The best team in the NBA plays in Utah and only becomes headline news when its two stars become patient zero for a coronavirus.
The Utah Jazz currently sit at 26-6, far and away the best record in the league (every other team has double-digit losses). On Wednesday night, they rolled over the Lakers, limiting LeBron James to 19 points in a dominant 114-89 victory. They have won 22 of their last 24 games.
Quite simply, they are the dominant team that no one is talking about.
“They’re playing like the best team in the league right now,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said after the loss, according to ESPN.
The Jazz beat the Lakers easily with Donovan Mitchell, arguably their best player, having an off night. Mitchell scored 13 points while making just four of his 16 shots, both well below his average of 24.1 points per game and .425 field-goal percentage. Mitchell was named to his second-straight All-Star game, as was Rudy Gobert.
In this dominant 24-game stretch, the Jazz have beaten quality opponents – the Sixers, the Clippers, the Bucks, the Warriors – all by double digits. They have six players who average double-digit points: Mitchell, Gobert, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles. They’re third in points per game (116) and allow the second-fewest points per game on defense (105.9). They’re a complete team without a visible weakness.
The question now is, how far can they go in the postseason? Utah has made the playoffs in four straight years – with a similar cast of characters – but have only won two playoff series in that span. Last year, they bowed out in the first round after a tough, seven-game battle with the Nuggets.
“We see the Jazz, we know they beat our ass tonight,” Lakers forward Markieff Morris said after the loss. “But in the playoffs it’s a different story.”
The Lakers will still be a hurdle, and should have Anthony Davis back for the playoffs should the teams meet again. But for the Jazz, this year feels different. As long as they aren’t peaking too early, this team feels like a true contender.