Jazz
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There have many surprises during the 2022-23 season, but there has been no bigger surprise than the Utah Jazz. A team that many pegged to be one of the worst teams in the league this season, the Jazz have one of the best records. Currently sitting at 10-3, the Jazz have shocked the doubters. Traded as a part of the package for Donovan Mitchell, Lauri Markkanen has looked like he’ll be an All-Star this season. Markkanen is currently averaging a career-high in points per game, assists per game, and blocks per game. Another important piece of the trade for Mitchell, Colin Sexton is putting up a 14.6 PPG off the bench. Another key player for the Jazz has been Jordan Clarkson. The sixth man for his first three years with the Jazz, Clarkson is nearly averaging a career-high as a starter. On Wednesday night, the Jazz beat the Atlanta Hawks 125-119, led by Markkanen’s 32 points. He shot six of eight from the three-point line and was perfect from the free-throw line. Jordan Clarkson put up an additional 23 points and was also perfect from the charity stripe. 

 

The Jazz have impressed on both sides of the court this season. Offensively, Utah has the second-highest overall offensive rating. The Jazz have shown they are one of the best three-point shooting teams, averaging nearly 15 three-pointers made per game while shooting 37% as a team. The team currently sits second in overall points per game. On the defensive end, the Jazz have the eighth overall defensive rating. Utah is third overall in team steals per game, averaging 8.9 per game.

 

While Utah’s stats have been impressive thus far this season, they have had a mix of opponent quality. In the nine games, they have won so far this season, they have beaten both L.A. teams, Memphis, Denver, New Orleans, Minnesota, Atlanta, and Houston. Four of their five wins have been by six or fewer points. At the same time, four of their wins have been double-digit wins, including two 20+ point wins. Utah has been able to compete and beat playoff and possible contending teams in Denver and Memphis. 

 

Can Utah keep up their play though? Looking at the rest of November, the Jazz will be playing against numerous playoff teams and possible contenders including the Warriors, Suns, and Trailblazers. Facing the defending champions in addition to some of the best teams in the West will be a big test for the Jazz in the early part of this season. The starters have impressed so far this season and the bench has been one of the more reliable benches in the league. The Jazz have made believers out of those who doubted them. With several Western Conference teams playing below expectations, it’s the Jazz could remain towards the top of the Western Conference heading into the new year.

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