Do you like three point shots? In tonight's game between the Phoenix Suns and the Utah Jazz you are likely to see some. The Suns have been heaving threes for years now. And this version of the Utah Jazz may be bereft of an absolutely deadly guy like Kyle Korver (sorry, Steve Novak and his career -4.3 mpg doesn't count in my book), but they're taking and making threes in bulk this year as well.
Yes. Both teams are taking more than 20 a game, with the Suns jacking up 25 or more in four of their six games so far. The Jazz make 7.7 threes a night, at a very respectable (dare I say enviable?) 38.0% clip. Creating three point shots is different than just taking them. And both of these teams run offenses that lead to open shooters outside the arc. Using this as a weapon, and not an end of the shot clock prayer, is the natural evolution of the Utah Jazz offense. While the 7 seconds or less Suns are dead, their new style builds on much of the previous era's strengths.
Smart guards who can drive and dish draw in the defense, which when coupled with unselfish passing and co-ordinated movement and spacing, have the potential to absolutely wreck teams. Steve Nash made a living doing it. Last season Goran Dragic did as well. And this season both teams boast a ridiculous roster of players who can do damage with the ball in their hands (Eric Bledsode, Dragic, Isaiah Thomas, and Gerald Green for the Suns; Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Gordon Hayward for the Jazz). It would be silly to expect both of these teams to stop taking threes.
Phoenix is especially dangerous with their stable of face-up bigs in the Morris Twins, and former Jazz free agency target Anthony Tolliver (thankfully Channing Frye is no longer here). Utah lags behind in this department, but Steve Novak is still a thing. Enes Kanter and Trevor Booker have shown the possibility of expanding their comfortable range out on the court. And this still is preseason. So you're still going to see them take that open, spot up three.
Again, it's the natural evolution of this flow based offense. It's not what Jerry Sloan or Cotton Fitzsimmons ran. But the rules, court lines, game, and players have advanced since then. Today bigmen are almost expected to be able to maintain floor space. Back in the 80's it was a novelty. For teams that want to go deep in the playoffs? A necessity.
There's going to be more here than just outside shooting. After all, that outside shooting doesn't exist without dribble penetration. And that's where the previously mentioned eight ball handlers come into play. They'll go a long way to determining the outcome of this match. But the style of play can be dictated by the bigmen, and that's where the Jazz have the overt advantage -- particularly on defense with Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert.
But it's still the last game of the preseason for both teams. No one is injured. But I can expect that both Jeff Hornacek and Quin Snyder will be liberal in resting their rotation players in this one. It's going to be a fun game to watch.
But it's just a teaser for when the games really start to matter.