Central among the many frustrations Jazz fans struggled with last year was the seemingly slow or non-existent improvement and development of several young players on the roster. Chock-full of potential and expected to be key components of an eventual competitive Jazz squad, the core players could use a coach with strong player development and communication skills to reach their full potential. Ultimately, potential that is never converted into tangible ability and skill is worthless.
With the hiring of Quin Snyder, who received nearly-unanimous high marks in the player development and communication areas, it bodes very well for the cadre of young Jazz players who still have plenty of growing to do. If Snyder lives up to his ambitiously high expectations, every player on the roster won’t be able to help but benefit. However, three players stand to gain the most from their new coach:
3. Trey Burke
While Burke played with plenty of poise and made decisions that belied his age and inexperience, he still has plenty of room for improvement, specifically with his shooting percentage. Burke shot just 41% from the field and 33% from behind the arc in his rookie campaign. While Snyder isn’t known for being a whiz with shooting mechanics, he can help Burke improve his decision making, which should lead to a reduction in contested-low percentage shots. Also, when run correctly, Snyder’s intricate offense will lead to an increase in open shots for Burke. A lack of elite size and speed, two of Trey’s biggest weaknesses, can be lessened or even negated via a joint effort on the part of Trey and Snyder via adding specific wrinkles to Snyder’s offensive sets and the consistent effective execution of said offense. Trey has demonstrated the moxie and basketball intelligence required in quickly picking up a complex offense such as the one Snyder is likely to implement, and a tweet sent out by Burke following his initial meeting with Snyder indicates the two hit it off right away:
Great meeting with Coach Snyder today at the practice facility! Already getting comfortable with him . Very Excited about the future!
— Trey Burke (@Trey_Burke3) June 9, 2014
2. Derrick Favors
Favors’ combination of size, athleticism and Lamborghini motor have had NBA coaches and executives drooling ever since he declared for the NBA Draft following a year at Georgia Tech. After a handful of years cutting his teeth in the NBA, Favors has developed into a disruptive force on the defensive end, but still has quite a ways to go to even be considered an above-average offensive player. While he’s shown flashes of impressive offensive plays that fully utilize his impressive athleticism, he hasn’t perfected a reliable “go-to” move. Such a move could single-handedly transform Favors from someone to whom the defense rarely needs to pay special attention to an immense headache and matchup nightmare to opposing defenses. This is where Snyder’s enyclopedic offensive knowledge would be greatly utilized. Favors comes pre-loaded with the ability to execute within offensive sets such as pick-and-roll-based offenses and motion offenses: Snyder simply needs to teach Favors how to better utilize his tools. By himself and with the assistance of previous coaches, Favors has cobbled together a less-than-ideal offensive identity and skill set. Essentially, it’s Snyder’s job to disassemble the proverbial moped Favors has built and help him use the same tools and pieces to carefully craft a luxury car.
1. Enes Kanter
In terms of a coach who can develop players and a player who needs developing, Kanter and Snyder are a better combination than peanut butter and chocolate. Anyone who watched more than a few Jazz games last season should be keenly aware of the rollercoaster ride Kanter can take Jazz fans on on a nightly basis.
Kanter can wow fans and befuddle defenders with some impressive footwork on a post move and then look utterly lost on a defensive rotation on the subsequent trip down the floor. The majority of Jazz fans still have a soft spot and a fondness for the gregarious and fun-loving Turkish kid, but the frustration level is slowly climbing. Though his relative newness to the game of basketball (Kanter didn’t pick up a basketball until he was 14) and age-related lack of maturity and discipline all may be temporary impediments to Kanter’s eventual realization of his potential, Snyder will be charged with significantly hastening that process. Make no mistake, it’s a tall order. Snyder is now responsible for getting Kanter, who mightily struggled at times with a system simpler than what Snyder will be likely to run, up to speed on not only basketball fundamentals, but also on every last bit of detail of what will largely be a brand new scheme.
It should also be pointed out that this isn’t a knock on Kanter’s intelligence, basketball or real-world. Kanter’s grasp of the English language is a firm one and has noticeably improved each year. Kanter also comes from good mental stock: his father received his medical degree from the University of Zurich and is currently a Histology professor at Trakya University in Turkey. Yes, it’s a tall order, but one that will reap huge benefits if fulfilled.