Salt City Hoops » Players http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Players http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com/category/players/ Who is Toure’ Murry? http://saltcityhoops.com/who-is-toure-murry/ http://saltcityhoops.com/who-is-toure-murry/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12983 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Toure Murry ponders "What is life?" during a Knicks game last season. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Toure Murry ponders “What is life?” during a Knicks game last season. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

After a smattering of rumors, the Utah Jazz went ahead and signed point guard Toure’ Murry a few weeks ago. Who is Murry and what are his chances of making the team, and beyond that, making an impact?

Murry is a 6’5″ point guard who played his collegiate career at Wichita State. He was a four-year starter who was consistent through his time there, averaging between 9.4 and 12.1 PPG.  While he showed improvement, Murry was a below average shooter, never hitting beyond 42.4 percent of his shots. Moreover, his 3-point shooting regressed. Defense was one of his calling cards, as he was a two-time All-Missouri Valley Defensive Team honoree. Murry helped propel his team towards some postseason success, helping the Shockers win the NIT championship in 2011 and then pushing Wichita State to the second round in the 2012 NCAA tourney.

Despite his solid career, Murry went undrafted. After playing for the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league team, he opted for the D-League route, playing the 2012-2013 campaign with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He posted modest numbers: 9.0 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.8 SPG.

The next summer saw him toiling for both the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks in the summer league. He did enough with the latter to earn an NBA contract. Thanks to New York’s rocky season, complete with an assortment of injuries, Murry spent most of the season with the Knicks, playing just one D-League game last year. Murry was decent, averaging 2.7 PPG in 7.3 MPG during 51 games. 43.4 % shooting is not bad for a rookie guard earning sporadic minutes.

The Jazz have had their eyes on him for while and likewise, he seems to have had eyes on them, as well. He had a pre-draft workout in Salt Lake City in 2012. According to rep0rts, Murry had his fair share of suitors in the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat and the Knicks.  New York wanted him back, as he fits the mold of guards that do well in the Triangle Offense. It sounds like he grew weary of waiting for them and chose Utah.

Utah signed Murry to a two-year, $2 million contract; like Brock Motum, Dee Bost, Jack Cooley and Kevin Murphy, his deal is partially guaranteed. Unlike the other four, however, his guarantee is much higher: $250,000. That figure, along with the fact that the Jazz need a third point guard, makes Murry’s chances of making the roster pretty good.

What does he bring to the Jazz? His size naturally sticks out. Like Dante Exum, he brings length to the back court, especially if playing point guard. His ability to play multiple positions is probably enticing to Utah.  He has solid court vision and is a willing passer (21.5 AST%, which would’ve been third on last year’s Jazz squad), with a penchant for alley oop dishes. With a 6’9″ wingspan, Murry has defensive potential. His 2.7 STL% is excellent–that would’ve paced Utah last year. Given head coach Quin’s Snyder’s emphasis on passing and defense, this bodes well for Murry. At 24, he is young, has upside and can grow with the young core.

He certainly has weaknesses. Murry has been a below average 3-point shooter at every level. He only attempted 12 treys in 373 minutes for the Knicks. Snyder and the coaching staff will undoubtedly work with him, as the desire to play with more pace will give Utah guards a lot of opportunities from the perimeter (and the corner three will undoubtedly be more of a weapon than in the past).

Murry will certainly be someone to watch in training camp and preseason. He seems to be a hungry player; a low-risk, potentially solid-reward pick-up by Utah.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Utah Jazz Frontcourt: Three-Headed Monster? http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-frontcourt-three-headed-monster/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-frontcourt-three-headed-monster/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:25:20 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12848 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Between FIBA and summer league play, August pieces written by local and national media alike, and even gushing podcast segments, it’s been a Gobert love-fest this offseason. Shoot, there hasn’t been this much ado about Rudy since 1993. But with international play all wrapped up and September flying by, the hype factor slowly beings to taper off into reality – the next on-court action we’ll see from the towering Frenchman, along with the rest of his Jazz teammates, will be at training camp and, before you know it, the start of the preseason.

The questions as he once again steps onto an NBA court will be twofold, and one will be dependent on the other:

1. Can Gobert develop his offensive game to a point where lineups featuring him can hold their own on that end, particularly while next to Derrick Favors?

2. If so, what does this mean for the future of Enes Kanter – and/or how might Kanter fit in the picture?

As far as the first question goes, they’ll be hoping for short memories, as Charles would say. With the necessary caveats surrounding small sample size, Gobert’s time on the court saw an already bland offense crater spectacularly. A squad that was already just outside the league’s bottom five in per-possession scoring posted an ugly 95.3 points-per-100, over a full point lower than Philadelphia’s league-worst mark, per NBA.com. These figures were even worse (though on an even smaller sample) when he was paired with either Favors (82.0) or Kanter (88.4).

There’s cause for optimism, however. For one, all this Gobert gushing is happening for a reason – he appears to have improved, perhaps somewhat drastically. Favors and Kanter are both at a point on their developmental curve where they’ll be expected to have done the same to some degree. And my writing it ad nauseam doesn’t make it any less true: the new coaching staff will be expected to leave their own imprint on personnel across the board.

