INSIDER—Is Utah’s slow pace contributing to Gordon Hayward’s slump?

Gordon Hayward, one of Utah’s cornerstone pieces for the future, has hit a tough stretch. Over the past 10 games he is shooting 29.7% from the field and has gone 6-for-34 from 3-point range.

Looking at Gordon’s recent shot chart, a few items jump out. In the restricted area he is 8 for his last 24 after hitting 22 of his previous 35 shots.

Last year, his best shooting spot was the angle-right three. Recently, he has gone just 1-for-11. Prior to that he had gone 8-for-17.

Why does Gordon go through these swings? One of the issues may be how much the Jazz play in the half court.

The Jazz use 43% of their possession in the final eight seconds on the shot clock (via Putting that in perspective, Memphis and Chicago (two of the slowest-paced, most half court heavy teams) only use 42% of their possessions in the final eight seconds of the shot clock.

Throughout the year, Ron Boone has pointed out how terrific Gordon in is in the open floor. However, when he has been trying to make plays in the half court he has struggled.

The numbers bear this out. In fast break situations, Gordon is shooting 70.2% (3.6 ppg) whereas in the half court he is shooting 35.5%.

Recently, the Jazz have been playing slower and slower, and it has impacted Gordon negatively. Through January, Gordon was scoring 4 ppg in the fast break; since then he has dropped to 1.7 ppg in the fast break.

In November, Gordon either shot or assisted on 2.3 fast breaks per game. In December, that increased to 3.3 shots or assists on fast breaks. In 2014, however, the numbers have been on a startling decline. In January, Gordon only contributed a shot or assist on 1.5 fast breaks a game, and then this month it was been down to 1 per game.

Since January, Gordon has played almost exclusively in the half court. Accordingly, the Jazz pace of play has decreased every month of the season.

At Michigan, Trey Burke played one of the slowest-paced games in the NCAA. Michigan was a half court pick and roll team that used every second of the possession. Burke is a spread floor player not a fast break player.

This may also be why Gordon Hayward is the one Jazz player who didn’t get a bump from playing with Trey Burke. Every other Jazz player’s EFG% has taken at least a 5% jump with Burke on the floor (as we discussed in the PODCAST with Kevin Pelton).

For the season, Gordon’s EFG% when Trey is on the floor is 45.6% and when he is off the floor is 42%. However, if you dig deeper and look at Gordon and Trey since Jan. 1 when the fast break began to diminish, it tells a different story. Since Jan. 1, Gordon’s EFG% with Trey on the floor is 45.6% and with him off the floor is 47.6% (via

Hopefully it will take just a few open-court opportunities for Gordon to get back on track.

INSIDER—Jazz use of iPads on bench creating on-floor success

As Alec Burks inbounded to Trey Burke with the Jazz leading 82-80 with 1:16 left in the game against Orlando, Gordon Hayward started his route from the left side of the floor along the baseline to the right side of the floor. Hayward’s defender (Tobias Harris) wasn’t following him he was shooting the gap. Hayward realized he had seen this before. He had seen it on the iPad with coach Brad Jones during his in-game film session earlier in the fourth quarter.

“We saw the way they are playing the weak side pin they were just cutting up the middle, so I started inside a bit more and faded and got a wide open shot,“ Hayward explained.

Hayward nailed the jumper and gave the Jazz an 84-80 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

This season the Utah Jazz coaches are using the iPad as a teaching tool during games. When players check out of the game after their first stint in the first or third quarter, coach Jones and coach Alex Jensen have a pre-loaded the iPads with anywhere up to five video clips from earlier action in that night’s game to share with the players.

Three players—Hayward, Burke and Derrick Favors—have been using the iPad scouting the most, and each in a different manner. For Hayward, it has been about seeing the floor and how teams are playing him. For Burke, it is about executing a new offense. And for Favors, it is more about the fundamentals of his game.

Hayward has been an enthusiastic adapter. “I think it is really good,” he said. “You can see how they are guarding you how they are  guarding different plays—what is open and what is not—and you can adjust the next time.”

For Hayward, it has been mostly about vision. “It’s hard to see all five guys when you’re playing, so if there are little things you can pick up on [the iPad] this allows me to see where all five guys are. I can see if they are going under the screen or I can see if the other big on the other side is really sagging in so I can hit him. Or if they are really sinking in on the weak side then the skip pass is open. Different things like that so when I go back in there I see it and make the pass.”

Hayward was originally only watching plays after his first stint on the floor, but after his first game using the iPad video he asked to watch plays after he checks out in the third quarter as well.

