The Utah Jazz currently own the best record in the NBA at 15-4, but you wouldn’t know that because NBA Twitter and mainstream sports social media platforms only want what’s trendy.
Look, I’ll cut straight to the chase and say my love for the Association has all but vanished. Yes, Cameron Richardson, who had an absolute blast playing basketball as a child to coaching it in high school, doesn’t care for the NBA anymore. He once had major aspirations of competing for NBA rings, but that dream vanished fast and the entertainment of the league seemed to have gone with it.
Now, basketball is still phenomenal at the high school and college levels because of players’ willingness to fight for wins when they are playing to reach a goal. In recent years, when players get to the NBA, that’s really the dream accomplished for them and they shut it down after thanks to loaded contracts and all the fame they could ever dream of.
The NBA is no longer a league that can be won in the draft and you are crazy to believe the Oklahoma City Thunder are set to be great in the future with their abundance of future draft picks. Just look at the two LA franchises in the Lakers and Clippers. The Lakers sold their soul to get LeBron James and Anthony Davis — they won the title in their first year together. The Clippers fell apart in the bubble, but Paul George is having an MVP-caliber season to begin the 2020-21 season.
While my love for the Clippers will never fade, they still have the same disgusting problem as the Lakers — they are bought and paid for.
The Lakers sold draft picks in Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart to the New Orleans Pelicans to nab Davis. The Clippers could’ve had a solidified core of Eric Bledsoe, Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan to possibly win a title with, but they got greedy and took Chris Paul after the Lakers tried purchasing him. The “Lob City” era was fun, but all it came with was pain and underachieving seasons year in and year out.
In 2018-19, the Clippers had their future brewing with the sensational Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, but Steve Ballmer sold him to the Thunder to nab Kawhi Leonard and George.
Champions can only be bought in the NBA and it’s a damn shame, which is why you should be rooting for the Jazz among only a handful of teams that are trying to win the right way. The only others included on this list are the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
Utah will be the focus since they are on an absolute tear right now, but if I wasn’t looking at the standings daily, I’d have no idea they were the best team in the league or on a ridiculous 11-game winning streak, tying for fourth-best in franchise history.
It begins with the HOMEGROWN talents in guard Donovan Mitchell and center Rudy Gobert. It took Mitchell getting roasted by Shaquille O’Neal to get any mention this season. While I am not totally against O’Neal’s sentiments, it’s hard not to show loud praise for Mitchell as he averages 23.4 points per game. He’s trying to lead a potential championship run in Salt Lake City and he has a nice complement in Gobert, who embodies everything a true center should be. He’s top three in rebounds (14.1) and blocks (2.7), but is also is contributing offensively with a 60.7% shooting clip and an average of 13.6 PPG.
Then, there’s the glue in 3-point specialist Joe Ingles, who is shooting 45% from beyond the arc this season (fifth best of players with more than five 3PA per game). During the winning streak, he’s shooting over 57% from the field and 55% from three.
Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson come from prior franchises, but these aren’t A-list players by any stretch of the imagination.
Conley has found a second wind in Utah, averaging 16.8 PPG and shooting over 45%, which could be only the third season in his career where he shoots over that percentage. He’s lively on the court as he continues to mentor Mitchell into one of the bright leaders in basketball.
Bogdanovic remains a stellar wing averaging just under 14 PPG, but how about Clarkson? The Laker outcast shined in last year’s playoffs and could wind up having a career year averaging 17.9 PPG and shooting 46.8% from the field.
Let’s not forget that as a team, the Jazz are top 10 in both points scored per game and points allowed per game. On top of that, they have the best point differential in the NBA at +8.3.
With all that being said, no one will shout them out because they won’t get likes or retweets on Instagram or Twitter. Utah just doesn’t have the bright lights and glam of an LA, Boston, Miami or Golden State. Instead, they just do everything right to build a winning franchise from within and continue to grow a culture in a city that loves basketball.
The sad news for the Jazz is that the NBA won’t allow them to be champions because they haven’t bought and sold yet, and big-time free agents won’t want to go to the state of Utah because it doesn’t buy the attention they crave.
The NBA is a disgusting league and the future outlook doesn’t trend any better as the big markets will continue to buy the best players and win championships, while the smaller markets try to do the right thing, but in the end, just come short of reaching the conference finals. There’s no competition or parity in pro basketball. It’s over, and it may be beyond the point of saving unless some executive finally understands the garbage product of the league.
Keep doing you, Utah. Don’t sellout for this crappy league. To the game of basketball, I’ll always love you, but the NBA has caused me to breakup with you and move on to better leagues. I’m sorry.