If you're like me you have a Zach Lowe shrine in your basement with candles, throwback jerseys, spreadsheets, and a framed autographed 4'x10' poster of Zach.
If you're like me but have a little more balance in your life, you read everything Zach Lowe publishes and value his opinions. He makes an effort to cover small-market or outside the box teams in his writing, which is unique among national writers. In his article on the Jazz today, he told us a lot we probably already knew, but we wouldn't be on a Jazz blog if we didn't like rehashing the same things right? Here's my Zach Lowe inspired State of the Utah.
The Jazz are 8th in off-ball picks and 2nd in passes per game, 20th in potential assists and 10th in secondary assists (hockey assists or the pass to an assist)
Our offense has looked really good against bad defenses, and really bad against good defenses.
Rodney is improving.
Contention is going to be a difficult beast for us to track.
Our offense can pull itself up towards league average, but it'll probably require some creativity at the 4.
We don't have a true #1 scorer. Rodney is getting close though. He's averaging almost 18 points per game. That consistency that Locke and most of SLCDunk harp on has really been there after the first couple weeks. Hood's deficiencies are probably related, he doesn't get to the line and he isn't a great creator. Those are both products of getting to the rim, which he hasn't been consistent in doing. Hood takes about half of his shots from 3, WHICH IS GREAT. He doesn't take enough at the rim though, which is where most the great free-throw artists make hay. That means he's still taking a lot of midrange. I think it's silly though to get mad at our best offensive player right now for not being truly elite. He's still an excellent piece for us to have. I thought he had an extra gear. At first it didn't look like he had one. Maybe he does after all.
To compensate, we pass and move. A lot. Quin's system is designed to get guys the ball with an edge, whether it's a mismatch, a running start, or an angle on a retreating defender. Our offense moves the ball, there's a lot of off ball movement, Utah's top ten in off-ball picks. We pass more than ANYONE once adjusted for pace. I won't name names but when I keep reading comments on Hood monopolizing the offense. I just don't see it. It's not grounded in reality. The "hoodfence" is a myth. Lowe does point out though that sometimes his indecisiveness hurts. This coaching staff does a good job pointing out these weaknesses to players though.
The offense is getting better, so far it really doesn't look like Favors and Gobert fit together at all. Favors is still the 4-5 hybrid with limited range and good defense he was 3 years ago. Our offense has looked good, but let's not kid ourselves and pretend it's due to Gobert's absence. It's due to Favors absence at the 4. As fun as it is to watch Ekpe swat fools, he really needs to be at the end of the bench, on offense he's a shorter version of Gobert who can't catch well. Favors needs to be our backup 5. His average midrange game just doesn't open anything up next to Rudy. Gobert and Faves only work with 3 shooters around them, and those shooters are precious on this roster.
We're not dead. We're not tanking. As much fun as it is to dream of getting Luca Donkic, we're not getting him. (Please don't say WELL ACTUALLY because we're not. Sorry.) We may not make the playoffs, but we got a real chance. It'll be tough though, December is pretty much here and I don't think OKC will suck forever. There is value to being a playoff team. If there's a big trade in the future we want to present ourselves as a viable place to resign a quality player. I know we've been burned, but remember LeBron left Miami for Cleveland due to its potential, not sentimental value no matter what he says. Hayward left for Boston because he saw a treasure chest of assets on a team that was winning already, he felt it was a chance to win bigger. I may want to tank, but that doesn't mean Lindsey's wrong in avoiding it.
*I reserve the right to cheat on the number 4 as blatantly as I see fit.