The Utah Jazz currently sit in the 8th seed of the Western Conference at the halfway point of the season! The West is known to be the much stronger conference, and 8 of the 15 teams in the west are below 500 for the season at this stage; One of which is the Jazz with a record of 17-22 for the season.
Despite the negative record, they do sit in the 8th playoff seed, and although this would match them up against the Golden State Warriors in the 1st round of the Western Conference playoffs, it’s a massive step for Utah. The Jazz have not been in the playoffs since 2012, so just to be in there would be something to cherish for the Utah fans.
Now Utah aren’t one of the bigger league franchises, and it’s not a place that the so called ‘superstars’ look to take their game too. However, something is clicking. They have loyal, committed players who work well together, and they get results!
Gordon Hayward does not get the credit he deserves. He is a very talented small forward. The 25 year old is nowhere to be seen among the western forwards in the latest all-star return, which perhaps hints that the league are not noticing what he is doing in Utah.
The stats don’t lie. Hayward is averaging 19.4 ppg, which is in the top 25 in the league. He also is coming up with 5 rebounds and 3 assists, as well as one steal per game. The small forward is a consistent and reliable scorer, and his style suits the Jazz, teaming up with Derrick Favors, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert to rack up wins.
Hayward has had some big scoring nights already this season, putting up 33 points at Staples Centre in a win against the Clippers back in November. One month later he scored 28 against the Clippers at home, they lost that one though. Just last week Gordon scored 34 points in a home win against Dwayne Wade’s Miami Heat; and the night after he scored 25 points in the win at Staples Centre, this time against the Lakers.
Although the Jazz are 26th in the league for ppg (96.2), they are 26th in the league for opponent points per game, holding opponents to only 96.9 points per game.
So not the best scoring teams, but certainly one of the best defences in the league. The defensive style is clearly effective, with their current record placing them 8th in the west.
26th in PPG, 25th in rebounds, and 30th in assists. But the Jazz are in a playoff seed. With those stats, can they stay there?