Twenty-games in the the season the Jazz defense ranks 21st in the NBA, allowing 103.8 pts per 100 possessions. Last year, they allowed 103.6 pts per 100 possession (offense was down in lockout year) and ranked 20th in the NBA.
When you look at the Four Factors a lot of the same issues that crippled the defense last year are showing again this year. Dean Oliver created the four factors they are EFG%, Opponents Free Throw Rate, Rebounding rate and turnover rate.
Here is how the Jazz rankings compare year to year.
Believe it or not there are two very positive signs in these numbers that lead me to believe the Jazz defensive numbers will improve as the season develops.
First, the Jazz are doing a much better job of not fouling and not putting people on the line. The league averages 1.4 pts per trip to the free throw line. Even shooting at the rim isn’t that efficient. Teams shot 63.8% at the rim or 1.26. Not putting teams on the line is a huge step in the correction direction. For years the Jazz have been the #1 team in the NBA in opponents free throws allowed, you can’t be good defensively and foul.
Second, the Jazz defensive rebounding numbers are absurdly bad, 28th in the NBA. Last year, the Jazz ranked 11th. This has to be an outlier or at least is easily fixable. The difference between last year and this year is about 2 offensive rebounds a game, that is around 2 to 3 points a game.
If the Jazz rebounding can return to last year’s level the Jazz can move from very easily from the 21st ranked defensive team to the 16th. The way the NBA is structured right now there are 15 decent defensive teams in the NBA the Jazz need to get into that group.