Right now is panic mode for Jazz fans. Which is only made even more sad considering how optimistic we all were after the Jazz started 2-1 with wins over the Nuggets, Thunder and a close loss on the road to the T-Wolves. But losing five of the last eight — including the last three games — have sent fans hurtling into the five stages of grief.
There’s still a glimmer of hope. Teams go through rough patches all the time (that’s what I’ve been telling myself so I can sleep) and they go through good times as well. Still, that doesn’t mean there isn’t something wrong with the Jazz. And hopefully they fix it soon.
Danny Chau of The Ringer wrote an article that was essentially a back-handed compliment of Ricky Rubio. He noted that Rubio is the leading scorer on the Jazz and then goes on to explain in detail why that hasn’t been a good thing.
“He started taking more shots— for a while, he had the most field goal attempts on the team. His usage rate has increased by exactly 50 percent from last season. It was a clever bit of deception, a play on the perception and expectation that follows a veteran with a defined style. But the moment has passed. Defenses have taken note. Utah has lost three in a row. The novelty of it all has metastasized into a nightmarish reflection of what might be an impotent Jazz offense.”
According to Chau, the problem with Rubio’s (and Utah’s offensive) struggles are more a product of the system and player personnel.
Like his forebear in Jason Kidd and his descendant in Lonzo Ball, Rubio’s effectiveness is derived from the speed of his internal processing, not necessarily his physical athleticism. Finding those gaps is his forte. Unfortunately, the Jazz are a deliberate holdout of the NBA’s small-ball age, and it’s impeding Rubio’s vision. Rubio has shared the floor with both Gobert and Derrick Favors for over half of his time on the court.
The Jazz customarily play basketball games with a razor-thin margin for error: possessions are intentionally limited, and spacing is tight. Rodney Hood’s preordained coming-out party has gotten off to a poor start; Joe Ingles is shooting the 3 about as well as possible, but his production is almost entirely dependent on the flow of the game. Rubio has been the only consistent source of shot creation in the starting lineup.
If the Jazz are planning on having an actual NBA offense, something has to change. Maybe this is an overreaction. Maybe they can just push through this slump. That or Utah needs to fix whatever is broken. And what I’m worried about the most is that the fix won’t be simple.
I’ve been told that if you criticize someone, make sure you say something good about them. So here’s something that is awesome from Ricky Rubio.
#LungCancerAwarenessMonth @rickyrubio9 visits with patients, nurses & doctors at @huntsmancancer. #DoingGood @nbacares pic.twitter.com/NqAj8LVGmh— Utah Jazz Doing Good (@JazzDoingGood) November 9, 2017
I never tire of seeing pictures/videos of professional athletes in hospitals and the like. So far as I know they aren’t required and are going on their free time. It’s always a wonderful gesture to spend personal time lifting the lives of people who are less fortunate.
Through all the (deserved) hype around guys like Ben Simmons in this rookie class, Donovan Mitchell is still managing to rise toward the top. And with all the depressing talk about Utah’s broken offense, Mitchell provides the hope that such talk won’t be long-term.
Averaging 19.5 PTS in 4 gms in November, the @utahjazz rook D. Mitchell holds the 4th spot on the Kia Rookie Ladder! https://t.co/RcUhlQl53e pic.twitter.com/AstZ1u0HcL— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) November 9, 2017
Mitchell finds himself fourth on the “Rookie Ladder,” and he’ll keep climbing the ladder — just like he did with that dunk.
And finally, Houston Rockets’ head coach Mike D’Antoni “dreads” coming to Utah. But not for the reasons Jazz fans would like.
Coach Mike D’Antoni on Utah’s lack of @Starbucks: “Utah’s one, it throws me for a loop. I’m serious,” D’Antoni says. “I dread going there. I like Utah, but they don’t have a Starbucks.” https://t.co/sK4vIGwdSZ— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) November 9, 2017
Maybe that should become a new tactic for the Jazz. Whenever a team comes to town, find out what their best players love the most and make sure that thing is inaccessible for a few days. Think it’ll work?