In this season of discovery, rather than getting caught up in the day-in, day-out performances, it seems more prudent to look at the team in 10-game stretches. Truthfully, it might be better to look at four 20-game stretches.
Last night, the Jazz concluded their first 40 games of the season. Let’s take a look at the Jazz’s performances in their first four-game stretches.
- The offense was the 11th best in the NBA over that stretch, jumping from 100.1 to 106.3 points per 100 possessions. The EFG% and TS% jumps are remarkable. The offense looks different and has better ball and player movement than it had earlier this season.
- The defensive change is remarkable. The defensive rebounding went was 7th best in the NBA over the last 10 games. Previously, it was in the bottom 15% of the league. The Jazz jumped from grabbing 72% of defensive rebounds to 78%. This is an increase of about two rebounds per game. The Jazz were allowing 13 second-chance points per game, and over the last 10 games they’ve allowed just 9.8. This is key to a good defensive team. If you are a bottom 20% defensive rebounding team, you can’t be a good defensive team.
- Interestingly, the Jazz have stopped offensive rebounding. The Jazz were the top offensive rebounding team in the NBA during the first 10 games and are now 26th in offensive rebounding percentage. This should parlay into a much better transition defense. However, that has not played out. Over the last 10 games, the Jazz allowed 17.2 fast-break points per game, but in games 21-30 the Jazz were down to 13.6. In this small sample size this could be opponent-based, but it is still surprising that the Jazz have lowered their offensive rebounding percentage yet not been able to limit opponents’ fast-break points.
- Utah’s defense hasn’t gotten remarkably better despite changing how they are playing. The defense has improved to 25th in the NBA and is down about three points per 100 possessions. Digging deeper, it is interesting to see the changes.
- The Jazz have reduced the amount of fouls they are committing considerably. The defensive rebounding we mentioned before is in a different stratosphere. However, the Jazz are no longer forcing turnovers and their defense of the shot has not changed. The Jazz only allowed opponents to hit 33% on threes over the last 10 games, but opponents have increased the amount of threes they took over last 20 games from 17.7 over games 21-30 to 20.7 in games 31-40. (Again, this could be small sample size theater.)
Bottom line is that Jazz games 31-40 were by far the best 10 games of the season. The overall efficiency rating was 19th in the league (-1.5) in contrast to being 30th, 26th and 29th in the three previous 10-game stretches.