The Utah Jazz are the ultimate mid-level NBA team. They had great success in the nineties due to the great John Stockton and Karl ‘The Mailman’ Malone, getting within touching distance of the sweet NBA Championship rings, but were simply not good enough to beat Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, flu and all.
Since then, at best, they’ve been losing out in the playoffs, most notably suffering back-to-back defeats to the Houston Rockets in 2018 & 2019 and a Western Conference final defeat to the eventual champions, San Antonio Spurs, back in 2007. Now, though, they’ve got a team to be proud of.
Led by the Western’s All-Star coach Quin Snyder, Rudy Gobert is part of the dynamic duo that is the ‘Stifle Tower & Spider-Man’, with Donovan Mitchell leading the points-scoring for the Jazz this year. The side lead the NBA with 25 wins and six losses, with the closest team on their tail being Kawhi Leonard’s Los Angeles Clippers, who’ve lost the same amount of matches in the last month as the Jazz have all season.
Part of Utah’s success comes from above the court, with the successful re-signing of Jordan Clarkson on a four-year-deal in particular looking like a great move - the former Cleveland guard looking like a shoo-in for the Sixth Man of the Year award. They also took a gamble paying the big bucks for Gobert, which has certainly paid off. He might have the biggest contract a centre has ever got in the history of the NBA, but on current form, he’s easily one of the top three in the league.
Mitchell is running slightly above average points-per-game and is keen to turn his All-Star reserve status into an All-Star starter by this time next year, and this is a player who only signed a five-year supermax contract after he left his rookie contract in the summer. There’s a reason why he shares the record of most 50+ point games in a playoff series with Michael Jordan and Allen Iverson. He’s going to be a star in the NBA for the coming years and Utah might just benefit from that, with a great coach and solid team.
Utah Jazz face Lebron’s out-of-form LA Lakers tomorrow morning if you’re a UK-based NBA fan and will be live on Sky Sports Main Event from 3am. Don’t miss it as it’ll surely be a key test in what could be a potentially great season for the Utah-outfit.