#Q4Locke – Why hasn’t the defense improved?

q2 11-11

This is a great question, Casey. First off, the Jazz started the year playing their first five games against teams that were ranked in the top seven offensively last year. In addition, all of those teams had an All-NBA player. All-NBA players can blow up the best of any game plan.

Now, the last two games against Detroit and Indiana the Jazz should have been able to show some defensive progress. That has come to fruition. Utah’s defensive rating the last two games has been 102.9. The EFG% defense has been 48.6. Both of these numbers come in better than league average and they should since both those teams are below league average offenses.

The preseason is not a great barometer to what is going to happen in the regular season. One game I recall in the preseason, I was talking with an opposing head coach when I realized they had not watched one moment of film to how the Jazz were playing—they were solely focussed on their team. In the season, they are looking to exploit Utah’s weaknesses.

Utah’s perimeter and high pick-and-roll coverage must improve as the season continues.

Q4Locke #1 – Will Hayward be an All-Star?

Q1 11-11

Oh my goodness has Gordon ever been terrific. The numbers are absurd—19 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists a game. If those hold, it will be hard to keep him off the All-Star team. Moreover, the coaches vote and he plays a game coaches love. Gordon is unselfish, plays in the team concept, hustles and respects the game. That will earn coaches’ votes.

However, to answer your question, yes there is a way he doesn’t make the All-Star Team. The Jazz need to win games, and even with wins it might be too much too ask.   Traditionally, coaches decide these issues based on wins. With James Harden, Kobe Bryant and Steph Curry on the team at the wing, with Klay Thomspon, Kawhi Leonard, Rudy Gay plus a red-hot Kevin Martin all wanting a spot, it’s hard to see where Gordon makes the team. The NBA All-Star roster is just 13 players and the only spot to fill is Durant’s, but if he and Kobe are voted on the team then I can’t imagine Gordon is able to bump Curry or Harden off the team.

Remember, Deron Williams was amazing and didn’t make the All-Star team for many years.

INSIDER – Here may be the issue with the Cleveland Cavaliers

The NBA floor has a left side and a right side.  The problem is the Cavaliers need three left sides.

Last year, Kevin Love took 305 left side 3 pointers and only 91 from the right side.  In addition, Love took over 250 left side 2′s and only 90 right side twos.

Here is Love’s short chart

love shot chart

 

Seems like no big deal until you look at where LeBron James was best last year

lebron shot chartLeBron is awesome from the left side, but is below the league average when he has to play on the right side of the floor.

This brings us to Kyrie Irving.   And once again he prefers the left side of the floor

irving shot chartKyrie Irving’s shot chart is almost identical to LeBron James.  The angle right three for both James and Irving is a 27-29% shot.  Irving shot chart is more balanced, but he is better on the left side of the floor.

Not a lot leaning left these days but the Cavaliers three main scores all do when on the basketball floor.

 

 

INSIDER – Two plays from Gobert show his new strength

The basketball world was murmuring about Rudy Gobert and his 20 rebounds this morning. Last year, Rudy came to the Jazz with an almost unfathomable 9-foot-7 standing reach. The potential was obvious. The work that was going to have to be done was equally obvious.

If you go back to what the Jazz coaches and front office said about Rudy last year, every comment was laced with how he likes the game and how he’s willing to work. The work is paying off. Utah’s strength and conditioning staff of Mark McKown and Isaiah Wright built a solid plan for Gobert, and the work is coming to fruition.

Two plays last night best exemplify the newly found strength of Rudy Gobert. The most obvious was an incredible offensive rebound amongst four Los Angeles players. Rudy’s length was able to get him the first contact on the ball. He then proceeds to tap it a few more times before pulling it out of the crowd. The key here was that he was on balance for the entire play. A year ago, he wouldn’t have been able to stay with the play while taking the contact to the lower half of his body.

The second play was a fast break where Rudy sprinted with great alacrity past the defense and got a pass from Ian Clark. Rudy, though, was running so fast with such big strides that there was no way he was going to be able to catch the pass and in one continuous motion put the ball in the basket. Instead, Rudy made the catch and remarkably was able to control his body well enough to come to a complete stop and make a move to the hoop. Again, a year ago I doubt he had the body control to be able to make the catch, and even if he made the catch he likely would have traveled.

Rudy deserves the credit on these plays. He came to the NBA with the intention of being very good, and he’s not satisfied with a lesser role. In addition, the work of McKown and Wright is key to a successful franchise. It often goes without great recognition, but it’s some of the most important work that’s done behind the scenes.

INSIDER GAMEDAY Q&A – Is Hayward buried into a stat sheet?

I’m going to try to add another feature to my Jazz coverage at Locked on Jazz. It’s a simple gameday Q&A. I’ll accept questions at the # for the day’s game. Today is #LACatUTA. This is a great way to follow the game with other Jazz fans.

10-13 Question 2

Honestly, Rick I have not been in the locker room this season after a game. Our radio seating makes that much more difficult in some arenas than it used to be.

However, I’m not sure I see this as a big issue. Every player has a stat sheet waiting for him at the end of the game on his chair when he comes into the locker room. There’s a great story from last year when Rudy Gay no longer wanted them on the chairs in Toronto—maybe so his teammates couldn’t see how many shots he was taking.

Gordon has moved his locker, along with Derrick, into the middle of the locker room in order to have a larger influence on the room.

The premise of the question, however, might not be as big of a deal as it sounds. Having your head in the stat sheet may have simply been a way to stay within himself during frustrating times. This season he’ll need to be a leader, but sometimes leadership is silent as well.

INSIDER GAMEDAY Q&A – What is Coach Snyder doing that is original?

I’m going to try to add another feature to my Jazz coverage at Locked on Jazz. It’s a simple gameday Q&A. I’ll accept questions at the # for the day’s game. Today is #LACatUTA. This is a great way to follow the game with other Jazz fans.

10-13 question 1

Westin, I have to be a little careful here, because some of this might be an advantage to the Jazz until the rest of the league gets the scouting report. Being somewhat vague, I would tell you how we run the floor offensively is very creative and different. In addition, his out-of-timeout action in the opening two games has had some wrinkles that are unique to Coach Snyder and his coaching beliefs. The most general way I can answer this is Coach Snyder strongly believes in making the opposition think in the midst of the action and does a lot to make that happen.

INSIDER – Hayward envisions easier opportunities

When Gordon Hayward left EnergySolutions Arena last year at Locker clear-out, he was a frustrated man. For the first time, he had voiced specific frustration about the offense.   Hayward talked about a lack of tempo and a lack of space.

Today, Hayward voiced that he hopes those things have changed.

“With the spacing it makes everything easier on us,” Hayward said. “Things aren’t going to be as crowded, we aren’t going to be as down-to-the-wire on the shot clock where you have to make a play 1-on-1 to get a shot off. I envision something where the ball is moving around so much that you are getting a shot, or you attack or make a pass. It’s going to make the decision-making easier.”

Last year, the Jazz used 33% of their possessions in the final 10 seconds of the shot clock—the most of any team in the NBA. This year, Quin Snyder has talked about playing with pace. The pace is not only moving the ball up the floor quickly to get into the offense, but also making plays and decisions with alacrity. The vision is that with this pace the Jazz can get an edge and then continue to exploit more and more as the possession develops.