The Utah Jazz could win an NBA title this season.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was skeptical about joining the Utah bandwagon. I didn’t think that having Donovan Mitchell and a $200-million center averaging fewer than15 points per game would translate into long-term success over an entire season. But they’re proving me, along with a plethora of other NBA fans, way wrong.
The Jazz has put together a team that is cohesive, defensively sound, and beyond dangerous from outside the three-point line. They became the first team to make 50 threes in back-to-back games during their win against the defending champion Lakers last night and they are the fastest team in NBA history to hit 500 three-pointers in a season.
Just look at some of the stats on this team.
In the superteam era, your likelihood of winning an NBA championship without at least two of the top 15-20 offensive threats in the league in their prime is slim. However, we’ve seen teams do it.
The 2011 Mavericks won a title with Dirk Nowitzki and a well-put-together supporting cast; the 2014 San Antonio Spurs won with a young Kawhi Leonard and aging greats; and the 2019 Raptors won the title with a prime Leonard leading a nice mix of young talent and veteran experience.
The Jazz are very similar to all of these teams. Outside of their ability to all shoot the three-ball effectively (at least 36 percent as a team), all of these squads were ranked in the top ten of the league in both defensive and offensive Net rating. The 2014 Spurs and 2019 Raptors also both ranked in the top ten in points scored and points allowed per game. The 2011 Mavericks were 11th in points scored per game and 10th in points allowed per game.
The Jazz are currently third in points scored per game and second in points allowed per game.
All of these teams also have role players who are versatile offensive threats who can create their own shot when necessary and hit timely shots when defenses are focusing on their star player. The Mavericks had guys like Jason Terry and Shawn Marion, who could be shot makers, as well as Jason Kidd who was the ultimate playmaker, even late in his career. The Spurs had guys like Boris Diaw, Danny Green, and the production from the aging Big Three in San Antonio to help Leonard in 2014, and then Leonard was supported again on the Raptors from shot-making from Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam.
For this Utah team, Mitchell obviously serves as the superstar, but he’s surrounded by creative offensive players that can get their shots whenever they want — similar to the teams mentioned before. Not including Mitchell, the Jazz have five other guys averaging double figures this season. One of those guys is Jordan Clarkson who is putting up more than 18 points per contest this season, and making a strong case for the Sixth Man of the Year.
The Jazz have all the ingredients to make a run at the title this season. They are no longer just a hot team, they are a championship contender. The questions surrounding Anthony Davis and his calf/achilles injury, and Brooklyn’s inability to guard anyone, could open the door even wider for Utah to grab a title in this weird COVID season.
This Jazz team is no joke and it’s time to start viewing them as a threat and not just a feel-good story.