Are we infatuated with scoring? The point of the game is to score more than the other team. However, a defensive outlook would be to play spoiler and make the other team score LESS than your team. We use statistics to measure on court performance, but there are an almost endless assortment of ways in which offensive production is enumerated. Should we have more defensive statistics as well? Should we track how many times you make your man pick up his dribble? Or forced turn overs? Or times you had a successful double team?
Defense is fascinating to me. I remain a defensive player when I lace them up. I see some players on the Jazz who may have this similar mindset. That said, right now, we don't have a team mindset for defense. One player can't do it all by himself. That said, Andrei Kirilenko was the last Jazz player to make an All-NBA Defensive team (he made either the first or second team three years in a row from '03-04 till '05-06) - and he tried his best to do it all by himself. If you look back at the playoffs we were trounced by the San Antonio Spurs. It wasn't because we couldn't stop them that we were trounced, rather, it was because we couldn't over come their defense. For the regular season 7 different players on our team averaged (again: for the entire season) 45.0 FG% or greater. and an 8th just missed the cut finishing the season at 44.5 FG%.In the playoffs, though, only three Jazz players shot 45.0 FG% or greater. And one of them was Blake Ahearn, so it almost doesn't count.
More on defense after the break . . .
I think our front office has gone to great lengths to primarily help our offense out. We know we're not so hot at the three point game, and adding it to our already formidable offense should further improve what we do on that side of the ball. I like that. It's a positive and necessary move. But we also need to be able to do what the Spurs did to us -- make us look foolish by shutting us down.
There are a number of lineups that I'm eager to see our team use next season. God knows how many deflections a group of Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward, and either Randy Foye or Alec Burks would get. They wouldn't be a great offensive team -- unless of course they took care of business on the defensive glass, got steals, and got out in transition. (IF they did that, and by all indications it seems like they would, then they'd be pretty okay) God also knows how much I'll cringe if our lineup is Al Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans, Randy Foye, and Jamaal Tinsley. Essentially, what we put out on the floor could be really good, or depending on fouls and injuries, really bad.
That's where the whole "team defensive identity" has to come into play. Back in our Finals runs everyone was expected to play defense, there were no "one way offensive players" on those rosters. If Karl Malone was suspended and Greg Foster got the start at the 4 (to retain Big Dog off the bench, with the bench unit), Foster was supposed to D-up the other team's post scorer and dog him all day long. And if you re-watch the games, Foster did his best to do exactly that. If we get our role players to step up similarly and hustle (and you kind of know that's basically all DeMarre Carroll can hope to achieve this season behind Marvin Williams and Gordon Hayward) we could get another S.W.A.R.M. type of bench lineup. I think that would be awesome; though, I think it's more important for our STARTERS to adopt that hard edge "we're going to kick your butt with toughness and defense" mindset that the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics have/had, the same mindset we had during our Finals years.
Defense needs to start from our stars first. If they don't get a free pass for defense, you know the bench guys who are motivated and want to see playing time will ALSO be busting their butts on d.
And hey, we may just start winning playoff games again. Defense wins championships, and yes, the team with more points wins the game. If we ever want to get close to the finals again it's not going to be because we need to make big strides on our offense, but on our defense. After all, scoring more points isn't always about scoring, but also it's about stopping the other guys.
Let's play some defense this year.