Welcome to another exciting edition of the SLC Dunk post-game chasedown. Sometimes you need a little time before going over what you just saw live, and in this internet era where speed is the first thing we often forget that it's still okay to take our time. While the format of this feature will surely change over time, it's important to make sure that we get a chance to highlight some of the best moments, efforts, and trends of the game. So let's get to it! Last night the Utah Jazz played on the road against the Los Angeles Lakers. It was preseason game number one, and was hosted by the lovely Lakers fans of Hawaii. Far from a neutral ground, the final score seemed like paradise for our side as the Jazz locked up the Lakers to only 71 points, finishing with 90 for the good guys.
The Chasedown -- Preseason 2015-2016 Episode 1
The near 20 point victory is somewhat dimmed by a few factors. The first is that this is only a preseason game. The second is that both teams were not playing for the win. Early on in the preseason before any training camp cuts have been made coaches have an obligation to get more data on bubble guys, while recognizing the wisdom of sitting your best players. We saw this last night as the Jazz played 13 guys (and it could have been more, as there were three guys injured), and the Lakers played 13, with another guy injured. The biggest difference makers for both teams were sitting more than they normally should, none greater than Kobe Bryant playing only 12 minutes in his return game. The Jazz had two guys returning from 2014-2015 season ending injuries too in Alec Burks and Rodney Hood. Collectively these three wing players combined to shoot 2-19 from the floor. Yikes. Thankfully it's only preseason. We still had a game last night, where contrasting styles, philosophies, and results battled it out on NBA TV.
Offensively both teams were a mess, with Utah shooting .370 from the field, and Los Angeles only .289. Yikes. The Jazz were particularly awful from outside (going 2/15, for a whopping 13% success rate). The Lakers system is the problem where the team managed to take 90 shots in a 48 minute game, and get only 11 assists to 13 turn overs. How much of that is attributed to "the Jazz defense", and how much of that is "just the Lakers playing poorly" will depend on which fanbase you support. A glaring point of conflict from the boxscore relates to free throws. Utah went to the line 48 times and made .708 of their attempts, while Los Angeles only got there 21 times, making just .619. The Jazz made more free throws than the other team even took, which is rare. Obviously, yes, if Kobe played more than just the first quarter we would have seen something else. But on the other hand, did we need to see more of this?
In his stead, Lou Williams got 7 attempts, and for the record he had himself a nice little game. I am amazed that the Toronto Raptors didn't want him back. Though, the biggest surprise in the free throw battle came from the Jazz back-up bigmen. While starters Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert had their normal level of masonry from the stripe Trevor Booker, Tibor Pleiss, and Jeff Withey straight up Memo'd it from 15 feet. In fact, those guys helped the team up their average for the game. The point guards went 6/6 (thankfully), the wings went 8/13, and the starting bigs went 6/13. These three reserve bigmen went 14/16 from the line. If the Jazz weren't so good from the line and if the Lakers made some more shots . . . this game is completely different.
I was impressed by Derrick Favors on offense. We all knew he had the potential to be a 20/10 guy -- and even as an under-played second year player under that Tyrant Cobain guy we saw countless flashes of an emerging two-way game. Against a group of bigs with legit size (Roy Hibbert, Robert Sacre, Julius Randle, Brandon Bass, Ryan Kelly, Tarik Black) he still had his way. While he didn't get the 20/10, he did finish with 16/9 in 24 minutes. He was aggressive, the team was getting him the ball, and he was able to score in a variety of ways. Sure, he wasn't the Al Jefferson student that Enes Kanter was, but this team is going to need a post presence. If Favors continues to be aggressive then good things will happen. (Btw, the fact that our former center has Antawn Jamison style runners now should be a problem for the rest of the league.) He's going to have an amazingly high GO Rating this season, and last night he attempted a FG once every 96 seconds on the floor. That's putting pressure on the defense.
What is it with Dennis Lindsey and his abilities to get good rookies? Remember all the crappy rookies that Jerry Sloan was given every year? Raul Neto is amazing. We felt like he was good, but not THIS good. Trey Lyles was supposed to be disappointing, but he tried to do a Marvin Williams "Biblical dunk" in his first real game, and still kinda pulled it off with the roll.
Trey Lyles Looking Good Even With The Roll Off The Dunk https://t.co/Xv8c5L3NWS— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) October 5, 2015
Tibor Pleiss was supposed to be the goofus to Ante Tomic 's gallant, yet here we see him being effective against NBA vets. Together they added 10 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists, 5 steals, and 2 blocks to the cause. Sure, most of that was due to Neto's big game off the bench -- but the other two guys surely contributed as well. Raul is going to challenge to be the starting point guard this season. Everyone sees it.
For me a more interesting, though smaller challenge, is going to see what happens between Tibor and Jeff. Tibor had 7 boards (sometimes it's good to be 7'3) and made his free throws. Jeff somehow got to the FT line 8 times in 5 minutes, and was a monster on the glass when he was in the game too. These are nice problems to have, like if Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos were actually useful players when they were here.
Anyway, here are the player stats:
The four points from Alec/Rodney isn't good. Double digits for each of the starters, with a lot of different contributors off the bench looks like the recipe for this ball sharing offense though. The lack of anyone besides Joe Ingles making threes is troubling, safe for it's just the first game. Trey's 0/4 from outside is somehow more acceptable than Rodney's 0/4. None of the bigs took a deep shot, so until that happens, the team will have to rely on passing to maintain floor spacing, and not pinning defenders onto spaces on the floor. Of course, Raul Neto is a gifted passer.
What in the? How did Neto make this pass?? https://t.co/L3GjI31LBL— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) October 5, 2015
So maybe it'll all work out?
Looking beyond scoring we see a slightly different picture. Hayward, Favors, and Gobert all teased with double doubles, and the Bukescourt added 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Perhaps it's greedy, but for a team that missed 46 times, getting only 12 offensive rebounds seems low. It just seems low, because that's a OREB% of 26.1%. That's kinda good. I think this team has the size and tenacity to keep banging the offensive glass, and tiring teams out. Tired defensive clubs either make mistakes, or foul, or both. And the Jazz, playing a lot of lower tier guys, were able to get to the FT line nearly 50 times last night. I think that offensive rebounding had something to do with that.
I don't expect Raul Neto to get 4 steals every game. I do, however, fully support the idea of him being on the floor when it can cause the most chaos. In the first half the second unit appeared gun-shy, but in the second half all the extra chances and opportunities in transition got them going.
All in all, a nice first outing by the Jazz this preseason. I expect Chris Johnson to be cleared of the concussion protocol by the time the next game rolls around, and his shooting will be greatly appreciated. No Bryce Cotton last game, so we may see him get 20 minutes while one of Trey or Raul sits. I think Snyder is smart with this, instead of giving out everyone 8-10 minutes a night he's giving guys 20, and the other guy the night off. You get a better chance to get into the game if you play more than two stints. And the data you get better reflects reality then.
Player of the game has to be Neto though . . . or Favors. But Neto was +20 in +/-, so he gets the edge here.