I just finished watching all of TheUtahJazz1Fan's highlight videos of the Jazz and the young players on youtube, and to put it mildly, I'm hyped. Watching Kanter, Favors, Gobert, Hayward, Burks, and Burke (no highlight video for Evans, sadly) ooze with potential and swagger got me thinking about what changes I'd like to see most this season, so I thought I'd write up a quick fanpost about it. I haven't really planned out what I'm going for here, so I may wander a bit. But here it is.
1. Fluid lineups. I want to see Q take advantage of our versatile and relatively deep roster (multiple players who can play - and defend - multiple positions). I want to see him adjust the minute distributions, rotations, and yes, even the starting lineup, based on matchups. If we're up against a small-ball team it makes sense to start a more mobile player at the 4 - meaning we could see Evans start at the 4 in certain situations. Or if we're struggling with length defensively, we can slide Favors to the 4, put Gobert at 5, and bring Exum, Burks, and Hayward or Hood in to match up with 1-3.
2. Youth and athleticism. This roster can RUN. We play at altitude. We are at least 2 deep at every position by my count (and we're talking NBA quality players, not just D-league fodder). Logically, we could stay competitive against more talented teams simply by running them ragged. Pace the hell out of teams on our home court. Run in transition. Hound the opposition on defense and force bad passes, bad shots, and turnovers. There is no reason to play a slow, plodding style of basketball, even when we have two traditional bigs on the floor. Our 3 best bigs are all young, athletic, and can run the floor well.
3. In-game adjustments. Watching Corbin fumble and bumble his way through NBA games was painful. He seemed to lack an understanding of momentum - when to call timeouts, when to push the pace, when to sub out a player (or leave a player in when he had a hot hand), etc. Time after time, we saw a failure to adjust to a dominant player or offensive play. That should end with Q at the helm. When something isn't working, change it. When a player is cold, either sit him down for a few minutes or change up the offense so he's not taking the shots. When an opposing player is lighting us up (hello, corner threes!), adjust the defense accordingly.
4. More creative and flexible schemes. Adding little wrinkles to the game can throw a team of their groove. Suddenly switching to a zone defense for a few possessions in a row (something Corbin rarely did) can muck up their offensive gameplan and tip the momentum in our Favor. Creative out-of-bounds and end-of-game plays - something we have sorely lacked the past few seasons - can catch teams off guard. We need multiple options for each play, based on how the defense reacts, rather than one option that may or may not work then resetting the entire offense. Alley-oops. PLEASE. We have the passers, we have the finishers. PnR alley-oop is one of the simplest and most effective plays an offense can run if they have the personnel for it. Fortunately we have long, athletic bigs who can finish lobs with ease.
5. Accountability. I want all players - no matter who they are or how long they've been in the league - to be held to the same standard. Make a bone-headed play, get guidance from the coaching staff. Make that same bone-headed play shortly after that, get benched and get an earful. Play lazy defense, get benched immediately. Take a bad, selfish shot, see a consequence for it. I don't care how Q disciplines the team. I just care that he actually does it and, more importantly, does it consistently. No more of this nonsense with veterans being held to a lower standard and "young guys" being on a tight, short leash. Every player should be expected to do the little things. Obviously every player is different and must be treated differently based on how they react to a particular coaching style, but I trust Q to know how to handle his players. (For example, it seems to me that Favors plays better when he's angry, so yelling at him to light a fire under his ass could improve his play on the court, while Kanter seems to be more focused when he's not worried about disappointing his coach or being benched.)
6. Culture. Something that the Jazz have been lacking. During a Spurs game this season, Popovich was talking to his team during a timeout down the stretch of a close game. The Spurs had possession and there was less than a minute left in the game, I think. Pop spoke to his team and said something to the effect of, "I don't care if we make this shot or win this game. It's about playing the game the right way and taking the right shots." I don't remember if this was a playoff game or just a meaningless game at the end of the regular season when seeding was already determined, but that has stuck with me. It's not about winning or losing. It's about doing things the right way, playing the game the right way, taking the right shots, building a culture of long term success. Too many times we watched Corbin "draw up" a play that consisted of nothing more than inbounding the ball to Molo or Foye and just letting them ISO to end the game. ISO basketball is the most wrong way to play basketball that I know of. I want to see the Jazz develop a CULTURE. That is what has made San Antonio such a great franchise and what has allowed them to sign their star players at a discount. Good culture breeds loyalty.
That's my wishlist. I'm hyped. I'm ready for this season to start. And I can't wait to see what Q can do with this roster.