Speaking more generally, precedent exists for a successful frontcourt even if development stalls for one or more of the potential pieces involved, including the spatially-challenged Favors-Gobert unit.

Compare them, for instance, with one of the league’s top offenses in San Antonio. Gobert, like typical Spurs starter Tiago Splitter, is mostly ignored by opposing defenders outside the paint. The two combined attempted just 15 shots from beyond 10 feet all last season – 14 by Splitter, who also played about triple Gobert’s minutes. Meanwhile, Tim Duncan is a better midrange shooter than Favors both in perception and reality, but perhaps the latter gap isn’t quite as large as the former would indicate. The two shot nearly identical percentages between eight and 16 feet from the hoop (37.7 percent for Duncan, 37.6 percent for Favors) last year. Duncan had a big advantage from beyond 16 feet, but team context plays a role here; where Favors drew assists on 66.7 percent of his makes from this distance, Duncan did so 95.5 percent of the time. We see that San Antonio’s vastly superior talent and comfort within their system led to Duncan almost never being forced to create these shots for himself, with Favors far more often required to do so. This jives with SportVU data tabulated by my Nylon Calculus colleagues Darryl Blackport and Krishna Narsu, which shows that Duncan took 37.5 percent of his total shots while “uncontested” (no defender within four feet) while Favors took just 24.5 percent of his under the same circumstances. The spacing and team construct was just so different, and this certainly played some role.

Obviously, the Spurs are on a whole other planet, one this Jazz core may never even get within eyesight of. Numerous advantages in nearly every other aspect of NBA basketball of course play a large part in their ability to keep a Duncan-Splitter frontcourt viable offensively where Utah failed to do so with their own. But like several other aspects of the Jazz franchise moving forward, San Antonio has laid out the blueprint. Common sets like Horns, detailed in the video below on a team-by-team basis by Coach Nick of bballbreakdown.com, and the specific variations used by Gregg Popovich are among the simplest starting points:

If we’re being fair, some of this may end up being a bit thin. Favors and Gobert are likely to struggle offensively as a pairing, perhaps mightily so, unless one or the other undergoes a shooting renaissance that seems highly unlikely. Heck, the Duncan-Splitter duo, while far more effective than Utah’s frontcourt to be sure, was still among the least productive of San Antonio’s high-volume two-man units, and Pop wasn’t shy about mixing things up to inject more spacing when necessary.

This is where Kanter remains an intriguing piece of the puzzle. Should the change of coaching scenery and another offseason of work be enough to propel him from awful to simply below-average defensively, his abilities as a midrange shooter and low post operator could be surprisingly complementary while Favors or Gobert run more pick-and-roll action.

In truth, a Favors-Kanter-Gobert three-headed monster frontcourt may be nothing more than a pipe dream. Any major tangible improvement from Kanter before his expected RFA summer could easily push his perceived value around the league even further beyond what the Jazz would be comfortable paying him, and Gobert comes in at a far cheaper tag and in a situation they control for longer (he’s also just as large of an offensive question mark as Kanter is a defensive one, if not more so). And don’t forget, Utah is widely expected to score another solid lottery pick in the 2015 Draft – one that, at least for now, appears to contain at least three or four highly-touted prospects at the big positions. For all of Dan’s talk (and my repetition) of consolidating assets, the opportunity to pick a name like Jahlil Okafor or Karl Towns might be too good to pass up, particularly if one of the three incumbents isn’t pulling their weight.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Where Are They Now? Former Utah Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/ http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:41:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12782 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It’s always interesting for fans to keep an eye on those who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. After another busy offseason around the league, here is the full list of where former Jazzmen are playing, and some thoughts about their upcoming seasons.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks: Last season, the gritty forward enjoyed a career-year. After toiling for four teams in four seasons, Carroll may have found a home with the Hawks. He posted 11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.5 SPG, complete with some great defense (2.6 DWS) and shooting (.575 TS%). Carroll still just had a 13.9 PER and is probably better suited playing just a touch less than the 32.1 MPG he played. He has been effusive in his praise of new Jazz coach Quin Snyder, citing his efforts as a big catalyst for his improvement.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: The sharp-shooting forward had another solid season, putting up 12.0 PPG, 2.9 APG and 4.0 RPG for the Hawks. Korver’s stellar marksmanship (47.5 percent field goals, 47.2 percent on 3s and 92.6 percent from the line) paced the NBA with a .653 True Shooting Percentage. Add in a 5.9 WS, and you can see Korver’s importance for Atlanta. Look for him to do much of the same this year. While he fell short of making the USA FIBA team, Korver’s value has managed to increase as his career progresses.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: When Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, Paul Millsap stepped up in a major way. Sporting a nice 3-point touch, his 17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG were enough to earn his first-ever All-Star appearance. Many of his advanced numbers mirrored his remarkable consistency during his Jazz days, so it was refreshing to see him earn that accolade at last. Even so, there still is a feeling that Millsap is underrated. He’s even been mentioned on some “Most Likely to be Traded” lists out there, perhaps due in part to his expiring $9.5 million  contract. If Atlanta is smart, they will hold on to the do-it-all forward.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets: Injuries plagued AK-47, but he still added value to a Brooklyn bench that struggled at times. Kirilenko has definitely lost some of the zip that made his one of the NBA’s most unique players for years. He averaged just 5.0 PPG last year, but showed he can still facilitate. At just $3.3 million, he is a solid guy for the Nets to have.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: It certainly was a down year for Deron Williams. Across the board, his numbers were his worst since his first season. He’s dropped from 21.0 PPG to 18.9 to 14.3 the past three years (8.7 APG to 7.7 to 6.1). Given the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kirilenko, optimism was high that DWill would be the quarterback of a veteran-laden team that would compete with the Heat and Pacers. Instead, injuries really hurt his game. At just 29, Williams can bounce back. Given the Brooklyn market, and the fact that he’s in line to earn $63 million over the next three years, the pressure is on. By many accounts, new coach Lionel Hollins plans to funnel most of the offense through Williams.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats: Like Millsap, it was wonderful to see Jefferson earn the praise that he’s deserved for many years. He was the key to the Bobcats’ resurgence, as he provided a bonafide scoring threat inside– 21.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG. Head coach Steve Clifford used him well on both ends, helping him be a big part of their defensive identity. Evidence: Big Al’s career-high 4.7 DWS. Strangely enough, he did not make the All-Star team, but garnered All-NBA Third Team honors. With an excellent offseason, Charlotte is poised to make another jump in the Eastern Conference with Jefferson as the focal point. While his three-year, $41 million contract opened some eyes, most view it as a bargain for his production and leadership.

