Want to know the surest sign that the Jazz have a good head coach in Quin Snyder? Ask his former players.
That includes former Jazzman Paul Millsap, who flourished in a starting role in Atlanta last season with Snyder on the coaching staff. Via Kurt Kragthorpe at the Tribune:
Millsap is definitely a Snyder advocate. A late addition to this week's Team USA training camp for the FIBA Basketball World Cup after Kevin Love withdrew, Millsap developed his 3-point shooting to a degree that seemed unimaginable during his seven seasons with the Jazz. He credits Snyder for much of his offensive improvement.
"I don't think people realize how intelligent he is," Millsap said Monday. "His basketball IQ is on a different level. He's helped me a lot on my game. We're going to miss him big-time. [The Jazz] got something special."
Elements of the offense that Snyder is bringing to Utah after working with coach Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta benefited Millsap. "The spacing, the ball movement, the confidence that you can shoot the basketball when you're open," Millsap said. "That has opened up my game a lot."
I can't wait to see some of that spacing in Utah. The Jazz don't have the shooters that the Hawks do, but hopefully a new offensive system will stimulate the outside shooting of players like Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke. And if players around the league are really as jealous of the Jazz for nabbing Snyder as they say, maybe that will attract more smart players looking to improve.
One player that contributed to that spacing for Millsap in Atlanta: former Jazzman Kyle Korver. By now, you've probably read Zach Lowe's glowing opus on the sharpshooter, and you've probably devoured the comments from Quin Snyder and Jerry Sloan contained therein. Go read it if you haven't, but if you have, there's one bit I want to highlight that has application to our current Jazz team. It's about Korver's training at well-known Jazz offseason workout hotspot, P3 in Santa Barbara:
[P3 founder Marcus] Elliott has never had a more committed NBA client, he says. Korver moved his family to Santa Barbara so he could live near P3, and Elliott has to bully Korver into taking at least some time off after the NBA season. Staying healthy takes more work as a player ages. A glaring flaw in body mechanics will manifest itself in an injury for most aging NBA players, Elliott says. "The 82-game NBA season is close to the threshold of what the human body can handle," he says.
And Korver? He hasn't missed significant time in four seasons, and the data shows he is a symmetrical player now - able to attack with equal strength on either side of the floor.
While Korver's work ethic and off-court personality certainly aren't common in the NBA, I hope that the training of current Jazz players like Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter (who have spent significant time at P3) will bear similar fruit next season.
Anyway. I won't belabor it, but that whole Korver piece is great. Miss you, Kyle.
FanPosts! Got a trio of good ones for you this week. First up: IWMTB19 looks ahead to the decision the Jazz face about extending Enes Kanter's contract:
Failing to extend Hayward seemed to work out badly for the Jazz. Hayward was supposedly asking for 4/52, and he ended up getting 4/63.4. Following this miscalculation from the Jazz, some fans on Twitter have taken to the position that the Jazz should avoid this possibility with Kanter. This position is that the Jazz will be able to extend Kanter this offseason for less money than they would have to pay next offseason. After all, with the cap expanding quickly, you end up with a situation where there are more teams with huge cap space than there are players who are worth that kind of money. And if a team has money to burn and has to spend on something (due to ownership or fanbase pressure or CBA structure), then they would rather gamble on a young player who might be able to live up to the contract. Though Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe would disagree with the argument, I agree with some of those premises. However, I don't think that this situation applies to Enes Kanter. I think it would be a bad bet on Kanter's ability to extend him for large money (say, 4/48) as of now.
Next, JuMu makes some predictions on what our Jazz players will put up numbers-wise under the reign of Quin Snyder:
Already players are repeating like a well-trained regiment one of the apparent preliminary goals of the team this year: "We play with a pass." I get shivers just at the thought of the team establishing a new system where ball movement is encouraged as well as playing at a fast pace that will (get a load of this unheard of strategy) utilize our roster's inherent strengths of youth and athleticism.
Here are my optimistic expectations of what to expect and/or hope for from the core of the Jazz roster this season.
And sticking with the prediction vibe, JRN5150 takes a stab at foreseeing the win-loss records for the Western Conference next season:
Earlier this week I was thinking about what the Western Conference Playoff picture would look like at the end of this upcoming season. I realized that there are possibly eleven teams that could believably make the playoffs this year. This may be the most talented Western Conference since I started following the NBA closely (2005-ish). For this preview I will categorize each of the teams into tiers and give a brief summary of each.
Thanks, y'all! And a reminder: If you want to see your FanPost get a shout-out here...write one! And feel free to hit me up on Twitter for an RT to spread the word.
We know Gordon Hayward is currently at Team USA camp, fighting for a roster spot for the upcoming FIBA World Cup. And while he's in some lofty company there, he certainly belongs, judging by his potential and best performances.
In fact, NBA.com took a look at the 10 best single-game 2013-14 stat lines from players in Team USA camp, and Gordon's stellar effort against the Thunder made the cut:
9. Gordon Hayward, Utah Jazz - January 7, 2014 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder - 37 points (13-for-17-FG), 11 rebounds and seven assists
Performances like this apparently gave Jazz and Hornets brass ample reason to throw $63 million at Hayward this summer, as they know the level at which he is capable of playing. The former Butler wunderkind did his best Durant impression on this January night - granted, KD went for 48 points of his own, but the Jazz won the game by 11. The Thunder sliced a 24-point Jazz lead to just five, but Hayward responded by sinking five consecutive jumpers, two of them 3-pointers.
While performances like this weren't the norm for Hayward last season, as the article points out, they showcase his potential and partially justify his massive new contract. Consistency aside, there aren't many players who are even capable of throwing down a line like that, let alone while dueling Kevin Durant.
Hayward's contract is, at least in part, a bet on his upside -- an upside we've yet to see under Quin Snyder. And while a new coach may not be a panacea for the flaws in Gordon's game, it's certainly not unreasonable to expect some improvement, especially after last year's regression.
Do you read Moni's blog? You should read Moni's blog. Because she finds interviews with Jazz players and personnel and spends time transcribing them, like this chat Dante Exum had with Australian hoops podcast Grizz & Tizz From Way Downtown. Here's just a tiny taste; you'll want to click through to Moni's transcription, or listen to the original, for more:
Q: What is a "Ute"?
Dante: I have no clue...I would say it's an animal.
Ah, you have much to learn, young one.