INSIDER – Reasons to be excited about the Utah Jazz

Today I got asked for 5 reasons to be excited about the Utah Jazz. I came up with 8 and could go for more. Here are the 8 I came up with.

1. Engagement. The franchise needed players who are engaged in the future of the franchise. It needed a group of players who viewed themselves as the franchise and view themselves as the core group moving forward. When we played the Rockets last year it was clear Harden, Parson, Lin and Asik felt they were building something for the future. When we played the Warriors Curry, Lee and Thompson were clearly engaged in the their future as the Warriors. The Jazz have told Hayward, Favors, Kanter, Burks and Burke it is their franchise. They will bond and beginning the building for the future. It is their time to lead and their time to establish what is acceptable and what isn’t in this franchise.

2. Fan Engagement. As much as the players needed engagement so did the fan base. The last few years for many fans felt like we were in a holding pattern and as classy and professional as many of our players were you knew in the back of your mind they were likely gone, now the fan can engage in the future pieces of the puzzle.

3. Defense. Young teams are not usually good defensively but as the Jazz build the core of Jazz 4.0 (the Jazz next generation) this will be a group capable of defending. Favors and Kanter can anchor the middle. Burks and Hayward are active on the wings and Rudy Gobert in years could be a major defensive force in the NBA.

4. Over the last three season’s Gordon Hayward has gone from 5 pts a game to 11.8 pts a game to 14 pts a game. Now it is time to see if the member of the USA Elite Team is ready to become a leader of a franchise. Let’s get a little geeky, last year Hawyard used 24% of his possessions to shot a three (hitting on 42%) and he got to the line 12.7 of his possessions. The two most efficient ways to score are shooting a three and going to the line. Only 3 other players in the NBA who played more than 10 minutes a night did what Hayward did last year – James Harden, Danilo Gallinari and Gerald Wallace and none of them shot the three better than 37%.

5. More Gordon Hayward. Last year Gordon Hayward averaged per 36 minutes on the floor 17 pts, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The players who have done the same playing on the wing in the last 20 seasons are Le Bron James, Carmelo Anthony, Richard Jefferson, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Antoine Walker, Grant Hill, Juwan Howard, Anfernee Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn. Solid company.

6. Trey Burke. At age 14 Burke’s AAU team was the national runner up, at age 15 Burke won the AAU U16 national championship, at age 16 Trey Burke lead his high school team to the state championship title in Ohio. At age 17 his high school team with Jared Sullinger was #1 in the country. At age 18 Burke was Mr. Ohio Basketball. He went 97-5 in high school never losing a city league game. At 19 he was the Big 10 Freshman player of the year and set the Michigan all time assist record for a freshman and at age 20 he was the national college player of the year and the runner up for the NCAA title. In his first ever post-season college game he dropped 30 on Minnesota in the Big 10 tourny for a new career high. His run in this year’s tournament is legendary.

7. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Both of these players are still very young but the prospects are very exciting. Favors has a chance to be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He will have to learn a lot about how to play entire games. His workouts with Karl Malone has been awesome and hopefully can allow him to develop a basis for an offensive game. Enes Kanter got a two chances to start against lesser teams, Cleveland and Toronto, and he killed it averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds. In the 16 games Kanter played 20 or more minutes he averaged 13 pts and 8 rebs while shooting 59.7%. He has a legitimate chance to be a go to offensive player in the NBA. Neither of these players are completely ready, but now is the time for them to develop and learn how to become better NBA players.

8. Lastly, I will steal a note from former Jazz great and now Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. When a player comes to the arena and knows he is playing 20 minutes a night no matter how much he tries to avoid it he is not as engaged as he is when he knows he is playing 30 minutes a night and the team and fans are relaying on their performance. We get to see how Hayward, Favors, Burks, Kanter and Burke react when they come to the arena knowing it is on their shoulders and I am very excited to see that.

INSIDER – Thoughts on Free Agency from the Grand Canyon

Sorry for the lack of news for those of you unaware my family and I are on a cross country RV trip and the internet connectivity has been limited. If you would like more on the trip you can get it here

Jefferson to Charlotte
Al is wonderful man and was a great teammate to Enes Kanter and a super member of the Jazz community but 13.5 million a year for Jefferson is not something the Jazz wanted to do. With the NBA CBA you can have 3 players that earn 40 million or 4 players that earn 45 or you will be in serious jeopardy of going over the luxury tax. No need for the Jazz to put 13.5 million toward Jefferson under those constraints.

