The Utah Jazz, despite having a whole bunch of rookies (not including NBA-DL call ups for 10 days), Dante Exum , Rodney Hood , Joe Ingles , Elijah Millsap , and Grant Jerrett , are learning to play together as a team. Somewhat overlooked in this 'learning' season seems to be our head coach -- and rookie -- Quin Snyder. Thatcher Olson of the Sports Quotient, wrote all about the four major rookie head coaches.
Last season, under Tyrone Corbin , the Jazz decided to commit fully to the youth rebuild. They decided not to resign some key veterans and turned over the reigns to young players, such as Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors . The Jazz struggled greatly, with one of the worst records in the NBA. The Jazz decided to move in a new direction and did not extend Corbin's contract.
This began a search for a new coach, an uncommon occurrence in Utah Jazz history. They eventually decided to go with Quin Snyder, a coach with experience throughout the college ranks and as an assistant NBA Coach. Snyder most recently was an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, being praised for his player development during his tenure. They hoped that he would be able to help this young team grow and improve.
The Jazz's season has also been up-and-down under Snyder's first year. They struggled early in the season but have been one of the hottest teams in the NBA as of late. The young team boasts a 12-3 record since the All-Star break and the number one defense in the NBA since February 1st.
Grade and outlook for the future: B+
Quin Snyder has a young Jazz team far ahead of schedule. Known for developing offense, Snyder has his young team playing elite defense. They are in a tough Western Conference, but with more player development and possible free-agent acquisitions, the Jazz could make a run for a playoff spot as soon as next year. The future is indeed very bright for this young team and young coach.
You should read the full article, as it goes over the *cough* accomplishments of Derek Fisher (Knicks), underwhelming work of David Blatt (Cavaliers), and ridiculously effective performance of Steve Kerr (Warriors) -- in addition to what he had to say about Snyder. Check it all out here! Personally, I think that while what Quin is doing is very good, in the grand history of the NBA, it will appear to be closer to that of the magic done by Jeff Hornacek last season with the Suns than anything else. Horny shows us that there are growing pains in season two. It's a long term process, but I am very happy with the direction the team is finally headed in.
Last year's draft is shaping up to be one that boasts a very young, and potentially explosive, point guard crop. If you just look at some of the 1st rounders (it's too early to tell about some of the 2nds) you find five players that are making a name for themselves. Dante Exum was drafted on potential and his future as a two-way player. Marcus Smart is a physical beast for his position, and was a defensive force at the NCAA level. Elfrid Payton has natural point guard instincts and 'dat hair'. Zach LaVine is one of the most athletic and fearless point guards in a long time. Shabazz Napier , while drafted out of the lotto, has played some very good games for an actual playoff team. But what happens when you stack them up against one another?
Yeah, Dante Exum doesn't look so hot, despite being the highest pick. Recent history makes him look even worse. Dante hasn't even scored a single point in his last three games. Marcus is beasting other teams up, like the 25/9/5/2/2 he had against OKC. Zach has gone for 18 in three of his last four games. Shabazz isn't playing right now during the #playoffpush for Miami. But Elfrid nearly has had a triple double in three of his last four games.
Sure, Dante is young. Dante has the least experience. Dante played all summer. And Dante is going to look REALLY good a few years down the road. I know these are excuses because I've been making them all year long myself. I can be honest enough to admit that my expectations for what he would do THIS season were a little too high. I wasn't expect for him to take over games or dominate. I did, on the other hand, expect him to average more than 4.7 ppg and 2.3 apg this year.
That all said, I am still very happy that we have this kid. And there are many, many reasons why the Jazz picked him -- and none of them were for his abilities or performance in his rookie season.
The awesome guys over at Believe The Hype had this to say about the relationship between Joe Ingles and the development of Dante:
Back in January, Believe The Hype's Jamieson Welsh spoke to Ingles and Exum about the fact that, much to the jokingly disdain of Joe, he had to drive Dante around to practice and to games over the first part of the season.
At the time, Ingles said "Well... First of all, I don't like him at all. I had to pick him up because he had no drivers license. Which is pretty pathetic at the age he was"
"I had no say" piped back Exum.
"I know you didn't have a say, you're 15 years old!" Ingles proclaimed.
Well, it seems like things have changed and now Exum has FINALLY found his way to the DMV so it looks like taxi duties could be a thing of the past for the older Jazz Aussie.
When Jamieson caught up with Ingles this week (for a chat that appears on Episode 269 of the Podcast) prior to the Utah Jazz's 88-84 loss to the Washington Wizards, he followed up from the January banter to find out whether or not ‘Uber Joe' is still driving around his fellow Aussie.
"Nah, he's got his license now which is nice." said Ingles.
However, Ingles wasn't finished there. Jamieson asked the Australian captain about whether or not it's safe to be on the road when Exum is driving.
"I'd still watch out, he's only had it for three months... I would stay away [from the road when he's driving]" said Ingles, jokingly but also showing an ere of caution.
"He's driving some big trucky thing... It's not ginormous, but for a 19 year old it's probably pretty ginormous."
This is hilarious, visit their blog for the full story, and listen to their awesome podcast! It is worth it! Unlike a head case like Smart -- who is just going to have a career of doing "not-so-smart" things like this.
It's not all about how you start. It's about how you finish. And my money is still on Dante. Same with Dennis Lindsey.
Man. Kyrylo Fesenko is basically an internet God. He's dragging a freakin cat, who is practicing the Gandhian form of very passive, very non-resistance.
We love you Fes! And Feline Fes! No, Fesen-kat!
