Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke breaks down potential top 10 pick in the NBA Draft Cody Zeller.
One of the more interesting items for Jazz fans this past season and for the upcoming season is how the big men play together.
For the last two seasons the Jazz have been the 21st ranked defensive team in the NBA. That must change if the Jazz are going to be an elite level team. The top 4 EFG% defenses in the Western Conference are the 4 teams still playing today.
The year started with the Jazz believing they could use Favors with Jefferson as a way to mask the defensive deficiencies of Jefferson while still getting his offensive prowess. However, this turned out to not be the case.
In November the Jazz defensive rating with Favors and Jefferson on the floor together was a putrid 108.7. The worst in the NBA last year was Charlotte at 108.9 and Sacramento at 108.5. In December, the issue became a near crisis as the defensive rating with Favors and Jefferson on the floor was a 123.5.
In turn, the Jazz limited the minutes of Jefferson and Favors together to only 64 mins in December after playing 145 in November. Favors were also battling plantar during this month.
The problem was Favors and Millsap were not defending well together in November either allowing an unfathomable 123.2 pts per 100 possessions in the 98 minutes they spent on the floor together. League average is about 103.5.
The Jazz were left with playing Jefferson and Millsap for offense and Katner and Favors for defensive. Fortunately, Favors and Kanter were very strong defensively playing primarily against second teams. Holding opponents to 96.2 in November and 97.5 in December.
However, in January Favors and Kanter fell off the defensive wagon. After being stalwart for the 2012 portion of the season, January had the Jazz with a defensive rating of 114.8 per 100 possessions and the Jazz were outscored by 13 pts per 100 possessions with Kanter and Favors on the floor.
Elsewhere, Favors and Jefferson were still not working as a defensive combo so the Jazz returned a bit more to Millsap and Favors who defended well together after a disastrous start allowing just 89.7 pts per 100 possessions in January.
And so the dance went on all season. The unfortunate reality for the last two Jazz seasons is the combination of Jefferson and Millsap is not good enough defensively to be highly competitive. The Jazz searched for the answer to what other lineups to use and nothing jumped to the forefront and grabbed that lead. Leaving the Jazz with a defensively deficient combination of Millsap and Jefferson for most of the season.
Moving forward, Favors and Kanter were terrific together defensively for most of the season. The minutes primarily came against 2nd team bigs and next year they need to be this good defensively against top tier players. If they can the Jazz can finally move to the elite defensive level.
Once that is accomplished the focus goes to the offense.
See the graphs below for how each group played together.
This week marked the 10 year anniversary of John Stockton’s retirement from the Utah Jazz and the end of the Stockton/Malone era in Utah. Over the last 10 years the Jazz have been in the playoffs for just 5 of the years. They have made only a single trip to the Western Conference finals and two other trips into the 2nd round. For a fan base that has only seen 1 year with 35 or fewer wins since 1982 this has been a hard stretch.
However, when compared to other franchises that have had marquee stars of the game retire the Jazz last 10 years look very impressive. I have looked at teams who transitioned out of one era into the next and looked at their performance in 5 to 10 year increments.
Those team are, the Jazz post Stockton/Malone, Lakers post Magic, Boston post Bird/McHale, Bulls post Jordan/Pippen, Pistons post Thomas/Dumars, Pacers post Reggie Miller, Knicks post Ewing, Seattle post Payton, Rockets post Hakeem and Kings post Weber.
I didn’t include the Spurs after David Robinson’s retirement because their was no rebuild with the drafting of Tim Duncan.
In the next 5 years only two teams were able to play above .500 basketball the Lakers and the Jazz.
Over the 10 years since the retirement of the marquee stars only 4 teams have been able to play 500 basketball. The Pistons and the Lakers have managed to add banners to their collection. The Rockets with the pick of Yao Ming and the free agent signing of Tracy McGrady went head to head with the Jazz pick of Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer.
Amazing that in the 10 years since Jordan and Ewing the were both below 40% win teams with all the advantages Chicago and New York bring with their great cities.
In conclusion, while the last 10 years have been not replicated the previous run of Stockton and Malone it is clear in the NBA that is impossible. What the Jazz have achieved over the same time frame is remarkable and only surpassed by the Lakers who were able to sign Shaq because of their city. Winning at an over 50% rate for both the 5 years and 10 years after Stockton and Malone took some very strong work from Kevin O’Connor and the Jazz organization.
Utah Jazz radio voice David Locke is getting ready for the NBA Draft. Here is the video breakdown of Syracuse point guard Michael Carter Williams
Shot charts can tell you a great deal about a player. In the case of the Jazz third year player Gordon Hayward it shows a great deal about his development. One of the keys for a player is to discover what he does well and where he can be successful. When you compare the shot charts of Hayward from last year to this year you can see he figured out how to be successful. The right side of the floor was Hayward’s magic area this year.
The next step is to see where Gordon gets his shots when coming off the left wing pick and roll on a right hand dribble.
I will do more research on this but I broke down the Jazz opponents into three categories, title contenders (5 in the west 3 in the east), playoff contenders (playoff teams plus Dallas) and lottery teams.
