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Should Utah be worried about Donovan Mitchell’s slow start?

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The SLC Dunk Chat debuts with the staff discussing Donovan Mitchell, Ricky Rubio, and tonight’s clash agains the Rockets

NBA: Playoffs-Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

This is the first of many SLC Dunk Chats. Today we’re discussing the Utah Jazz’s offensive woes, Donovan Mitchell’s slow start, and what to expect from tonight’s clash against the Houston Rockets. Enjoy!


Mychal Lowman

With the Jazz starters struggling to start the season, is there cause for concern with a 4 game road trip starting tonight?

Mychal Lowman

I’d say there’s a bit of concern because we started to see the signs of this in preseason. Jazz’s starting lineup has a +/- of -34.7 and they’ve played the most minutes together. On the plus side Mitchell isn’t going to play like this forever but, dang, this lineup is shooting the Jazz in their own foot every game.

James Hansen

I’m starting to think that Mitchell is taking heat for things that aren’t all his fault. Memphis packed the paint against the Jazz taking away his biggest strength, finishing at the rim. Is a change to the starting lineup coming soon if the offensive struggles continue?

Kaleb Searle

This might qualify as a hot take, but I think some time on the road might be just what the doctor ordered for this team. A road trip can have a galvanizing effect for a team, and I think some road environments might be good for the starting lineup to fight through together. This group can do it. We’ve seen it. It might blow up in my face, but I’m expecting to see the corner turned for this group through this trip.

Mychal Lowman

Should we be scared about Rubio? He was pulled late in the last game for the rookie Grayson Allen. (edited)

Jordan Cummings

Utah’s brutal early season schedule leaves very little room for error. Losing a ton of ground now means the second half of the season will require near perfection to put themselves in a good position for a postseason run. They’ve gotta figure things out quickly or risk being a 6 seed in the loaded West.

Mychal Lowman

@James Hansen it just sounds like to me that you don’t want to have a tweet liked by Donovan Mitchell. YOU DON’T WANT THE SMOKE.

Jordan Cummings

Rubio’s play has been problematic, but that’s true of pretty much every backcourt player right now other than Joe Ingles.

If a change to the starting lineup does happen, I think it makes more sense to replace Favors with Crowder than to replace Rubio with Exum. Spacing seems to be the biggest problem with the starting lineup, with teams packing the paint and taking away driving lanes for Donovan Mitchell. It’s a question of fit more than anything. But if we’re 10 games in and still seeing the same problems, it’s probably time for a shakeup in the starting 5.

Mychal Lowman

I can agree with that. Jazz’s second most used lineup replaces Favors with Crowder and has a positive +/-.

Taylor Griffin

The Jazz just need to find rhythm. We all saw last season what happened when they started harmonizing together (pun intended) . Mitchell and Rubio need to find their grooves to return to form, and I believe they just have to play through it. Snyder also needs to find his groove in managing the rotation, and how to most effectively utilize Utah’s depth.

Mychal Lowman

But Rubio has been ROUGH. What’s up with what used to be the Jazz’s dynamic and charismatic backcourt?

Taylor has a point. Snyder has been going 11 deep in the rotation looking for a spark. Jazz will get Thabo back on this road trip. Will he help or further shake up an already convoluted rotation?

Mychal Lowman

The rotations right now feel like an NBA2K default rotation before you get the first game update. It doesn’t feel set or as intentional yet.

Kaleb Searle

I agree with Taylor on the starting lineup. We were all saying these exact things last season at this point and what happened? Quin stuck with it and the group came together. I’m not ready yet to think that was a fluke.

Mychal Lowman

But last season the Jazz has a *historic* turnaround while it took them 3 months to gel. This is the same team, no changes. So why the hiccup?

Jordan Cummings

Thabo is the most veteran player on the team. His presence on the court as a leader and a small ball 4 will give Utah a lot more defensive versatility. And his corner threes last season were MONEY. He shot 43% from the left corner and 50% from the right corner (not to mention 67% in the restricted area).

His awareness also makes him great on backdoor cuts - he was in the 90th percentile last season and it was 10% of his offense.

Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the Jae Crowder girlfriend/baby mama drama is causing some problems. I can’t think of anything else that explains the hiccups and seeming lack of chemistry.

James Hansen

@Mylo Ha! I do not want to get liked by Donovan because that is scary and makes me sad. My hot take for this season is that by the end of the year, Niang will be our starting PF.

Mychal Lowman

Off the court things can definitely affect what happens on. We forget that all these guys have lives outside of basketball. Just like how a bad day at home can carry to the office, it happens to these guys, too.

WHOA. NIANG STARTING?

James Hansen

Check that per 36 :eyes::eyes::eyes:

Mychal Lowman

Jeremy Evans had a rockin’ PER36, too.

James Hansen

But not with 50% 3pt shooting....

Jordan Cummings

Niang does look like this year’s classic “Dennis Lindsey diamond in the rough” player. (edited)

James Hansen

I think spacing is still the issue

Jordan Cummings

He seems to find one of those every season. It’s crazy.