If you look at the last few seasons there are three very interesting case studies in the West. The Jazz were almost perpetually good, if not great, but quickly had to change course. The Warriors were almost perpetually horrible, but has made the best of a great draft and full rebuild around that. And then there are the Kings, who have been mired in a top to bottom mess for a decade now. Back in 2010-2011 all three teams had between 24-39 wins. And since then, well, things have gotten a little more interesting.
But first, let's look at the last decade of on-court success (or failure) and figure out what has happened.
Golden State had those "we believe" dubs that had two good seasons (though, only one playoff appearance) and went right back to being bad. In 08-09 they won 29 games, and drafted Stephen Curry in the 1st round, pick #7. Now in year six of his career, they are on fire. Curry played 2,896 minutes in his rookie year and the team absolutely committed to the rebuild. In his rookie year there were 3 players from those "we believe" years still on the roster. They'd all go to other teams shortly. It's not just one player though, they played Klay Thompson 2,936 in his second season (his first was lock out shortened to only 1,608, but in an 82 game season that translates to that 2k threshold some people do not like). They put their money where their draft is, and supported those guys with moves to be good when those young guys were at their peak. No false start after their crash. And now they are playing 35% better than their last decade, even with a rookie coach at the helm.
The Kings, on the other hand, have been a huge mess. Their previous owners were sleezeballs (not my term), and the team almost moved to a new city. They've changed owners to someone else who, at best, is over-eager to be part of the basketball decision making process. It has quickly become a situation of "Too Many Cooks" in short order in Sactown with owner Vivek Ranadive, GM Pete D'Alessandro, assistant GM Mike Bratz, Director of player personnel and analytics Dean Oliver, Adviser to the chair Chris Mullin , special assistant to the GM Mitch Richmond , PV of basketball and franchise operations Vlade Divac , and new head coach George Karl are all trying to live together. The team has made a lot of moves to get their house in order, but now it's a full house. The team isn't playing any better, and having three coaches in one season is never a good look. Even if one of them looks and dresses as sharply as Tyrone Corbin. Tom Ziller, of SB Nation, breaks down their entire dysfunction here.
So what about our Utah Jazz? Well, this last decade goes over the end of John Stockton and Karl Malone, the quick rebuild around Andrei Kirilenko, Carlos Boozer, and Mehmet Okur (that only worked out BECAUSE of that injury year that resulted in Deron Williams, via trading up) . No D-Will and that core doesn't really go anywhere, IMO. We often forget about the practical benefit of those injuries acting as a tank year in order to get close enough to get the point guard of the future that we wanted. The Jazz ended up having to say goodbye to Jerry Sloan and D-Will in the same season, and the team was back to, effectively, square one. They cobbled together a "playoff competitive" lineup that deluded some people for a while, but wasn't actually good enough to go forwards with. They didn't go young until just recently, and by then some players were already in their 4th year in the league. A new coach had to be found, and we got one, along with a new GM two seasons earlier. The Sporting News ' Sean Deveney feels like the Jazz -- this season -- are a product of not tanking. I don't know what to call it when last season you're starting John Lucas III, Richard Jefferson, and Marvin Williams -- but hey, I haven't been writing about bball for 20+ years like he has. I do believe that the Jazz front office saw the 'benefit' of a tank before, and knew they had to get that benefit again. They would never lose games, or throw away leads like some teams have. But they engineered a team that was built to fail. And they succeeded.
This season they have a team that is built to build. And I would say they are succeeding again. The Kings, well, may the Gods (old and new) help them. It's funny how the team that was awful forever, the Warriors, are the cream of the West. They are the only team of the three that bottomed out, looked hard at themselves, and went 100% in the direction of youth + good vets. The Kings showed us that young + bad vets gets you no where. And the Jazz showed that vets over good youth is similarly futile.
I wonder what the next decade will hold.
My man D'Joumbarey A. Moreau broke down the Jazz for Hoops Habit, and asks the question: "Can the Utah Jazz start sitting at the cool kids' table in the NBA?" And frankly, this is a question I wrestle with myself. Moreau looks at the improvements the team has made since the All-Star break, references their defensive capabilities, but offers up some Xs and Os reasons why the rest of the general NBA fanbase hasn't yet warmed up to the Jazz.
Winning cures everything, and the Jazz look to win a lot of games next season -- but being popular is more than just that. You have to play with flair -- and I think we've seen a number of flashy players on this team this past season:
- Gordon Hayward can throw down on unsuspecting fools and hit game winners
- Derrick Favors makes highlight plays on both ends of the court
- Rudy Gobert , well, everyone is talking about his blocks and dunks and passes
- Dante Exum occasionally makes the game look so easy, and everyone loves pass first PGs who can dunk
- Trey Burke is probably the second coming of Mr. Big Shot with his late game heroics
Trey Booker[This should have been Trevor Booker, thanks Flynner!] had the shot of the year, and doesn't stop hustling
- Rodney Hood is auditioning for the role of this era's Glen Rice
- and for most of this season we've been without our flashiest player -- Alec Burks
But at the end of the day, you know you've made it as a franchise when your home games bring out the celebs. CCheck out D'Joumbarey's piece here, and see which celebs he suggests should adopt the Jazz. Also, in the comments below add your own! Personally, I've already put it out there that the Jazz need to show Trevor Snarr on the jumbotron more. He's the actor most commonly known as the high school jock / bully / reaction face guy from Napoleon Dynamite.
Sure, he's not as popular as Modern Family star Ty Burrell, who goes to a number of Jazz games a year. But Burrell is from Oregon. The only way Snarr would rep the #801 any harder is if his first name was Spencer. (Probably a joke only Moni would get)