Locke’s Schedule Breakdown


This is one of the toughest schedules I have seen.  The youngsters are going to be tested early and often. The back to backs are brutal. The travel at times is horrendous and there are numerous serious tests on the schedule.

Start at the beginning. The Jazz open with OKC before playing their first road game against a poor Phoenix team and Jeff Hornacek. However, the Jazz play Friday the 1st in Phoenix and the next night at home v. Houston before flying East for a 4 games in 5 night stretch that includes Brooklyn and Chicago.

After that dip into the fire the Jazz schedule evens out for the Jazz.  However, the next stretch is one of the toughest I have seen.

The Jazz play the 11th of December in Sacramento then go to Denver for one game before returning home for a back to back with San Antonio before leaving the next day to go East for 9 days. Jazz will have one night at home from Jan Dec 10th to Dec 24th and it will be a game day.  Players and staff will not have dinner at home from Dec 8th to Christmas Eve.

January is pleasant with only two back to backs and 8 of the 13 games at home.

February is equally as soft as January in regards to home and road, 7 home games and 5 road but the back to backs are brutal. In Dallas with a game the next night at home v. Miami, In LA with a home game the next day v Philadelphia all in a span of 6 days. Add on an at Portland with Minnesota home the next day.

When February closes the Jazz get hit with a scheduling 2 by 4.  They go on a 6 game 9 day road trip that spans Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

Then comes “the have these guys grown” stretch.  The Jazz play the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies in a 4 games stretch from the 14th of March to the 19th of March.  That will tell us if they have improved at all because all of those teams will be battling for home court in the West.

I have said this season will be interesting to watch how the young players deal with adversity.  The three biggest tests will be

1 – Opening 4 games in 5 nights road trip that includes going through customs on the final night.

2 – Late Jan and Feb has home games to be won can they gain momentum –  Minnesota, Washington, Sacramento, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and Phoenix.

3 – The aforementioned murder’s row in March.  First is the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies combination and then it is followed by Memphis, New Orleans, OKC, New York and Portland.


  • What a start- OKC on opening night and then Houston with Dwight Howard making his first appearance on Saturday night.  Hello season. The two favorites to win the West in the opening two games of the season.  Heck, the entire opening month of November is a rundown of the best in the West, Denver, New Orleans, San Antonio and Golden State make up the next 4 games and with the off-season moves they all made that could be 6 playoff teams in the opening 6 home games.  It doesn’t slow down after that, Derrick Rose makes his first appearance in over a year in SLC and the final home game of November is Jeff Hornacek’s return.   Is it possible every game in November is a must see?
  • Will Jazz fans see Kobe Bryant coming back from his Achilles?  The first trip from the Lakers is Dec 27th and the 2nd game is April 14th the final home game of the year.   Seems fair to anticipate that Kobe could be ready for both of those games.
  • Lots of reunions, Jeff Hornacek returns as a head coach on November 29th, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver make their only visit on March 10th, Al Jefferson and Charlotte stop by on Dec 30th,   Deron Williams plays the first game after the all-star break in SLC on Feb 19th and Carlos Boozer and Chicago comes into town on November 25th .


One game a month that is all I have time for

OKC in the opener in October,   Derrick Rose is back on the floor when Chicago comes on November 25th,  December 14th the Spurs are in town and it is worth seeing in person, if you haven’t seen Ricky Rubio then my January choice is Minnesota on Jan 21st.  February is easy, the Heat are in town the 8th of Feb,  in March as terrific as Chris Paul is to see in person the Hawks have every Jazz fans favorite players so see Millsap, DeMarre and Kyle on March 10th and in April the Blazers and Damian Lillard are in town on the 11th.

5 games I have to see package

OKC in the opener again, the first night with the jumbotron and Kevin Durant

Nov 18th v. Golden State – the addition of Iguodala and watching Steph Curry in person is awesome

Feb 8th – LeBron and the World Champion Heat – what else needs to be said

March 14th – Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers

April 14th – Lakers and Kobe – How many more times can we see Kobe and I don’t care what state the Lakers are in beating the Lakers is always awesome


  •  The first three road games the Jazz play are all against NBA rookie head coaches, Phoenix, Brooklyn and Boston.
  • Of the Jazz 4 road games in LA (2 Clippers and 2 Lakers) all of them are a part of a back to back, with 3 of them have the road game on the back end of the back to back and one where Jazz play the Lakers and the next night are home against Philadelphia.
  • Jazz have lots of games against the same opponent without much time in between.  They play Phoenix and Minnesota in back to backs.   They play the Kings twice in 5 days. They play the Lakers, Pelicans and Grizzlies twice in a week, and Golden State twice in 9 days.  I will keep a close eye on how are guys do in these games where teams scouting will be extra sharp.  Will be interesting to see how our players adjust.

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

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 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.

EMPTYING THE NOGGIN – Jazz roll past the Sixers – first 82 game season for Burks and Kanter

• Wire to wire win for the Jazz. A very solid night top to bottom against a tired road weary team.

• If we could play Eastern Conference teams at home every night that would be awesome.

• Jazz starters got the Jazz on a 14-2 start and then when they came back in the game with 4:30 left in the 2nd quarter and up by 9 they stretched the lead to 16 and the Jazz were in total control.

