The Utah Jazz are doing good things out there on the court right now. The team defense has made huge strides giving up 112.0 ppg at the beginning the season to only 83.5 ppg this month so far. Much has been said about the defense, and thousands of words are yet to be written. Another factor in the improved play is just, honestly, having your more talented players return from injury. Rookie steal Rodney Hood is a prime example of this. We talk about the defense and Hood -- and much more in this week's Jam Session! Let's start Jammin!
1. What did you think you'd see first as a Jazz fan -- a team that plays defense, or a team that wins on the road?
JuMu: A team that plays defense; The Jazz have had only 1 season above 0.500 on the road since 2001, this team still has some strides to make before they become one of the best Jazz teams of the millennium.
Tazz Jazz Fan: Defence. Defence begets offence, it's a coaching fundamental. It also fits with what we've seen of Coach Snyder's teaching style. Road wins come from D
UtesFan89: Defense. The Jazz have, in recent history, never been a team that wins on the road. There was no real reason to think it was going to happen anytime soon. You had to figure that at some point, they'd get lucky in the draft/free agency and get a couple of players that could play good defense together.
Basketball John: I can't say that I thought about this question before now, but I would have assumed they would have come at about the same time. An improved D would lead to more wins on the road. Even in the good years since 2000, the Jazz weren't considered an elite defensive team. They were elite offensively, but when they had off nights, they didn't have the defense to fall back on.
2. In the post- John Stockton / Karl Malone era many point guards and scoring bigmen have lived their entire Jazz careers in the shadow of legends. Can you compare Rudy Gobert to Mark Eaton? Too soon? Or too limiting?
JuMu: Gobert and Eaton are both freaks of nature (good for Jazz fans!). I can see Rudy having the ceiling of the Best Jazz center ever, and 2nd best Jazz big man behind Malone. However, comparing him to Eaton at this point of his career is no slight to Rudy. Eaton was quite the defensive/blocking force in his heyday.
Tazz: Rudy will always be compared to Mark, as he's our Iconic Centre. However the game has evolved, and big men are now mobile and ath-a-letic. Rudy will certainly draw comparisons with Mark because of his shot changing and blocking ability. However, as he matures and develops a more all around game - imagine Rudy with a solid 15 foot Duncan style jumper from the block and what it will do to the offence - the sky is the limit. He's not the next Eaton, he's the first Rudy
UtesFan89: Of course you can compare. I don't know about too soon or too limiting. Probably neither. But I feel that it causes expectations that are unnecessary. Let Rudy be Rudy. It'll be much more fun that way, if there's no expectations.
BBJ: No offense to Mark Eaton, but I think Gobert surpasses him with the usual caveats of health and staying with the Jazz. Gobert is light years ahead of Eaton on offense. On defense, Rudy is as good so far as Eaton was. Additionally, Gobert is expected to guard players now that are more dynamic. I don't see Eaton being able to defend LaMarcus Aldridge at all. When Gobert's career in Utah is done, he'll be the best all-around center we've had.
3. Are we finally seeing the Vegas / Preseason version of Rodney Hood again; or does he have a long way to go still before we're confident in his play?
JuMu: Yes, we are, he's finally being a nice streaky shooter, having good games and bad games, instead of just bad games of which he was mired in at one point this season probably due to his injury issues.
Tazz: Yes. He's a true old school fireman streak shooter (to plagiarise an old Snapper Jones phrase) who will have a real place in the offence.
Utes: I'm confident. But then, I was always confident. He just needs time. If we can give Trey 20 shots/game to get back his groove, I'm sure we can give Hood a couple here and there. Oh, and he has to remain healthy of course.
BBJ: Hood is still a rookie but has improved throughout the season. I'm actually surprised when his threes don't fall. He has a great looking shot and that scoring mentality.
4. What song (or YouTube vid of a song) best describes the Jazz season so far?
JuMu: Chop Suey by System of a Down if only for the first line of the song: WAKE UP!
Tazz: Already been used in a post game thread, but The Specials 'A Message To Rudy"; Rudy's emergence is the defensive anchor we have needed to build everything else on.
Utes: to be determined, he's still looking >
BBJ: I don't want to get made fun of for my music, so I'll pass.
AllThatAmar: Because we really didn't get a lot for this one, I will speak up. I feel like there are three distinct parts to this season. The off-season and the expectations we had for the team after this team was ROLLING in Summer League, killing it in the NBA Preseason, and our guys were rolling in the FIBA tournament. Back then this is how I felt about the team:
My expectations were a little too out of control, like the wardrobe in this Earth, Wind, & Fire video.
DURING the season we had a bunch of injuries over a short period of time, including losing Alec Burks (my fav player on this team) for the season, and the team endured a 9 game losing streak. For this part of the season I have to go with 2pac. (NSFW lyrics)
Right now the Jazz are a grind it up team that plays defense and beats good teams. Boston game notwithstanding, I feel like we are King slayers right now that will play spoiler to some Western conference pretenders to the throne over the next month or so.
So, basically, Megadeth.
And NONE of this would be necessary if more SLCDunkers were willing to makes fools of themselves, like I am! [Also, for the record, if our team somehow gets some of our players playing in Spain right now -- over the summer even -- like Ante Tomic, Raul Neto, and/or Tibor Pleiss, then this fourth stage will exist in my mind.]
5. The game is on the line, with seconds on the clock and only one point as the difference between two teams . . . out of the time out who should be the primary defender of the ball handler? (Which is today more and more a split between the PG or the SF) [N.B. This question was asked back on March 4th, before the Boston game]
JuMu: Dante Exum for the ball handler, Gordon Hayward for the best shooter. (There's probably much better answers to this, I haven't looked at the stats of this team in clutch situations this season).
Tazz: That's actually really tough, because you think about match ups based on who you are facing. But as a general rule:
- Joe Ingles on the inbounds watching for the return pass
- Dante Exum on the ballcarrier
- Gordo on the best shooter/2nd option
- Derrick Favors and Rudy on paint and rim defence
Utes: Exum. ... Hayward, I guess, if it's a SF.
BBJ: Gobert at the rim :)
[Ed. This vine added by me.... ]
Thanks guys! And readers: what are your Jazz season song selections? (Should we make a playlist?) How should the team set up their defense at the end of games? Is it all good in the (Rodney) Hood? Start jammin' with us!