It will be interesting to see how the Jazz are defensively without Jefferson. Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote a critical piece on the coaching staffs defensive structure and systems. However, almost everything the team was doing defensively was trying to cover for Jefferson and preclude teams from isolating him. The defensive numbers with Jefferson on the floor were awful and when he was on the bench were ok. If you look at our worst defensive line-ups all of them had Jefferson on the floor and the same groups of 4 without Jefferson were not bad defensively.

On the other hand, Jefferson was the Jazz low post go to scorer. He was remarkable over the last few years late in games and that will be difficult to replace. However, not to the tune of 13.5 million a year.

CLIPPERS ADD REDDICK MOVING BLEDSOE AND BUTLER

I have never been a fan of Caron Butler, he is an inefficient player and I am not totally sold on Eric Bledsoe as a point guard. The addition of Jared Dudley and JJ Reddick two efficicent players to the Clippers are going to make them an offensive beast.

Bledsoe was a good defensive player and that is going to be missed and the Clippers must find a defensive player and a point guard to complete their roster.

This is a nice move by the Clippers. The Suns have now started their franchise Bledsoe and Len. I am not sold on either player but what they do with Gortat and Dragic will determine their rebuilding project.

EVANS TO NEW ORLEANS IN THREE WAY DEAL WITH SACRAMENTO AND PORTLAND

New Orleans becomes interesting. I am not sure if they are good but they are interesting. Holliday, Gordon, Evans, Anderson and Davis. Their guard line can’t shoot from the outside but Anderson can stretch the floor. Evans has a chance to be a good player outside of Sacramento but Holliday was very inefficient in Philadelphia and can’t shoot from the outside either.

I love what Portland did here. Robin Lopez is a nice player who could be a good starter or a terrific thrid big. With the roster the Blazers have Lopez makes for a nice center where Meyers Leonard is not ready.

Sacramento’s new ownership is doing everything they can to restart their franchise but it is going to take lots of time and defensiveless point guard is not the answer but they have little choices.

OTHER QUICK THOUGHTS
* OJ Mayo wants the ball not wins
* Love the Spurs move to get Marco Belinelli
* 6 million for Korver, wow
* The Knicks were screwed by the Luxury tax and had to over pay JR Smith because of it. Interesting how that hamstrings a luxury team.

Lastly, let me be on the record that the Clippers had no choice but the Chris Paul contract is going to be a major problem at the end of the deal.

Would you really be willing to let Dwight Howard have his hands around the neck of your franchise?

INSIDER – Marvin Williams to have surgery

Utah Jazz announced today that Marvin Williams will have surgery on his right heel and Achilles tendon on June 3rd and be out an estimated 6 months.

Here is the impact of Marvin’s surgery.
1) Marvin will certainly opt in for the final year of his contract putting 7.5 million dollars on the Jazz salary.

2) Marvin’s on court role could have taken a significant change this season and still may. With the possible departure of Millsap and Jefferson Marvin could have become the Jazz 3rd big man. Marvin played the power forward a good deal in Atlanta and has the ability to stretch the floor. Marvin seemed more active whenever he played that role this last season.

3) The Jazz lose a good long defender for at least a month of the season. The Jazz had played 17 games by Dec 1st last year. It is reasonable to think the Jazz could miss Marvin for nearly a quarter of their games this next season.

4) This makes a tough call for the Jazz front office in two areas. In the front court when decided what do with Millsap and Jefferson or find replacements the Jazz will likely have to add two big men to the roster to be able to survive the first 20 games.

5) At the small forward position this makes DeMarre Carroll an important re-sign for the Jazz. If Williams was going to play the small forward in the upcoming season those minutes needed to be filled for the portion he is going to miss.

6) I am not sure it alters the Jazz draft day approach.

7) Lastly, Marvin is only out until Dec 1st (estimation) he will be a part of the roster for the other 75 to 80% of the season so any move to cover for Marvin’s injury then could be a logjam move once he is healthy.

8) Ok 1 more, Marvin will miss all of training camp. If Coach Corbin is planning on instituting new system’s Marvin won’t be able to participate in those drills. However, Marvin is a smart player so he should be fine once he is healthy.

Best wishes to Marvin on his surgery and to a speedy recovery.

INSIDER – Defensive Improvement Case Study #8 – Memphis Grizzlies 2003-04

INTRODUCTION
The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.

For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz have finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.

Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.

Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.

Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.

DEFENSIVE IMPORVEMENT CASE STUDY #8 – Memphis Grizzlies 2003-2004

DEFENSIVE CHANGE: 2002-03 Memphis allowed 107.3 pts per 100 possessions (27th) and the next season they allowed just 102.2 pts per 100 possessions (11th).

