Utah’s defense-first, selfless, ensemble style of basketball kept on rolling Friday night, right through Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks — the Jazz had four players score at least 25 points in a 129-115 win. The Jazz have now won 17-of-18 and sit atop the West with the best record in the NBA.
Antetokounmpo was impressed. Via Eric Woodyard of ESPN:
Antetokounmpo said they’re the “best team in the West.”…
“It just looks fun. Like when I watch them play, it looks fun, it looks easy,” Antetokounmpo said. “It looks simple. For sure, they look like us last year, and man, when you’re at that point and you’re playing with that confidence, you’re hard to beat for sure.”
High praise. The Bucks were the best regular season team in the NBA last season, but the Jazz are looking for a better playoff outcome.
Utah has the third-best offense and defense in the NBA so far this season, the only team in the top-five in both categories in the NBA, and the Jazz lead the league in net rating (+9.5 per 100 possessions). Rudy Gobert appears the early frontrunner for his third Defensive Player of the Year award, Donovan Mitchell is playing at an All-Star level, and Jordan Clarkson will be in the mix for Sixth Man of the Year. Also, keep that top seed in the West and Quin Snyder will draw a lot of Coach of the Year attention.
Critics and Lakers fans will ask, “but can they do it in the playoffs?” Are the Jazz title contenders?
It’s a legitimate question, but not one the Jazz can answer now. The only way to prove you can win in the postseason is to win in the postseason. That starts in May.
For now, a third of the way into the season, the Jazz have looked like the best team in the NBA. Just ask Antetokounmpo.