Utah Searching for Identity of their TeamPosted by: Anthony Yaylor
The Utah Jazz didn’t enter the 2016-17 season with the best NBA betting odds, but amongst the non-superstar teams the Jazz had some of the highest expectations and odds of the bunch. Entering the season the Jazz were brimming with young talent and endless possibility and many fans expected Utah to be one of this year’s breakout teams. Sure they weren’t coming off a season that ended in a playoff finish, but many critics were confident that the only reason the Jazz missed the playoffs last season was because of injury, instead of a lack of talent. Needless to say, Utah were coming into this season with high hopes, but now that we’ve gotten a good look at them, were those hopes in vain?
From what we’ve seen, they sort of have been. Right now Utah is sitting on a lackluster 7-5 record and the top rated sportsbooks are hesitant to paint the Jazz as the favorites in their contests. In fact, Utah’s start has been such a letdown that fans are starting to pay attention less and less, choosing to focus instead on the early season success of the Atlanta Hawks and the Charlotte Hornets. Currently, Utah ranks 6th in the NBA for defensive rating and 15th in offensive rating. It’s still way too early in the season to call the Jazz a disappointment, but adjustments can be made to improve their playoff chances. Luckily for the Jazz, their players aren’t too worried about their struggles.
“We have a lot of weapons and a lot of guys that can score points.” Gordon Hayward stated to the media. “I don’t think we’ll have any problem scoring. I think we’re going to have to make sure that we’re good defensively. That’s going to be our calling card. That’s who we gotta be”
The NBA betting odds aren’t ruling out a playoff finish for Utah, but they aren’t exactly predicting it. Hayward’s statements make it obvious that this team is confident about its defense, but who are the weapons that Hayward refers to? In their game against the Knicks roughly a week ago, it was forward Rodney Hood who was behind most of Utah’s offense. Hood is a talented offensive option who makes 42.4% or his 3-pointers, but calling Hood their #1 option would be a little misguided. Hayward leads Utah in usage rate by a considerable amount, and in reality the Jazz may not have a #1 guy. Rather, the strength of this team relies in their various options.
This Thursday night, Utah will get another chance to prove the offensive merits of their team when they welcome the Chicago Bulls into the Vivint Smart Home Arena. Considering how many 3s Dwayne Wade has been draining recently, the NBA betting odds are likely to favor Chicago. In the end, the Jazz will get to demonstrate the ferocity of their defense and prove that they are capable of scoring as well.