Jazz move into top 10 in NBA Championship odds after 8th straight win
Coming into the 2020-21 NBA season, much of the attention was focused on the Los Angeles Lakers, and deservedly so. L.A. had just won its 17th championship and had reloaded by adding Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, three-time All-Star Marc Gasol, and electrifying point guard Dennis Schroder to an already enviable core.
At 13-4 overall and 9-0 on the road, the Lakers have been every bit as good as advertised, but despite their splashy additions they aren’t the hottest team in the league. That honor belongs to the Utah Jazz, who have now won eight consecutive game after crushing the Golden State Warriors by 19 points on Saturday night.
Utah’s winning streak has had a profound impact on the team’s 2021 NBA Championship odds, which have improved from +3500 on Jan. 6 to +2500 on Jan. 25.
NBA Championship 2020/2021
Mon, August 30 2021, 11:57 PM
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Here are three reasons why the Jazz have become the league’s toughest out:
1. Donovan Mitchell has made the leap
Shaquille O’Neal may disagree, but Donovan Mitchell has morphed into a bona fide superstar in his fourth season.
The All-Star guard is averaging career highs in points, rebounds, and blocks, and is nailing 41% of his three-point attempts.
Spida has always been a phenomenal athlete, but his ability to consistently connect from deep has made him virtually unguardable in the pick-and-roll. Defenders now have to concede a posterizing dunk by Rudy Gobert if they flash over the screen, or a dagger three to Mitchell if they remain under it. It’s a pick-your-poison scenario, and the Jazz have playing it to perfection early in the season.
Speaking of three-point shooting…
2. Utah has been shooting the lights out
No team in NBA history has made more three-pointers per game than the Jazz, who are currently draining 16.8 treys per contest. That’s 3.4 more threes than a year ago, and it’s a reflection of Quin Snyder’s share-the-wealth offense, which empowers players to launch early and often.
"There’s been a real emphasis for us not being tentative shooting the ball," Snyder has explained. "We’ve shot the ball over the course of the year, but felt, given our size and our speed, that those were the things that we could do more of."
The Jazz are clearly buying into Snyder’s game plan as six players are taking four or more three-pointers per game, and are all hitting at least 37% of their attempts.
3. Mike Conley has rediscovered his mojo
Mike Conley looked like the league’s worst acquisition last year, after the 33-year-old point guard missed 25 games and posted his lowest scoring average in nine seasons.
One year later he’s healthy again, and back to providing the playmaking and court-spacing that made him such a valuable commodity in Memphis. Conley is averaging 16.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 1.6 steals per game this season, and tied a career-high with 33 points against the Los Angeles Clippers on New Year’s Day.
Although Mitchell is Utah’s best player, it can be argued that Conley has become the team’s most indispensable.
Utah’s division odds are your best bet
The Jazz have been hitting all the right notes in 2021, but it’s fair to wonder whether they can sustain their red-hot shooting over the course of a full season. Utah also lacks a legitimate second option on offense beyond Mitchell, which led to the team’s disappointing playoff ousters in 2019 and 2020.
Northwest Division Winner 2020/2021
Sun, May 16 2021, 6:00 PM
Portland Trail Blazers
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Jazz still present value at +2500, but they remain a notch below the league’s true championship contenders. We recommend banking on their Northwest Division odds instead, which currently sit at -125, and could get considerably longer as the season marches on.