INSIDER – Jazz bigs and how they have played together

Quin Snyder has had the difficult task of dividing 96 minutes a night between 4 good big man, Derrick Favors, Enes Katner, Rudy Gobert and Trevor Booker.   Each player has there strengths and weaknesses and in turn compliment each other differently.

What is striking is how this has changed through the season as the defensive system has evolved for the Utah Jazz.

The following chart is the Jazz big man pair for the first half of the season

playing pair bigs 1st half


The much talked about Gorbert and Favors combo was rarely used in the first half of the season.   In the first half of the season each line-up with Enes Kanter was a disaster.

Since Dec 19th the halfway point of the 52 games so  far things have been very different

jazz 2nd half bigs


The Favors/Gobert combo has become a much more prominent line-up.  Most interestingly the Kanter and Favors line-up has gone from -5.2 per 100 possessions to a -.3 over 100 possessions.  A great improvement.    In addition, the Favors/Booker that was prominent in the first half of the season and unsuccessful has been reduced to particular circumstances and been much more successful .

All three line-ups with Enes Kanter on the floor area above better than league average defensively.  League average is 103.7 and Kanter/Favors is 101.7 since Dec 18th.  101.7 would rank 11th in NBA for a team.   Kanter/Gobert is 100.4 would rank 9th.

What is most exciting about the above graph is that over the last half of the season every Jazz big man pair, other than Booker and Gobert, is a really strong defensive unit.   They have not figured out how to score yet, but they are all defending very well.


ASK INSIDER LOCKE – Should the Jazz trade for Goran Dragic

Burt Macklin @Forrresttree2  @Lockedonsports dragic for Kanter? #asklocke

 The number 1 name in the trade deadline talks right now is Goran Dragic.  Should the Jazz get involved in the Dragic trade talks.   The Jazz point guard position is still developing and there is no question an established point guard would help the Jazz win more games right now.

However, I don’t think the Jazz should jump into the Dragic sweepstakes.  First, he is a free agent at the end of the season and you would have to make sure you could sign him to a long term deal if you trade for him.

Secondly, he seems set on getting a 5 year max deal for nearly 100 million dollars.  You can’t do a 5 year deal unless it is the max.  His entire trade demand is based on getting the 5th year.   I don’t believe he is a 5 year max player..  Last year, he was great in Phoenix a 3rd team all-nba player.  However, prior to that he has not been at that level.  I would be very careful in offering him the 5 year max deal when he may not be a top 10 point guard in the NBA.

Finally, if you sign Dragic for a 5 year deal what are you doing with Burke and Dante.

For all those reasons I don’t think the Jazz should get involved in the Dragic deal.


ASK INSIDER LOCKE – Has Enes Kanter been underutilized?

Nicholaus Hensley @NicholausHensle – Is Kanter an under-dipped oreo cookie?
Great question.  If you listen to Enes’ Agent with Scotty G and Hans Olsen on 97.5 home of the Utah Jazz you would believe this to be true.   However, it is probably worth revisiting some facts about Enes Kanter’s basketball development.
Enes started playing basketball at 14 years old in 2006
In 2007-08 Enes played for the U16 Turish team and lead the European Championships with 23 points and 17 rebounds.  This tournament was over 10 games.  Turkey finished 3rd.  
In 2008-09 Enes Kanter played 4 games in the Euroleague for a total of 31 minutes and 5 games for Fenerbahce in the Turkish League at 14 minutes a game.  
In 2009-10 he went to the US for high school and played limited competition at Stonebridge Prep and then played 9 games in the u18 championships averaging 19 points and 16 rebounds.  Turkey finished 3rd 
In 2010-11 he didn’t play at all and was ineligible at Kentucky
In 2011-12 he played for the Utah Jazz 
Enes was under the control of Fenerbahce Ulker from 2006 to 2009 but the only records show him playing 4 games.
Total up the games played and Kanter played somewhere around 27 high level games before joining the NBA.  His production was terrific, but his experience was insanely limited. 
So was Kanter underutilized (an under dipped oreo cookie)?  Considering how little knowledge he has of the game it seems the Jazz progession of 13 to 15 to 27 minutes over the first three years of his career seems reasonable.  
Kanter has maintained his ability to put up numbers when he is on the floor.  He is amazingly gifted.  However, his lack of experience has prevented him from knowing how to make his teammates better and how to help his team win.  
Kanter has made great progress this year.  In a span of 13 games before his ankle injury he played 30 or more minutes.   You are seeing him grow on the floor.
To answer the question, he may be underutilized for a 3rd pick of an NBA draft, but he is certainly not underutlizied for a player with this little game experience.

