Utah Jazz Playbook and Mentality: Can the Jazz afford to keep ignoring the three?

Former Jazz player Kyle Korver made 118 threes for the Chicago Bulls this year. Former Jazz player Deron Williams made 115 threes for the New Jersey Nets this year. I guess they just learned how to do that this off-season....

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 . . .

Jazz History:

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
Mehmet Okur 27 2006 2007 . 80 2664 33.3 . 129 336 38.4% . 490 1061 46.2% . 4.2 13.3 31.7%
Mehmet Okur 28 2007 2008 . 72 2390 33.2 . 114 294 38.8% . 374 841 44.5% . 4.1 11.7 35.0%
C.J. Miles 23 2010 2011 . 78 1969 25.2 . 109 339 32.2% . 366 899 40.7% . 4.3 11.5 37.7%
Bryon Russell 26 1996 1997 . 81 2525 31.2 . 108 264 40.9% . 297 620 47.9% . 3.3 7.7 42.6%
Bryon Russell 29 1999 2000 . 82 2900 35.4 . 106 268 39.6% . 408 914 44.6% . 3.3 11.1 29.3%
Jeff Hornacek 32 1995 1996 . 82 2588 31.6 . 104 223 46.6% . 442 880 50.2% . 2.7 10.7 25.3%
Kyle Korver 27 2008 2009 . 78 1874 24.0 . 103 267 38.6% . 245 560 43.8% . 3.4 7.2 47.7%
John Stockton 32 1994 1995 . 82 2867 35.0 . 102 227 44.9% . 429 791 54.2% . 2.8 9.6 28.7%




















Totals



635 19777 31.1
875 2218 39.4%
3051 6566 46.5%
3.5 10.3 33.8%

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
1 Ryan Anderson 23 ORL . 61 1964 32.2 . 166 422 39.3% . 332 757 43.9% . 6.9 12.4 55.7%
2 Jason Terry 34 DAL . 63 2000 31.7 . 138 365 37.8% . 357 830 43.0% . 5.8 13.2 44.0%
3 Kevin Durant 23 OKC . 66 2546 38.6 . 133 344 38.7% . 643 1297 49.6% . 5.2 19.7 26.5%
4 Steve Novak 28 NYK . 54 1020 18.9 . 133 282 47.2% . 161 337 47.8% . 5.2 6.2 83.7%
5 Brandon Jennings 22 MIL . 66 2331 35.3 . 129 388 33.2% . 469 1121 41.8% . 5.9 17.0 34.6%
6 Wesley Matthews 25 POR . 66 2228 33.8 . 129 337 38.3% . 314 763 41.2% . 5.1 11.6 44.2%
7 Randy Foye 28 LAC . 65 1682 25.9 . 127 329 38.6% . 256 644 39.8% . 5.1 9.9 51.1%
8 Joe Johnson 30 ATL . 60 2127 35.5 . 125 322 38.8% . 423 731 57.9% . 5.4 12.2 44.0%
9 Danny Granger 28 IND . 62 2062 33.3 . 123 323 38.1% . 391 941 41.6% . 5.2 15.2 34.3%
10 Kyle Korver 30 CHI . 65 1469 22.6 . 118 271 43.5% . 178 412 43.2% . 4.2 6.3 65.8%
11 Deron Williams 27 NJN . 55 1999 36.3 . 115 342 33.6% . 391 961 40.7% . 6.2 17.5 35.6%
12 James Harden 22 OKC . 62 1946 31.4 . 114 292 39.0% . 309 629 49.1% . 4.7 10.1 46.4%
13 Richard Jefferson 31 GSW . 63 1748 27.7 . 113 269 42.0% . 203 488 41.6% . 4.3 7.7 55.1%
14 J.J. Redick 27 ORL . 65 1765 27.2 . 112 268 41.8% . 248 584 42.5% . 4.1 9.0 45.9%
15 Klay Thompson 21 GSW . 66 1608 24.4 . 111 268 41.4% . 318 718 44.3% . 4.1 10.9 37.3%
16 Nicolas Batum 23 POR . 59 1791 30.4 . 107 274 39.1% . 289 641 45.1% . 4.6 10.9 42.7%
17 Marco Belinelli 25 NOR . 66 1966 29.8 . 107 284 37.7% . 286 686 41.7% . 4.3 10.4 41.4%
18 Marcus Thornton 24 SAC . 61 1780 29.2 . 107 310 34.5% . 352 803 43.8% . 5.1 13.2 38.6%
19 Ray Allen 36 BOS . 46 1565 34.0 . 106 234 45.3% . 226 493 45.8% . 5.1 10.7 47.5%
20 Anthony Morrow 26 NJN . 62 1636 26.4 . 106 286 37.1% . 272 658 41.3% . 4.6 10.6 43.5%
21 Matt Bonner 31 SAS . 65 1326 20.4 . 105 250 42.0% . 154 350 44.0% . 3.8 5.4 71.4%
22 Brandon Knight 20 DET . 66 2129 32.3 . 105 276 38.0% . 319 769 41.5% . 4.2 11.7 35.9%
23 Kevin Love 23 MIN . 55 2145 39.0 . 105 282 37.2% . 474 1059 44.8% . 5.1 19.3 26.6%
24 Dorrell Wright 26 GSW . 61 1650 27.0 . 105 292 36.0% . 222 526 42.2% . 4.8 8.6 55.5%
25 Nick Young 26 LAC . 62 1729 27.9 . 103 282 36.5% . 316 784 40.3% . 4.5 12.6 36.0%
26 Danny Green 24 SAS . 66 1522 23.1 . 102 234 43.6% . 211 477 44.2% . 3.5 7.2 49.1%
27 Jason Richardson 31 ORL . 54 1591 29.5 . 102 277 36.8% . 243 596 40.8% . 5.1 11.0 46.5%
28 Mario Chalmers 25 MIA . 64 1825 28.5 . 101 260 38.8% . 223 498 44.8% . 4.1 7.8 52.2%
29 Al Harrington 31 DEN . 64 1761 27.5 . 101 303 33.3% . 345 773 44.6% . 4.7 12.1 39.2%
30 O.J. Mayo 24 MEM . 66 1771 26.8 . 100 275 36.4% . 300 736 40.8% . 4.2 11.2 37.4%
31 Paul Pierce 34 BOS . 61 2075 34.0 . 100 273 36.6% . 394 890 44.3% . 4.5 14.6 30.7%
Totals 1917 56757 29.6 3548 9214 38.5% 9619 21952 43.8% 4.8 11.5 42.0%

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
Players 8 31 . -23
MPG 31.1 29.6 . 1.5
3PTA 3.5 4.8 . -1.3
FGA 10.3 11.5 . -1.2
% is a three 33.8% 42.0% . -8.2%
3PT% 39.4% 38.5% . 0.9%
FG% 46.5% 43.8% . 2.7%

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.

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