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NBA power rankings roundup: Where do the Jazz rank?

Here’s where national publications slot the Utah Jazz in power rankings this week

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Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23), Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45), Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) and Utah Jazz guard Denzel Valentine (15) walk off the floor.

Utah Jazz forward Royce O’Neale (23), Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45), Utah Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson (00) and Utah Jazz guard Denzel Valentine (15) walk off the floor as the Utah Jazz fall to the Cleveland Cavaliers in an NBA basketball game at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Cavs won 111-91.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

It’s been a rough week for the Utah Jazz.

A host of key players have been sidelined due to COVID-19 protocols for the first time this season, and it has taken its toll.

The Jazz have lost four consecutive games — falling to Toronto, Indiana, Detroit and Cleveland — and have been especially poor on the defensive end.

Here’s where national publications slot the Jazz in power rankings this week:

CBS Sports — No. 11 (Last week No. 3)

Team ahead of the Jazz: Philadelphia 76ers

Team below the Jazz: Dallas Mavericks

What they said about the Jazz:

What an ugly week for the Jazz, who lost to the Raptors, Pacers, Pistons and Cavs — as pretty much every Utah player missed at least one game. Rudy Gobert missed all four games and they sorely missed him on the defensive end, allowing a jaw-dropping 123.2 points per 100 possessions in the losses. Donovan Mitchell led the way offensively, averaging 28 points and 5.7 assists on 44/41/92 shooting splits for the week. — Colin Ward-Henninger

NBC Sports — No. 4 (Last week No. 2)

Team ahead of the Jazz: Golden State Warriors

Team below the Jazz: Cleveland Cavaliers

What they said about the Jazz:

COVID hit the Jazz later than most teams, but it has sidelined Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles, and with that the Jazz have dropped three straight. The losses without him show why not only why he should be in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation, but get mentions in the MVP race as well. Hassan Whiteside has thrived this season in the role of Gobert’s backup, but thrust into a starting role it hasn’t gone as well. By the way, Utah is active on the trade market looking for defensive help on the perimeter. — Kurt Helin

ESPN — No. 4 (Last week No. 4)

Team ahead of the Jazz: Chicago Bulls

Team below the Jazz: Memphis Grizzlies

What they said about the Jazz:

The Jazz had been the only team in the league that hadn’t been hit by COVID-19 this season, but Utah is in the midst of an outbreak with four players currently in health and safety protocols, including perennial All-Star center Rudy Gobert. Hassan Whiteside has thrived as Gobert’s backup, but the Jazz are 0-2 with Whiteside in the starting lineup, and Saturday’s loss in Indiana was an especially disappointing defensive performance. — Tim MacMahon

NBA.com — No. 5 (Last week No. 2)

Team ahead of the Jazz: Chicago Bulls

Team below the Jazz: Miami Heat

What they said about the Jazz:

Through Christmas, the Jazz had been relatively healthy. Rudy Gay missed the first 14 games of the season and Mike Conley had been rested on a few (back-to-back) occasions, but the other guys in their top eight had missed a total of three games. Then Donovan Mitchell missed a couple of games with a lower back strain. Rudy Gobert (who had missed just six games over the previous three seasons) entered Health and Safety Protocols on Thursday, and the Jazz played without the rest of their top eight in Toronto on Friday. They actually led the Raptors by 14 points in the second half, but fell victim to the Fred VanVleet Show.

More concerning was their loss in Indiana on Saturday, when they had everybody but Gobert and Joe Ingles back. The Utah starting lineup (with Hassan Whiteside in Gobert’s place) outscored the Pacers by 20 points in its 18.3 minutes, but they were a minus-32 in a little less than 30 minutes with at least one reserve on the floor, further evidence that they need both of their centers to succeed. The Jazz’s offense has remained efficient, but their five January games have been their worst five-game stretch of defense (117.5 points allowed per 100 possessions) this season. They haven’t protected the rim as well, and their opponents have seen jumps in both free throw rate and offensive rebounding percentage.

Gobert missed last week’s meeting with the Nuggets in Denver, but could be back when the Jazz are back there on Sunday. The Jazz have won the first two meetings, but (with Nikola Jokic having suffered a knee injury in the October game) Gobert and Jokic have been on the floor together for just seven minutes this season. — John Schuhmann

Sports Illustrated — No. 5 (Last week No. 4)

Team ahead of the Jazz: Memphis Grizzlies

Team below the Jazz: Brooklyn Nets

What they said about the Jazz:

Things came full circle in the NBA this past week when Rudy Gobert was pulled from the lineup due to health and safety protocols. Where Gobert’s positive test brought about the league’s pause back in March 2020, the league — and the nation as a whole — has been flooded with positive cases over the past month.

The Jazz were actually the last team in the sport this season to have to put someone in protocols (Joe Ingles came before Gobert). But now with Gobert out, don’t be shocked if the team’s defense struggles. That happened on Saturday, when Domantas Sabonis scored a career-best 42 points on 18-for-22 shooting as the Jazz lost in Indiana. — Chris Herring