Marvin Williams, Charlotte Bobcats: Always a terrific locker room presence and solid on-court performer, it was difficult to see Marvin Williams depart Salt Lake City. He did everything that was asked of him, even developing into a good stretch four for the Jazz. Williams inked a two-year, $14 million deal with Charlotte to reunite with Jefferson and return to his collegiate home. With his combination of stout defense, improved rebounding and outside shooting, he will add a lot to the Bobcats. He will compete for a starting position.

John Lucas III, Cleveland Cavaliers: Lucas struggled with Utah. With Trey Burke’s early injury, he was thrust into the ill-suited role of starter and he never really recovered from that poor start. Diante Garrett quickly usurped him in the Jazz’s pecking order. Whether or not he makes the Cleveland roster remains to be determined. It sounds like he will be given the chance, with only Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova being the only other point guards in the fold.

Erik Murphy, Cleveland Cavaliers: Murphy, too, is facing an uphill battle. The Cavs seemingly dealt for Lucas, Murphy and Malcolm Thomas to use as trade filler in any Kevin Love deal,  then ended up holding on to all three of them. Along the way, Murphy’s contract was guaranteed.

Malcolm Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers: By some accounts, Thomas seems like a player Cleveland is genuinely interested in keeping and using. With his blend of athleticism and length, he seems like a low-cost, potentially decent-reward guy to have at the end of the bench for the Cavs.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris returned to his original NBA team and while injuries affected his season, he seemed to thrive in the third guard role for Dallas. Harris chipped in 7.9 PPG and 4.5 APG off the pine, with his 31.0 AST% being his best since his New Jersey days. He re-signed for a modest contract and will be a valuable cog for a Mavericks team that could surprise, thanks to a very good offseason that also saw Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson join its ranks.

Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks: Like Marvin Williams, Jefferson too put forth a resurgent effort. After languishing in Golden State, he started for Utah and showed that he still had some gas in the tank. With Vince Carter’s departure to Memphis, Jefferson could fill the role of a shooter off the bench. Signing him for the veteran’s minimum was another solid move for Dallas.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: Foye had a nice lone season in Utah and did even better in his first with Denver. With other guards being hit with injuries, the Nuggets relied on him more than expected. With 13.2 PPG and 3.5 APG, Foye did his best to help Denver remain in the playoff picture for a good part of the season. With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson coming back and Arron Afflalo’s return to the Mile High City, Foye may be back in a super sub role – one in which he does quite well.

Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: One year after being traded to Utah by the Warriors, Rush made his way back to the Bay Area. Given his lackluster play and poor body language in Utah, his heart was probably always in Golden State. If he can recapture some of his former self, he can be a solid perimeter addition to the Warriors bench.

C.J.Miles, Indiana Pacers: Despite playing nine NBA seasons, Miles is shockingly just 27. He had his best 3-point shooting seasons with the Cavaliers, which is the likely reason Indiana added him. He was to be a much-needed shooter for the Pacers, but with Paul George’s devastating injury, Miles may be asked to assume a bigger role – perhaps even starting. It will be interesting to see if Miles can seize this opportunity.

Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers: Carlos Boozer’s 2013-14 season was quite forgettable. His 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG were the lowest of his career since his rookie campaign. His 14.4 PER was by far the worst of his 12 seasons. The biggest stat for the Chicago Bulls was the $13.5 million he was set to make during the upcoming season. With the continued improvement of Taj Gibson and the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, Boozer was an amnesty casualty.