ASK LOCKE #1 – Will Jazz add a shooter in the off-season?

Tommy @tomcat340

@Lockedonsports is this offseason too soon to add a veteran shooter (Danny Green maybe?) or should they let guys develop more? #asklocke

This is a great question.  Right now the Jazz are still in the asset accumulation mode and when do they shift to team building?  The first piece to be diagnosed is which pieces are the core pieces.  I am not sure we will be there by the end of the season.   The Alec Burks injury slowed down how all the pieces fit together, plus the Rudy Gobert emergence alters how you view some things.

I still think we are looking to form the core pieces,rather than place complimentary pieces on the puzzle.  With that said, Tony Allen was added to Memphis while they were still building and I would call him a core piece.   So it is not always obvious what a core piece is.

The Jazz are looking to improve so if the right piece that fits well both with the current talent, with the attitude of the team and moneywise is there, I could see the Jazz making a move.

Danny Green may get 8 digits however.

BREAKDOWN – The evolution of Derrick Favors into a force


Eyes have been glued to every Dante Exum move, Rudy Gobert has become must watch on the defensive end and Gordon Hayward has proven he can be a star in the NBA.  In the midst of all those story lines this year , the quiet kid from Atlanta, Georgia has calmly taken an enormous jump as a player.

In 4 of the last 5 games Derrick Favors has notched a 20 point, 10 rebound game.  He has scored 20 points or more in more games this year than he did the entire year last year.  He is shooting a career high 55.5%. His scoring jump over the last three years is 9.4 to 13.3 to 16.2.   The list continues, career high in assists, free throws attempts, offensive rebounds and lowest turnover per game since his rookie year.

Numerous factors have come together for Favors to make this step.   He is a starter for the 2ndyearbuilding off last year’s 73 starts.  His weight training work with Mark McKown has been consistent and the dividends are showing.     Favors spent hours on end in the off-season working on his mid-range jump.   Finally, the new offensive system has moved where Favors is making his plays on the court.    Put all of these together in the same stew and a star is emerging in Derrick Favors.

The biggest change of all for Favors is where he is getting the basketball.   In the previous offensive system Favors got the ball primarily on the left block.   This year he is playing off the elbows more than he has in the past.  This allows him to attack from the top or in angle right or angle left.

Compare the shot distribution charts of Favors last year compared to this year.


favors shot distrubtioon 13-14 2014-15 SHOT DISTRUBUTION

favors shot distrubution 14-15

Notice a year ago Favors used 11% of his possessions on the left block last year and this year it is down to 5.9%.  It is clear where those possessions have gone.  Rather than using 7% of his possession around the free throw line he is using nearly 15% of his possessions from straight away.

By coming from the top Favors has been able to use his quickness rather than his power.  He is able to see more of the floor and from where the defenders are converging on him.  Think of how the Suns used Amare Stoudamire with Steve Nash in Phoenix.

His effectiveness has changed as well.   The strength work has made him a force around the rim.  In the chart below you can see he has jumped from 65.5% at the rim to an impressive 72.2%.  Of players who take 5 shots or more in the restricted area per game, Favors is 4thbest in the NBA behind DeAndre Jordan, Anthony Davis and Tyson Chandler.

favors shooting contrast 13-14 to 14-15


Lastly, this summer Favors stayed in Salt Lake City and lived in the gym.  Each day he worked on his jump shot.  He told me the #1 area of focus was balance on this jump shot.  The work has given Favors an element to his game he never had previously.

YEAR Mid Range FG%
14-15 40% (45 fgm)
13-14 31% (54 fgm)
12-13 31% (36 fgm)
11-12 29% (21 fgm)
10-11 29% (21 fgm)


More impressive is what Favors is doing from 15 feet and out.

YEAR 15 Feet+ Shooting
14-15 44%  (32 fgm)
13-14 28%  (24 fgm)
12-13 23%   (17 fgm)
11-12 23%  (7 fgm)
10-11 24%  (10 fgm)

At just 23 years old there is likely more to come for Favors.  Each night he is having a larger and larger impact on games.   Who defends him is having less impact on how he performs.   Maybe most importantly, his effort level has become consistent each night.

This is all part of the process.  One of the most commonly heard things from Dennis Lindsey is the Jazz are not going to skip steps. Derrick Favors might be the best example of player going step by step through the development and beginning to come out the other side.