This offseason the Utah Jazz upgraded their team in a big way by bringing on Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovich and Ed Davis.
The skill sets of these players, combined with the players already on the team will allow the Jazz to play in a way they haven’t quite been able to ever before. This will include three positions that will run a more simplified, effective offensive system. On top of that, the Jazz have a lot of multi-tool players who can switch between roles on offense depending on what the defense gives them. It’s going to make the Jazz very difficult to guard.
Let’s take a look at these roles and who will fill them.
Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Emmanuel Mudiay, Nigel Williams-Goss,
If people want to call this the point guard they can, but this role isn’t as complicated as the point guard position of the past. In this role, the player needs to be a solid ball handler and initiate the pick and roll with the center.
Sometimes players will switch between being the primary ball handler and a secondary playmaker. Some players, like Joe Ingles, will likely always be a secondary playmaker when they’re on the floor so that their primary skill, like shooting for Ingles, is the main thing they focus on.
The Jazz will start games with Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell on the floor as the primary playmakers. They’ll switch between who initiates the pick and roll on each side of the floor. The Jazz will be able to play advantage basketball like they did last season and attack the weakest defenders on the floor every possession.
Utah also values players who are able to get into sets quickly. Because the Jazz will have a much more simplified system because of their elite talent, this won’t be difficult. For example, a typical possession will start with Mike Conley initiating a high pick and roll with Rudy Gobert. Depending on what the defense gives he’ll make multiple decisions that run everything for the offense. If the defender goes under the pick, he’ll pull up for three. If he goes over the pick he’ll drive to the rim. At that point he then either takes the shot at the rim (possibly a floater for Conley), passes to a rolling Rudy Gobert or kick it out for a three.
Let’s say the defense blows up the play, Conley can swing the ball to Donovan Mitchell who can then run the same set and run through the same sequence.
There may also be situations where the Jazz create a mismatch. If Mitchell receives the ball from Conley and recognizes a slow center guarding him on the perimeter, he doesn’t have to wait for a pick but can just beat the player and get to the rim.
Because of the Jazz’s incredible spacing, Donovan Mitchell is going to feast this season like me when I break my diet and I have a gift card to ColdStone. How many guys, let alone slow centers, will be able to stay in front of him?
Let’s just say there’s going to be more highlight plays this season than ever before.
It’s also important that both playmakers can shoot. A spot up three is always an option when the ball is swung. It also helps with the spacing to keep defenses honest, something the Jazz dealt with all of last season.
Bojan Bogdanovich, Joe Ingles, Royce O’neale, Georges Niang, Jeff Green, Dante Exum, William Howard, Miye Oni, Stanton Kidd
The wing play on the perimeter ready to play off of the primary playmaker ready to take a three from every spot on the floor, but mainly the corner three.
Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles will be some of the primary wings for the Jazz and should get a large amount of open threes.
But even if they don’t get the open shot, simply being on the floor opens things up for the primary playmakers because defenders will have stay honest. Shooting 40% from three will do that.
Against good defenses they may not always have an open three when they get the ball from the playmaker. At that point the wing has a few simple choices. They can take a contested three, they can swing the ball to another wing/playmaker or they can drive to the rim.
The Jazz have filled their team with dynamic players able to do more than one thing when they’re on the floor. Bogdanovic is the perfect example of this. He’s an elite shooter but he has also shown to be a very good driver to the rim. He’s also a good passer and will keep the ball moving when he needs to or can even make a deft pass at the rim to Gobert who will finish.
And like I said, some players can switch in and out of roles on the floor. Joe Ingles has proven to be a high level playmaker when needed. This season he can do that at a more appropriate amount.
Rudy Gobert, Ed Davis, Tony Bradley
This position could also be titled the “Rudy Gobert.” Everything the Jazz are doing this season is built around Rudy Gobert’s elite skill set. When on the floor, Gobert will be the primary pick pick setter. He’ll set the pick for the primary ball handler and then roll to the rim every possession.
Gobert was the best pick setter in the league last season leading the league in screen assists and scoring at an elite level as a rolling big man.
Having every possession start with a pick from Gobert means you have a chance to score at an elite level on every possession.
When you consider how much spacing the Jazz will have, Gobert will score at an even higher level this season.
The Jazz also picked up Ed Davis to back up Gobert to keep the Jazz offense running in the same way for 48 minutes.
Last season, the Jazz offense would evolve based on who was on the floor. The starting unit would use the best players on the team, but those players’ skill set didn’t always mesh. Now, regardless of who is on the floor the Jazz will run the same sets making it easy for players to play without having to think too much.
Obviously Quin Snyder is going to add layers and plays to this style to make it even harder to guard, but overall the Jazz will run a system that maximizes their talent on every possession in simpler way.
The question marks for this team will be on the defensive end of the ball. Losing Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder means that Utah doesn’t have the size to defend larger 4’s in the league and may struggle with rebounding.
The Jazz still have Rudy Gobert and are gambling (smartly) that he can make up for a lot of that on his own. Without Gobert’s elite skill sets the Jazz wouldn’t be able to make these moves and trust that he can overcome a lot of what they lost on defense. There’s potential for him to have an MVP-like season depending on how well he covers those losses. If there’s one thing I’ve learned is never bet against Gobert living up to anything.