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FOX 13 News 360: Making the Utah Jazz champions

Posted at 10:23 PM, Jul 18, 2021

Are you a Utah Jazz fan?

Are you discouraged with a Round 2 loss after your favorite team entered the playoffs with the best record in the NBA?

This is the story for you.

Unless, of course, you want something that confirms your opinion about each player you love.

If you just want your opinion confirmed, don't watch this 360 story on making the Jazz champions. You may hear something that makes you angry.

You'll also hear two people who have dedicated their careers to studying what it takes to win tell you the Jazz are ready for a championship.

Dr. David Berri is a professor of economics at Southern Utah University who has written widely respected books analyzing winning in sports.

When you look at the analysis of Dr. David Berri, the Jazz would have won the championship if they entered the playoffs with their core players healthy.

Before you say, "That's easy to say in hindsight," there are things to examine. Berri's metric called "Wins Produced" (created with Martin Schmidt and Stacey Brook) ranked the Jazz first, the Milwaukee Bucks second, the Denver Nuggets third, and the Phoenix Suns fourth in the league for the 2020-21 season.

The Jazz didn't have Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in stretches of the playoffs due to injury, and the Nuggets didn't have Jamal Murray.

In other words, the healthy teams topping Berri's chart are in the finals.

Most Jazz fans (including this reporter) will not like what Berri says about Donovan Mitchell.

But take comfort in what the psychologist in this story says.

Dr. Nick Galli with Headstrong Performance Consultants agrees with Berri that too much emphasis is placed on the idea of players who are "clutch," meaning they have that special something that a team needs to win when it's all on the line.

But, Dr. Galli emphasizes the ability of a player to commit to their own growth, and anyone watching Donovan Mitchell closely can see he's a player who loves to prove people wrong.

An example from Jazz history: Karl Malone was a terrible free throw shooter when he started in the NBA. But after three years of work, he was excellent, and in his career, he took and made more free throws than anyone in league history.