Understanding all the aspects of the Jazz offense has been the biggest challenge for Trey Burke, and the iPad video technology has allowed him to have a better understanding. “My biggest issues I see on the iPad are going off screens and setting my man up to go off screens. I see those things,” he said.

It seems strange to hear a 21-year-old hip kid get excited about new technology, but that is exactly how Burke was when explaining the system. “Every time I come out, coach Jones comes to me and shows me different things—from cutting to screening, to my pace on the pick and roll. I think it really helps me out. It’s me watching myself  two or three minutes after I did it. It helps me going back on the court. It’s really beneficial—it’s like new technology to me”

On one level, a lot goes into getting these cuts ready. On the other hand, Jazz video coordinator Jefferson Sweeney says, “It is really incredibly easy.” Particularly when you consider that Sweeney started with the Jazz 14 years ago when he was still editing deck to deck, and that was only if it was really important for the playoffs. Otherwise, it was all by hand.

The coaches tell Sweeney before the game what players they will be coaching with the iPad and what specific plays they are looking to show. Sweeney sets up on his laptop in the locker room and logs the game. When one of the specific plays arrives he marks it, makes a quick edit, turns it into a movie and puts it on the app.

Once he has the plays, he syncs it to the iPads before one of the Jazz strength coaches comes back to the locker room to get the iPad so the teaching session can take place on the bench. The league prohibits live video on the bench or video being transmitted to the bench, so the iPad has to be delivered to the bench.

The trick for Sweeney is getting the different plays for different players. Hayward and Burke talk about certain plays, but for Favors the coaching has been more fundamental.

“They show me most of my post ups and my jump shots,” Favors shared. “They will show me how I’m rushing or how I had a guy one way but decided to go the harder route. On my jump shots they show me body position if I am leaning back too far.”

While Favors says “it’s mostly fundamentals,” they have also shown him specific coverages from opponents that have helped him later in games.

“In Miami, if I got the ball on Bosh in the post, it showed me where they had the guards—they were right here instead of out on their man—and helped me get a read on it,” he said.

Favors has embraced the immediacy of the iPad sessions and the individual focus. “It’s like having film session at halftime, but you have it during the game. It’s helpful. I like it.”

Helpful indeed. Because last night when Tobias Harris cheated the route, Gordon Hayward was prepared to change his route and knocked down the game-clincher. Bench technology from the Jazz coaching staff is helping the immediate gratification generation receive on-floor gratification.

INSIDER – The Jazz will miss Marvin Williams tonight

This season Tyrone Corbin has been using Marvin Williams as a stretch 4 breaking out of the Jazz traditional flex offense during these periods.

Tonight the Jazz will be without Marvin as he has a procedure done on his nose.  Hopefully, he will be able to re-join the team in Dallas on Friday.

However, tonight the Jazz will really miss Marvin’s impact on offense.  Look over the only 5 man line-ups the Jazz have used more than 10 minutes this season.  The league average offensive rating is 103 but the Jazz as a team is just 92.

offensive rating

From the chart the Jazz only have 4 5 man line-ups that are above the league average.  Three of the four include Marvin playing the stretch 4 and the other is a garbage time line-up from when the Jazz were trailing my a considerable amount.

Hopefully, the return of Jeremy Evans can help and the debut of Trey Burke can ignite some open floor play.


INSIDER – Are the Jazz taking good analytical shots

During training camp this season the Jazz coaching staff tried to make adaptations to the offensive system in order to take more efficient shots.   The analytical influence on the NBA is going strong and more teams are trying to avoid the mid range 2 point shot in exchange for a 3 pointer or a shot at the rim.    More specifically, teams are configuring offenses to create corner 3 opportunities.

Last year the league shot 59% in the restricted area or 1.19 points per shot.  In the paint non restricted area teams shot 39%  and mid range shots were also 39% or .78 pts per shot.  The corner 3 was hit at 39% last year or 1.17 points per shot and 3 pointers above the break were hit at 35% or 1.05 pts per shot.

Therefore, shots in restricted area or 3 points are thought of as good analytical shots. Last year, Houston lead the NBA taking 75% of their shots as good shots.   The Washington Wizards were the lowest at 50.5%.

The Jazz last year took 53.9% of their shots as good analytical shots (33.4% at the rim + 4.7% corner 3’s + 15.7% 3’s above the break).

This year the Jazz are hoping to take more good shots.  However, as you are well aware nothing is going in right now for the Jazz.   The Jazz are just 3 of 33 from corner 3 no other team has made fewer than 7.

