There are plenty of things to write about today: Bryce Cotton's death jam, Jody's return, or Gary Briggs' retirement. I think the site has covered those already pretty well. I think today we are going to talk about why you should be excited for the Utah Jazz next year.
The Jazz are approaching critical mass.
This is a fun time to be a Utah Jazz fan. But nothing is more exciting than watching a team turning the corner on their development. The Utah Jazz set out in 2014-2015 to improve defensively, increase tempo, and find their identity. After (almost) 82 games the Jazz have become one of the most intimidating teams on the defensive side of the ball and have found their identity as a defensive unit. Their games will end in a 78-72 and their opponents will feel it the next day. The Utah Jazz are Daredevil. They will be the adversary to every other NBA team. While they may be (experience) blind because of their youth they use their other senses (trust, defense, good coaching, and athleticism) to make up the gap. There is nothing more exciting (frightening to the NBA) than a young team finding itself before it's supposed to. The Utah Jazz are one of those teams.
The Utah Jazz have a teacher.
When Jerry Sloan was brought on as a consultant most fans, myself included, thought that he would be the teacher the Jazz needed to help these young players develop in the absence of Jeff Hornacek. That did not happen. Then the Jazz hired Quin Snyder. He took his bumps and bruises at the beginning of the year like any rookie head, but after the all-star break the fruits of his teaching appeared. DEFENSE. Real Defense.
But Quin didn't just start coaching during the All-Star break.
He started his process of teaching in summer league. During training camp and preseason. In preseason we began to see his teaching techniques. He would sub out a player who was struggling for one or two plays to show them what was going on. Then he sub them immediately back in so they could put into practice what they learned. HE TAUGHT IN THE MOMENT. It was more important to teach that player immediately after the mistake or success was made than to wait until the next dead ball. It was more important than a blown timeout. If the Jazz were short of timeouts at the end of the game that was okay. Timeouts for Utah are for learning. Timeouts for Utah next season will still be for learning. This Utah Jazz team was full of young impressionable minds and he was ready to mold them into basketball geniuses. I admit I thought this tactic would end after preseason, but he kept it. He continued it. He continued it after All-Star break. He still continues it even with 7 rookies on the floor.
Don't be fooled when people say the Utah Jazz have a great coach. Quin is a great teacher who happens to head coach. That's why he will lead the Jazz to greatness. He doesn't coach. He teaches.
Rudy Gobert & Derrick Favors
The Utah Jazz found their defensive monster. He will rule over the Western Conference for years to come. Rudy is just going to improve. He will improve because he listens. He takes feedback. He wants to be the best, but more importantly he'll listen to how he can be the best. His emergence this year was breathtaking. Not every day your favorite team finds a future great at center. Let alone in the back end of the NBA draft.
Rudy Gobert is the engine that drives Utah. He is their rage, he is their passion, and he is their rock. While Derrick Favors is their Leonardo, Rudy Gobert is their Rafael. He gets angry. He shows his feelings. Just like Rafael the more he controls and focuses his rage, the better he has become. With an offseason focused on improvement, the Utah Jazz will have a pillar of greatness from Rudy Gobert.
But don't forget about Favors. Just like Leonardo, Derrick Favors is steady, not flashy, but the most skilled big man of Utah. He leads them not by his words but by his actions. Favors is ready to be the Power Forward of Utah. Utah is not just a pit stop for him like it was for Carlos Boozer. No. He is ready to ascend to the throne that only the Mailman once owned. Next year, Derrick Favors will climb from out of the shadow of Malone and begin his legacy of one of the great big men in Utah's history. Many might not even notice it because he won't talk about it. He'll just do it.
Dante Exum & Trey Burke
It's easy to forget how young this point guard duo is. Do we know if they can play together efficiently? No. Do we know if they can lead a team? No. Do we know that they will improve? Most certainly. And if other players gains under Quin Snyder are any indication, these two will profit the most from the prior Duke point guard. This is Quin's position. Quin will teach them in the offseason his game. Not only his game, but how to improve.
Dante will get an offseason to calm down and see the floor. The game will slow down for him. He'll have the most noticeable improvement. The more he grows into his body the better. Summer league is going to be fun for Dante. He won't be the new kid on the block. He'll see the game for what it is. He'll be okay.
Trey should have an uneventful offseason. That's the way it should be. He got into a mini scandal last year. If he focuses on training and his regimen he has the most to gain. His improvement won't look as tremendous as Dante's but he will be ready to be a sixth man next year. He will be the Jazz's mighty mouse.
Alec Burks and Rodney Hood. The Swagcourt. Whoever will be the starting shooting guard next year, it doesn't matter. The Jazz are in good hands with either. Alec Burks will be healthy for the first time in years. Rodney will get to become healthy during the offseason and prepare his body for a full NBA season. Rodney's three pointer has the swag of Alec Burks daredevil acrobatics. They both see themselves as great scorers. They have a swag when the ball is in their hands. Next year. They will swag ... and it will be magnificent.