Champion (noun); definition: a winner of first prize or place in a competition, one who shows marked superiority. As a 76ers fan, I am currently throwing shade. Don’t worry if you didn’t understand the reference, we’re not here to discuss the Rookie of the Year race. Ben Simmons is obviously the choice, as he has been historically great, only being bested by Oscar Robertson. But the rookie play from the Utah Jazz has been great as well, also historically great. Which gives them a chance to run the table and make history of their own.
The Utah Jazz have just secured the 5 seed in the first round of the playoffs and have set themselves up for a date with the Oklahoma City Thunder. This was one of the tougher draws they could have asked for, having to go against Russel Westbrook who averaged a triple double for a second straight season, Paul George who led the league in steals per game and was a high volume three point shooter, and Carmelo Anthony who still can’t find his hoodie. But the ball dominance of those three will make it easy for the Jazz to use their top ranked defense to force a lot of bad shots.
There are only two teams in the NBA that allow less than 100 points per game, the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz. You would think that a team who has a guy that averages more than 10 assists per game would share the ball well as a whole, but the Thunder have struggled with that. They are the second worst team in the NBA in team assists, which is not a recipe for success against a tough defense. Rudy Robert will dominate this series as the anchor of the defense and will limit the amount of opportunities for the Thunder to get easy baskets. The league leader in blocks per game will send Russel Westbrook's game series winning shot attempt in Game 7 to the moon, and his silhouette of his block will be his logo for his PayLess shoes.
Advancing to the second round will set them up with the best team in basketball in the Houston Rockets. The Rockets are known for their high volume three point shooting, but the Jazz actually shoot a higher percentage from deep with 37% in comparison to 36%. It may seem like a small difference, but every inch counts in a matchup with a tough opponent. Donovan Mitchell broke the rookie record for most three pointers made in a debut season with 186, where he passed Damian Lillard and Steph Curry, just a couple of All-NBA guards. Chris Paul will have his hands full with the playmaking ability of Mitchell and will not be able to slow him down from deep. Mitchell will break the record for most three pointers made in a single postseason series and will begin to get comparisons to all-time greats. James Harden will have a chance to win the series in the final seconds of Game 7 but will miss three free throws and his final air ball will become a meme for all things trash.
After getting through their toughest test, the Jazz will advance to their first Western Conference Finals since they had John Stockton and Karl Malone. Luckily for them, Steph Curry could not overcome his injury, which set themselves up for a series with the San Antonio Spurs. This will be the most boring series in NBA history, which will pit the two best scoring defenses against each other. Unless you love low scoring, grind it out basketball, then this series is perfect for you. Dante Exum has gained his health back and has been great off the bench, which will give the Jazz the spark they need to win the series. He has shot 50% from the floor over the last month, and will only get better against defenders like Bryn Forbes and Brandon Paul. Joe Ingles will shoot the lights out and will be the only other player besides Mitchell to average double digit scoring figures in the series, as his three point shooting will be key in the clutch. The Jazz will have to go another 7 games, but will win in a tightly contested, low scoring contest that will feature a final 5 minute scoring drought from each team. Fun, right?
The NBA Finals, something the state of Utah has been longing to win since their move from New Orleans in 1979. If they wish to make their dream come true, they will have to face another team attempting to win their first ever championship in the Toronto Raptors. With the Jazz somehow avoiding Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Damian Lillard, Anthony Davis, and Lebron James on their path to the top, they have no choice but to win the championship. The choice to play aggressive will make head coach Quin Snyder look like a genius. The Jazz are 4th in the league in steals, and the Raptors are 4th in the league in fouls committed, which will be advantageous for a team will their foot on the gas pedal all series.
The Raptors are a team who likes to share the ball and win by committee, but the Jazz are 1st in the league in assists allowed per game, and their ability to force turnovers will only make it harder to score on them outside of isolation plays. Derrick Favors and Ricky Rubio will be the unsung heroes of the series as they will silence their doubters with championship level play. Rudy Robert will block anything and everything that comes into the paint. His gutsy Game 7 performance will show the world that he should be mentioned when talking about the best current players in the world. He will win the Finals MVP will get drunk at the celebration parade and will wear a shirt with Draymond Green's face on it that will say "We won? Yup!" on the front and "Toronto sucks? Yup!" on the back. And the pettiness level in the NBA will reach an all time high.
All rookie jokes aside, this guy is GREAT, let's not take that for granted...
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.