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Jazz offensive leaders this season will surprise you

Synergy Sports Tech helps us identify which players are helping the team win games on offense, and it's not who you think!

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are a very fun team to watch. While the defense needs a lot of work, the offense is making a number of new changes that are on their way to powering one of the best offenses in the NBA. But as anyone who grew up watching "Dazzling Dunks and Basketball Bloopers" VHS movies knows it's about the players. And this Utah Jazz team has quite a few interesting players to root for.

I think the offense is coming along a little faster than the defense, so let's look at the Jazz players and where they rank in terms of their PPP vs. the rest of the NBA. (PPP = Points per Possession, and this data is from 40 games into the season, so it doesn't include the Spurs game) So what do our players look like overall?

2014 2015 40 Games Synergy Utah Jazz Offense by player

I know what you're thinking . . . "Why is Toure' Murry at 50% opacity?" Okay, you're also thinking "Is there some sort of special relationship here?" Why yes, there is!

2014 2015 40 Games Synergy Utah Jazz Offense by player W LINE

What you see here is an almost linear relationship between players getting 'touches' and players deserving touches. There are a few outliers, like Trey Burke being below where he should be (but Synergy is a great tool, Trey makes up for some of it by being a great distributor who rarely turns the ball over . . . but it's still not as awesome as if he was as good as he should be at making buckets). Someone like Rudy Gobert obviously needs to finish more plays, he is way ahead (or above) of the curve (or line).

I know what you are thinking right now, "Hmmm, this is awesome Amar. You are so awesome, thank you. It's a shame you don't win any fake internet points award thingy for being the best Utah Jazz blogger. You do so much, you write, do stats, do photoshop, you're really the triple threat."

You're also thinking that this is what an effective, efficient offense looks like. Players (for the most part) are playing well and producing on offense where they need to.

Excellent Tier: Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert

Favors is a best, and he is getting the third most offensive possessions on the team. He deserves it. He is in the 89th percentile of PPP in the league, and is an excellent finisher in transition; very good on put backs, and broken plays; good in the pick and roll, and off of cuts. He is merely average on post ups, isolations, and spot ups. But overall he gets the job done.

Rudy Gobert is only a step behind in the 88th percentile, though he is a much more simple player. He is better on put backs than Favors, and shoots in a fewer number of different ways. But he is also an excellent transition finisher (#EUROOOO) but underwhelming when posting up. It's hard to get him the ball more because he is the anchor of the defense.


Very Good Tier: Gordon Hayward, Steve Novak

G-Time is amazing, and expect a full post on his offensive breakdown in Synergy soon. But he ranks "excellent" or "very good" in most of the categories. I am really impressed with his play and even as the #1 option he is doing better than a linear relationship would suggest.

Steve Novak is in the line between Very Good and Good here, but I will give him the benefit of the doubt with his total 25 possessions. We know he kills it on spot ups and pick and pops. He doesn't need to do much else in our offense, nor will he be asked to.


Good Tier: Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trevor Booker, Jeremy Evans

Three PFs and Alec Burks. Having these guys, three of which all attempt threes regularly, still rank this highly despite not being "natural shooters" is amazing to me and a product of a well running offense, and a group of players who are individually playing well.

Enes Kanter may be in a shooting slump right now since coming back from injury, but has shown quite a bit this season. He is excellent in transition, very good off of cuts, good on the glass for put backs, and average on post ups. There are a few areas we'd like to see him improve, one is on spot ups (which he is working on), and the other is as the screen outlet man in pick and rolls. He was great at the pick and pop to start the season but has cooled off.

Trevor Booker scores in many of the same ways, but is also below average on the pick and pop, but average on spot ups.

Alec Burks is better than his stats show, and while he doesn't win a lot of fans in the advanced stat lodges, he's still good at the things that took him to the NBA. He is solidly somewhere between average and good, but great in specific situations, particularly in transition, dribble hand offs, and on the offensive glass. Is being average on spot ups and isolations good enough to start? I don't know. But I do know that our offense sorely misses him.


Average Tier: Ian Clark

He's not hurting the team on offense when he's in the game. He's not helping them that much, but can space the floor, hit threes, and dribble penetrate.


Below Average Tier: Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Rodney Hood

This is where you can complain if you want to complain. Three of our rookies are below average, and one of our second year players is as well. I'm going to break these guys down in a separate post as well, so more on this later. But it's not the end of the world. Not everyone can be Gobert-like on offense.


Poor Tier: Elijah Millsap, Elliot Williams, Patrick Christopher, Toure' Murry

Well, it's nice that they are in the NBA. Millsap is a better defender, Williams is insurance, and Christopher and Murry are both off the team now.


I think this is a fun team, and as you can tell from these tiers the players who are taking the most shots deserve it. (That is a departure from previous seasons where Josh Howard will be allowed to take the most shots in the beginning of a playoff game.) This team is going to get better, but at least it's nice to know that there's some level of 'fairness' involved in how the offense is run. And man, G-Time, D-Fav, and Gobert are really good on offense even if we think of two of those guys are defensive players.


Thank you to SB Nation for giving me the opportunity to add so much to the Utah Jazz community. I love having access to the full database of Synergy Sports Tech, and love using it in conjunction with the available data and media I get through the NBA Media Central page. (If you aren't actual media you don't get in, and the NBA decides if you are or are not.) There are great resources out there like , , , ,, , and others. And having earned the right to give our readers the best info from the best sources is forcing me to be my best as well.

And Jazz fans deserve nothing but the best.

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