The easiest way to score inside is when you're open. If you can't get open and get an easy look at the basket life gets harder for you. The Utah Jazz like to score easy buckets in the paint. It's harder to get this done if the defense can get away with packing the paint against us because they have zero fear of our grown men professional basketball players taking shots from 23 feet out with no one on them. Heck, I'd love to be the defensive co-coordinator for another team that has to draw up plans for 'how to stop the Jazz'. It appears infinitely easier to stop us and stop what we *want* to do if you make life hard on our inside scorers. On a scale of "one-to-Greg Ostertag winning a spelling bee" it's basically impossible for us to thrive by going inside when the defense doesn't even have to worry about an outside attack.
The numbers back me up. The Jazz were 29th in the NBA in total three point attempts this last regular season. And by virtue of their amazing 27th best three point shooting percentage, they were 28th in total made threes. Those numbers make me wonder a lot. How do guys who are super duper open miss so many shots that they are only 27th best in %? How do guys with such seemingly good looks only shoot it so few times a game compared to the normal trend of the rest of the NBA? Is this a system issue? A playbook issue? A player ability issue? Or a combination of a lot of other mysterious factors that we don't even know about yet? (I'm not above attributing this all to a gypsy curse)
Whatever the root cause there are some quantitative truths from last year. The Jazz didn't shoot threes. They didn't make threes. And teams had no fear of us from three. For the sake of all that is good and holy, or just the sake of our inside aspirations, we need to take more threes, make more threes, and get some players out there that keep the defense honest.
A billion numbers after the jump . . .
Did you know that in the entire history of the Utah Jazz there have been only 8 times where a player made at least 100 three pointers in a season? Ever? Memo did it twice, and so did B-Russ. The other four times were due to CJ, Horny, Stock, and Kyle. That's 8 times in the history of the franchise (in the three point line era). I don't think it is fair to say that we've NEVER had good three point shooters before. Guys on our team are quite capable of taking that shot, but I guess -- systematically -- those shots are just not shots our team takes. The smoking gun HAS to by Kyle Korver who became super gun shy as he chased a record -- but is quite capable of making 100 threes more than just once. After all, Korver did it in 7 of his 9 years in the league. A little more encouragement could have been helpful. That's just me. And that's just because I think taking more threes doesn't hurt your team, as it makes the defense more honest. (And hey, sometimes open threes are easier to make in theory, than contested shots in the paint!)
Here is the full list:
|Player||Age||Season||G||Mins||MPG||3PTM||3PTA||3PT%||FGM||FGA||FG%||3PTA/Gm||FGA/Gm||% FGA is 3PTA|
If you sum all of the data you get a profile of the type of season a Jazz player has to have in order to meet the 100 three pointers made milestone. They play 31.1 mpg, and are super efficient in shooting. They only take 10 shots a game, and only 3.5 threes a game. A little more than one third of all their shots are threes. This is true even for everyone except the one dimensional shooting specialist Korver who shot a three 47.7% of the time he took a Field Goal. As a group, the Jazz Centurion made 39.4% from deep. That's great. Not so great is how there are only 8 of them. It's no surprise, though, that the teams that have HAD these guys on them appeared to be some of the better teams we've put out. (Exception being CJ last year - but at least he was working to help our floor spacing!)
As a point of reference, in this lockout shortened season there were 31 NBA players who made 100 threes total. Seriously. We have 8 for the history of our franchise.
I do think this is not just a "we don't have good shooters" problem (but that IS part of it -- but on the flip side, you're not improving your roster by trading away guys like Memo and not resigning Korver -- that IS on the GM). This seems to be a playbook / systematic issue.
The NBA's Century club for the 2011-12 Season:
|Player||Age||Team||G||Mins||MPG||3PTM||3PTA||3PT%||FGM||FGA||FG%||3PTA/Gm||FGA/Gm||% FGA is 3PTA|
There are a lot of guys here, and right off the bat you see that a lot of them aren't 1st or 2nd options. Many of these guys are shooting specialists. They exist to draw the defense out and create space for their inside guys. Some are stars. Some are the primary options on their teams. But a lot of them are not. And, again, a few of them are even former Jazz players. (It's not like they just learned how to shoot in the year they left the team -- they always had that talent; but were not encouraged to show it here).
If you look at the aggregate data you see a different profile. These guys play less minutes, but shoot more shots in that time, and shoot more threes. Furthermore, the percentage of their shots that are threes are higher as well. And what's the price? The Jazz do not even shoot 1.0% better from deep for all their carefully selected shots.
I'll show you mine if you show me yours:
Here's the data side by side . . .
|100+ 3's Club|
|Jazz History||NBA '11-12||Difference|
|% is a three||33.8%||42.0%||.||-8.2%|
We play more mins, and shoot a better fg% and 3pt%, but it's not by much at all. And the profile for these shooting specialists seem to take more threes, and take more shots from three as a part of their arsenal. The floor spacing results kind of speak for themselves. No one accuses the Boston Celtics (2 guys), Los Angeles Clippers (2 guys), Oklahoma City Thunder (2 guys), Orlando Magic (3 guys), or San Antonio Spurs (3 guys) of having poor floor spacing.
But what if you miss . . .?
At the very least, if you miss your three -- you're doing it with a defender closing out on you, which pulls away a potential rival rebounder that our amazing offensive rebounding team has to contend with. We were #3 in offensive rebounds this last season. And that was WITH our team shooting 27th "best" from deep in %.
And the point of taking more threes, having that 100+ three point maker on the team, is to change the way teams defend us. Change what defensive assistants tell their players to look out for. No one smart is going to say "oh yeah, go ahead and leave Redick / Bonner / Steve Novak open". Those are guys teams HAVE to stay glued to. Sticking a defender like glue to a man 23 feet from the basket makes life so much easier for our big men. The emphasis is always going to be going inside for the easiest shot in the game - an open shot close to the rim. By having members of this 100+ club on the roster we make life easier for our bigs.
That doesn't mean go out there and trade for Nick Young. It means work more shots for threes into the playbook. And encourage our three point shooters to shoot more.
- The more we take = the more we make.
- And the more we make = the more other teams have to respect us.
- The more respect our shooters get = more easier looks inside for our bigs.
Can the Jazz afford to keep ignoring the three?
No. Still not convinced? Rewatch the Spurs / Jazz playoff series again. Then tell me how is it possible we lost to a team that shot so much from deep? Oh yeah, I forgot, gypsy curse.