The Utah Jazz are 18-11, solidly in sixth in the West, and yet the first third of the season has felt like a disappointment. This was a team some (including myself) believed to be a legitimate title contender with the apparent roster upgrades they made this offseason, but to this point they haven’t been able to get everyone healthy and on the same page.
The good news is Utah is riding a five-game win streak at the moment, beating teams they’re supposed to, most recently the Hawks and Hornets, ahead of a fairly big week of games that includes the Heat, Blazers, and Clippers. That will provide a quality measuring stick for the Jazz as they head into 2020, and they are the first team we are looking at in our Holiday Wishlist series, as we take stock of each team heading into the new year and what they should be hoping for this holiday season, both internally and with possible roster changes.
With the Jazz it’s pretty simple, they’ve got to get everyone on the same page, particularly on offense, and figure out how to take advantage of all their weapons. I laid out the numerous problems facing the Jazz a little over a week ago, and the basic gist is, the ball isn’t moving enough, the flow is off, and they’re not getting shots in the places you want to, namely, ranking 17th in the NBA in shot attempts at the rim at 34.8 percent.
Utah has too many good offensive players to be as average as they are on that side of the floor, and the answer seems to mostly be building that trust with one another and being more willing to play off of each other. There have been glimpses of it and over this recent win streak they’ve been better on that end, but they need to sustain that kind of play and be able to have success with various lineups. A big part of getting to that point will be our second item on the Utah wishlist.
#2: A Healthy Mike Conley Returning To Form
Conley’s struggles this season have been well-documented, as he’s been downright abysmal shooting the ball at just about every level of the floor. He’s had trouble getting to the rim, finishing at the rim when he gets there, and his once reliable floater hasn’t been falling despite a tremendous number of attempts from the close midrange area. Conley is currently on the shelf with a hamstring injury that he re-aggravated and will cause him to sit on the bench once again, and with Utah playing fairly well in his absence they should be extra cautious with an injury as fickle as a hamstring.
As big a reason for that is they need him to be confident going to the basket and get back to playing the ball that made him a star in Memphis. When he and Mitchell have shared the court this season, …read more