I don’t know about you, but I’m still on a bit of a high following the news and press conference about Quin Snyder’s hiring. Obviously, proof will be in the pudding as to whether or not he’s a good coach–or maybe even a great coach–but just the possibility that we might have a great coach on our hands has injected a jolt of energy into my Jazz fandom. In an area where I had become increasingly apathetic, I’m now eagerly anticipating what changes we’ll be seeing over the next few years. There’s a part of me that wants to be cautiously optimistic; after all, I was thrilled when Tyrone Corbin was hired and talked about changing the defensive scheme, putting a lot of focus on defense, and utilizing the three more. Those were changes I’d been wanting for years and felt were needed given where rules changes–and other teams’ implementation of schemes in response to those changes–were taking the league. But we saw where our defense ended up last year, even though we had some decent defenders, including a very good Derrick Favors.
So, what better way to counteract that lethargy than with a coach who is incredibly driven, very detail-oriented (how many pages was the document he wrote on the pick-and-roll, again?), refreshingly articulate, and has spent time developing comprehensive game plans?
I’m finding this change to be invigorating. So, what are some things to look forward to with Snyder? And, just to play devil’s advocate a bit, what are some things that have me cringing a bit?
1. Better Player Development
One of the main complaints I’ve heard from Jazz fans over the last few years is the lack of player development. That doesn’t always equal “not enough minutes!” though that can play a part of it. Considering some of the talent on the team, I’ve heard many say that they should be farther along than they are. Obviously, that’s impossible to measure, but it’s been bandied about for a few years now. What if we could get more out of our young talent than we have been? Look at the example of DeMarre Carroll, who was a decent role player off the bench for the Jazz. But in Atlanta, he turned into a legitimate starter (yes, it’s the Eastern Conference, but still!). In a blurb that has been circulating ever since the announcement of Snyder’s hiring, Carroll praised his assistant coach, giving credit for his improvement as a player.
“I have to give a shoutout to coach Quin [Snyder]. This is the first year a coach really worked with me on my footwork, my shot, spent time with me. That’s a credit to coach Quin. That shows me that he cares about me as a person, cares about my career.”
If our players can improve similarly, and feel more confident in what they can do out on the court, that’ll be huge.
2. Better Floor Spacing
Far too often last year (and also in the previous years), floor spacing was poor. Part of that may have been influenced by personnel–not enough floor-spacing shooters out on the floor–but much of it seemed to be a lack of a cohesive, precise offensive scheme that balanced the floor well. Snyder received great tutelage under Ettore Messina (known particularly for balanced floor spacing) and Mike Budenhoelzer (of the Popovich, floor-spacing coaching tree). Atlanta ran some beautiful plays last year, in addition to having much better spacing than the Jazz. Part of the better spacing involved giving some guys the green light who may not have had it in previous stints, like Paul Millsap. He became a legitimate three-point threat in Atlanta. We saw glimpses of it, obviously; what Jazz fan could forget the Miracle in Miami? But giving your starting power forward the green light to launch it from deep can only help spacing. Derrick Favors may not have that range, but we know Enes Kanter does; he just hasn’t been given the green light to shoot it from there. But given the right coaching and encouragement, he could get there.
3. Better Pick-and-Roll Implementation
Not too much needs to be said about this that hasn’t already been discussed ad nauseum, given Snyder’s study and discussion about the pick-and-roll in all its forms. But anyone who has spent that much time analyzing and strategizing the pick-and-roll can only help a team that is seemingly in its infancy when it comes to how it uses the pick-and-roll. It was used more, and differently, last year than it had been in the previous few years, but any improvement here will be huge, given how the league has very much become a pick-and-roll league. This is one of the areas I’m really looking forward to watching develop.
So, what are some things I’m not looking forward to?
The Hair Hype
I’m already tired of the hair comments. Anyone else? I feel like all the non-stop hair comments are coming from gentlemen who are maybe losing–or who have lost–hair. I realize I don’t represent the entire female population, but I don’t quite get all the fuss. He’s a handsome guy, to be sure, but the level of hair hype has surprised me. Just me? Okay, moving on . . .
JD/MBA = Harpring/Football equivalent?
I’m not bashing on Snyder’s having a JD/MBA at all; I’m just wondering if it’s going to become the equivalent of Matt Harpring playing football. Is it going to be brought up on every broadcast, like, “Hey, did you know Matt Harpring played football? He’s one tough dude.” Since the announcers can’t talk about that anymore (well, unless Harpring’s going to talk about his own football-playing days, but that’s just weird), will it become, “Hey, did you know Snyder got his JD/MBA? Only coach in professional basketball to do so.”
I haven’t yet heard much about Snyder’s defensive philosophies, other than his belief that trust between teammates is paramount to having an effective defense. While not dismissing that out of hand, what will he do to improve our league-worst defense? Who will he put where? Will Favors be a PF? A center? How will he implement his knowledge of pick-and-roll offense to aid pick-and-roll defense? There are so many question marks and I think it’s one of the most crucial areas for this team’s development moving forward.
Overall, I’m finding a lot more to look forward to than to be hesitant about. What about you, Jazz fans? What are you looking forward to? Are you tired of the hair talk? Just me? Okay.