Blame AAU basketball, blame the one-and-done generation, blame whatever you want, but what cannot be argued is that there is an international wave taking over the NBA. Increasingly it seems like the best and most influential players in the NBA are from countries and regions outside of the U.S.
Far-Fetched Friday: The Utah Jazz Lose in the First Round of the Playoffs
There is no team in the NBA that is hotter than the Utah Jazz right now. Winners of their past 11 games, the Jazz have vaulted up to the top seed in the Western Conference, a position most fans wouldn't have anticipated Utah to be in a quarter into the season. The entire team has been on fire, with Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert providing steady production as always, as well as guys like Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson stepping up to be legit contributors. While the team is certainly trending upward as of now, I believe they will ultimately end up getting bounced in the first round of the playoffs by a higher seed in a series that's about as hard fought as their series last playoffs against the Nuggets.
Welcome back to Far-Fetched Friday, where every Friday we give you a bold prediction that we believe will come to fruition. This Friday, we look at the state of Jazz in Utah.
Some of the teams currently in the range to face Utah in the first round should be a bit concerning to the Jazz, even if they manage to hold onto the one seed in the West. The Trail Blazers have significant contributions from the perimeter, which is sure to give Utah headaches, and Portland would also have the benefit of deploying the best player in the potential series in Damian Lillard.
The Warriors may not have the overall talent the Jazz have, but they have two 3-time NBA champions in Steph Curry and Draymond Green that know how to get the job done in the playoffs, while also having the best player in that series (Curry.)
If the Jazz end falling a few positions to the 3 or 4 seed, there are also matchup problems in that section of the standings. The Nuggets knocked out the Jazz last year, and the Phoenix Suns have tremendous leadership with Chris Paul, and some great young talent that is hungry for playoff action.
Needless to say, no matter what team the Jazz end up playing in the first round, they will have their work cut out for them. While it is entirely possible they make some noise in the playoffs, it will take some monster performances from Donovan Mitchell to make that happen. If any of the core players from the Jazz have lackluster play, they may not have the depth necessary to make up for any losses in production, which would mean game over for any hopes of making it far through the bracket.
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