However, despite the putrid shooting the Jazz are taking better shots.  This season the Jazz are taking 55.7% of their shots as good analytical shots (up 1.8% from last year).   The Jazz are taking 33.7% at the rim, 5% of shots from the corner 3 and 17% above the break)

This is surprising.  With the Jazz inability to spread the floor because they aren’t making shots I would have suspected they were being forced into more poor shots and that is not the case.

Last year the Jazz were 22nd in the NBA in % of shots that were good analytical shots this year they are 20th.   The Jazz still need to make a move into the top half of the NBA in taking good shots.  I would suspect that will happen as Burke, Williams and Rush are integrated.

jazz shot distrubution

INSIDER – Shootaround Notes

Here are some quick notes from shootaround

* Jazz will start Lucas (3rd start of his career), Hayward (103rd) , Jefferson (695th), Favors  (45th career start) and Kanter (3rd start)

* Jazz will only have Rudy Gobert and Mike Harris as the backups in the front court

* Look for Thunder to go small for 8 to 12 minutes tonight with Durant at the 4.  Will be a key stretch for the Jazz to match- up and deal with a spread floor.  Who guards Durant in this line-up.  Ideally, Marvin Williams but he is not available.

* Scott Brooks had interesting comments about how Hayward and Favors are now the focus of their discussion in shoot around.  ”they will go through an adjustment period but they got a bright future they have are talented and they play hard.  You can never discount hard play, Hayward just goes and attacks on both end of the floor he doesn’t give up an inch.  Those are the type of players you want to build your team around.  As the year goes for them they will get better because they work too hard.”    Brooks does think both Favors and Kanter are going to very good.

* Durant says he plays the game because of the kids in the arena that are wearing his jersey and seeing him play for the first time.   Durant is a wonderful ambassador of the game.  He seems to have it all put together.

* I asked Durant about his early years and he said he wanted to prove he belonged but at some point losing 120 games in two years was more than anyone can handle.

*  Reggie Jackson who is filling in for Russell Westbrook is making his first career regular season start.


INSIDER – Kevin Durant comments give insight to Jazz youth

This week Kevin Durant sat down for a long form interview with Oklahoman writer Darnell Mayberry.  In the interview he shared how his approach to the game has changed over the years.  T

The first paragraph below struck a cord when put in the context of where Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter stand in there careers.

But, first coming into the league, I was a little confused because it’s so many great teams every night. It was no cupcake games like it was in high school and college. Every night, you got to come to play because these are great players. They were all something coming in. And my thoughts coming into the league was, of course, to win, but once I got on the court it was to establish myself. That’s what I thought. Grow as a player and then worry about that.

But now, I’ve played in the All-Star Games; I’ve scored 30 points, 40 points before; had a triple-double before. I feel individually, like stats and stuff, I feel like I did my job with that and I established myself. But it’s about winning championships, and the first thing I got to get out of my head is ‘I.’ It’s like, ‘I want to win a championship.’ It’s not about that because one guy doesn’t win it, two guys don’t win it, three guys don’t win it. So it’s about the whole team, the whole organization winning a championship.”

INSIDER – Favors makes Utah home

Derrick Favors sat on the podium at the Zions Bank Center just 14 days older than Karl Malone when he made his debut for the Jazz as the new cornerstone for the Utah Jazz.

Utah has become home for Derrick Favors.   Favors mom was the first to tell Derrick that Utah was going to be ok.  Now Favors has bought a house in Utah and hopes to spend his career in the beehive state.

More importantly than Utah being home, Favors is now part of the family.  Today, Greg Miller talked about how the caliber of players on and off the floor is an extension of the Miller family.   The young polite southern man Derrick Favors is a now a part of the Miller family and under those expectations.

Speaking of family it was clear that Derrick’s mom still has her influence.  Derrick talks often about how often his mom watches a game and calls him to say get a haircut.   Today Derrick was sporting a brand new haircut.

Dennis Lindsey talked a good deal about the trust factor in negotiations.  The Favors camp felt the Jazz had been true to their word communicating with Derrick and his representation throughout his tenure in Utah.   Interesting to hear this since there has been so much concern that the limited roll over the last few years would sour Favors feeling about being in Utah.

The future talk was present.   Both Steve and Greg Miller referring to  Favors as the first piece in the build toward a championship.  Steve Miller added in the first of many steps. Dennis Lindsey has mentioned on numerous occasions that to be an elite team you must be top 10 defensively and to win you have to be top 5 defensively.   Favors is that piece.

Dennis Lindsey said “We want to keep great people.”   The Jazz locked one up today who has made Utah his home.