As part of my debut for Salt City Hoops last month, I wrote a two-part series on legendary Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and his impact on both the team and the league as a whole. Much of part two delved into some of the systematical advances Sloan brought to Utah and, later, to the entire NBA. Those who read the pieces will recall that by the end of his tenure with the Jazz, not only were most teams blatantly copying parts of Sloan’s playbook, but many staples of his system had simply become a normal part of every team’s offensive sets.
As I also covered in the Sloan series, NBA offense is a constantly evolving animal, and this hasn’t changed since Jerry stopped roaming the sidelines early in 2011. In fact, many would say that the last five years or so have ushered in the most rapid series of major offensive changes in league history. The rise of advanced metrics and the higher levels of understanding regarding efficiency that have accompanied this rise have given way to a plethora of systematical advances.
The Jazz have certainly not been immune to the ever-changing NBA game, going through a major transition stage with the departure of Sloan and the large player overhaul that took place not long after. But with Jerry gone from the bench, would the Jazz continue his unique approach of bucking many league trends, or would they begin to conform in the face of some fairly convincing progressions that were developing? Let’s take a look.
The Last Sloan Years:
While most would likely label Jerry’s best years as the ones where his system propelled Utah to consecutive Finals appearances, his mid-to-late 2000’s teams gave Stockton-to-Malone a serious run for their money offensively. Sloan’s teams were in the top 10 for points-per-100 possessions every year from 2006-07 until his departure. They peaked in the 07-08 season, with their offensive rating of 110.8 trailing only Steve Nash and the Suns.