Comparisons, Defense, and some Hayward

Now that we have played 8 games this season, it seems like it is time to compare this year's squad to last year's squad. The first thing I want to do is look at the games we've played this year and compare them to similar games played the previous year.

2014-15 Games to Date

Houston (at Home) - lost 104 to 93 (negative 11 point margin)

Dallas (Away) - lost 120 to 102 (negative 18 point margin)

Phoenix (at Home) - won 118 to 91 (positive 27 point margin)

LA Clippers (Away) - lost 107 to 101 (negative 6 point margin)

Cleveland (at Home) - won 102 to 100 (positive 2 point margin)

Dallas (at Home) - lost 105 to 82 (negative 23 point margin)

Detroit (Away) - won 97 to 96 (positive 1 point margin)

Indiana (Away) - lost 97 to 86 (negative 11 point margin)

Net margin = negative 39 points

Record = 3 wins and 5 losses

2013-14 Similar Games

Houston (first meeting at Home) - lost 104 to 93 (negative 11 point margin)

Dallas (first meeting Away) - lost 103 to 93 (negative 10 point margin)

Phoenix (first meeting at Home) - lost 112 to 101 (negative 11 point margin)

LA Clippers (first meeting Away) - lost 98 to 90 (negative 6 point margin)

Cleveland (at Home) - lost 113 to 102 (negative 11 point margin)

Dallas (first meeting at Home) - lost 108 to 101 (negative 7 point margin)

Detroit (Away) - won 110 to 89 (positive 21 point margin)

Indiana (Away) - lost 94 to 91 (negative 3 point margin)

Net margin = negative 38 points

Record = 1 win and 7 losses

It's difficult to get a good comparison on these games as teams have differing player make-up from year to year, but based on raw information, we have pretty much the same net margin year over year for similar games; however, the result this year is two additional wins.

Next, let's look at offensive and defensive efficiency (per Hollinger - 2013/14, 2014/15).

2013-14 Jazz

Offensive efficiency = 100.6 (Ranked 25th)

Defensive efficiency = 109.1 (Ranked 30th)

Pace = 93.6 (Ranked 26th)

2014-15 Jazz

Offensive efficiency = 105.5 (Ranked 9th)

Defensive efficiency = 109.2 (Ranked 28th)

Pace = 93.2 (Ranked 29th)

From these stats we see that pace and defensive efficiency hasn't changed much, but our offensive efficiency has made a significant jump. I was honestly surprised that our pace and defensive efficiency were so similar to last year given Quin's emphasis on playing with pace and on transition defense, so I dove into the numbers further.

Below is some research I pulled from's stats for 2013/14 and 2014/15:

2013-14 Jazz

Fast break points per game = 12.3 (Ranked 18th)

Opponents fast break points per game = 15.6 (Ranked 26th)

Opponents points in the paint per game = 45.8 (Ranked 27th)

Opponents points off turnovers per game = 17.4 (Ranked 24th)

2014-15 Jazz

Fast break points per game = 16.8 (Ranked 2nd)

Opponents fast break points per game = 13.6 (Ranked 21st)

Opponents points in the paint per game = 44.0 (Ranked 24th)

Opponents points off turnovers per game = 20.6 (Ranked 26th)

Interestingly, we've jumped from our 18th ranking to a 2nd ranking in fast-break points per game while maintaining our slow pace. There are a number of factors that go into this, but, since pace is a measure of team possessions, my extrapolation here, knowing that we are learning to play with the pass, is that while we're utilizing our youth to get out and run the floor, we also get bogged down in the half-court trying to find the open man. I would opine that the more our guys play in this system, the more they will be able to make the right read and the right pass and our pace will start to increase.

Additionally, we are dead last in generating opponent turnovers with 11.1 per game, and since turnovers would give our team additional possessions, the low opponent turnover rate decreases our game pace (please note that the Golden State Warriors are second in this category generating 19.4 turnovers per game; this will be important later on in this post - I promise).

Since we use a San Antonio style system, here is a list of the pace factors for them for the past five years:

2013-14 = 97.1 (Ranked 12th)

2012-13 = 96.4 (Ranked 6th)

2011-12 = 95.1 (Ranked 7th)

2010-11 = 94.6 (Ranked 14th)

2009-10 = 94.0 (Ranked 20th)

The five year average for the years noted above is 95.44; so I would use that as a barometer of where we want to be pace-wise.

From a defensive perspective, we are doing slightly better at allowing opponents to score off fast break opportunities and allowing opponents to score points in the paint, but until we get better at these areas, don't expect our defensive efficiency to improve.

Having said that, there is a team that has similar numbers to ours who currently owns the 3rd ranked efficient defense in the league - that team is the Golden State Warriors with a defensive efficiency of 94.5 per the Hollinger stats.

Here are Golden State's stats:

Fast break points per game = 17.1 (Ranked 1st)

Opponents fast break points per game = 13.4 (Ranked 18th)

Opponents points in the paint per game = 36.6 (Ranked 2nd)

Opponents points off turnovers per game = 20.7 (Ranked 27th)

With the exception of opponents points in the paint per game, the Warriors numbers are almost identical to ours. So the first difference between us and the Warriors is they are able to stop people in the paint (by more than 9 points a game). Thus we can surmise that If we get better at stopping people in the paint, we'll get better overall defensively.

I did find one more difference between us and the Warriors defensively. They are better than us at getting points off turnovers (see that note above was important). The Warriors get 19.3 points per game off turnovers (good for 6th in the NBA), while we get 12.4 points per game off turnovers (this gets us a rank of 28th in the NBA); a difference of 6.9 points per game. Again, we can surmise that if we improve in this area, we will improve our overall defense.

So that's where we stand after 8 games as a team.

From an individual standpoint, Hayward has made a huge leap in his game both offensively and defensively. Per my research on, Hayward is one of five players who have played 70% or more of their team's available minutes for their position and have a PER of 20 or more while holding their opponents to a PER of less than 10.

Here's the complete list:

Harden (HOU) - own PER = 27.2; opp PER = 5.5

Hayward (UTA) - own PER = 25; opp PER = 8.8

Gasol (MEM) - own PER = 21.7; opp PER = 9.9

Thompson (GOL) - own PER = 21.4; opp PER = 1.3

Gay (SAC) - own PER = 20.9; opp PER = 3.7

What's even more impressive to me is that Hayward is the only one of those players who is on a team with a losing record and that has a below average defensive efficiency rating. Houston is 6 and 1, Memphis is 7 and 1, Golden State is 5 and 2, and Sacramento is 5 and 3. Meanwhile, Houston's defensive efficiency rating is 92.5 (1st), Memphis' is 94.8 (4th), Golden State's is 94.5 (3rd), and Sacramento's is 101.7 (13th).

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.