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: In 2002-03 the Grizzlies ranked 28th in effective field goal defense in 03-04 they went to 10th, they were 20th in forcing turnovers and became the #2 team in the NBA forcing turnovers , 28th in defensive rebounding and stayed that way as they were 29th the next season and were the 2nd best team in the NBA in fouling however, when Hubie had a full season they became the 25th in the NBA at foul rate

PLAYER MOVEMENT: The poor defensive team in 02-03 started Jason Williams as the point guard, Gordan Giricek and Wesley Person were the shooting guards, Shane Battier was the small forward with Lorenzen Wright and Pau Gasol on the front line. Earl Watson and Stromile Swift came off the bench.
The next year with Hubie Brown, added James Posey to replace Giricek and Person, Mike Miller was added to Battier as a wing player. Earl Watson had a minute pick up.
Overall not a huge change, but noticeable that most of the changes took place on the wings.

COACHING: . Sidney Lowe was the head coach for the first 8 games of the 02-03 season before being replaced by Hubie Brown. Hubie Brown was the coach for the entire 03-04 season.

CONCLUSION: A few interesting notes here. One the coaching switch was obviously vital but how they did it on the floor is different than I would have imagined. First, they added wing players not big men that changed who they were defensively. Moreover, this is yet another example of a team increasing its defensive pressure, committing more fouls and forcing more turnovers to become a better defensive team. The foul rate increase seems to be corresponding to better defense which is very surprising.

INSIDER – Defensive Improvement Case Study #7 – 2010-11 Memphis Grizzlies

INTRODUCTION
The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.
For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz have finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.
Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.
Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.
Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.

DEFENSIVE IMPORVEMENT CASE STUDY #7 – Memphis 2010-11

DEFENSIVE CHANGE: This is really a two year span that does include a lock-out season but is still worth involving in this case study. In 09-10 Memphis allowed 109.9 pts per 100 possessions (19th in NBA), then in 10-11 they allowed 105.1 (9th) and in the lockout season of 101.8 pts per 100 possessions. This will focus on the move from 09-10 to 10-11

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: in 09-10 the Grizzlies were 25th in opponents EFG% then improved to 18th , they were 20th in forcing turnovers and made a huge jump to #1 in the NBA, they were 20th in defensive rebounding and they stayed the same and they were 3rd best in not fouling and in the improved year fouled much more putting them 14th in the NBA. The Grizzlies were 10th in pace of play in 09-10 and then in the improved year slowed down slightly to 15th.

PLAYER MOVEMENT: In 09-10 the Grizzlies started Conley, Mayo, Gay, Randolph and Gasol. The bench was Sam Young, Marcus Williams and Hasheem Thabeet. The year of improvement made one signigifant change adding Tony Allen from Boston and Rudy Gay got hurt. .

COACHING: This was Lionel Hollins second year as the head coach of the Grizzlies. The staff was Johnny Davis, Barry Hecker, Damon Stoudamire, Henry Bibby and David Joerger. This was the same staff the previous season.

CONCLUSION: The Grizzlies did this largely by becoming more aggressive and forcing more turnovers and even fouling more than they had in the past. The addition of Tony Allen was a huge part of this however, much of this has to do with Hollins 2nd year as the head man and understanding what his team needs to do to be better. The next year the Grizzlies went to 9th in the NBA. The improvement in condition and play of Marc Gasol is a huge part of this as well.

INSIDER – Defensive Improvement Case Study #6 – Indiana Pacers 1993-94

INTRODUCTION
The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.
For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz have finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.
Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.
Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.
Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.

DEFENSIVE IMPORVEMENT CASE STUDY #6 – Indiana Pacers 1993-94

DEFENSIVE CHANGE: In 1992-93 the Pacers allowed 110.1 pts (21st) per 100 possessions then in 1993-94 they allowed only 104.2 (8th).

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: Depsite being 21st overall the Pacers were the 9th best team defensively in EFG% in 92-93, they were 24th in forcing turnovers, 18th in defensive rebounding and 24th in FTA/FGA (pr foul rate) . In 93-94 they stayed about the same 6th in EFG% but improved in forcing turnovers to 7th in the NBA and 12 in defensive rebounding. Their foul rate was the exact same. Interesting how important defensive rebounding continues to be in these case studies

PLAYER MOVEMENT: The 92-93 Pacers started Pooh Richardson, Reggie Miller, Detlef Schrempf, Dale Davis and Rik Smits. The primary bench players were Vern Fleming, Sam Mitchell and George McCloud. The next year they traded Detlef for Derrick McKey who was a long and good defender at the 3 and 4. Haywood Workman became the point guard instead of Pooh Richardson, who was injured. They added a physical Antonio Davis to the roster.

