We are right smack in the middle of NBA action, and the Utah Jazz, fresh off a week long All-Star break, are clinging onto the the 8th seed in the western conference with a .500 record of 28-28. This comes after a strong seven game win-streak before the break, pushing themselves back into playoff contention.
Early season struggles could be attributed to extended losses of starters Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, and versatile sixth man Alec Burks. This on top of the preseason news that Dante Exum, the young starting point guard for the Jazz, would be out for the whole year with an ACL injury.
These injuries took a toll on a team that had a promising start to the season. The Jazz went 7-11 from December 2 to January 7 in games without Gobert; a disappointing outing for a team trying to make the playoffs.
Now with Gobert and Favors back in the starting lineup, the Jazz hope to build on a 7-1 streak before the All-Star break. With 30 games left in the regular season, the Jazz are in a tight playoff race with the Portland Trail Blazers, who sit at 7th in the West with a record of 30-27, and the Houston Rockets, who are at 9th, one below the Jazz, with a record of 28-29.
While the Jazz did not have any players selected to play in the All-Star game, three young players were chosen to play in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, a game for first and second year players viewed as promising for the future. The players selected were second-year player Rodney Hood, who has been averaging 19.8 points per game in the month of February; Trey Lyles, the Jazz’ first-round pick out of Kentucky, who had some strong showings playing forward in Derrick Favors absence; and Raul Neto, the Jazz rookie point guard out of Brazil who has been starting in place of the injured Dante Exum. In the game, which pits American players against players from foreign countries, Rodney Hood scored 11 points for the American team. Trey Lyles had two points, and Raul Neto dished out nine assists for the World team.
The Jazz also made a move before the trade deadline, sending a future second-round draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks for point guard Shelvin Mack. The trade has so far proven to be a good deal for the Jazz, as Mack has averaged 15 points per game since his debut for the Jazz.
With all the promising young talent and they’re injured players back on the starting lineup, the Jazz have a lot of anticipation for the rest of the season. You can catch the Jazz in action on ROOT Sports.