Enter the Los Angeles Lakers. It is hard to determine what this franchise’s direction is. They added a slew of players to join the returning-from-injury Kobe Bryant, seemingly in hopes to provide enough firepower to compete in the Western Conference. Boozer will be looked on for some much-needed scoring. That said, with the glut of power forwards on the roster, it remains to be seen how much playing time the two-time All-Star will see. Especially when his age (32) and defense are taken into consideration.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies: After several underrated good years for Denver, Koufos brought some solid play to the Memphis front court. With 6.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 16.9 MPG, he provided depth behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His shooting took a dip last season, but a 16.5 PER for your back-up is still very good; ditto the 3.5 WS and 18.4 TRB% (22.7 DRB%). He will continue to provide quality minutes and can step in to start, when needed.

Kyrylo Fesenko, Minnesota Timberwolves: Big Fes was a fan favorite during his four seasons. He had his moments and showed defensive potential. His immaturity, though, was an issue. After appearing in just three NBA the past three seasons, Fesenko is embarking on a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He impressed enough in summer league to earn a training camp invite. Given the rebuilding roster, the 7’1″, 288 lb gargantuan center might have a chance to stick.

Othyus Jeffers, Minnesota Timberwolves: The energetic Jeffers has made the rounds since finishing up the 2010 season with Utah. He hooked on with Minnesota right before the end of the last year and is still listed on its roster.

Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: After seeing success in a back-up role with the surprising Portland Trailblazers, Williams opted out of his contract and found the market wasn’t too kind. When things settled down, he inked a deal with Minnesota. It was a perplexing signing, with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and, until they ship him out, J.J. Barea in tow. Given the dramatically changed roster, perhaps Mo will be looked on for veteran leadership.

Diante Garrett, Portland Trailblazers: After being a pleasant addition to the Jazz last year, he was unfortunately traded to Toronto in the Steve Novak transaction. After being waived by the Raptors, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland in hopes of sticking. With his size and improved outside shooting, he would be a nice player to have on the bench, even with the guards the Blazers already have.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers: After three solid seasons, Matthews made a little jump last season, enjoying his best year as a professional. His first half of the season was especially torrid, as he was shooting lights out. There was even talk of him making the Western Conference All-Star team. He finished the year averaging 16.4 PPG, while making 2.5 3s per outing. He leapt from 4.7 WS to 8.2 last year (going from 3.6 to 6.3 on OWS). Working with Damian Lillard, Matthews is part of a very potent back court that is among the best in the league.

Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: While the Boston Celtics had a rebuilding year, Humphries had a quietly solid bounce-back season. He chipped in 8.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG in just 19.9 MPG, along with .552 TS% and 4.1 WS. Washington is a team on the rise and Humphries adds another capable back-up to their front court.

There are several others who are still out there without NBA contracts: Ronnie Brewer, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, Eric Maynor, Andris Biedrins, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Harris, Josh Howard, Lou Amundson. With the exception of Howard, all spent time on NBA rosters last season.

And just for fun, here are some former Jazzmen in the NBA’s coaching ranks:

Jarron Collins, Los Angeles Clippers: Collins will get his first chance as an NBA assistant coach. Always respected for his attitude and demeanor, it is nice to see him getting this opportunity with Doc Rivers and one of the league’s contending teams.

Howard Eisley, Los Angeles Clippers: Eisley continues in his role with the Clippers. He seems to be a valued part of the staff; no surprise, given his basketball knowledge.

Derek Fisher, New York Knicks: After 18 seasons and five championships, Derek Fisher was not unemployed for long. Phil Jackson plucked him up quickly, signing him to a five-year, $25 million pact. That’s a lot of scratch for someone who’s never coached at any level (though the same applies to Golden State’s deal with Steve Kerr). It will be very interesting to see what Fisher does in the Big Apple and the inherent scrutiny that exists therein. The Knicks roster does not do much to inspire.

Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic: Entering his third season in charge, the expectations are again low for Vaughn’s team to produce Ws. What they are looking for is continued player and talent development. That sounds familiar.

Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: Hornacek and his upstart Suns were among the NBA’s best stories last season. In his first year as head coach, Hornacek defied the most optimistic of expectations out there by producing an entertaining brand of basketball that got them within a breath of the postseason. Almost to a man, each Phoenix player had career-years–from established veterans like Goran Dragic and Channing Frye, to guys who were seemingly discarded in Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The bar was set high. Can Hornacek build upon the momentum there in Phoenix? It would be tough to bet against him.

Tyrone Corbin, Sacramento Kings: Much has been said about Tyrone Corbin’s tenure as Utah’s head coach. There were ups and downs. Corbin gave his all and dedicated the past 12 years to the franchise. While he had struggles at the helm, he was largely considered one of the NBA’s best assistant coaches prior to replacing Jerry Sloan. Corbin should succeed in Sacramento as the lead assistant there, bringing professionalism to a talented Kings roster.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Gordon Hayward Video Scouting Report http://saltcityhoops.com/gordon-hayward-video-scouting-report/ http://saltcityhoops.com/gordon-hayward-video-scouting-report/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 15:53:46 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12829 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns
As we near the start of the 2014-15 season, the current iteration of the Jazz franchise that’s centered around youth and potential will be looked at to move their way out of their current spot in the Western Conference cellar. While the additions of potential stars Rodney Hood and Dante Exum will be key facets to the future of the organization, the fate of one of the organization’s most popular players stood as perhaps the most important aspect of Utah’s off-season.