This season the Jazz did the following
Against Title Contenders – 6-19
Against Playoff Contenders – 10-13
Against Lottery teams – 27-7
This is probably exactly what they should have been. If they could have flipped the 10-13 to 13-10 they would have been in the playoffs. The below .500 records against similar teams is the difference between making the playoffs and missing.
What I am really interested in is what our offensive rating was against these three level of opponents and I will work on that in the near future.
For decades the transition three attempt by a member of the Utah Jazz was a huge taboo . This season the Jazz have joined in with the rest of the league in launching the transition three.
However, after years of being trained that the transition three is a poor shot you can still hear the groans in Energy Solutions Arena and on our broadcasts whenever we miss the transition three.
It would take brighter minds like Kevin Pelton and the crew to dissect the value of the transition three and if it is in fact a poor shot.
In a more rudimentary manner I thought I would look to see how it has worked for the Jazz.
This season the Jazz have taken 159 transition three’s and made 71 for 44.7%. Last season in 66 games the Jazz took just 86 transition three’s, in 2010-11 the Jazz took 139 transition three’s.
In contrast to the Jazz conversion rate of 44.7% on transition three’s the Jazz have hit on just e 35.7% on all non-transition three’s.
Overall the Jazz have had 1258 plays in transition and used only 159 for three point shots. My guess is 12.6% of transition possessions as a three is still on the low end of the league.
The Jazz average points per possession in transition is 1.12 and when they shot at three at 44.7% the average point per possession is 1.31. The transition three is actually converting at a higher rate than a regular transition opportunity .
For the Jazz best three point shooters a transition three may be a really good idea. The 4 best three point shooters on the Jazz roster this year are 65 of 135 for 48.1%.
This year Randy Foye is 35 of 70 on transition three attempts (50%). Mo Williams is 11 of 20 on transition three attempts (55%). Slightly, less effective is Gordon Hayward at 12 of 30 or 40% and Marvin Williams is 7 of 15 from 3 in transition (47%).
The other Jazz players are just 6 of 24 in transition with Alec Burks at 1 for 10. Many of Burks shots are at the end of a quarter.
Bottom line, the Jazz four best three point shooters are hitting 48% of their three point shots in transition. To equal that inside the arch the Jazz would need to shot 72%. Maybe the pull up three should bring a cheer not a groan.
The big line-up with Paul Millsap at the 3 along side Favors and Jefferson reappeared for the Jazz against the Memphis Grizzlies. The line-up outscored the Grizzles 15-11 over the final 6 minutes. This was the 15th game this season when the Jazz have used the “Big Lineup” and in those games the Jazz have had mixed results with the “big line-up”.
In those 15 games they have been on the floor together for 74 minutes. The team’s offensive rating (pts per 100 possessions) with the big three on the floor is an unreal 119.3. The NBA’s best offense is 110. 6 (Oklahoma City). However, on the defensive end the “Big Line-up” has really struggled allowing 115.3 pts per 100 possessions. They are +1 overall in those 74 minutes.
The defensive struggles of the big line-up are in direct contrast to what made the line-up successful a year ago. Last year, the defense was stifling with the Big Three on the floor allowing only 82.3 pts per 100 possessions. The line-up spent 113 minutes on the floor together last season. The offensive rating was impressive as well at 111.9 pts per 100 possessions.
Amazingly, last season the big line-up grabbed 80% of defensive rebounds and 36% of all offensive rebounds. In addition, while they only shot an EFG% of 46.3 (league average is 48.6%)they only turned the ball over 11% of the possessions and were able to maintain a strong offensive game.
So what changed from last year to this year with the big line-up?
Last year 98 of the 113 minutes when Millsap, Favors and Jefferson were on the floor the line-up included Gordon Hayward. In those 98 minutes the defense was 83 pts per 100 possessions and the offense was 112.4.
However, this year the big line-up has played 40 minutes with Foye as the 2 guard and only 25 with Hayward. Neither has been good defensively. With Foye and the big three the Jazz allow 124.5 pts per 100 possession, but what really jumps out is they don’t rebound. With Foye the big three line-up only grabs 46.5% of rebounds and only 62% on the defensive glass.
With Hayward they grab 72% of defensive rebounds and the offense has been an unstoppable 142.4 pts per 100 possessions shooting an outlier EFG% of 68% but the defense has still been poor this season.
Nonetheless, the contrast in how the big line-up works with Hayward instead of Foye is striking. With Foye the efficiency differential (offensive rating –defensive rating) is -23.9 pts per 100 possessions, with Hayward it is +29.
The big three is really the Big 4 and the success is dependent on Gordon Hayward being on the floor with the big three. The notes below show the value of Hayward with the big three over the past two seasons.
Millsap, Favors and Jefferson = +74 in 187 minutes
With Hawyard on the floor = +76 in 123 minutes
Without Hayward on the floor = -2 in 64 minutes
On a side note the line-up of Millsap, Favors and Kanter has played 36 mintues together and the have struggled offensively but they have grabbed an unreal 18 offensive rebounds in 37 chances allowing them to play to a 77-71 advantage in those 36 minutes. And last year in 33 minutes they outscored the opponents 55-51 so over the last two years with Kanter in the big line-up the Jazz have outscored the opponent 132-122