Utah Jazz: Why you shouldn’t sleep on this ball club

Let’s be honest when you talk about title contenders, the Utah Jazz are not the first team that comes to mind. After all, they’ve been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

This season, though, the Jazz are off to a blistering start. Let’s begin the discussion with their overall record. Utah is 23-5, which is the best record in the NBA. Not only have the Jazz won eight straight, but they have also won 19 of their last 20 games overall. To put this into its proper perspective, the Jazz haven’t lost a game since Jan. 6.

Utah Jazz: Making Some Sweet Music with the League’s Best Record

Utah Jazz: Getting It Done on Both Sides of the Ball

While owning the league’s best record is an accomplishment for the Jazz, there’s more to the story. For instance, Utah is one of the top-scoring teams in the association. They are ranked fourth in points per game (115.7) and they have the fourth-best offensive rating (117.5 points per 100 possessions). Last season, the Jazz finished 18th and ninth, respectively, in these categories. The Jazz are also shooting the long ball at a respectable clip, knocking down 39.5 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc.

It has often been said that defense wins championships. Although that sentiment may be somewhat debatable, the Jazz are getting it done at that end of the floor as well.

Entering Tuesday, the Jazz are yielding 106.3 points per outing. This is good enough for the third-best mark in the league. Additionally, Utah has the second-best defensive rating, allowing 108 points per 100 possessions. Furthermore, this team has a 9.5 net rating, which is the best mark in the NBA.

Considering the Jazz are a top-five defensive team, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they have the third-best opponent shooting percentage. They are holding the opposition to 44 percent shooting – the third-best mark in the league.

Contributions Across the Board

Utah also has multiple players who are contributing to the team’s early success. Aside from being a double-digit scorer, Joe Ingles is posting career highs in overall shooting (51.1 percent) and 3-point efficiency (44.2 percent).

Jordan Clarkson is averaging a career-best in points (18.2) and rebounds (4.1). Clarkson is also shooting 38.5 percent from beyond the arc — the second-highest conversion rate of his career. Mike Conley is Utah’s third-leading scorer (16.5 points per outing) while converting 41 percent of his attempts from long range.

It should also be mentioned how well Donovan Mitchell has been playing this season. Mitchell has been a 20-point per game scorer since he entered the league. On top of that, he has increased his scoring average each season. In his fourth season with Utah, Mitchell has posted career-highs in points (24.2) and 3-point shooting (39.2 percent). Mitchell is also averaging a career-high in assists (5.1). Given all these factors, the Jazz have proven they are a team to be reckoned with.

Whether the Jazz can sustain their level of play remains to be seen. At the same time, there is little room for debate that this is one of the best teams in the league. Right now, Utah is hitting on all cylinders.

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