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The Utah Jazz offense is quickly becoming the Jazz’s new gold standard

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The Utah Jazz have found something in the 3 man combo of Hood, Mitchell, and Favors.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are basically a quarter of the way through their season, and it’s difficult to know what type of team Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey has on his hands. Before the Rudy Gobert injury, it appeared Utah was committed to the Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert all on the floor at the same time experiment. With an injury to Rudy Gobert, that flung Jonas Jerebko into the starting lineup; this all but solved Utah’s offensive woes with the Jazz’s defense paying the price.

Utah had a better week in Week 6 going 2-1 with wins over two Eastern Conference foes, the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks, and a loss against the Philadelphia 76ers. One thing is becoming more apparent ... the Utah Jazz have unlocked some offensive potential from Donovan Mitchell, Derrick Favors, and Rodney Hood.

Week 6 Summary

W/L: 2-1

at Philadelphia: Loss

vs Chicago Bulls: Win

vs Milwaukee Bucks: Win

The Triad

The Triad stats are Offensive Rating, Defensive Rating, and Pace.

For the second week in a row, Utah’s offensive rating has risen. The necessary disclaimer here is it’s not because Rudy Gobert is a bad offensive player. Those who watched the beginning of the season saw the 3 man combination of Ricky Rubio, Derrick Favors, and Rudy Gobert gave Utah terrible spacing problems on offense and turned Quin Snyder’s euro-inspired motion offense into molasses. Now with Jonas Jerebko filling in that has opened the floor.

On the other side of the ball, Utah broke their regression streak. For the past four weeks, Utah’s defensive rating had climbed from 99.1 to 104.1. This week it looks to have found it’s floor at 104.0. But that’s with a beatdown of the Chicago Bulls hiding its flaws. Over the past two weeks the Utah Jazz have struggled on the defensive side of the ball, and the fact that they’re still rated as one of the top 15 defenses in the league (by averages) is a testament to the strength of their defense with Rudy Gobert manning the middle.

Triad

Stat Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Stat Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Offensive Rating 105.1 99.8 102.4 100.9 104 105
Defensive Rating 99.5 99.1 100.2 102.3 104.3 104
Pace 94.8 94.7 94.7 96.6 96.1 96
Net Rating 5.6 0.7 2.2 -1.4 -0.3 1

Offense

Last week I called the Utah Jazz a paper tiger due to their improved offense but stagnant turnover percentage. Quoting last week’s rundown:

Here’s what worries me ... the turnovers. The Jazz’s turnover issue has not been resolved. the Jazz are approaching Week 6 on the NBA schedule and they are still dead last in turnovers, which is so mind-numbingly infuriating. It’s infuriating because this is a team just stocked with veterans: Rubio, Sefolosha, Jerebko, Favors, Gobert, Ingles, Johnson, and Udoh. They should be able to take care of the rock, instead the Jazz are 28th in the league which continues to undermine their improvement on the offensive end of the floor.

Ask and ye shall receive. The Utah Jazz finally have improved their turnover percentage. They improved to 21st in the league in turnover percentage. If the Jazz continue that improvement then there is a real chance of the playoffs. Why? Because the rest of the offense is improving. This really comes down to spacing. By adding an additional shooter onto the floor at the 4 position, Utah’s offense has flourished. One has to wonder when Rudy Gobert returns to the Jazz will Quin Snyder force the Rubio, Favors, and Gobert pairing again?

Also there’s this fun nugget that’s been discovered in November:

Take, for example, Donovan Mitchell’s November averages: 17.9 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.5 apg, and 1.5 spg.

Rodney Hood has had a meteoric rise since being sent to the bench and Derrick Favors looks VERY Favorable at the center position with increased spacing. The crazy thing is this team is still improving. Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell can still become more consistent and read the defense better. They can get their teammates more involved on the offensive side of the ball.

And Derrick Favors? He can take advantage of backup centers once Rudy Gobert returns from injury. That will only improve the Jazz’s offense for all 48 minutes.

