INSIDER – Question 8 of 20 to Jazz Camp – How was Corbin’s defense different than Sloan’s

Today is question 8 of 20 questions to Jazz camp. If you have a question please submit it to me at dlocke@utahjazz.com or via twitter @lockedonsports or facebook Locked on Sports

QUESTION 8 –How were Jazz different defensively under Tyrone Corbin than Jerry Sloan?

I am not sure this is an answerable question but I loved the concept so I thought I would make an effort.
From a visual standpoint I would say they had very little difference. Defensively, they still played hard and physical basketball.

The biggest strategy change the coaching staff made was they no longer forced the ball handler to the middle of the floor instead forcing them to the baseline. The defense didn’t improve greatly in the shortened season from the previous year, however it showed signs that things will improve.

Hoopdata.com keeps a statistic called opponent’s expected field goal percentage. The concept is if a team takes 10 shots at the rim they should shot x percentage in contrast to a team that shots 10 shots from 22 feet. Last year, the Jazz defense had the 3rd best expected field goal percentage in the NBA (47.6%). Translation if every team shot on average every night based on location of shots the Jazz would have had the 3rd best defense against the shot.

This in stark contrast to the last full year under Sloan when the Jazz 7th worst in the NBA (50.4%). In Sloan’s final full season the Jazz allowed 33% of the opponent shots at the rim and 24.1% from three, the two most efficient spots to shot from in the NBA. Last year, the Jazz allowed just 28% opponents shots to be at the rim and 22% of their shots to be three’s.

The only problem was last year the Jazz didn’t defend the actually shot well. The Jazz were the 9th worst defensive team against the shot at 49.3% EFG (effective field goal % weighs three point shots). In Sloan’s final year the Jazz defense allowed 49.2% EFG. Despite the better job forcing lower percentage shots the end result was not any better. The Jazz are hoping the personnel changes made in the off-season address this.

Fouling has always been a major part of the Jazz defense. Under Sloan in 2009-10 the Jazz were #1 in the NBA Opponents free throw rate (Free Throws Attempted/ Field Goals Attempted). The Jazz FTA/FGA was 35.5, only four other teams were above 34 and the Lakers were the lowest in the NBA at 26. This was a constant for Sloan run Jazz team, they lead the league in fouling in 06-07 (with a 40.7) 07-08 and 09-10, were 5th in 08-09.

Last season, in Corbin’s first “full” season the Jazz fouled the third most of any team at 32.5 (FTA/FGA), the lowest rate for the Jazz in many years but still ranking very high in the NBA.

The last comparisons were all based on style of play. Overall defense is hard to tell with such drastically different personal groups. Last year the Jazz ranked 21st defensively with a defensive efficiency that was 1.9+ league average per 100 possessions. In the previous year the Jazz were +3 pts per 100 possession to league average, so the Jazz improved last year. In 09-10 the Jazz were -2 to league average and 11th best in the NBA, a level the Jazz need to return to if they want to have high level success this season.