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Utah Jazz mailbag: Media in the NBA bubble, will Rudy Gobert make an All-NBA team and more

SHARE Utah Jazz mailbag: Media in the NBA bubble, will Rudy Gobert make an All-NBA team and more

A sign at the entrance to ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World is seen Wednesday, June 3, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla.


SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz basketball will be played this week.

The Jazz begin their three scrimmages on Thursday and one week after that the real games begin. This time next week we’ll have actual basketball to talk, which is incredibly exciting.

To start off this week’s mailbag article, I want to share some news with you.

I will be going to Orlando.

There are about 10 reporters who are in the Disney bubble in the same way that the players and coaches are. That is media ‘Group 1’. These reporters had to commit to being in the bubble for the entirety of the restarted season and the playoffs. There was an arduous application process and the NBA had to be incredibly selective.

I will be in ‘Group 2’, which is a slightly larger but still extremely limited group of reporters. I’ll be staying just to the side of the NBA’s Disney campus, with regular COVID-19 testing and will be at the Jazz’s first two seeding games — July 30 against the New Orleans Pelicans and Aug. 1 against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Right now, whether or not I will be in Florida for the playoffs is still undecided.

To answer @tommyajohnson’s question, if I was able to be there for the entirety of the Jazz’s stay, it made economical and journalistic sense, and there was a place for me, I would be completely comfortable going into the bubble for that amount of time.

Even with the amount of coronavirus cases in Florida it seems as if the NBA has created an incredibly regulated and safe environment, safer in many cases than anywhere else right now. The part that has me nervous is the flight there, where I won’t know how cautious the other people on the flight have been and can’t control my surroundings in the way I have been for the last four months.

Once I’m there, I’ll be very excited to bring you whatever bubble-based insights that I can.

Bojan Bogdanovic did not travel to Orlando with the Jazz and is rehabbing from his wrist surgery.

Travel parties were restricted to just 35 people per team and that number is very closely regulated by the league. Coming from being used to travelling with 50-60 people for road trips, reaching that 35 mark was very difficult for teams.

Even though from a roster standpoint Bogdanovic is still on the team and would have been able to join them, he was injured and therefore the Jazz were able to use that spot for an extra person in their traveling party. So unless the team had someone leave the bubble to make room for Bogdanovic, it’s very unlikely that he would be able to join the Jazz.

Rudy Gobert was third team All-NBA last season and I think it would be a little foolish if in the year that he made his first All Star team he was not on an All-NBA team.

I could envision a world where Anthony Davis makes first-team at center in front of Gobert, but beyond that I think that Gobert has been very deserving and continues to be so. I would expect that at the very least he receives third team honors.

But — and this is a big but — the voting for these awards leaves a lot to be desired. There are many voters who have a good handle on the NBA at large and are able to see things with a good amount of objectivity, but there are also a lot of beat writers who are saturated throughout the year by the goings on, successes and failures of the team they cover, making it harder to evaluate players from other teams. So, who knows what’s going to happen?

I think that predicting something about Jordan Clarkson could be a very dangerous game. It seems like he is the kind of person and player that was designed to bust predictions and go outside of expectations.

It would make absolute sense and not surprise me at all if Clarkson was putting up 20 points a night at Disney World. It would also not surprise me at all if all of a sudden we see a totally different kind of Clarkson, who is playmaking and setting record-highs for himself in assists and passes, turning things up on defensive end with deflections and steals.

It’s more likely to be the former rather than the latter, and he’ll certainly be called upon to carry more weight with Bojan Bogdanovic out. He was already averaging 15.1 points per game before the season was suspended so it’s not that far out that he could tack on another five points per game considering the absence of Bogdanovic.

Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Georges Niang have all likened the NBA bubble to experiences in AAU, road trips and FIBA or Olympic tournaments. All of those things are known to be extremely valuable in the way of building relationships and chemistry.

There’s something about being around a ton of people who share a common passion and goal and being able to mingle with the responsibilities of the outside world being present.

That’s not to say that things outside the bubble don’t matter to the players, but they don’t have the same kind of responsibilities in the bubble as they would at home. They don’t have to worry about getting groceries, waking up the kids, going to a class, or anything else than what they have going on right in front of them.

I think it would be really difficult to come out of this experience and not feel bonded in a different way. I don’t know if we’ll be able to see manifested on the court right away, but it could be something that we see slowly grow.