Before a new week in the NBA tips off, let’s take one more look back at the week that was in the Association!
Hello, and welcome to another edition of Unpack the Week! This is a weekly feature where I take a look at the previous week in the NBA and highlight some of the Association’s top performers!
What did you think of this week in the NBA? Let me know in the comments! Thank you for reading, and be sure to check back each Monday for more Unpack the Week!
TAKEAWAY OF THE WEEK
This week I want to acknowledge a small-market franchise in the West that has made big strides in the past week: the Utah Jazz! The Jazz are currently on an eight-game winning streak, the hottest in the league. This has put them third in the Western Conference, just a half-game behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers.
I already touched on the Jazz a bit in my review of their TNT Thursday win over the New Orleans Pelicans. The big key to their success this season is the fact that they’re a true “3&D” team. Utah leads the league in made three-pointers per game and second in three-point percentage, but are also fourth in defensive rating. A team that can lock opponents down then blitz them from long distance is going to see a lot of success in this league.
Of course, Donovan Mitchell is leading the way. He’s averaging 24.3 points and 5.0 assists per game, both career-highs, as he continues to grow as a star in this league. However, Utah’s success isn’t a one-man show.
For instance, along with Mitchell, the guard-play in general has been great. Fellow starting guard Mike Conley is averaging 16.4 points, 5.9 assists, and shooting 42.2 percent from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, super sub guard Jordan Clarkson is averaging 17.4 points thanks to 40.9 percent three-point shooting and making 24 of his 25 free throw attempts so far this season.
In the frontcourt, Rudy Gobert has been the quintessential man in the middle. His scoring average (12.1 ppg) is his lowest since 2016. However, he’s averaging 13.5 rebounds (tied for career-high) and 2.7 blocks (career-high) per game. Rudy’s production has long been important to Utah’s defensive success, and at 28 years old he continues to be their anchor in the paint.
With Utah doing so well, it’s natural to wonder if this success will be sustainable. I don’t believe their three-point shooting will remain as hot as it is, but their defense definitely scales for the long run. If they stay engaged defensively while shooting at or just above average, they will likely keep themselves among the top six in the Western Conference.
The Jazz have four games coming up this week: hosting the New York Knicks and a two-game series with the Dallas Mavericks, then heading on the road to play the Denver Nuggets. All of these games have the potential to be competitive (yes, even the Knicks game, now that Tom Thibodeau is on the sidelines), but I also wouldn’t be surprised if the Jazz close out the month with their win streak intact. Best of luck to them in that pursuit.
TOP PERFORMERS OF THE WEEK
Weekly Total Leaders
|Statistic||NBA Leader||Rookie Leader||Bench Leader|
|Points||Joel Embiid, 76ers (113)||Immanuel Quickley, Knicks (55)||Kendrick Nunn, Heat (86)|
|Rebounds||Clint Capela, Hawks (60)||Cole Anthony, Magic (22)|
James Wiseman, Warriors (22)
|Nerlens Noel, Knicks (33)|
|Assists||James Harden, Nets (46)||Cole Anthony, Magic (12)||Jordan McLaughlin, Timberwolves (20)|
|Steals||Andre Iguodala, Heat (11)||Devin Vassell, Spurs (7)||Andre Iguodala, Heat (11)|
|Blocks||Clint Capela, Hawks (18)||Isaiah Stewart, Pistons (6)|
Jaden McDaniels, Timberwolves (6)
Onyeka Okongwu, Hawks (6)
|Josh Jackson, Pistons (7)|
|3-Pointers||Wayne Ellington, Pistons (21)||Cole Anthony, Magic (8)|
Devin Vassell, Spurs (8)
Immanuel Quickley, Knicks (8)
|Kendrick Nunn, Heat (12)|
|Double-Doubles||DeAndre Ayton, Suns|
James Harden, Nets (4)
|None||Ivica Zubac, Clippers (2)|
|Triple-Doubles||Aaron Gordon, Magic|
Clint Capela, Hawks
Dejounte Murray, Spurs
James Harden, Nets
Luka Doncic, Mavericks (1)
|Plus/Minus||Mike Conley, Jazz (+89)||Facundo Campazzo, Nuggets (+23)||Monte Morris, Nuggets (+53)|
|Rank||Offensive Rating||Defensive Rating||Net Rating|
|1||Utah Jazz (3-0, 122.2)||Toronto Raptors (3-1, 99.0)||Utah Jazz (3-0, 14.3)|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks (1-2, 118.5)||Los Angeles Clippers (3-0, 100.7)||Los Angeles Clippers (3-0, 12.9)|
|3||Boston Celtics (1-2, 118.0)||Los Angeles Lakers (2-1, 101.6)||Toronto Raptors (3-1, 9.7)|
|4||Philadelphia 76ers (3-0, 117.7)||Denver Nuggets (3-0, 104.3)||Denver Nuggets (3-0, 8.9)|
|5||Brooklyn Nets (2-2, 116.2)||New York Knicks (2-2, 104.4)||Philadelphia 76ers (3-0, 8.7)|
|26||Orlando Magic (1-3, 102.8)||Dallas Mavericks (2-2, 118.3)||Dallas Mavericks (2-2, -7.1)|
|27||Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3, 102.0)||New Orleans Pelicans (0-3, 118.4)||Portland Trail Blazers (1-1, -9.9)|
|28||Minnesota Timberwolves (1-3, 101.0)||Washington Wizards (0-1, 118.6)||New Orleans Pelicans (0-3, -11.2)|
|29||Sacramento Kings (1-1, 100.0)||Brooklyn Nets (2-2, 121.0)||Oklahoma City Thunder (0-3, -12.5)|
|30||Washington Wizards (0-1, 99.0)||Portland Trail Blazers (1-1, 122.7)||Washington Wizards (0-1, -19.6)|