Of course, the player in question would be Gordon Hayward, who faced restricted free agency after spending the first four seasons of his career under the Utah Jazz microscope. While there was a bevy of interest in Hayward from other NBA organizations, it was the  Charlotte Hornets who gave Hayward a mighty four-year, $63 million dollar offer sheet, which was quickly matched by the Jazz.

By entering the upcoming season with that massive new contract in his possession, the pressure that surrounds Hayward has been elevated. While he’s always been looked at as one of the bigger keys behind Utah’s rebuilding process, Hayward transition to being the team’s highest-paid player will make him the  focal point of Utah’s rebuilding process.

While his newly elevated contract will put a lot more pressure on his shoulders, Hayward has actually held the  role of the team’s main offensive weapon since the departure of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap during the 2013 off-season. Transitioning to that new role appeared to be an extremely difficult task for Hayward, as he struggled to maintain any real consistency on the offensive end.

When you examine his offensive downfall during the previous season, the largest factor is his regression as a perimeter shooter. Prior to his time as the team’s main scoring option, when he was able to work alongside the likes of Jefferson and Millsap, Hayward was looked at as an elite perimeter shooter. During his first three seasons with the Jazz, Hayward was able to shoot 40% from beyond the arc, which eclipsed the likes of Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza and Joe Johnson.

In the 2013-14 season, that consistency wore off as Hayward’s three-point shooting percentage deteriorated to an extremely pedestrian 30%. Perhaps the biggest reason for that drastic drop in consistency pertains to the fact that Hayward rarely got an opportunity to get an open shot. As the team’s main offensive weapon, defenses were able to regularly zone-in on Hayward without having to worry about the consequences of leaving Millsap and Jefferson.

With the majority of defensive pressure now focused directly on him, Hayward had  moments where he seemed tense, which ultimately lead to some rough looking perimeter jumpers. While he’s a pretty athletic player that can penetrate his way towards the paint, Hayward still tends to struggle when it comes to being able to get separation from the opposition, mainly because of his less than stellar abilities as a ball-handler.

Those issues should be diminished as Hayward will have the opportunity to play alongside recent draftees Rodney Hood and Dante Exum, which would take away some of the offensive pressure that has rested on his shoulders. When he’s able to get an opportunity to work off-ball, Hayward definitely has had an ample amount of success when it comes to cutting to the paint. During the prior season, Hayward shot 58% from the restricted area, which would be the best percentage of his young career.

On the defensive end, Hayward was consistently able to showcase a veteran focus, which allowed him to become a pretty solid perimeter defender. While he does struggle to create separation of the offensive end, Hayward has enough lateral quickness to stick close to the vast majority of wing players, whether they would be penetrating to the rim or moving around the perimeter.

In pick-and-roll situations, Hayward is still able to remain effective because of his ability to quickly determine whether to go over or under the on-ball screener. While he does occasionally have mental lapses which ultimately allow the opposition to get an open look at the basket, he generally does a great job when it comes to quickly recovering from those instances.

With Hayward making the transition from a rookie deal to being one of the higher-paid players in the league, the pressure will definitely be elevated. While he probably won’t be looked at to immediately push the Jazz into the playoff hunt, Hayward will still be the veteran leader to the slew of Jazz youngsters. Even though he displays that certain level of confidence that you look for in a veteran leader, the inconsistency that he showcased during last season is still a cause for concern.

However,  the additions of Hood and Exum combined with the potential improvements of Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Alec Burks should help take away some of the pressure that Hayward had during the previous season. With that in mind, Hayward will still be looked at as the undeniable “go-to guy” in the Jazz offense, putting him into some high-pressure situations during the upcoming season. It’ll definitely be intriguing to see if he’ll be able to work under that heightened pressure and help lead the Jazz organization into the future.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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FIBA Scouting Reports: Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum, Raul Neto, and Ante Tomic http://saltcityhoops.com/fiba-scouting-reports-rudy-gobert-dante-exum-raul-neto-and-ante-tomic/ http://saltcityhoops.com/fiba-scouting-reports-rudy-gobert-dante-exum-raul-neto-and-ante-tomic/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:38:06 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12792 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Photo from FIBA.com

Photo from FIBA.com

In a gym some 5,000 miles away from Salt Lake City, a Jazz reserve was the talk of the basketball community on Wednesday.

The FIBA World Cup marches on, with medals being handed out on Sunday. Four Jazz players — or players whose NBA rights are held by the Jazz — are involved, so we’re going to take a look at the good and bad each guy has shown, and where that leaves the big picture discussion on each.

And we’ll start with an in-depth analysis and video of the guy Fran Fraschilla called “my MVP” of the quarterfinal upset over Spain.

Rudy Gobert

The line: 4.1 points & 5.1 rebounds, with 2 games to go.

