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For the Utah Jazz: Development Is Over Now, Let’s Win

Why is Dante Exum not playing? Let’s think about it.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

I find it disconcerting that even with the team success we are beginning to see, many of us fans still question absolutely everything done by the Utah Jazz organization. Coach Quin Snyder is especially under a microscope. I invite us all to put away our torches and pitchforks. Let’s sit around a nice warm campfire and figure out where we stand.

How about we think this through like intelligent adults.

I do my best to listen to and consider many different opinions before forming a firm stance of my own. I highly recommend listening to David Locke’s podcast on the subject, he has a very refined opinion, from which I will draw on for the duration of this article. (Talk about Exum starts at the 10:27 mark, though I recommend the podcast as a whole. Also FYI, Locke puts out a quality podcast every week day, as well as post-game takes.)

“Quin’s into winning, and nothing else”

Think about it this way. The front office has put together the most solidified roster from top to bottom that has ever existed in our franchise history. We have never had a team this deep. Heck, for most years we hardly even had seven or eight solid rotation players. Simply the fact that we’re talking about Jeff Withey, Raul Neto, Trey Lyles and Dante Exum is a testament to the good work our staff has put in.

On top of that, our team is primed to make some serious noise in the playoffs, as currently the second best defensive team in the league. We could legitimately get home court advantage in the first round, and from there we would be the dark horse team that has the capacity to beat any team on any night. We are truly creating a winning mentality on the team.

Development is now put on the back burner (which can still cook, mind you), while we refocus our attention onto the main course. We as fans want our team to win. Our team cannot win if they are constantly in development mode. Just ask Charlotte how constant-development-mode helped their team in the long ice age before they got into a winning mentality. We developed our core four three, drafted some more, developed some more, signed a few free agents, and now we’re ready to start winning.

Of course we will still develop our youth. However, I feel we will take a more San Antonio-esque method of development. Now is the time our window of competition opens. Whatever gives us a better opportunity to win any given game should be considered as part of a legitimate strategy. Some strategies require heavy usage of pawns, other strategies use the bishops, knights, queens, etc. Basically what I’m trying to say is, each game will require different strategies and different players.

However, whatever decision a coach makes, there will always be someone who will feel the coach should have chosen otherwise.

With all of that said

Let’s get to some quick bullet points to finish this post off! Feel free to disagree, but here is where the stats come in. These are some hard fact reasons we can look at to determine why Exum has not played the past couple games.

  1. According to Locke, the Utah Jazz’ defensive efficiency with Dante on the floor is 101.5. With him off the floor it becomes significantly better at 96.4. Locke also says the team is better defensively with Shelvin Mack on the floor than off the floor.
  2. While neither of the two backup point guards is producing noticeably well on offense, Mack is shooting a higher three point percentage (29% vs. Dante’s 27.9%). Dante is a “3 and D” player, who hasn’t shown much 3 or D this season. Mack is also getting teammates involved better within the offense, having a 22.3% assist rate vs. Dante’s 11.4%.
  3. Dante has a fairly low turnover rate, but when you look at his assist rate, you find that he turns the ball over slightly more often than he assists.
  4. Mack has veteran composure. He may sometimes shoot more than we would like, but he is confident, and an infectious leader. There isn’t much of a stat to reference, which is why this comes last in the list. Yet I feel this is a hard fact, gained from observance, that should be put into consideration.

In Conclusion

We can expect to see more of Dante Exum this season. He isn’t gone forever. Many of us expected a slow start, and that seems to be what we have gotten so far. Dante needs to gain confidence and comfort, and he has certainly shown flashes of just that. In some games though, we will need a steadying hand, someone who we can trust to not fall into the follies of youth. Regardless, us fans tend to overreact to the extreme. Let’s take a step back and realize that benching Exum is not the end of the world, nor the end of the season. Dante has averaged more minutes than Shelvin up to this point. I wouldn’t be surprised if the season finished with that stat remaining true.

Who knows, maybe being benched is just the motivator that Dante needs to kick his game up to the next level.