It’s back! Downbeats with actual player interviews, footage and news! Let’s get started with your Wednesday downbeat!
One of the biggest questions for the Utah Jazz this season is how do they build off their success last season with a nearly identical roster?
Here’s what Quin Snyder had to say:
Quin Snyder, on what he’s trying to accomplish the first day of Jazz training camp: pic.twitter.com/spSw9fqeHX— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) September 25, 2018
I love Snyder’s answer that last year they were “figuring out who they were” but now they’re figuring out “who they want to be.”
“Figuring out who they were” is as an understatement. Training camp last year was filled with a team shell shocked by the departure of Gordan Harvard and supplemented by defensive specialists. They also had a rookie in Donovan Mitchell who looked surprisingly good in summer league. But Mitchell was looked at as a defense-first player who would figure out his offensive game with time. Oh how naive we were.
Once the makeshift Jazz figured everything out midway through the year, they shattered expectations.
Now, they have the luxury of continuity. Like Snyder says, there’s things they know and now there’s things they need to “layer on top of” that knowledge.
And that’s the difference this year, there’s a definitive floor that will propel this Jazz team to more wins because they have a much better starting point.
So how do the Jazz make ensure they don’t have a rough start? Rudy Gobert talked about becoming a leader for the team. That might be what does it.
Rudy Gobert said today he intends to focus on being more of a leader, and explained what, to him, that entails: pic.twitter.com/sApaGrFzis— Eric Walden (@tribjazz) September 25, 2018
Gobert has had an incredible offseason and looks ready for a big year. When Gobert was injured last year, the Jazz obviously missed his talent on the floor. But they also missed his leadership on the defensive end too. Rudy takes it personal every time the opposing team scores and the other players feel that.
If there’s one thing you can count on with this team as the season begins, it’s that the defense will be elite behind Rudy Gobert’s experience and leadership.
Now that the Jazz are officially able to work with players, it looks like coaches have been given assignments with specific players.
From the first day of practice, some notable coach/player pairings:— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) September 25, 2018
- Johnnie Bryant is working with Donovan Mitchell, Grayson Allen, and Jae Crowder.
- Jeff Watkinson and Raul Lopez are working with Ricky Rubio and Alec Burks
- Lamar Skeeter is working with Dante and Royce
What’s interesting about this to me is not necessarily which coach works with whom, but the pairings.
I really like that Grayson Allen is working alongside Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell had an incredible rookie year but it started off a little rocky. Maybe Mitchell can help Allen overcome things he wasn’t ready for?
I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that Royce O’neale and Dante Exum are working together. Chances are those two are going to be the first ones off the bench and are going to need to build more chemistry. Exum and O’neale have a chance to be a very potent bench pairing that should score efficiently (O’neale from three and Exum at the rim) while also providing high level defense.
A major reason the Jazz will win 50+ games this year, besides staying healthy, will be their strong bench that will extend leads, not lose them.
Besides Donovan Mitchell’s rise last year, the biggest story might have been Ricky Rubio and his blistering play post all star break where he shot over 40% from three.
The Jazz would love to have him continue that level of play to start the year and hired a new assistant coach, Raul Lopez, to help with that.
Ricky Rubio perfect from the corner. pic.twitter.com/JzN3bvNqe6— Ben Anderson (@BensHoops) September 25, 2018
Probably the biggest reason this Jazz team will have a great year is the chemistry they’ve built. The opposite of what is happening in Minnesota right now, the Utah Jazz look like they have a team chemistry that will carry them through the rough parts of the upcoming season.
With leadership, talent and chemistry, the Utah Jazz are primed to have an incredible year and I am ready!