Since the All-Star Break the Jazz defense has been otherworldly. In those 21 games the Jazz has allowed 86.3 points per game the next closest is New Orleans at 94.7. That can be skewed by the Jazz arduous pace of play. However, if you equalize for pace the Jazz are still #1 in the NBA with a remarkable 93.2 pts per 100 possessions. The next closest in the NBA is 97.5, the Golden State Warriors.
If the Jazz were to hold a defensive rating of 93.2 pts per 100 possessions over an entire season it would be one of the greatest defensive performances in NBA history. It is unrealistic to believe the Jazz can maintain at this level. But how far can they slip and still be elite.
The Jazz has performed at in this rarefied air for just 25% of the season. Yet, if the Jazz played average defense for the other 75% of the season they would still come out as the 3rd best defense in the NBA for the season. For the Jazz to play average they would have to allow 9 pts per 100 more than they are since the all-star break. That is a huge amount as you see below
Let’s try to make some sense of how much range exists in defensive efficiency ratings. The best team in the NBA is Golden State at 97.4, the worst is Minnesota at 108.9. Only three teams in the NBA are under 100 and only 4 teams in the NBA are above 106. 23 teams in the NBA exist within a 6 point range of 100 to 106. The league median is 102.6.
For 25% of the season the Jazz have been 93.2 pts allowed per 100 possessions. Even if the Jazz dropped 6 pts per 100 possessions (the same as #4 to #27) they would be above 100 pts allowed per 100 possessions and 2nd best in the NBA .
Let’s use two benchmarks moving forward. If the Jazz were to slip to 96 pts allowed per 100 possessions or even 100 pts allowed per 100 possesions for the whole season how would they rank.
2013-14: Best defense was Indiana at 96.7 and 3 teams were under 100 def rtg
2012-13: Best defense was Indiana at 96.6 and 4 teams were under 100 def rtg
2011-12: Lockout season offense was way down
2010-11: Best defense was Chicago 97.4 and 4 teams were under 100 def rtg
2009-10: Best defense was Charlotte at 100.2, no defenses under 100
2008-09: Best defense was Orlando at 98.9, 3 teams were under 100 def rtg
2007-08: Best defense was Boston at 96.2, 3 teams were under 100 def rtg
2006-07: Best defense was Chicago at 97 and 4 teams were under 100 rtg
2005-06: Best defense was San Antonio at 96.9 and 4 teams were under 100
Over the past 10 seasons (9 full seasons) the best defensive team had a 96.2 and only three teams had a rating under 97. Moreover, in none of the 9 seasons did more than 4 teams have a defensive rating under 100.
So if the Jazz slipped 3 pts per 100 possessions for an entire season compared to what they have done since the all-star break they would be the best defense in the last 10 years. If they were to slip 6 pts and stay under 100 pts allowed they would almost certainly be a top 5 defense
Therefore, considering the Jazz run defensively since the all-star break it seems fair to feel the Jazz will be a top 5 defensive team in the NBA next year with a real chance at being one of the best defenses in the NBA in the near future.