SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Despite significant adversity, the Utah Jazz have been one of the more resilient teams in the NBA this season. Perhaps no example is more telling than forward Bojan Bogdanovic opening the season on a 40 game slump, only to be named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Monday.
Bogdanovic’s honor is a good representation for the Jazz this season who have repeatedly overcome obstacles with success on the basketball court.
After being picked as a dark horse favorite to win the NBA championship last season, the year was derailed by a longer-than-extend adjustment period from guard Mike Conely, season-ending wrist surgery for Bogdanovic, and Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell testing positive for COVID-19 suspending the NBA season.
When the season resumed, the Jazz were ousted in the first round of the playoffs by the Denver Nuggets after opening the series with a 3-1 lead.
As a result, they entered the year with lowered expectations from the national media.
Instead, the team has had the best record in the NBA for all but two days since February 2. But the path hasn’t been easy.
Shortly after overtaking the Los Angles Clippers for the top seed in the West, Conley went down with a hamstring injury that cost him six games and prevented him from playing in back-to-back games.
When Mitchell went down with a severe ankle sprain on April 16, the Jazz held a 1.5 game lead over the surging Phoenix Suns and seemed destined to relinquish the top seed in the All-Star guard’s immediate absence.
However, with just four games left to play, and Mitchell having missed the team’s last 12 games while Conley re-aggravated his hamstring injury causing him to miss the last seven, the Jazz lead has remained steady at 1.5 games.
“It’s a credit to our players,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said of his team’s ability to adjust to adversity. “They believe in one another and they play together.”
With Mitchell and Conley out, Bogdanovic raised his offensive load, allowing the Jazz to go 8-4 during the stretch and earn the Player of the Week honors.
Snyder credited his team’s chemistry and selflessness for their ability to adapt to different challenges this year.
“It’s a group that really likes playing together and they want to make each other better,” the Jazz coach said. “I think fundamentally the things that we’re trying to do remain constant.”
The Jazz will be without Mitchell for at least the rest of the week and have not offered a timetable on Conley’s injury, but remain in a good position to hold onto the top spot in the West.
With just four games remaining, the Jazz hold a two-game lead over the Suns for the league’s best record.