The good: Gobert was a defensive force against the tournament co-favorites, drawing effusive praise from Fraschilla. There are many good reasons for the coach-turned-commentator to gush. He has been a lot more engaged, he has grabbed a rebound for every three minutes played, and he’s running the floor.

It’s best to let the tape tell about some of his positives, which our Ben Dowsett did after the contest. Here are some additional looks at specific areas of Gobert’s game.

He’s been a lot more calculating about his off-ball movement — diving into the slot especially. In the case of this video, he gets free on the baseline and gives his guy an option for a pretty touch pass that results in an easy dunk.

But the real reason he’s been so impressive is defense. He had stretches where he completely dictated that end of the floor, including the stretch run on Wednesday. Here’s a video of him dominating defensively in the clutch:

  • He swats a ball away, then on the ensuing inbound he helps, gets back, boxes out and draws a foul.
  • He plays solid position D, denying the baseline and then when Gasol turns to go middle he blocks it.
  • This time Gasol tries to drive but Gobert cuts him off. Gasol tries to go right through him and gets stripped.
  • Another play where he make a deflection at the rim, followed by Fran gushing a bit more.

Spain’s elite offense came to a screeching halt, largely because of Gobert. It was a memorable defensive showing in one of the biggest FIBA upsets in recent memory.

The bad: Gobert still has his raw moments, even on defense. Here are a couple of almost back-to-back plays where he gets pulled far from the lane on pick-and-roll coverage and can’t get back. Teams consciously try to get him in the P&R. Sometimes he can let the guard through and stay home — or even better, help and then get back (as above) — but not always. Here we see that the best way to neutralize Gobert defensively is to force him to help hard 25 feet from the hoop and hope he can’t recover and/or doesn’t have help behind him.

And of course, he’s offensively still progressing. This is true of his own game outside the immediate basket area, but even his screening and passing. When you screen, you’re supposed to be as square as possible; Gobert often looks more like a parallelogram on his screens, leaning hard to one side. Luckily, he’s learned to hold the position for a beat so he’s getting fewer illegal screen calls. As far as his passing game, we’re talking about a guy who had seven assists all last season. In Spain, he literally has had moments when he awkwardly knocked himself over trying to find a passing angle, or times like this video when he should pass out of the trap but instead takes an uncomfortable sideways shot.

The big picture: Any way you cut it, it’s been a summer of progress for Gobert, who will have no difficulty claiming an important spot in the rotation if he proffers the kind of game-changing defense we’ve seen in stretches at FIBA, especially the fourth quarter vs. Spain.

 

Let’s also take a quicker look at the Jazz’s other three World Cup participants.

Dante Exum

The line: 2.7 pts & 2 ast.

The good: You’ve heard plenty of analysis of Exum’s WC showing, no doubt. He showed that elite quickness, as well as a point guard mentality. Whenever he got to the middle of the floor on offense he was always looking to pass first. But probably the most impressive thing was his pestering defense. He really got “up and under” some guys, to steal a Jerry Sloan term.

The bad: The biggest complaints — rightfully so — had to do with his lack of movement on offense and his overall passiveness. I wasn’t completely excited by Australia’s offensive creativity, so maybe his role was to stand weakside and watch… but I doubt it. I kept waiting to see him get more involved, but I think he’s young enough and rusty enough that he was waiting for an invitation to have an impact on the game.

The big picture: I get the sentiment that, if he’s truly a future star in the making, he should have been less invisible with the Boomers. But I also think it’s wrong to set arbitrary prerequisites on him. I am guilty of this, too. In last week’s post, I stated that I’d be a little worried if he didn’t have a rookie year at least in a Tim Hardaway Jr. range (2-3 WS). Since then, I’ve realized how silly that is. Do you know how many eventual All-Stars and even Hall-of-Famers started out with less than that? Kobe’s rookie WS was 1.8. Dirk’s was 0.8. Isiah Thomas was 2.3. We’re talking about Finals MVP-caliber players here. Karl Malone put up 1.9 WS in his rookie season. All that’s to say history isn’t as demanding on rookie Exum; he can start modestly and still have a chance at greatness, the precedent says. Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes some pretty quick improvements in a couple of areas once he’s working out with the Jazz.

 

Raul Neto

The line: 7.6 pts, 2.3 ast.

The good: Neto had two stellar games where it was easy to find things to like, including a can’t-miss offensive zone against Argentina that helped the Brazilians put their neighbors away. Even when he’s not scoring like crazy, he has good control of the game, never looking outmatched or out of place. He understands spacing, so his off-ball movement helps preserve options for the team system, though sometimes subtly. He also knows how to get separation on his shots, and creates the right angles with good use of screens and side-to-side movement (he especially likes to step right-to-left into his jumper).

The bad: Not to be a wet blanket, but the Argentina game was an outlier and Neto was mostly fairly quiet, at least statistically. In group play, he had three straight games with just a bucket per outing until he got extra burn against a pretty bad Egyptian team and exploded for 14 & 10. His defense wasn’t perfect. He is solidly built, so he doesn’t give up ground easily, but he doesn’t always stay in front, nor does he become the defensive pest that Exum was at times. He got hung up on some screens, and other times, he tried to jump the screen early and got punished.