COACHING: The big change happened with the coaches. Offensive minded Bob Hill, one of the better offensive coaches in the NBA, was replaced by defensive task master Larry Brown.

CONCLUSION: This is an interesting case study because the team jumped from 21st to 8th defensively dropping 6 points per 100 possessions based on rebounding and forcing turnovers. My guess is they got tougher with the addition of Antonio Davis and Derrick McKey and defensive minded. Bob Hill was an offensive coach and Larry Brown brought a different mindset.

The Pacers organization has a pattern of a new head coach leading to a defensive improvement and then over time they struggle defensively until they get a new coach. It happened with Hill to Brown then Brown to Bird it happened again and from Bird to Isaiah it occurred and a huge drop from Isaiah to Carlisle. Jim O’Brien ignored defense and Frank Vogel has rectified that.

INSIDER – Defensive Improvement Case Study #5 – Houston Rokets 2002-2003

INTRODUCTION
The final 4 teams left in the Western Conference this year were the 4 best teams in the West in effective field goal % defense. ( Weighs three point shooting.) The top 5 defensive teams all made it to the round of 8 and the New York Knicks were the only team to make the Final 8 with a defense below the top 15 in the NBA. You must play defense to win in the NBA.
For the last three seasons, the Utah Jazz have finished ranked 23rd, 19th and 21st defensively in the NBA. If the Jazz are competing with the best in the NBA they must become a better defensive team.
Last year the Jazz allowed 104.7 pts per 100 possessions. To move into the top 15 the Jazz would need to allow 103.0 and to move into the top 10 they would need to allow 101 pts per 100 possessions.
Therefore, I reviewed the last 20 plus years of NBA stats and found the 16 teams to have made a substantial (about 5 pts per 100 possessions) defensive jump from one year to the next. Over the next few weeks I will look at those 16 teams to see what made their defensive jump possible.
Note: I have not included any lockout shortened seasons.

DEFENSIVE IMPORVEMENT CASE STUDY #5 – Houston Rockets 2002-03

DEFENSIVE CHANGE: In 2001-02 the Rockets defensive rating was 108.6 (29th) then in 2002-03 it improved to 102.6 (14th).

INSIDE THE FOUR FACTORS: In 01-02 the Rockets were 25th in EFG% def then incredibly improved to 6th in EFG% defense. They were 29th at forcing turnover and stayed very similar at 27th. They were 25th in defensive rebound and improved to 11th and interesting in the worst defensive year they were the best in the NBA at not fouling got a little worse to 6th when they improved defensively. Surprisingly they played a very slow pace of play when they were terrible on defense.

PLAYER MOVEMENT: The 01-02 bad defensive team started Francis, Mobley, Kenny Thomas, Kelvin Cato and a combination of numerous small forwards from Walt Williams to Eddie Griffin. The Rockets drafted #1 in the draft and took Yao Ming. That was the primary change, the guard line was still the same the power forward and small forward were still a mess but they added Yao Ming.

COACHING: Rudy Tomjanovich was the head coach for both seasons.

CONCLUSION: Having Yao Ming makes all the difference in the world. He leads to improvement in defensive rebounding which was a big deal and that leads to improvement in EFG% defense.

The bad defensive guard starting line-up of Francis and Mobley is somewhat similar to Mo and Foye with an undersized power forward in Kenny Thomas similar to Millsap. But the whole issue is Yao Ming.

INSIDER – 5 man line-up data – No surprise why Final 4 is who they are

Below is the chart of the 5 man lineup data I was discussing today on Tip Off. This chart is the 33 line-ups that were used at least 300 minutes

Yellow are line-ups of the Final 4 tea teams. Green are the Utah Jazz

The defensive rtg is color coded – Red is the best and Green is the worst.

33 most used line-ups

A few takeaways
1) The best 5 man line-ups are alive. Toronto is the outlier here. The Thunder would likely be alive if Westbrook wasn’t hurt.
2) The best defensive 5 man line-ups are teh ones who are the best teams.
3) Amazing the Jazz were plus .500 with the worst 5 man line-up that played 300 minutes this season and the 6th worst.
4) The Mo, Foye, Hayward, Millsap and Jefferson line-up was the worst defensive unit in the NBA used over 300 minutes and the Tinsley, Foye, Marvin, Paul and Al line-up was the worst line-up overall used over 300 minutes.
5) Is Toronto onto something?
6) Atlanta should have been better in the playoffs? Or just a bad match up with Indiana
7) The Heat line-up with an offensive rating of 117.2 is insane.
8) Best defensive line-up is not Memphis but Parker, Green, Leonard, Splitter and Duncan.

The league is about 5 man units that dominate.