Mychal Lowman

Spacing is definitely the issue. What I wonder is can Niang even bring that energy--WAIT, WAIT--James has totally derailed this. Now we’re debating Niang as a starter. Rockets. Tonight is Rockets.

Jordan Cummings

Yeah JAMES

Mychal Lowman

DAMMIT JAMES.

Jordan Cummings

CP3 being out should be really good news for Utah. He killed us in the playoff series with his midrange game. Their frontcourt depth is also shot, with Capela as their only healthy center.

Mychal Lowman

I think I remember CP3 being out last year for a game and James Harden going 50+ against Utah last time. What does Utah have to do tonight to take advantage?

Jordan Cummings

It’s a question of whether or not Utah can stop the Harden/Capela pick and roll, and slow down Harden’s isolations enough to snag a win

James Hansen

Lol the Jazz really need to take advantage tonight of a bad rockets defense and no Chris Paul

Jordan Cummings

Utah has to let Harden get his 40 or 50 points

And key in on role players. Make sure to limit guys like Capela and PJ Tucker. If those guys go for 15 or 20, we lose

James Hansen

Basically they need to go at Capella to hopefully get him in foul trouble. Also, send all the defenders at Harden and make someone like Carter-Williams beat us

Mychal Lowman

I think it’s time to release the Exum tonight against Harden. He frustrated him big time in the playoffs last year. Time to canvas him with Dante.

Jordan Cummings

Funnel the ball to Carmelo in the post and let him shoot the Rockets to death

James Hansen

YESSSSSS

Mychal Lowman

CARMELO SEASON IS BACK.

Jordan Cummings

Houston’s defense has been pretty terrible so far. Hopefully Utah’s guards can take advantage and finally find a groove.

Diana

I wouldn’t be scared for Rubio, I vividly remember Rubio being pulled for a rookie last year. We all watched Donovan dominate, Ricky could not have been more supportive with a huge smile on his face. It all worked out.

Mychal Lowman

I do hope to see Donovan’s finishing percentage around the rim climb. Last year he was one of the top finisher’s around the rim. He rivaled LeBron’s percentage. That’s what made him so elite. Like a young Wade, he wasn’t as fearsome as an outside shooter.

Jordan Cummings

Current injuries, plus CP3’s suspension. Houston’s depth looks shaky as hell

Diana

Is Donovan not finishing because of no space or is there a lingering issue with his foot?

Jordan Cummings

Houston probably plays one of either Nene or Chriss. They can’t afford to play tonight with just one healthy center.

Mychal Lowman

Diana brings up a good point. Rubio is always supportive. Contract years can mess with people, too. Some thrive in them like Favors did last year, some fall under the pressure of trying to get that bread.

Jordan Cummings

I’ll be really surprised if Utah doesn’t trade away at least one player this season

Mychal Lowman

I’ve wondered that, Diana. What made me think of that was Grayson Allen’s dunk yesterday. Donovan high flying around the rim has been auspiciously missing this season. (edited)

Jordan Cummings

But that’s a different conversation

Mychal Lowman

*Red Leader Voice* Stay on target

Jordan Cummings

I’m surprised Burks only got 6 minutes last game with how terrible the rest of our backcourt was

There probably is something to the “Quin just doesn’t like Burks” theory.

Mychal Lowman

I wonder if last game was just Quin Snyder looking for someone--ANYONE--who displayed a pulse. Benching Rubio for rookie. Passing on Exum. Benching Burks. Then going to Allen? He needed anybody who could provide a spark. I think he was only a bad couple minutes from Grayson away from putting Ekpe Udoh in at point guard.

Tonight will be a good barometer to see if Burks really has lost his minutes at backup SG over just a bad game and half of basketball.

Let’s end it on this, what is everyone’s predictions for tonight’s game?

James Hansen

I predict the Houston Defense is worse than it normally is and we have the breakout Donovan Mitchell game that we’ve all been waiting for

Mychal Lowman

I’m still thinking the Jazz are going to look out of sorts. I think this is Houston 102 - Utah 91 with someone from the bench being Utah’s leading scorer. (edited)

Jordan Cummings

I think this is the game where Donovan and the rest of Utah’s offense finally click. Donovan goes for an efficient 25, Utah wins 110-103 (edited)

Jason Walker

I’m thinking Rockets 125-115. The Jazz have only had one truly bad offense game, (at least when it comes to points) so against a poor defense in Houston, Utah should get to 115 without too much trouble. But unless this is the game where the defense has a breakout and acts like last year, the Rockets will get 125.

Diana

I think the Jazz start to pull things together and their offense looks better but they won’t be able to handle the Harden-Capella pick and roll. Rockets 120-110

Kaleb Searle

I’ve been harping on “no one realizes how much worse the Rockets got” since the first wave of free agency ended, so I’ll still with that and say Utah gets them on a night without CP3. 113-106 Jazz.