The Utah Jazz are finally home after a road trip that included losses to Cleveland, Miami and Orlando and a victory over Atlanta. A 1-3 record over the course of a road trip is hardly anything to write home about and 5-5 overall isn’t necessarily special, but beyond the wins and loss columns, there is more than meets the eye. So what have we learned about the Jazz thus far?
As obvious as that may seem, watching the Jazz play without Gobert during part of the road trip was painful at times. The defense is clearly designed to funnel opposing players to the rim so Gobert can swallow up any shots. While extremely effective when the Frenchman is on the court, this strategy is not as potent when Gobert is off the court. There were stretches when the Jazz wings would force opposing players to the basket, which resulted in easy shots without Gobert on the court. Derrick Favors can clearly hold his own and more on defense but early foul trouble plagued him for parts of this road trip, making Gobert’s absence even more noticeable. If Utah plans to play in the postseason, they need Rudy Gobert.
Through 10 games, has there been a player more impressive than Derrick Favors on this Jazz roster? Allow me to answer: no, there has not. Take a look at this stat line: 15.8 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.2 steals and 1.7 blocks per game. Favors has been astounding on both ends of the floor. He’s extremely disruptive on defense, particularly in the passing lanes. In a category usually dominated by point guards and wing defenders, Favors ranks fifth in the league in steals. It’s improbable the big man continues to rank that high as the season progresses, but the fact he is so high even at this point is impressive. His ability to handle being switched onto smaller and quicker players makes it easy to leave him in when teams attempt to go small against the Jazz, and his strength and polish on the offensive end make it even easier to punish those teams for trying to go small. Derrick Favors is elite.
If the Jazz have two incredible bigs making up your front court, who should play alongside them? Well, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Rodney Hood, of course! I would try and dazzle you all with an endless stream of statistics, but why would I do that when someone much smarter than I tweeted out the best stat of them all? (Thanks, Ben “The Checkmark” Dowsett!)
85 5-man lineups have played 25+ mins this year leaguewide. Net rating for Burks-Hood-Hayward-Favors-Gobert (+40.6) is 4th among them.
— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) November 16, 2015
The triple wing, with Favors and Gobert, give the Jazz the best chance of winning — which makes sense since these are the five best players on the team. The playmaking skills of Burks, Hood and Hayward, in addition to their size on defense, makes this such a dangerous lineup. As the season goes on, and Utah finds itself in critical games with playoff implications, this lineup will be even more important.