Okay, the Utah Jazz need a win. Badly. They have dropped seven straight. We talked about this post a bit in the Downbeat, and then looked at the players in specifics here in a stand alone post. We can argue that the team is lesser than the sum of their component parts, and also yell till we're blue in the face about which players are playing well, and which ones are not. But the bottom line is that the team (be it the front office, coaches, players, trainers, fans) just isn't getting it done on defense right now.
The fans aren't defending the players, and being downers. The coaches can't defend the training staff -- who get T'd up for doing their job. Even the franchise can't defend season ticket holders from the No Fun Police out there in the NBA head office. And, on the court, well, during this seven game stretch the team hasn't defended anyone out there that well.
What are the hard facts? Well . . .
Yes. All the red number differentials are bad. The team isn't playing comparatively well at all over the last seven. Getting out gunned 94.3 to 105.6 per game, giving up 50.3 fg%, having the other team drop 9 threes a game, letting the other team run up to a 116.9 OFF RTG. Sheesh. These are not positive numbers at all. Where do we start?
How about the good news? The Jazz are a good rebounding club. They didn't exactly defend their side of the glass (DRB% lower than 75%), but were getting nearly 30% of their misses back. That translates to a lot of misses when your team is shooting 45.6 fg%. The advanced stats and normative stats show our rebounding ability. And when you have Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert and company -- there should be no other expectation. Even guys like Gordon Hayward were approaching 6 rpg during these last seven games.
The Jazz don't foul a lot, fouled 3 times less than the other team, and the other team only went to the FT line 18.6 times a game. Usually in losses we're expecting to give up close to 30. So, either this is good defense just being beaten, or non-existent defense not even putting up an effort. We'll figure it out as time goes on, I guess.
The Jazz were also ahead in FT/FGA, as our guys got one point from the line every 5 FG attempts. That's good. And our team did go to the line over 20+ times a game . . . in losses. Getting the respect from the refs is good. It's a start. It leads to winning those 50/50 calls. What isn't awesome is making only 70.1% of our free throws. Over the course of these 7 games that's missing 50 points (49 to be exact) at the line, in games where we struggled to make 94. No team makes ALL of their free throws -- but for a team that looks to primarily be an inside scoring team (either from wing drives, or bigmen dump offs), it's important to improve on this.
As for the good news, that's about it. The team was awful on defense, their shots didn't mean as much on offense, and the other team got more shots off in the same amount of time -- even though we killed them on the offensive glass. I guess this is where steals, blocks, and turn overs come into play; you know, otherwise known as "defense."
This team needs to just figure it out. The Toronto game was absurd because even the Raptors know they don't usually shoot that well. Letting an injured, no Kevin Durant / no Russell Westbrook OKC team score 97 points though? That's very unacceptable.
I'd give up some more fouls and our precious ratios to make it HARDER for the other team to get good, open looks all the time. But then again I watch all the games, and see how effective we are at fouling. Guys like Rodney Hood don't even know how to wrap a player up properly. It's a learning season.
I gotta keep reminding myself of that.
The large concern is that, well, the team just doesn't start well. Which prompts some people to discuss changing the starting lineups -- but man, that's not going to solve anything. It's a shake up for the sake of a shake up. The real problem is on the fundamental execution of the defensive Xs and Os. We can argue about this, but the team is giving up 59.43 points by halftime during this slide. Starting Dante Exum or Rudy Gobert isn't going to change that dynamic.
But like all things, there is some silver lining here. The Jazz outscore the other team in the other two quarters -- and are a respectably good 3rd quarter team. Part of that HAS to be Quin Snyder yelling and making in-game adjustments. Another part of that could be the other team knowing that, on average, they're up 59.43 to 43.86, and usually they're up that big as the road team.
Okay, so what kinds of players hurt the Jazz during this stretch? The bigtime scorers and first options? The speedy three point shooters? The role players? The garbage men? Was it a scouting problem? A cognition error? Or just the fact that the team played the Jazz defense into opening up for the best possible shot?
Really, it was everyone. The following does not account for every single point scored against the Jazz over the last seven games, just the players who scored 6 or more.
|1||Kyle Lowry||39||Jimmy Butler||25||Anthony Davis||43|
|2||Reggie Jackson||20||Jamal Crawford||22||Blake Griffin||28|
|3||Jrue Holiday||19||Jeremy Lamb||21||Pau Gasol||23|
|4||Derrick Rose||18||Andre Iguodala||17||Serge Ibaka||20|
|5||Chris Paul||17||Wilson Chandler||15||Marreese Speights||14|
|6||Greivis Vasquez||17||Harrison Barnes||14||Amir Johnson||13|
|7||Louis Williams||17||Klay Thompason||14||Patrick Patterson||13|
|8||Ty Lawson||15||Arron Afflalo||14||Andrew Bogut||12|
|9||Aaron Brooks||10||J.J. Redick||13||Darrell Arthur||12|
|10||Jordan Farmar||10||Anthony Morrow||12||Draymond Green||11|
|11||Tyreke Evans||9||Terrence Ross||11||Nikola Mirotic||10|
|12||Stephen Curry||8||Eric Gordon||8||Kenneth Faried||10|
|13||Austin Rivers||8||Matt Barnes||8||Timofey Mozgov||10|
|14||Shaun Livingston||6||Gary Harris||6||J.J. Hickson||10|
|15||Danilo Gallinari||6||Jonas Valanciunas||9|
As you can see it was pretty even, not quite 33% / 33% / 33% between point guards, wings, and bigs -- obviously it's a little skewed when a dude drops 43. If the problem was JUST bigmen or something like that it would be a little easier to remedy. Then you double team, and pray they don't rotate the ball around the horn well.
But it's not just bigmen. It's everyone. And if you break down the play type the major predicator (is that a word? an active aspect of predicate?) to our defensive demise is the pick and roll. Every team uses it in the NBA, and it's not just point guards initiating it anymore. And, to be fair, not every team can defend it either.
Life was a little easier when we had Jerry Sloan 's Xs and Os and guys like Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko on defense. We don't anymore. We have to figure something new out. I trust they well. If I can write for hours on this subject no doubt the coaches have watched 10x as many hours of film on the subject.
But, basically, this is what it all boils down to. The team got blasted in the last seven games. Some of the teams were good teams. Some of the game were winnable. And some of the stretches were inspiring. But the defense needs to get better, I'm not a fan of so many guys getting their career highs against us.
At the end of the day, put someone on their butt if they are showing your team up. That's one aspect of Jazz basketball I don't ever want to see go away. Maybe we'll see a return to that style of play in the next few games.
Fans want this team to win. And you know what? Everyone in the organization wants to win right now as well. They're working on it. Let's be patient. It's only the first week of December in the first year of Quin Snyder's career as the head coach.
It's going to get better. At least now we have a good handle of what bad defense looks like, so when good defense comes around we'll be able to spot it immediately!