jake Paynting of The 94 Feet Report puts it: “There is being an effective role player, then there is 2017–18 Joe Ingles. The man who once conceded to being a professional ball player in Europe has become the superglue that binds together the greatness packed within Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert and truly one of the most under appreciated shooters of the modern era.”
I couldn’t say it any better myself. Wonderful stuff from Ingles this year and I’m already in high hopes for next year.