The big picture : Neto’s future role with the Jazz depends greatly on how the next few months develop, especially with regard to Exum and Trey Burke. If the Jazz decide those guys are the point tandem they’re going to ride into contention, then Neto might be more of a trade asset than a basketball asset. Then there’s the very related question of how Alec Burks fits in with that duo, and whether they have a positional preference as to how they deploy Gordon Hayward. Either way, Neto caught some attention this month.

 

Ante Tomic

The line: 10 pts, 7.2 reb, 2.5 ast.

The good: There were stretches — like the fourth quarter against France — where the offense almost entirely ran through him for long periods of time, and usually with positive results because of his touch and passing. It’s amazing how many of Croatia’s plays began with a Tomic screen-roll at angle left. He also defended solidly.  He’s so big that he’s hard for post players to move around, and his length clearly frustrates drivers.

The bad: Tomic didn’t look particularly quick on either end. Even his really nice moves kind of seemed like they were in slow motion. He also rarely gets any sort of elevation. For a 7’2″ guy, he plays almost entirely under the rim. He’s a crafty finisher so he makes due, but you have to wonder how he’d compete athletically with NBA bigs.

The big picture: With his heady play and great hands, Tomic showed exactly why some think he projects to be a decent third of fourth big in the NBA. But there’s no clear sign as to whether he and Jazz are in each other’s mutual future. Still, every good showing by Tomic at the very least increases the asset value of his draft rights.

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Rudy Gobert: Spanish Nightmare http://saltcityhoops.com/rudy-gobert-spanish-nightmare/ http://saltcityhoops.com/rudy-gobert-spanish-nightmare/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 03:31:44 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12805 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The basketball gods heard our continued whining about a lack of intriguing stuff going on this time of year, and delivered some much-needed sustenance in the form of a riveting upset win by France over co-favorite (and host) Spain in the FIBA World Cup quarterfinals Wednesday afternoon. France led nearly wire-to-wire and pulled away down the stretch, blowing up what many had considered a sure-thing battle in the title game between Spain the United States.

Jazz big man Rudy Gobert played his best game of the tournament, and likely the best game of his professional basketball career. He was instrumental in France’s powerful defensive effort, as they held a Spanish team yet to score under 82 points in the tournament to just 52 on rancid 32.3 percent shooting. His raw numbers were five points, 13 rebounds, a steal and a block on 2-4 shooting in what was easily his tournament high of over 23 minutes; this is a solid line, but as may frequently be the case through the young Frenchman’s career, it doesn’t tell the entire story of his impact.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard from Rudy this summer. He made waves at summer league with several impressive performances, and SCH’s Dan Clayton took a detailed look at his progress roughly a month ago. Some of the attention has spilled over to the national stage as well, with Grantland’s Zach Lowe delving into Gobert’s massive (literally) potential just last week.

Points from both these fine writers, as well as my January scouting report, stood out noticeably against the Spaniards. Rudy was a defensive force throughout, particularly in his second stint on the court that began with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter and lasted the rest of the game. During these 13-plus minutes, France held Spain to just 12 points despite what most would assume would be a huge frontcourt advantage with both Gasol brothers and Serge Ibaka.

His foot speed stood out in particular, especially against the pick-and-roll. France had Gobert leaping out to hedge the ball-handler in such sets all game, and his timing and footwork were impeccable, allowing him to defend effectively within the scheme:

Gobert was in constant motion on the defensive end, both lanky arms up and annoying Spanish ball-handlers anytime he was even close to a passing lane. In Dan’s superb piece from last month linked above, he points to Rudy’s defensive understanding as an area ripe for improvement – it’s just one game, sure, but the strides he seems to have made here even since summer league are somewhat astonishing. He was fully in tune with the game from the jump, making only a couple small mental errors despite being a key figure in nearly every defensive possession as the Spaniards fed their bigs down low.

He was a beastly physical presence as well; it may be difficult to sustain night in and night out in the NBA, but Gobert held his own against the bulkier Gasol tandem and didn’t back down an inch:

GET SOME, PAU!

Gobert also picked up 13 boards, showcasing more willingness to bang down low and maintain his positioning than at any point in his rookie NBA season. I wrote in my January piece how he needed to focus on learning to find ways to counterbalance the weight disadvantage he will face against most NBA centers, and evidence of work in the offseason here is readily visible. He’s identifying his box-out responsibilities more quickly, tracking the ball’s trajectory in the air more effectively, and getting lower to the ground to leverage his weight and move his opponents. Continued improvement here will see him quickly become one of the NBA’s best rebounders – no one is reaching over those arms if he’s in good position.

To my eye, though, the largest tangible improvements visible from Rudy in this game (and to a degree in earlier FIBA games) were in some of the more minute details. Offensive contribution is of course the largest obstacle standing between Gobert and an NBA starting gig, particularly one next to a non-shooting threat like Derrick Favors. I noted during the season how an improvement in his simple ability to catch and control the ball was the first big step toward finding an offensive identity, and this is clearly already happening. He’s not perfect by any means, but is already showing a noticeable refinement in his hands:

These plays don’t seem like much (and may not have had positive endings), but they’re among several examples of Gobert’s increased confidence with the ball in his hands. He’s clearly been drilling himself on catch-and-react scenarios, and doesn’t appear afraid to put the ball on the floor for a dribble or two now and then. Given his size and defensive skill set, this type of development may mean more for a guy like Rudy than nearly any other NBA big. As Lowe noted in his piece, if Gobert can follow the Tyson Chandler model as an offensive big man, his value as an overall player will skyrocket.

