Part of the 82 games marathon is a coach managing and massaging a roster to keep his players engaged while simultaneously arriving at his best options for the stretch run. Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder has done that all season with his front court and one month before the playoffs he has three distinct big man combinations that are working marvelously.
When healthy the Jazz start the Wasatch Front, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. In a league going skilled and spaced this is an old school traditional big man line-up. However, they are dominant defensively. Favors and Gobert are the #1 defensive 2 man line-up in the NBA.
After the all-star break Quin Snyder moved Joe Johnson to the 4 as his exclusive position. A move Snyder has been waiting to make all season, but with the injuries to Burks and Hood coupled with the need to play Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw was unavailable until now.
When Joe Johnson has been coupled with Rudy Gobert it has been the Jazz version of the Warriors death lineup. They are not only unguardable, but they are having great success defensively.
The one problem for the Jazz has been that when Derrick Favors has been at the 5 with Joe Johnson at the 4 the defense has been terrible. This is a bit surprising, but with Favors battling injuries he has not been able to do peak Derrick Favors defensive things this season. If Favors gets healthier it is possible this lineup could be good defensively switching all picks. However, for the time being it is not and Coach Snyder must find another option. He may have done that with veteran play making big Boris Diaw. Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antonio called Diaw unquestionably the smartest player he has ever coached. Diaw isn’t making shots, he isn’t flying over people but he does make the team better when he is on the floor.
If you eliminate lineups when Joe Johnson was at the three with Diaw and Favors together the Jazz have another productive big man combination. The Jazz played 120 minutes with Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw and Derrick Favors together and it didn’t work at all. The offensive rating was just below league average and the defense was very poor. The overall performance was being outscored by 5 points per 100 possesions.
If you eliminate Joe Johnson from the equation, the Boris Diaw and Derrick Favors combination has been very good.
Finally, Quin has the French Connection at his disposal. The trust and togetherness of Diaw and Gobert together has been obvious all season
Through numerous combinations, endless injuries and some trial and error Coach Snyder heads into the final month of the season with four big man combinations that are all over +8 per 100 possessions. It is an exciting propostion heading into the key late season games and the playoffs