This all goes back to spacing. The Jazz needed spacing and moving Jonas Jerebko to the 4 position gave them that luxury.

Offense - League Ranking

Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Offensive Rating 15 26 24 27 24 22
FG % 2 7 17 28 25 22
3P% 13 20 12 22 13 8
AST 3 10 20 22 21 17
eFG% 3 8 16 26 21 18
TOV% 28 30 30 27 28 21
ORB % 27 24 23 25 24 26
OPP PTS OFF TOV 22 30 27 25 24 21

The Utah Jazz offense is getting better and spacing has been the key. When Rudy Gobert gets back from injury, Utah will most likely have to move Derrick Favors to the bench as the backup Center. When he does, Utah’s bench will be a wrecking ball to opposing defenses. This will force Ekpe Udoh out of the rotation, but provide Utah with continued spacing, a better defense, and a rocking offense.

Defense

The Utah Jazz continue to do the impossible and improve their defensive rebounding percentage despite being without Rudy Gobert. The Jazz are still thieves on the basketball floor ranking 2nd in steals and opposing turnover percentage. With Utah improving on the offensive side of the ball as it relates to turnovers, their advantage only increases. Crazy enough when you cut down on turnovers, you also cut down on the opposing team’s points of turnovers.

Jazz’s defensive prowess ends there as they are seeing an increase in opponents scoring in the paint. Luckily Utah faced Jason Kidd where he was outcoached by Quin Snyder and never fully took advantage of Utah’s missing Stifle Tower. In Rudy Gobert’s offense, Utah’s offense is carrying this team which feels like it can’t be sustained. Don’t get me wrong, having an improved offense is great, but we have grown accustomed to a smashmouth defense that grinds games to a halt. Utah’s defense doesn’t appear to be doing that anymore choosing to rely on creating turnovers. So far it’s a success, but with a difficult stretch of game on the horizon, can Quin Snyder and this Utah defense continue it?

Defense Ranking

Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Stats Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16 Week 17 Week 18 Week 19 Week 20 Week 21 Week 22 Week 23 Week 24 Week 25 Week 26
Defensive Rating 8 4 3 3 6 7
DRB% 9 20 19 15 11 10
Opp. TOV% 3 5 3 2 2 2
Steals 2 4 2 1 1 2
Blocks 5 3 3 3 2 4
OPP PTS PAINT 1 7 2 1 2 5

Worst of the Week

It’s hard to assign this to anyone in Utah this week. Aside from a loss in Philadelphia which seemed like fate, Utah has shown up to play this week. For that reason, no one gets worst of the week. Call it a bye week.

Best of the Week

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

While Donovan Mitchell is going to get a lot of the praise over the past two games—and deservedly so—Rodney Hood has flourished in his bench role. When Rodney Hood comes off the bench he is averaging 19.6 points while shooting 43% from 3. Coming off the bench has freed up Rodney to be Rodney.

When starting, Hood was tasked with being a playmaker and getting other teammates involved. Off the bench? He can enter the game and just be a gunner from deep. He’s able to use his size as an advantage and bully smaller defenders in the post or shoot over them from deep. He’s a brilliant sixth man. He’s not only found his calling, but he’s doing so in his contract year.

Honorable Mention:

Derrick Favors has been a man amongst boys since Rudy Gobert’s injury. Derrick Favors has looked like the healthy Faves we missed for the past year. In the past week, Derrick Favors averaged 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, nearly 1 steal, and 1 block a game. In other words, welcome back Derrick Favors. Since taking over center duties, Derrick Favors has had three 20 point games, two of those with 10 rebounds or more.

Rudy Gobert’s injury is proving to be a blessing in disguise for Derrick Favors’ contract year. Derrick Favors is proving to teams around the league that he is every bit the type of center that can help your team in the new small ball era. So whether that next payday comes in the offseason or from a team prying him away from Utah before the trade deadline, Derrick Favors looks to be back.