The Utah Jazz are trending in the wrong direction

NBA Utah Jazz Donovan Mitchell (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
NBA Utah Jazz Donovan Mitchell (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Utah Jazz is quickly trending in the wrong direction. 

By any measure, the Utah Jazz have been one of the best regular-season teams in the NBA ever since Rudy Gobert jokingly coughed on microphones during a press conference right before the NBA shut down due to a global pandemic.

Last season, Utah posted the league’s best record with the third-best offensive rating and fourth-best defensive rating. This season, the Jazz have the best offensive rating (116.1)and best effective shooting percentage (55.7) in the association.

Their franchise cornerstones — Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert — each were selected to the All-Star game and are both playing well enough to be on an All-NBA team. Utah has an established system and one of the best homecourt advantages in the league. And yet, it feels as if the world is falling apart for Jazz fans.

This year’s Jazz are inarguably going in the wrong direction. They feel far more likely bound for another early playoff exit than smoothing out their issues in time for the playoffs.

Utah started the season off looking like the team that finished with the best record in the NBA just a season ago. They looked hungry to avenge their embarrassing playoff exit to the LA Clippers in the second round. Then, the calendar year shifted to 2022 and everything flipped upside down for the Jazz.

Utah has a record of 19-22 since the start of 2022, as opposed to their 26-9 record in 2021 of this season. They are currently on a five-game losing streak and have posted a 6-9 record over their past 15 games. Losses include a 34-point loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a 28-point loss to the Boston Celtics and, most recently, a six-point loss to the Clippers in which the Jazz blew a 25-point lead.

After the Clippers loss, Donovan Mitchell expressed his frustrations during his post-game interviews.

"“I don’t know. It’s the same s***. I don’t know, it feels the same way. It’s the same thing, it’s literally the same thing. I had six turnovers, turned the ball over too much, we didn’t get back on defense, we didn’t rebound. I don’t know, I don’t have anything for you right now.”"

Rudy Gobert also had some striking comments after the loss.

A year ago at this time, the Jazz were the best team in the league and were the favorite to reach the NBA Finals out of the Western Conference. Today, the Jazz sit in sixth place in the West, with a real chance to slip into the play-in game if they don’t turn things around.

Their issues are the same ones they’ve had over the past few years. They struggle against small-ball lineups, are extremely thin at the wing position and don’t have any scoring threats other than Mitchell and Jordan Clarkson. They are also a mediocre halfcourt offensive team which is a major problem because everything slows down in the playoffs.

There is clearly something broken about this basketball team’s chemistry, considering their lack of fight, the team’s tendency to blow big leads, and the peculiar relationship between Gobert and Mitchell. A five-game losing streak is one thing. Every team goes through their ups and downs over the course of an NBA season. But things have been on a downward tick going on three months now.

I don’t see the Jazz making any kind of a run in the playoffs based on how poorly they match up against their possible playoff opponents: the Dallas Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors and the Memphis Grizzlies. And once they get booted in the playoffs, it’s hard to imagine the Jazz front office wanting to run it back with Mitchell and Gobert.

Next. The Miami Heat prove they are still contenders. dark

Only time will tell how things will shake out in Utah, but one thing’s for sure: Things will have to change for the Utah Jazz if they want to compete for a championship.