New Orleans Pelicans: 3 storylines to watch against the Utah Jazz

Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans lack of aggression is killing their chances at wins. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

New Orleans Pelicans: The Jazz’s threats from everywhere

Let’s start with the Utah Jazz.

The Jazz are the team with the best record in the entire NBA for a reason. They comfortably lead the stacked Western Conference right now. After years of being a perennial sleeper team that would make the playoffs but not truly contend for a championship, they have worked themselves into being actual contenders.

This is a commendable achievement by an organization which at times has been mocked as a prospective destination for top players. Quin Synder deserves props for creating a thoroughly efficient, team-based brand of basketball, while Utah’s front office should also get merit for their shrewd moves.

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Said maneuvers include acquiring Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic, while also betting on once-marginal players like Royce O’Neale or Joe Ingles. The former two have been pivotal in Utah’s success this season and were even name dropped in all-star conversations (particularly Conley), while the latter have grown into two of the best role players in the league.

Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell have continued to improve.

Gobert was rewarded with his first all-star selection this year, one which many argue has taken too long to come. The French center is a fixture in Defensive Player of the Year talks. You can count on him for two or three blocks a night and that’s without mentioning all the shots he alters without getting a touch on them.

It seemed like the Jazz’s synergy could dissolve after Gobert’s positive Covid-19 test last season. That one event which set the wheels in motion for the NBA’s eventual suspension of the season was followed by Mitchell also testing positive. Yet, both all-stars have overcome that hill in their relationship and remained true professionals throughout.

Mitchell is in the middle of another very good season. The Louisville alum is firmly entrenched at this point in the tier below the best of the best. This year, Mitchell is shooting more threes at a better percentage while once again improving his playmaking.

The Pelicans have an arduous task ahead of them. Even if they’re able to stop one guy, the Jazz have many other players that can step up. For instance, only one of the Jazz’s core four—Mitchell, Gobert, Conley, Bogdanovic—scored over 15 points in their first game against the Pels this season and Utah still won by 16.