EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Alec Burks play represents the Jazz developmental program

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN — Utah’s offensive prowess continues in blowout win over injured Clippers

SUMMARY: The Jazz’s offensive explosion continued as they turn a close fourth quarter game into a blowout 126-107 win over the Clippers.
• The story of the night was Alec Burks. Alec finished with 28 points (a season high), 7 rebounds (a season high), 5 assists (a season high), 3 steals (a season high), and 1 blocked shot.

• Alec has been working really hard to change his game and he saw the result of all that hard work tonight. The East coast road trip was a disaster for Alec, but he continued to work. His assistant coach Jeff Watkinson has been working with Alec to get wider in his stance. When you think of Alec, you think of that tall, rhythm, bouncy dribble. That left him with poor balance and the inability to stop on drives. Playing with a wider stance and shorter, choppy steps gives him the ability to stop in the lane before he is in trouble, keep him on his feet, pick his spots so he can attack, pull up or pass.

• He threw a pass tonight on a play in the paint that I had never seen from him. He was in the paint and stayed on the ground. Because he was on balance and playing slower, he was able to rip a pass to Ingles in the corner for a 3. In the past, this play was Alec driving to the basket recklessly, and if he made the pass he threw a wraparound from the baseline.

• He played under control the entire night. He made floaters in the lane. He curled out on a 1-on-2. He had DeAndre Jordan on a switch and he lifted into a 3-pointer instead.

• Talking to Alec today at shootaround, he said he is just trying to play slow. He had to change because his former game wasn’t working. When I asked him how hard that is, he said it is really hard because everything he did before was about explosion, which he’s trying to learn to play without. The irony is by taking away away and slowing down, he will give himself an opportunity to use those explosive qualities again.

• The Jazz are doing so many things with their coaching staff. I talk about preparation so much in regard to in-game adjustments, but each player has an assistant coach assigned to them for floor work. That same coach will do film work with the player. They do this every day.

• Add to that the advances the Jazz are making with their medical staff and the Jazz have the complete package for player development. Each player is doing table massage work before every practice and every game to activate their muscles. The same professional is working with them each day so that trainer knows that body and what is needed. Each player has a specific strength plan that is built for them, largely based on what their body needs and what is discovered in those table sessions.

• That’s a pretty good recipe for player development: High level work on the player to prepare them to be ready on the floor then individual coaching attention dedicated to specific aspects of the player’s game. Couple that with a head coach that gives players every chance to have success and the Jazz have the premier player development program in the NBA.

• The offense continues to be remarkable. Over the past 10 games, the Jazz have been taking 38% of their shots as 3-pointers. Tonight they took 34 of 85 shots as 3s (exactly 40%) and they hit an incredible 16 of 34.

• The Jazz had 38 assists; The last time they did that was 2010. Every Jazz starter had at least three assists and five players had five or more.

• It was a 1-point game with 10:30 left in the fourth quarter and the Jazz went on a 21-4 run to blow out the Clippers. That run stretched out to 50-19 to end the game.

• The Jazz didn’t play a lot of defense (or couldn’t get stops) until late in the third quarter. The Clippers shot 66% in the second quarter.

• This was statistically the best offensive game of the year for the Jazz.

• Derrick Favors was terrific again. He had 7 offensive rebounds and was a beast.

• The Jazz being 6-4 in 10 games without Rudy Gobert is surprising. The level of offensive play has been completely stunning.