In order to get a bit more insight on the current state of affairs of tomorrow night’s opponent, the Utah Jazz, we spoke to SLC Dunk manager James Hansen.
You can follow James on Twitter @hansenjames.
Thank you James for participating in our Q&A.
1. Utah has started the year off 13-7. Is that record reflective of how the team has performed so far this season?
Hansen: Utah’s record feels about right. Although in some ways it feels like it should be worse. Donovan Mitchell’s three point shot hasn’t been there all season and, overall, the team hasn’t looked as good as they did last season. Having said that, the Jazz have the #1 offense in the league and the #8 defense. So they’re doing something right.
2. How has former Blazer Hassan Whiteside adapted to the backup center role for the Jazz?
Hansen: Hassan Whiteside has been a perfect fit behind Gobert. At times he’s looked like the more impactful player. Whiteside’s skill set fits perfectly with what the Jazz do. Utah loves to drop coverage and lead ball handlers to their rim protecting center. Whether it’s Gobert or Whiteside, teams are consistently struggling to score at the rim with whoever is on the floor. Utah has struggled to guard the perimeter again this season, sometimes terribly so, but the rim protection with the bench unit is much improved from last season with Whiteside.
3. Utah is favored by 7.5 points by Las Vegas. Is that a fair assessment? If Utah loses, why would that be the case?
Hansen: It depends, the Jazz have been a Jekyll and Hyde this season but haven’t looked very impressive against the best in the league. Utah will likely do what they can to get the ball out of Dame’s hands, but there’s no one on the Jazz to then slow down McCollum, especially if Royce O’Neale is out another game.
4. What is one thing that Blazers fans should know about the Jazz that they wouldn’t find in a box score?
Hansen: Utah has looked old this season. If you go to the hustle stats on http://NBA.com, you’ll find that Utah is last in most of them. Yes Utah can shot with the best of them and has found ways to carve up in the half court. But the Jazz have struggled with young athletic teams this year. Can the Blazers make the Jazz look old?
5. What is your prediction for the game?
Hansen: Utah had a bit of a turning point in their last game against the Pelicans. The body language for Utah this year has been uninspiring and their underwhelming record matches that body language. In their last game, the Jazz looked like the team Jazz fans expected. Can they continue that momentum? I’m thinking they will. Donovan Mitchell made a point to make sure the ball was moving on offense last game and my guess is they continue that in their next game against the Blazers. Now, whether they can slow the Blazers down is another question. My guess is a tight win for the Jazz.