Zach Lowe, a national NBA columnist at ESPN, and one of the most respected writers in the country recently dedicated an entire article to the Utah Jazz. The piece was headlined on ESPN’s website, and provided some incredible insight to the Jazz’s situation in recovering from the loss of Gordon Hayward, and how the Utah front office and Quin Snyder have managed to scrap together a competitive basketball team this season.
Lowe first touched on the Gordon Hayward situation, and how that went down with some of the Jazz players.
"It was a sick feeling," says Ingles, Hayward's closest friend on the team. "It was unreal. It was his team. He's got a house here. He's got a dog. Where's he gonna go?"
"I could feel it," Gobert says. "I was texting him a few days before [Hayward's July 4th decision], and he wasn't texting me back. That's what I didn't like. Just tell me. After five years, trust us, say what you are going to do. But I respect his choice."
At this point nearly five months later, how Gordon Hayward handled his departure still lingers amongst Jazz players.
The main focus of the article, however, is not on Gordon Hayward. Lowe features Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey, and how he plans on keeping the Jazz relevant in a difficult situation.
The Jazz are moving on. They have no plans to tank. "Our hope is our players grow into larger roles, and we continue a path which best serves the Jazz," Lindsey says. "And that path is to draft and develop."
The largest chunk of the piece, and in my opinion the most insightful, looks at how Quin Snyder has taken this Jazz personnel and made them a functional team... for the most part.
Without Hayward, the Jazz rely even more on Quin Snyder's whirring, Euro-infused system of screens, cuts, and drives. He calls it "advantage basketball."
Some players are so good, they constitute a living, breathing advantage. James Harden can walk the ball up, take one ho-hum screen, and destroy your defense.
Utah's players need a head start -- an advantage. Snyder's system runs so that whenever a player catches the ball, he has one.
This “advantage basketball” is an intriguing concept, one that makes complete sense if you watch the Jazz play. Lowe provides some heavy insight on the Jazz offense under Snyder, complete with video breakdowns and analysis.
Inside the Jazz, and the doomsday challenge of recovering after your best player leaves in free agency: https://t.co/NRXro7FJVc— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 28, 2017
It may be possible that Ricky Rubio is better looking on the inside than on the outside. YES, that may seem like a scalding hot take, but after reading this article published in the Deseret News, you might just agree.
ICYMI: Jazz guard @rickyrubio9 uses basketball to drive positive change in Utah community https://t.co/bVG6wcP0pR— Eric Woodyard (@E_Woodyard) November 27, 2017
It talks about his mother’s cancer, helping the kids in the community, and also a little insight on his play on the basketball court.
While the pass-first guard is still learning his new role in Utah, averaging a career-best 12.9 points, what’s more impressive is the impact he’s making in the community. In addition to his basketball and leadership academy, Rubio is using his basketball influence to drive change.
He donated 100 tickets for Special Olympics Utah athletes for Saturday’s game, met with cancer survivors in a suite, and distributed golden “Ricky Rubio Lung Cancer Awareness” T-shirts to fans in support of Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
Rubio became adamant about cancer research after losing his mother, Tona Vives, unexpectedly to lung cancer in May 26, 2016, despite her being a non-smoker and living a healthy lifestyle. His ex-Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders also died from cancer at the age of 60 in October 2015.
He has teamed with A Breath of Hope Lung Foundation to launch the Tona Vives Lung Cancer Awareness Fund, which has raised more than $56,000 to date, and he’s contributing to the Jazz’s 5 For The Fight cause through Utah’s corporate sponsor, Qualtrics, to help with innovative cancer research.
Ricky Rubio seems like a great guy, and it’s always good to have one of those playing for your team.
“If I want to do something in this life, it’s to make this world better” - Ricky Rubio
Ekpe Udoh’s book club has gotten a considerable amount of attention and interaction since Udoh joined the Jazz this off-season. So much that Udoh is considering holding an actual book club discussion somewhere
in Salt Lake City for members to meet and discuss select readings.
For my next book, I would like to have in-person discussions in Salt Lake City. Only if enough folks from SLC sign up... #Ekpesbookclub— Ekpe Udoh (@EkpeUdoh) November 29, 2017
Jazz players have even caught on, and Donovan Mitchell replied to Udoh’s tweet with a great GIF selection:
November 29, 2017
ICYMI, Rudy Gobert was straight flexin’ his fashion game during Tuesday night’s game on national TV, and of course, everyone noticed.
Rudy Gobert brought all the hotness pic.twitter.com/uJSmO4gN5m— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) November 29, 2017
As pointed out by @BensHoops, Rudy Gobert is one of the NBA's great glow ups pic.twitter.com/I0HjcmGktm— Angie Treasure (@snark_tank) November 29, 2017
I dig it, @rudygobert27 pic.twitter.com/2ajCXCwH9P— Taylor Griffin (@griffdunk) November 29, 2017
An interesting and somewhat telling statistic about the Jazz was tweeted out Wednesday afternoon.
The Jazz have three of the fifteen largest margins of victory in the NBA this season. No one else has more than two.— Danny Leroux (@DannyLeroux) November 29, 2017
The Jazz, when they are on, are ON. They have had games in which they completely dominate, but also games in which they have been completely dominated. With such volatility coming on the offense end of their game, it will be interesting to see how the Jazz’s play levels out in the coming month of December.