The Key to the Jazz’s Surprising Success


By Lucas Lomuntad, Assistant Reporter

With 27 wins and 9 losses so far in the course of the NBA season, the Utah Jazz have emerged as a surprising leader in the Western Conference, and even the NBA in its whole. Is it too early in the season to be paying special attention to a team such as the Jazz? Probably, however the team has very quietly demanded attention. Led by all-star shooting guard, Donovan Mitchell and all-star defensive center, Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have a strong duo to lead their team. Although not matching the star power of other duos in the West such as, the Clipper’s Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Sun’s Chris Paul and Devin Booker, and of course the Laker’s LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Jazz have maintained an advantage over their counterparts due to an often overlooked factor, inspired play by the bench, especially by Jordan Clarkson, and play by veteran point guard and first time all-star Mike Conley.

The influence of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert should not be understated. They are certainly the main contributing factors to the Jazz’s success. Mitchell has averaged 24.5 points a game on 43.0 percent field goal shooting along while logging in 5.2 assists a game. Gobert has averaged 13.9 points a game on 64.0 percent field goal shooting, along with 13.5 rebounds a game. However, Sixth-Man-of-the-Year frontrunner, Jordan Clarkson, has provided the team his fair share of spark and flash. Under the mentorship of veteran guard, Mike Conley, Clarkson has averaged 18.3 points on 45.7 percent field goal shooting, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists. Although spending years still maturing the league, making him far from being a rookie, the NBA world has been surprised by Clarkson’s breakout this season. Recently logging in 40 points against the Eastern Conference leaders, the Philadelphia 76ers, and leading the Jazz in the win.

In an interview provided by the NBA website, Clarkson said, “The biggest thing for me is them believing in me… Letting me be myself and embracing me just plays a role in who I am. That gives me confidence. Those guys always come over to the bench and tell me to keep shooting, even when I’m having an off night, even when I’m hot. They’re telling me to shoot the ball no matter what.” This interview truly highlights the comradery of the Utah Jazz. In the age of superstars almost running their teams themselves and making their own decisions, it is often difficult to recognize how a team succeeds not just by its stars, but by how the members of the team learn to work together. The play of Jordan Clarkson is almost symbolic of what this should look like. A young kid who has struggled throughout his first couple years in his league, is now a crucial piece to a first place team. The Utah Jazz are not a super team by any sense of the phrase. However, it is easy to recognize that the way the team treats each other is the way they are continuing to win. Sure, Donovan Mitchell could carry the whole team on his back and lead them to a couple wins, which he has done in the past, but the way the team continues to win is by recognizing the talent that is spread throughout.