• The Sixers never got inside 14 points in the second half of the game.

• The growth of Kanter and Burks in their first 82 game schedule is fun to watch. Remember these guys played only 66 games last year in a truncated season and this year they are flourishing in the second half of the year. Kanter has developed more and more offensive moves and is really learning how to score. He has different moves and is getting better at reading situations. He even passes. Burks is so much better defensively. He is playing the game harder. The success of his game used to depend entirely on the making shots but he has developed so much more to his game, his rebounding and his defense have become staples that he can rest upon. Terrific to watch these two guys make the jump from year 1 to year 2 and then the big jump happens next year in year 2 to year 3.

• Ron Boone talked in Postcast about a new play the Jazz are running that is being initiated by Hayward and has a ton of motion and movement. Phil Johnson built on that in his visit on the broadcast saying the Jazz ran it 5 straight times and scored on 4 of them and had scored on about 6 of the 8 times they ran it tonight.

• Millsap had great hands tonight and had 3 steals he has had 2 or more steals in 6 straight games.

• Great to see Randy Foye hitting shots. Jazz need him badly in the home stretch and he hit 3 three’s tonight. He opens so much up for Jefferson and Milsap

• 9th straight game big Al went under 20 points, he only played 18 minutes due to foul trouble and a hard elbow to the nose and mouth.

• Solid all around night – Jazz had 7 players in double figures and no one played over 31 minutes

• Get the home wins and grab a few road wins late and we can still make the playoffs.

• Go Warriors.

Utah Jazz shootaround

An old staple within Jazz basketball returned today in conversation at shoot around,  3 stops in a row. It sounds so simple but in the NBA getting 3 stops in a row is almost impossible.

The Jazz are looking to get 3 stops in a row twice a quarter and preferrably have 1 of those happening in the final minutes of a quarter so that you close on a run.

It’s worth keeping an eye on tonight to see if the Jazz can get the number 1 pace of play  team to slow down at all and get those 3 stops in a row at any point during the game.

If a team does accomplished this 8 times in a game they will almost always win the game. It sounds so simple and as you read this you must be thinking how can they not do that, but you would be surprised how rarely 3 stops in a row happens during an NBA game.

The other discussion was how to get off to faster starts. Coach Tyrone Corbin took some time with Mo Williams after shoot around in a 1 on 1 conversation to try to discuss with him what he could do to help the team get started.

In addition, Corbin met with Paul Millsap about his back to back slow starts. Corbin knows the team needs Millsap to show the energy early in the game and for the rest of them to build off the energy of Paul.

Notes from Rockets shootaround

I just finished listening in on Kevin McHale’s media session today before the Jazz game. He had some interesting comments about where the Rockets are right now.

With the new additions they made at the trade deadline he quoted that  transition defense has become a problem for them.

Prior to the trade deadline he felt as though they had fixed that issue with the new players in a lack of communication between the new players they have not been as good in transition defense.

The Rockets are the number 1 pace of play team in the NBA. This game largely be dictated by pace of play.

If you recall the last meeting between the Rockets and the Jazz, they left Tinsley  wide open double teaming out Jefferson with Jeremy Lin regardless of wherever he was on the floor.

McHale said they probably would not be able to do that with Mo Williams as the point guard.

INSIDER – Who are they playing against

A hot debate in the Jazz fan community right now is how to equate the minutes the starters are playings (and most often being outscored) and those the bench are playing (and most often outscoring the opponents).

One theory is that if you flipped the groups around you would end up with the same exact outcome. Our Jazz team is currently constructed of a group of non all-stars that are very equal 1-13 so when they play a Hall of Fame or All-star laden starting line-up they struggle but the bench is very deep so it has success.

The other is the bench players would do much better than our current starters.

At the Sports Nation site SLC Dunk Amar did terrific work this week delving into what percentage of minutes each player is playing against the other team’s starters contrasting to the other team’s bench players.

The results were our starters are playing about 76% of their minutes against other teams starters. Gordon Hayward is playing about 50/50% in 25 minutes, Favors and Burks have been playing about 40% v. Starters in their 20 minutes and Kanter is at 33% v. Starters in his 15 minutes.

This was terrific work by Amar.

Let’s take the next step and put this into actual play.
Jazz starters play 25 minutes a night v. other starters and 8 minutes a night v. Reserves. Hayward is 12.5 of each, whereas Favors and Burks play 9 minutes v. Starters and 11 v. reserves. Finally, Tyrone Corbin has been very careful to protect 20 year old Enes Kanter and he is playing just 5 minutes v. starters and 10 v. reserves.

What jumps out to me from Amar’s work is what an enormous jump of competition it is to be a starter.
If Favors were to start he is moving from 9 minutes a night v. front level guys to 25 a night and even Hayward goes from 12 to 25. Favors is undertaking 3 times as many minutes against the best talent.

What Kanter is doing tonight, thankfully v. the Bobcats, if he starts is even more stunning. Kanter will move from 5 minutes a night to 25 minutes against front line players.

Looking at this gives me two different conclusions. First, comparing starters performance to bench players performance are apples and oranges. On the other hand, a team better start its best players to handle the difference in talent a team is facing throughout the game.