This year’s season has had its handful of surprises. One thing is for sure though: the Utah Jazz aren’t conforming to the current ways of the NBA.
What does that mean? Well, it means they don’t build a super team and they work with what they have. They’ve drafted well, and they’ve gradually gotten better.
Above all, they’ve outlasted all other competition and have the best record in the league. In this article, TGH is taking a look into what makes the Utah Jazz so special, and what their future looks like in the pursuit of a championship.
Small Market, No Problem
The Jazz are one of the core small market groups that have consistently found success. From the days of John Stockton and Karl Malone, to Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, and now Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, they find success in drafting and trading for stars to make a dynamic duo.
The Jazz have perhaps the most “original” line-up of players in the league today. Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Royce O’Neale, Joe Ingles and Georges Niang are all players the Jazz have drafted and remain on the roster. Not to mention, all of these players are playing a big part in Utah’s success this season. Another notable player, although not drafted by the Jazz, is Derrick Favors, who’s the longest tenured Jazz player.
So, it’s clear that free agency hasn’t been great for Utah. It doesn’t matter though. They found a way and are making it work.
Development of Stars
As mentioned above, it’s clear the Jazz draft well. But their player development is key. That’s evident in the players that Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have become. Mitchell is an emerging superstar and Gobert has cemented himself as one of the best centers in the league.
Donovan Mitchell has been an all-star the last two seasons. His numbers have improved every season since his rookie year in 2017. For anyone that watched the NBA Bubble last summer, his explosion this year isn’t a surprise.
Some of the impressive feats include setting a team record for most three-pointers made in a playoff series. He also put up 51 points in game four against the Nuggets in the opening round of the playoffs.
As for Rudy Gobert, his rise to stardom is different. He’s also a two-time all-star, last season and this season. He’s also won back-to-back defensive player of the year awards. Gobert has cemented himself the best rim protector in the league. Makes sense why he’s known as “The Stifle Tower”.
A Relationship Replenished
The biggest reason that people are surprised about the Jazz success is because it seemed that Donovan Mitchell’s and Rudy Gobert’s relationship was ruined.
The reason for this goes back to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rudy Gobert, who had played COVID as a joke, eventually tested positive and gave Mitchell the virus. The NBA shutdown happened, which eventually led to the Bubble. Then the Jazz lost to the Nuggets in game seven in the opening round of the playoffs.
What looked like a good relationship between Gobert and Mitchell became stained. There were even offseason rumors about a possible departure for Gobert.
The Jazz clearly decided to fix the issues between the two and now it’s back to where it used to be.
“We had a very honest conversation, and that’s all I needed,” Gobert told Sam Amick of The Athletic. “You know, after that, once I knew that I told him everything that was on my mind and I heard everything that was on his mind, I knew that we could move forward. I’m not going to disclose all that, but I knew that once we (had that conversation) we could move forward.”
The Jazz have defied the odds. They’ve dealt with adversity and drama that has happened in the league and the world within the last year. But the Jazz’s journey doesn’t stop there. They still have a job to do. They’ll continue to do what they do best: win as the underdog.
All stats were taken from ESPN.com and basketballreference.com.
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