Utah Jazz, will you fail the Wembanyama Race?
The Utah Jazz won 110-102 in an away game against the LA Clippers in the 2022-2023 NBA regular season at Crypto Dotcom Arena in LA, California on the 6th. With this, Utah won two consecutive games.
Utah Jazz, which has failed in the playoffs in recent seasons, has begun a major rebuilding under the leadership of Danny Age. Like the league’s best giants, the president of AGE gave up one-two punches of the team, including Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, to secure enormous future assets and spurred the rebuilding.
As a result, many predicted that Utah will naturally join the Victor Wembanyama nomination race, which is considered a French supernova this season. However, when the season begins, Utah players are refusing to become a tanking team.
Since the opening game, Utah has won against Denver Nuggets, where back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic endured and Jamal Murray and Michael Potter Jr. returned, and has continued to rise since then, currently ranking second in the Western Conference with eight wins and three losses.
Even though the team’s main players, including one-two punch Mitchell, Gobert, and three-option Bojan Bogdanovic, were all transferred, what was the driving force behind the early sensation by overpowering the contender team in a row?
Above all, Utah Jazz players are playing altruistic basketball, “one more step.” There is no super ace, but transferred players such as Kelly Olinik, Jordan Clarkson, and Laurie Makanen and Colin Sexton are doing their part well, centering on veteran Mike Conley. In the meantime, he tried to stabilize the offense and defense, and the team was connected in a favorable manner.
In fact, Utah’s upward trend is proven not only through gains and losses but also through detailed indicators. This season, Utah is ranked ninth in the Offensive Racing League (114.1) and eighth in the Defensive Racing League (109). Of the Western teams, only two teams, the Phoenix Suns and Utah, ranked in the top 10 in both categories. Coincidentally, the two teams are ranked first and second in the west.
Bench productivity is also outstanding. Utah ranks second behind San Antonio Spurs (466 points) in the bench scoring category, boasting the best bench productivity in the league. Sexton, a transfer player, scored an average of 13.6 points, raising Utah’s bench productivity to the top of the league.
In modern basketball, which values space creation, ‘three-point shots’ are an indispensable element for victory. Utah, along with the Boston Celtics and Golden State Warriors, is best following the tactical trends demanded by modern basketball in the league. In fact, Utah is in the top three in both three-point attempts and the number of successes.(*Yuta tried 40.3 3-pointers and succeeded 14.8 times, 36.8% success rate) In the match against the Clippers, Utah scored 15 3-pointers with a 37.5% probability, which was a big driving force for the victory.
Makanen’s surprising reversal is also indispensable. Although he is not a super ace player, it is Makanen who led Utah’s early rise. McCannan, who joined the Chicago Bulls through the 2017 draft, is a stretch-type big man whose growth has been somewhat stagnant due to injury.
Because of this, he has been reduced to a jersey man who moves teams around in trade. Ahead of the 2021-2022 season, he left Chicago through a triangular trade and moved to Cleveland, and a year later, he built a new nest in Utah through a trade.
It has been disappointing and disappointing, but in Utah, it seems that its skills are finally in full bloom. Makanen has established himself as Utah’s 1 option, recording an average of 22.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 51.5% of fieldwork success rate in 10 games, including that day. Based on his performance, he is considered the strongest candidate for the MIP (Technical Development Award) at the beginning of the season.
You’re doing a lot better than I thought. That’s why I’m worried. Due to the unexpected good performance, Utah is at a crossroads over Winnow’s rebuilding. To date, the move looks a little closer to Yunnau. It is necessary to wait and see what kind of moves Utah will show in the future.