The Jazz are finally getting hit with harsh reality after blazing hot start

The Utah Jazz started the season strong, going 5-2 in October. They followed that by winning five of their first six games in November. Since then, however, they have quietly lost five of their last seven games. They now sit in 4th place in the Western Conference. Here we will look at how the Jazz are finally getting hit with harsh reality after their blazing hot start to the 2022-23 season.

The Jazz were supposed to tank this season. They were among the teams projected to be dirt awful in 2022-23 so they could have a shot at obtaining French wunderkind Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 NBA Draft.

Their off-season moves pretty much supported that notion. Recall that they moved a few key contributors during the summer. This included no less than star guard Donovan Mitchell and their erstwhile French slotman, Rudy Gobert. These indicated that a club known for constantly fielding successful teams appeared to be in an unusual rebuilding mode at the start of the season.

Surprisingly, however, the Jazz started their 2022-23 campaign strong and were even able to vault themselves to the top spot in the tough Western Conference last week. However, it appears that they have just returned crashed back to earth. As of this writing, the Jazz have dropped five of their previous seven games, which included defeats to both the Pistons and the Knicks.

Are these signs that Salt Lake City alarm bells need to ring? Should this slump trigger a huge deal before the trade deadline? Or should the Jazz just let the cards fall where they may since they should be tanking anyway?

Of course, we cannot forget that an NBA season is full of surprises. Teams will win some games that they should lose and vice versa. However, losing games at home that they should easily win usually does not bode well. To illustrate, the Jazz let a winnable game slip away on Wednesday night.

Those who claimed the Utah Jazz’s hot start was too good to be true appear to have had their case strengthened after their 125-116 loss to the Pistons. Because of this latest defeat, some may believe that the early-season shine on this team has worn off. They may think that the bottom has dropped out.

The Jazz’ pre-Thanksgiving loss had some particularly bad signs. They started the game flat and just lacked the collective enthusiasm we’ve come to expect from them. The Pistons, on the other hand, came in with an incredibly aggressive game plan and quickly claimed their sixth victory of the season.

The Jazz must be disappointed because the Pistons are ranked dead last in the Eastern Conference with a team record of 5-15 and an average of 109 points per game. Despite that, the Jazz allowed them to score 125 points in this outing.

Malik Beasley’s 29 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists led five Jazz players in double-figures. The Pistons also had five players in double-digits, highlighted by former Jazzman Bojan Bogdanovic’s 23 points, five rebounds, three assists, and a steal. The latter clearly had vengeance on his mind, and he delivered it cold. Alec Burks, interestingly another former Utah stalwart, also did well. He scored 18 points and hit a three-pointer in the fourth quarter to help the Pistons win.

This defeat highlighted the Jazz’s inability to win following Mike Conley, Jr.’s injury. Since suffering a knee injury against the Portland Trail Blazers, Utah’s seasoned floor general has been severely missed. In spurts, the Jazz appeared disjointed in their half-court sets, and the lack of a true point guard on the floor seems to be taking its toll.

Remember that the Utah Jazz are a quarter of the way through their 82-game season and remain in the top half of the Western Conference as of this writing. So, what is the next step for this team? There are so many variables here that could affect the outcome.

Looking ahead, the Jazz have a difficult run to close out November. On Sunday, they face the reigning champs, followed by the Suns the next day. This is one of the most punishing back-to-back sets of the season. They will play their final game of the month against the Bulls. Utah cannot underestimate this team after the Bulls beat the Celtics and the Bucks back-to-back.

So many questions still abound for this team.

How much time will Conley actually miss? Will the Jazz field any trade offers that they can’t refuse before the deadline? Do they take the initiative in trying to negotiate upgrades before the deadline? This season, how will the development of their young guys play out? Is the team slipping? Will they commit to a playoff push or slide back into the Wembanyama sweepstakes?

In an NBA season, a lot can happen and change, but we believe the Jazz should not make too many drastic decisions. The team is still in a solid position and should not overreact to anything. The team has clearly shown promise. This would be an excellent season to ride things out and simply go as far as they can before assessing the situation in the offseason of 2023.

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