On January 8th, 2021, the Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith announced the organization would offer a four-year scholarship to an underrepresented or minority student every time they win a game this year.
We have equity problems across pay, across race within our communities. And, I just want to look back and say, ‘Hey, I did everything I possibly could to make the world a more equitable place.’Ryan Smith, The Woj Pod
Eighteen games into the season, Utah has the best record in the NBA. They’ve won 10 straight games after Tuesday’s 116-104 win against Dallas – 9 in double digits – trailing in the fourth quarter for a total of 57 seconds during the run, according to ESPN Stats & Information. More importantly, they are yet to lose a game since their new owner announced a program to give a scholarship away per win.
Smith announced it on January 8th, the day Utah started an ongoing winning streak with a 131-118 win against the Bucks. Since then, the Jazz beat Pistons, Cavaliers, Hawks, Nuggets, Pelicans 2x, Warriors, Knicks, Mavericks, and will look to continue their streak tonight in a second consecutive game against Dallas.
With a 114.9 ORtg, the Jazz are top 5 in the league in offense. They also have the third-best defense in the association, allowing only 107.1 points per 100 possessions. Rudy Gobert is once again orchestrating Utah’s defense, leading the league in defensive win shares (1.6), averaging a career-high 7.1 in BLK%.
Donovan Mitchell is the team’s leading scorer with 23.4 PPG, with five other guys averaging double digits in points. Jordan Clarkson is putting up 17.9 off the bench, making an early case for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
We’re trying to create our identity — getting up the floor, playing fast, defending, shooting 3s, getting in the paint. The biggest thing we harp on is defensively. We’re trying to have no slack on that end.Jordan Clarkson, ESPN
The Jazz are sixth in the league in 3P% (.350). With 16.6 made threes per game, they are on pace to be the most prolific 3-point shooting team in NBA history. It’s the byproduct of playing the right way, letting the ball find the open man, and knocking down open shots at a historic rate. That’s the system Quin Snyder implemented, and so far, it’s doing wonders for the Jazz.
But we’re not satisfied. We’re not going to get over the moon over one win or 10 in a row.Joe Ingles, ESPN
Utah is just getting started. There are still many more games to be won and many more four-year scholarships to be given out.