Getting praised by ESPN NBA writer Zach Lowe is typically a very good thing, and two current Utah Jazz players and one former one have received such recognition over the past few days.
Lowe took note of Dante Exum's decisiveness in his final "Ten things I like and don't like" column of the season, while Royce O'Neale and former point guard Trey Burke were named to Lowe's annual list of "Luke Walton All-Stars."
Of Exum, Lowe wrote, "Before Exum injured his shoulder in preseason, the Jazz were cautiously optimistic he was ready to make a leap after so many aborted attempts. His play since returning last month has justified that hope.
"Last season, Exum either went too slowly or flung himself toward the rim without a plan. He has at least ditched the over-cautious half of that dangerous equation:
"As for O'Neale and Burke, the 'Luke Walton All-Stars' honor 'role players and journeymen thriving in unexpected ways.'"
Of O'Neale, Lowe writes, "O'Neale is a fierce, switchable, in-your-jersey defender. The Jazz pride themselves on foul avoidance, but their perimeter defense last season softened into squishiness. That isn't a problem with O'Neale, (Ricky) Rubio and Jae Crowder."
Meanwhile, Burke made Lowe's list after a strong half-season with the New York Knicks because "He is a good shooter capable of playing off the ball and producing a decent midrange shot in a pinch. He should stick beyond his contract, which runs through next season."
The Ringer praises Jazz, questions Rudy Gobert
Among the multitude of national publications to dive into the Jazz's turnaround since January, The Ringer on Tuesday wrote a feature detailing head coach Quin Snyder's role in the change.
The piece, written by John Gonzalez, quotes rookie guard Donovan Mitchell, Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant and the above-mentioned Luke Walton praising Snyder.
“It’s a complete 180 I guess, with the streak,” Mitchell said. “That’s the sign of a well organized and coached team. We know each other and how we want to play.”
The Ringer hasn't been completely positive about the Jazz over the past few days, however, as Danny Chau wrote a piece detailing how much the team's success is tied to Rudy Gobert, and how that could be a problem in the playoffs when other squads like to play small.
"What happens when a playoff team can routinely exploit Gobert on the perimeter?" Chau writes. "He is too central to the entire team’s operations to sit out, but he’s also too ill-equipped to handle five-out lineups regularly."
And finally ...
The NBA season has brought a strangely high number of instances of players and coaches doing things entirely in unison as if in a choreographed dance, often leaving viewers quite mesmerized.
On Monday, a 52-second video surfaced on Twitter of a compilation of such instances throughout the season, including a few times it happened with the Jazz.
Watch and be amazed.