Phoenix at Utah
Time: 8 PM CT (NBA LP)
Spread: UTA -14
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Phoenix Suns have been mired in a horrible season, but made a clutch move at the trade deadline in acquiring Orlando Magic point guard and No. 10 overall pick in 2014 Elfrid Payton, for the lost cost of a second round pick. Phoenix now possibly has obtained its point guard of the future, though the list of black marks on Elfrid’s resume do abound. Magic analysts cited his poor defense and overall poor basketball IQ as ultimately irresolvable for the Orlando team, and it certainly did not defend well. Payton now transitions to a Suns team, however, which also has been poor defensively.
Phoenix allows 112.6 points per game while scoring just 104.4 itself. No team surrenders more buckets than the Suns, so can Payton manage to make that defense any worse? Perhaps he gets energized playing with his new team and star shooting guard Devin Booker, who is inarguably better than every talent Payton shared the court with while in Orlando. The Suns now have a really intriguing backcourt, and the Magic simply are trying to shed the team of what it had from the Rob Hennigan era (with the obvious exception of Aaron Gordon).
Phoenix will benefit from Payton’s court vision and ability to push the tempo, and it really could be a match made in heaven. That is not to say Phoenix will start winning games en masse, but the realist’s outlook is that a former lottery pick with four triple doubles to his resume could flourish in a high octane offense with the Suns.
Louisville product Donovan Mitchell is making his run for the 2018 Rookie of the Year Award. The Jazz now is playing a faster pace to utilize the skills of rookie Donovan Mitchell. He had 35 points and five rebounds on 10 of 20 shooting (5 of 11 threes) in the 99-88 loss to the Charlotte Hornets. Mitchell is looking like a future superstar, and the Jazz has some nice young pieces around him, but his emergence may shape the future of the Jazz’ building effort.
With an offensive cog like Mitchell around Gobert, it may be that the Jazz shapes its attack around Mitchell, with Rudy Gobert simply being the defensive anchor he is. Mitchell had another 40 point outing in the Jazz’s 129-97 win over Phoenix the last outing.
Mitchell is averaging 24.6 points per game over his last 10 outings while shooting 49.5 percent from the floor. In January, he averaged 23.4 points per game, no longer showing any signs of all of being a rookie. Mitchell also comes up with 1.4 steals per game over his past 10 games, while having scored 33 percent of his 9.6 threes attempted per game. Mitchell was taken No. 13 overall but is definitely in the top-3 of whatever becomes of this draft class. He has the shooting range and slashing ability to become nearly unstoppable, and the Jazz may not have had a weapon of his caliber since the Stockton/Malone era. He’s now averaging 19.7 points per game and it likely will be 20-plus by season’s end.
“Spida,” as Michell refers to himself, is better than the likes of Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, and the multitude of semi-stars the Jazz have rostered, and the Pacers are much about a young prospect of their own in what could be an exciting showdown between two of the league’s best-unheralded talents.