BREAKDOWN—The next D is on its way

De-Fense. De-Fense. De-Fense.

Utah’s defense over the past season has not be adequate. In the offseason, general manager Dennis Lindsey was very clear that the defense must improve. During the opening portion of the season, the Jazz’s defense was the worst in the NBA. However, over the last 10 games the Jazz have made tremendous strides.

The Jazz have altered their pick-and-roll coverages and changed how they are practicing pick-and-roll coverage and rotations. The impact has shown on the floor.

Using Dean Oliver’s four factors from Basketball on Paper, here is a look at the defensive improvement (shown by how the Jazz rank in the NBA).

defensive imporovemtn 1-3What I see here is a team that has learned a new method of playing defense. They players are executing the principals of the defense but are not being aggressive. As they get more comfortable they will begin to force more turnovers.

Having three of the four factors in the top half of the league is the foundation of a top-15 defense, which would be a huge success this season.

BREAKDOWN—Hayward changing shot selection

Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward is having his first experience as a go-to guy in the NBA. The transition has been difficult and trying. However, as the season progresses you can see Hayward evolving as an offensive player.

Earlier in the season, Hayward was taking a large amount of low-percentage shots. The league shoots on average about 38% on mid-range shots or 2-pointers in the non-restricted areas. Shots at the rim or from 3-point range are much more efficient shots.

Here is Hayward’s shot distribution for the first 25 games of the season.

gh shot distrubution first 2537% of your shots coming from mid-range is a lot. Chandler Parsons, the model small forward in terms of efficiency, takes just 10% of his shots from mid-range. Nicholas Batum takes 23% of his shots from mid-range. However, neither of these players are go-to guys on their roster.

Over the last 10 games you can see Hayward is taking fewer long range 2s and in turn is taking more efficient shots.

gh shot distrubution last 10Hayward has reduced the amount long 2s from 37% to 29% of his total field goal attempts. Almost all of those shots have changed from mid-range 2s to 3-point attempts.

Hayward shoots 40% on mid-range 2s—or 0.8 points per shot. On 3-point shots he is averaging 0.84 points per shot, and considering he is shooting 10% below his career average, that will improve.

This is a nice evolution in Hayward’s game. My guess is that this continues, and over the next 10 to 20 games we’ll see even more 3s and fewer mid-range shots.

BREAKDOWN—Afflalo tells a positive story for Hayward

Arron Afflalo is tearing it up for the Orlando Magic this season. He is averaging 20 points a game as their primary scorer. More importantly, he has become efficient again. Last year, after coming over from Denver, he became the primary scorer for the Magic. Afflalo had always been a complimentary player. In turn, his efficiency struggled greatly.

As you look at the chart below, you will see how much Afflalo dipped in his effective field goal % and his true shooting % when his usage rate (% of the offense) increased. The same has happened for Gordon Hayward this season.

The good sign is that in his second year as the primary offensive weapon—with a year of experience in his back pocket—Afflalo has returned to the almost exact same efficiency as the previous season.

In the chart below, the top numbers are Afflalo’s and the bottom numbers are Hawyard’s. It is easy to project where Hayward would come out in 2013-14 with a year of experience.

AFFLALO HAYWARD

Once again, the top chart is Afflalo and bottom is Hayward.

BREAKDOWN—The impact of Trey Burke

Since Trey Burke has joined the starting five, the Jazz are shooting 45% (and 40% from three) with an offensive rating of 104.1  (points per 100 possessions). This makes the Jazz the 12th best offensive team in the NBA during that time.

Here are the three players helped the most by Trey Burke when he is on the floor:

fluec

BREAKDOWN—The emergence of Alec Burks

The start of the season was nothing short of a nightmare for Alec Burks. He could never find a rhythm. He was shuffled between shooting guard and point guard. He was supposed to be the off-the-bench scorer. Instead, he became an offensive eyesore where nothing was clicking.

Then the other half of the B and B team, Trey Burke, returned to the lineup. Alec got to stay in one position. The coaches have been able to let Alec play in a more natural position and make plays from better spots on the floor.

Over the last eight games, Alec Burks is shooting 52%, he is 9-of-13 from three and he is averaging 17 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists.

What has really changed is where the shots are coming from.

Here is Alec Burks’ shot distribution chart for the last eight games (games 17-24):

distrubtion burks last 8

Here is Alec Burks’ shot distribution chart for games 1-16:

distrubtion burks game 1-17

Check out the highlighted area—prior to this recent stretch, 36% of his shots were mid-range shots. In the last eight games he has taken just 16% of his shots from this inefficient area. Moreover, in the last eight games he has taken 51% of his shots in the restricted area—previous to that he took just 35% in the restricted area.

Not only is Alec making shots, he is taking much better shots.

 

BREAKDOWN – Burke influence on Favors

Credit to Casey Greer on twitter who mentioned this the other day.  The player having the biggest uptick with Trey Burke on the floor is Derrick Favors.  The numbers below show it.  Check out where Favors is getting his shots and the shot quality at the rim with Burke on the floor

favors with burke

BREAKDOWN – Looking at Jazz games 11-20

This year I have said we need to look at the Jazz in 10 game and 20 game windows to be able to evaluate the progress of the franchise.   It will probably be better to look at the window 11-20 and compare it to 41-50 and compare that to 71-80 then it will be to look at 1-10 and 11-20 but that is all we have right now Here is the Jazz play over the last 10 games on the offensive end.

jazz games 11-20

 

TS= True Shooting %   EFG% = Effective field Goal  Cringe= use of possession compared to league average

LHM – Larry H Miller’s player value

Locke:  My offensive rating valuing ability to get shot and efficiency

Activity – is a former head coach in the NBA’s system to evaluate talent

The red area is % of possession used for these items

The purple is scoring opportunities per 40 minutes, pts per Scoring Opportunity (FGA and trips to line) pts per possession, pts per FGA and possession used per game

TAKE AWAYS

* Big time jump by Derrick Favors on the offensive end.  To be a 25 Locke offensive rating is a high level starter in the NBA.   This is a big jump.  14% of his possession being free throws is good.

* Jermey Evans another solid number this time with real playing time.

* This was a super tough stretch for Gordon Hayward.  League wide his -12.4 is one of the worst offensive players in this period

* Very few  players using possessions above the league average

*  As excited as we all are about Trey Burke only 3.4% of his possession going to the free throw is something that must improve.

*  Gordon has not only not made shots but dropped in the amount of three’s he takes and the amount of trip to the line he takes.  That is heading the wrong direction.

*  Love Marvin using 42% of his possession to shoot a three.

*  Over last 10 games Mavin WIlliams is the Jazz leading scorer at 14 points a game.

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BREAKDOWN – Paul George’s improvement

Indiana Pacers Paul George has made an enormous offensive jump so far this season.  He has gone from a 42% shooter to a 49% shooter and his three point percentage is way up as well.  Here is the visual on how he has done it.

This is Paul George last year

paul george 12-13

 

This is Paul George this year

paul goerge 13-14