We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from the first game of the season – Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City Thunder. The hype was real, and the questions were plentiful.
How would Mike Conley do in his debut with the Utah Jazz?
Would Donovan Mitchell show us the typical third-year jump in production and efficiency?
How would Bojan Bogdanovic’s fitness and defense hold up after a less-than-stellar preseason?
The Quick Answers from Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City Thunder
Luckily for Jazz fans, Donovan showed us he’s even more special and Bojan played through an ankle injury that looked pretty painful.
More importantly, the Utah Jazz picked up the win.
MOST importantly, the Utah Jazz Fan Show was there to witness it in person.
Overreaction #1 – Donovan Mitchell’s Hot Start
Donovan Mitchell started the season off by solidifying his role as a leader on this team, scoring 32 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Not to mention shooting a red-hot 63% from the field.
Fun Fact: Karl Malone wore number 32 and John Stockton wore number 12. Surprised you didn’t know that.
What’s most impressive is the fact that he didn’t even attempt a shot in the first quarter. He got his team involved and gave everyone a chance to eat.
Plus, when things got close in the end, everyone knew which Utah Jazz player would be handling the rock: Donovan Mitchell.
He did not disappoint.
Overreaction #2 – Conley Struggles, Mudiay Shines
Mike Conley shot just 1/16 from the field in his regular season Utah Jazz debut (headband curse??). That might seem concerning for most players, but after hitting a free throw late in the game, Mike Conley acknowledged the crowd and let everyone know he was fine.
The crowd showed their support in return.
“I was a little bit confused. I was like, ‘I don’t know what else to do. I got to get a layup or something,’ because it’s just, in and out, and in and out,” he said. “Even a lot of shots in the paint. They all felt good but they were short.”
“I might have been too excited for the first game or something, but if I’m a betting man, I probably won’t do that again,” he said.
While Conley may have struggled, Emmanuel Mudiay more than made up the slack.
It seemed his play got even better as the team began to falter in the fourth quarter. At one point, with his team down eight, Mudiay continuously went to the hole and finished through severe contact.
The scoring got the Jazz back in the game and on the path to an eventual win.
More importantly, it solidified the backup point guard role on this team for the foreseen future.
Overreaction #3 – Royce O’Neale is a Starter
I’ve always said Royce O’Neale shows up a lot more when he starts. Game one backed up my theory in a big way.
Royce went 6/6 from the field, including 2/2 from 3-point range, and finished the game with 14 points. Hard to ask for anything more from the guy.
I genuinely can’t wait to see how well he does as a starter this season. I also can’t wait to see if he out-earns what the Jazz can give him following the season…
Honorable Mention – Joe Ingles and Jeff Green Bromance
When Jeff Green came in off the bench and hit his first three in a Jazz uniform, nobody was happier for him than Joe Ingles. Additionally, the pair laughed and gave each other grief throughout the game, showing how comfortable the team is already becoming with each other.
Honorable Mention – Chris Paul is Still Good
Chris Paul played really well in this game. This could only be because he wants to get traded.
Nonetheless, the dude can still ball it up.
Honorable Mention – Double Chicken Myth BUSTED
Steven Adams missed four straight free throws in the fourth quarter. With the crowd going crazy from confusion surrounding how many free chicken sandwiches were in play, the arena announcer let everyone know they only get one.
While the news was disappointing, at least now we know.
Interested in More from the Utah Jazz Fan Show?
The Utah Jazz Fan Show was created by Ryan Van Dorn and Kelby Jones in September of 2018. You can listen each and every Saturday at noon on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM, The Zone Sports Network.
You can also listen to the Utah Jazz Fan Show on-demand by downloading The Zone Sports Network App.
Don’t have the app? Listen wherever you listen to podcasts, including iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and more!