Everyone's heard the old adage "The best defense is good offense." Of this adage, Wikipedia says, "Generally the idea is that offensive action preoccupies the opposition and ultimately its ability to directly harm." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_best_defense_is_a_good_offense)
Sorry, but this adage and Wikipedia is wrong. At least for basketball it is. Maybe it's true for military strategy, but for basketball? Please. Give me some defense.
Okay, in fairness, this quote is about war, an action with multiple stages of activity and unlimited variables. Basketball is a narrower, back and forth game where a team isn't too "preoccupied" to defend the basket just because the other team is killing it on offense.
But you get my drift. Defense is the key to winning in basketball. Not offense.
One of you fellow bloggers, Yucca or Clark I think, said essentially what Al does is try to fill a bucket with holes in it. In other words, he may get points on one end, but he's bleeding on the other end. I believe this is why the Knicks SuperTeam will ultimately fail to get a title: their scoring comes down in rain, but they're the Dutch boy trying to plug the dam with his finger on defense side of the ball. Raining on the other team is an okay strategy, Mr D'Antoni, but you gotta stop the levy from breaking on you. A flood's a lot worse than a rainstorm.
Here are three suggestions to improve the defense of the Jazz
1. Implement a Defensive Scheme
Defense needs to be brainwashed into these players. A specific system needs to be implemented, the way Thibs implemented a defense in Chicago. I don't know whether or not Coach Ty has the where to all to develop that kind of needed system. If he does, he better have a drawing boards in his hands as we speak. If he doesn't, he (and the front office) should recognize that shortcoming and hire an assistant who does have a defensive mind. I think Amar mentioned David Blatt. Someone like him. However it is done the Jazz need an upgraded, multi faceted defensive scheme that the players are taught and expected to execute.
2. Perimeter defense
Some like to praise Al for his shot blocking ability. Almost 2 per game; the highest of his career.
While, I applaud his effort, let's consider why he's getting those blocks. Simply put, for an event to occur, there must be opportunity. You don't need to watch Crime Detective Shows to know that every murderer needs motive and opportunity. A rhetorical question: are your chances to roll a 7 better if you're rolling 5 die or 1?
In short, a big part of those blocks isn't some incredible shot blocking acumen--he'll never be confused for Zo or Dikembe--but rather a big part of his blocking stats comes from, I believe, the fact that he has so many opportunities to get blocks because opposing guards are zipping past our perimeter defenders and giving Al more chances to get blocks.
We've got to beef up our perimeter D. I think Hayward will help with that. But we should also look at acquiring someone who can help in that area: in the draft Kawhi and Singleton are the types of players. Now we can cry over the spilled milk of letting Wes and his perimter D get away, or choosing to sign Raja over Brewer. But those decisions are past. The decision the FO needs to make today is to do what it takes to acquire a defensive minded perimeter player, be it through draft, free agency or trade.
If's Al's per game blocks get cut in half next season, I believe that will actually be a good indicator our perimter defense has improved.
3. The Defensive Anchor
The top 5 teams last season in points allowed were Orlando, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta and Dallas.
The one thing all these teams have in common: a defensive minded interior player (Howard, Noah, J. Anthony, Horford, Chandler) There are multiple other factors of course- Chicago had Thib's system, Mami has the spectacular D of Wade and James, etc. But don't overlook what those interior defensive anchors can do for a team.
We already have a player capable of being our Noah or our Horford in Derrick Favors. He has incredible defensive instincts that can make him one of the premier defenders in this league.
The FO needs to do everything they can to foster the development of his defense. Get him a Big Man Coach. Send him off to fancy California training camp. Have him play a 1 on 1 with Karl Malone on the floor and give him a Benjamin every time he blocks a shot of the Mailman's. I don't know necessarily the how's of developing a defensive talent (much of it, I suspect, is just natural ability) but the Jazz should spare no expense in developing him into the defensive anchor he has the ability to become.
There you have it. Three ideas that, if implemented, would turn our team from a doormat to a steel curtain. Let's hope the FO feels the same way.