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Are the Utah Jazz fit to contend in this new age of basketball?

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Can the Jazz continue to compete in an era of “positionless” basketball?

NBA: Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday Chris Herring published a piece on fivethirtyeight.com that analyzed the changes the NBA had seen in it’s players over the last few decades. Herring’s analysis was mainly focused on current NBA players’ height, and how it has affected the type of play we’ve seen in recent years.

Point guards and centers were closer in height last year than they’ve ever been, separated by an average of just 8.3 inches — down 21 percent from the 10.5 inches or so that stood between them during the mid-to-late 1990s, according to data from Basketball-Reference.com.

Herring looked at this height change, and how it has affected Nuggets point guard Isaiah Thomas in his NBA career, specifically his relatively low value and contract dollars despite putting up huge numbers two seasons ago.

“To even have a chance against a team like Golden State, you have to make a point of not being put into rotations,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni told me in May. “They’ll kill you that way.”

Certain teams are better equipped to play that kind of defense than others — the Rockets and Warriors, widely considered the league’s best teams, led the NBA in switch frequency — but the process doesn’t always work as well when Thomas is in the midst of it. The Celtics were 5 percent more efficient defensively in switch scenarios when Thomas was off the floor than on in 2016-17, according to Second Spectrum.

This is an insightful piece from Herring, and it got me thinking; how are the Jazz fit to play in this new age of basketball? How do they fare in terms of being able to switch across all positions on defense? How does this average height difference affect them?

The Jazz have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA for the last several years. It helps when you have the best defender in the world on your team, but overall the Jazz have been very good defensively across the roster. Anchored by Rudy Gobert, they feature guys like Thabo Sefolosha, Royce O’Neale, Dante Exum, etc; long, strong, athletic wings that can virtually guard 95% of player types in today’s NBA. The Jazz are pretty versatile in their defensive abilities, which has helped them shut down some of the top offenses over the last couple seasons.

In this age of “positionless” basketball, do the Jazz have any weaknesses, or switches that could lead to Isaiah Thomas-like deficiencies? It might appear that Donovan Mitchell is undersized as a two guard in today’s NBA, which is probably is. But Mitchell’s 6-10 wingspan helps to make up for size differences that he might see on switches. Obviously if Kevin Durant gets switched onto Mitchell, we’re going to have problems, but that’s the case with pretty much everyone in that situation, let’s be real.

Overall, the Jazz are very fit to compete in this new age of basketball. Dennis Lindsey, Quin Snyder, and Co. have done a great job getting guys into the organization that fit well and help build up the squad. It’s things like this that help us believe that one day, somehow, the Jazz might be able to grind out a championship no matter how unlikely it may seem.

If you’ve never seen Quin Snyder as a young man, you are about to have your day made. He seems so little and innocent. Who would have guessed such a boy would grown into a genius of a man and wreck opposing schemes with his sheer intelligence and wit.

Here’s a good little slideshow summarizing the relatively quiet offseason the Jazz have had this summer. Even though they haven’t made any high-profile signings or brought in any crazy big names, I think this was the right move for the Jazz. Retention is pretty sexy if you ask me.

Relive the best of Rudy’s blocks in celebration of NBA Block Week. Nobody does it better than Mr. Gobert.

If you didn’t have your day made already by the earlier young Quin Snyder clip, this will surely do the trick. Ben Simmons jokes are always the best, and never get old. Combine those with a young child’s artwork and you get perfection. This teacher talked one of his kids into making this masterpiece, and I want the original to hang on my wall in a frame.

My favorite things about this incredible artwork:

Simmons’ hair and beard are just hilarious. He looks like Mose from The Office.

The arrow clearly indicating a bricked jump shot attempt. So realistic.