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The Downbeat #1998: Utah Jazz surprise Utah high school

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The Utah Jazz surprised Granger High School with the assembly of a lifetime.

Melissa Majchrzak NBAE/Getty Images

The allure of the Utah Jazz’s playoff hopes comes from its deepened bench. For the first time in this Jazz iteration’s history, they have a deep team 1-15. George Hill getting tired? Throw in the #5 lottery pick Dante Exum. Gordon Hayward need a rest? Joe Johnson is ready to step in. Rodney Hood just not clicking? Hello, Alec Burks. Derrick Favors not providing enough spacing? Send in Trey Lyles. Rudy Gobert getting countered by a small lineup? Send in the other Frenchman, Boris Diaw.

This team has countless options and flexes. Those that are hopeful that it produces a playoff lineup will be happy to hear this news.

Gordon Hayward in open space is a scary sight for any team. If Gordon Hayward is getting open looks this year, Gordon Hayward is going to be playing in New Orleans in February at the All-Star Game.

With all the flexibility and influx of talent this year, Quin Snyder has a lot on his plate. When I look at the Utah Jazz’s roster, I’m reminded of a quote by Charles de Lint:

It’s going to be tempting for Quin Snyder to get cutesie with these lineups. To try to be over creative and re-invent the wheel. But the best coaches know when to make a move and when to let a lineup fight it out and get in rhythm. It will be hard for Quin not to make a quick pull when a certain player doesn’t have it going a certain night, especially because if Hayward is struggling, he has Burks, Johnson, and Ingles ready and chomping at the bit to contribute.

So how has Quin Snyder evolved as a coach this year?

The Utah Jazz did probably the coolest PR stunt I’ve seen in some time. They surprised Granger High School in Utah to pop up scrimmage in their gymnasium. Andy Larsen has the story:

All week, the Jazz have had a secret to keep. From players, management, coaches, staff, and personnel all didn't want to spoil the surprise for about 3,200 students at Granger High School.

The effort paid off. As the students filled the overpacked Granger gym, the Jazz Dancers came in, performing alongside the Granger cheer team. Then, the Jazz Dunk Team came out, flying high above the rim to the shouts of the kids.

Finally, the big reveal: the Jazz players themselves, coming out on the court for a four-quarter, 32-minute scrimmage. Craig Bolerjack hyped up the students, then arena PA announcer Dan Roberts announced the lineups, just like a real game.

"It was very fun, you could see the excitement. When we rolled on campus, everyone wondered who it was," said guard Rodney Hood.

Quin Snyder poses with some fans.
Melissa Majchrzak NBAE/Getty Images
Jazz Blue take a timeout with Granger High School in the background.
Melissa Majchrzak NBAE/Getty Images
Melissa Majchrzak NBAE/Getty Images

One of the known weaknesses of a lineup of Hill, Hood, Hayward, Favors, and Gobert is the lack of spacing inside. Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors in seasons past have not shown the ability to step out to the 3 point line. Favors only recently has shown the ability to step out to the 10-18 footer and hits it with average consistency. Rudy Gobert has only taken a mid range jumper when dared or with a shot clock disappearing.

That’s why this news from the scrimmage yesterday seems interesting:

Andy Larsen of KSL expounds:

Derrick Favors looked strong down low early, including a sweeping jumper against Gobert in the paint. But the highlight was definitely at the end, when Favors hit two consecutive threes. The first, from the top of the arc, was a scramble situation after an out-of-bounds play with a quickly shrinking shot clock. The second, though, was a set play for Favors to take the outside look from the elbow, and he swished that one too. If that's a weapon for Favors, it gives the Jazz some really interesting spacing possibilities.

Methinks the Utah Jazz want to keep this under wraps for as long as they can. Today they were calming the D3RRICK hype.

Without comment: