The biggest surprise of the 2022-23 NBA season thus far has been the Utah Jazz.
After hitting the proverbial reset button and trading away All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, most were expecting the Jazz to be playing for nothing other than a shot at the first pick in the 2023 draft and the ability to take French phenom Victor Wembanyama.
Instead, Utah has jumped out a 10-3 record, which is tops in the Western Conference, and it is slowly looking like less of a fluke with each passing day.
The team may not be a legitimate championship contender, but it should be a legitimate playoff team, and it has two main things to thank for that.
1. Lauri Markkanen
In his first five seasons in the NBA, Lauri Markkanen was regarded as a good complementary player who had a deft shooting stroke and tepid defensive ability.
But so far this season, he is looking like an All-Star, as he is averaging 22.7 points on 52.7 percent shooting and 8.8 rebounds per game.
On Wednesday night, he had his best effort of the season by scoring 32 points while hitting 6-of-8 shots from 3-point range and grabbing eight rebounds in Utah’s 125-119 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
— NBA (@NBA) November 10, 2022
Who would’ve ever thought that a team without a bonafide current All-Star (other than perhaps Markannen) would be one of the NBA’s best offensive teams?
The Jazz are fourth in offensive rating and they actually lead the league with 118.8 points a game.
For fans who want to watch a team that is a team in the truest sense of the word, watch the Jazz, as they’re a nice antidote to the modern era of superteams that fans have grown tired of seeing.