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Utah Jazz mailbag: Jazz beat writer Sarah Todd answers readers’ questions

Sarah Todd poses for a photo at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.
Sarah Todd poses for a photo at the Deseret News in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2019.
Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

PORTLAND, Ore — You have questions and I have answers. This week’s edition of the Utah Jazz mailbag is coming to you on the heels of four consecutive Jazz losses, which (in case you were wondering) is not good.

Later this week we’ll get more into the problems the Jazz are facing but for now, let’s get to the questions.

I absolutely do.

Contrary to what a lot of people scream on Twitter, Mike Conley is a very good player and I think he will figure things out with the Jazz.

Though the result of the game was not what the Jazz wanted, Conley started on Saturday against the Trail Blazers — his first start since before his was sidelined in December — and finished the night with 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists. That’s not to say he’s going to be dropping 20-plus points every night but it was a good sign to see him moving the ball well and being able to knock down shots with confidence.

I think it’s important to remember that Conley spent 12 years in a system under just two different coaching regimes for the majority of his time that made him the conductor of any offensive sets. Conley’s role had been clearly defined throughout his career and he was comfortable, likely never thinking he would leave Memphis, and now he has to readjust.

Also, even when Conley was struggling to find his shot with the Jazz, he offered so much in the way of vision and movement that I think of lot of his detractors were a little off-base.

With time and reps, Conley is going to be fine.

Like I said, it’s now four losses, and I think that the Jazz, like any competent NBA team, has been working on finding a solution to the problem.

Over the next few days I’ll put together some trade deadline ideas and possibilities for you all but, in general, here is my opinion. The Jazz need to have a power forward that can play small ball and defend in a five-out lineup. This hypothetical person doesn’t even need to be that great and they only need to play small minutes situationally for the Jazz.

There are, of course, people a lot smarter than I am working behind the scenes with the Jazz who are well aware of the team’s needs and deficiencies. I’d be surprised if they stayed quiet through the deadline.

I actually think the Jazz are more likely to trade Ed Davis than they are to stretch his contract or outright buy him out of it.

Despite the upside that Jarrell Brantley has, that’s not something that I would have confidence in down the stretch of this season. The Jazz are going to need a guy that can play minutes against good teams and hold his own in a playoff series.

I know that the only way to get experience is by getting it but Brantley is not a project that you start in February hoping for him to be worthwhile in April, May, or June.

It might be weird for some people to know how close the reporters who travel together get. Yes, we are competitors, but life on an NBA beat can be incredibly isolating and the people who are your competitors often become some of your closest friends.

We travel together, work together, eat together and see more of each other than we do some of the people in our at-home lives.

In both of my previous NBA stops before coming to Utah, I was incredibly happy with my NBA family and there have been competitors that turned into life-long friends.

As for the Jazz reporters and media, they have all blown me away. They welcomed me and invited me in as soon as I arrived on the scene and they have been the ones that have made my transition so easy.

We all joke around so much and often in the form of ragging on each other that they probably don’t realize how much they have really made this a great experience for me.

I’ve only been on the beat for about seven weeks and have spent a large part of my time on the road, but it’s meant that the Jazz reporters have been spending a lot of time together and for that I’m glad because it feels like I’ve known them longer than a few weeks and it makes me feel even better about my decision to come here.

If you want to see your question featured in a mailbag article you can send your questions to @NBASarah on Twitter with the hashtag #SundayJazzMailBag, or send them to stodd@deseretnews.com with ‘mailbag’ in the subject line.