By Mark Milligan Jr
Nov. 3, 2018
Frustrations abound, and the 22 year old Utah Jazz star tweets a single word…
Yet another symbol of Donovan Mitchell’s maturity and leadership of his team and Jazz Nation as a whole. We as fans tend to live in the moment, forgetting that a season is a long time and zeroed in on our own team’s successes and struggles, almost as if other good teams in the league aren’t experiencing turmoil or worries as well. (Take a look at the Rockets, or the Thunder, or the T-Wolves and the Butler saga, or the Lakers… shall I go on?)
The season has only just begun. The Jazz are 0-3 at home, but all three of those losses came at the hands of two teams that are playing particularly well. The Golden State Warriors, the best in the league (if not history) handed us a one point loss to kick off the season. The Memphis Grizzlies, expected to be a poor team by Western Conference standards, are 5-2 to start the season, not to mention they have always matched up particularly well against Utah.
So does that mean we throw in the towel for the rest of the year? Do we start talking about lineup changes and trades? How much longer before we start talking about tanking? It sounds a little silly when you consider that the Jazz didn’t make their historic turnaround last season until late January.
The fact is, Mitchell is right. A little patience is all that is needed right now. It’s simply a matter of time before things turn around. In the words of Rudy Gobert, “We will be fine.”
Game 9: Denver Nuggets
Denver is supposed to be a playoff team, but I think even the state of Colorado is surprised to see their team 7-1 already. The surprise has been on the defensive end. Last season, the Nuggets landed 6th in the league with an offensive rating of 112.5 but were 25th in the league on the other side of the court with a defensive rating of 111.0.
So we knew their offense would likely be good again, and Denver fans hoped for an improvement on the defensive end, but to leap from 25th to 3rd thus far – with a D-rtg of 103.7 – is something that no one could have predicted! Of course, only 8 games into the season, I expect their defensive rating to fall back down to earth a tad, but clearly Micheal Malone and his defensive-minded assistant, Wes Unseld Jr., have found something that works.
If I’m being realistic, I don’t expect tonight’s game to help the patience issue I mentioned earlier. The Nuggets are playing the best ball in recent history and to the untrained eye it may seem as though the Jazz are in a slump. With coming off a disappointing loss last night and an injury report that is slowly getting more and more ominous, let’s hope that at the very least, tonight’s game will be the equivalent of last season’s game in Atlanta, the rock bottom that gives the Jazz something to push off from.
Then again, all of Utah’s losses are explainable. If it wasn’t for a last second tip-in by Jonas Jerebko and a miraculous 50 point game from Derrick Rose, the Jazz would be 6-2 with their only losses coming from a Grizzlies team that Gobert (and in one case a Spida-less Jazz team) tend to struggle with. So despite tonight’s back-to-back and injury woes, there’s always the chance that Donovan Mitchell returns to spark new life and an opportunity to stick it to the lazy former Jazzman, Trey Lyles and company (with all due respect to the still-beloved Paul Millsap). Let’s not count our Jazz out before the game begins. Patience.
*Featured image via USA TODAY Sports
*All stats via Basketball-Reference.com