He showed promise in other offensive areas, as well. Just like on the defensive side, Gobert was hyper-active without the ball – I counted at least a few possessions where he set five or more picks for teammates, including a few heady improvised back screens like this one leading to an open look:

Just like several other elements of his game, Gobert’s court sense has undergone an accelerated development. He’s setting smart, effective screens and appears infinitely more aware of how his spacing affects his teammates. Coach Snyder is going to love his activity level away from the ball, something a motion offense absolutely must have from its big men, especially if they aren’t shooting threats.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, know that Gobert still has a long way to go. He remains a horrible free-throw shooter (under 50 percent for the tournament) and likewise isn’t a threat to score further than a few feet from the hoop. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to go pound-for-pound with heavier guys every night in the NBA like he did against Spain, and he’ll need to bulk up significantly to avoid significant physical mismatches on a regular basis. And while it’s certainly improved from the NBA season to now, his mental acumen still lags a tad behind his aggression. Touch fouls like these 40 feet from the hoop aren’t going to cut it at any level:

But with that said, Jazz fans have real reason to be excited. I typically caution against gleaning too much from summer league or international competitions, but context remains king here. This wasn’t DeMarcus Cousins swallowing up rebounds against Ukranian bigs similar in stature to American high school players; it was a 22-year-old going against the world’s best international frontcourt in a vital elimination game between two teams that hate each other, and more than holding his own. We aren’t crowning him an All-Star just yet, but his performance this summer is very encouraging. Whether or not he can duplicate Wednesday’s showing before the end of the tournament, I can’t wait to see how his development translates to the NBA game and his role with the Jazz.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Rudy Gobert Makes Huge Impression as France Shocks Spain http://saltcityhoops.com/rudy-gobert-makes-huge-impression-as-france-shocks-spain/ http://saltcityhoops.com/rudy-gobert-makes-huge-impression-as-france-shocks-spain/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 23:17:44 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12794 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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Gobert dunks in a regular season game in 2013-14. Will he get more playing time this season? (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Gobert dunks in a regular season game in 2013-14. Will he get more playing time this season? (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert won game MVP honors from ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla after a 5 point, 13 rebound performance as France shocked FIBA World Cup hosts Spain. Gobert played the entirety of the 4th quarter for France, and was a big factor in holding Spain to just 9 points in the 4th quarter, garnering 7 rebounds, 1 block, and 1 steal in that quarter alone.

Overall, Gobert played 23 minutes, the most action he’s seen in any game of the tournament thus far. Previously, Gobert had been averaging just 14 minutes per game, but his defensive performance as France went on the game-defining run forced French coach Vincent Collet to keep Gobert out on the floor.

Like his fellow countrymen, Gobert was proud to upset Spain, saying after the game “Spain had everything to lose. They have great players, but they are still humans.” Impressively, Gobert’s performance came against FIBA’s best backcourt, featuring NBA stars Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka.

Here’s Gobert’s 4th quarter block on Pau Gasol:

And here’s some reaction from around the internet on Gobert’s great game:

 

We’ll have more a more detailed breakdown of Gobert’s game coming soon on Salt City Hoops.

Author information

Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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Freelance Friday: 3 Positives and Negatives of Dante Exum’s Play in FIBA Warmups http://saltcityhoops.com/freelance-friday-3-positives-and-negatives-of-dante-exums-play-in-fiba-warmups/ http://saltcityhoops.com/freelance-friday-3-positives-and-negatives-of-dante-exums-play-in-fiba-warmups/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 21:41:57 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12697 Author information
Freelance Friday
Freelance Friday
The post above is one of our Freelance Friday posts, giving those from the Jazz community as a whole a chance to contribute to Salt City Hoops.
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(news.com.au)

(news.com.au)

Editor’s note: This is one of our Freelance Friday posts, a chance for users from around the Jazz community to contribute to Salt City Hoops. This post was written by Brad Tilley. Brad (@bradjtilley) is a devoted Jazz fan who can’t watch a game without keeping player and team stats in his head. He is also an Analytics Consultant who lives in Bountiful with his wife and two-year old daughter.

Hi, my name is Brad Tilley and… I am addicted to watching Dante Exum play basketball. You can chalk it up to the fact that he gives me a reinvigorated hope that the Jazz might have drafted a player that can help lift them back into competitive relevancy in the coming years.

Most recently, I have fed my addiction by watching his national team exhibition games leading up to the FIBA World Cup this weekend. Sadly, only 3 of the Australian national team games could be viewed on replay. I did an analytical breakdown of those three games, which pitted the Aussies against Finland, Lithuania and the Philippines. Here is my analysis:

The Positives

  • Currently, Dante has two great natural skills. The first is his court vision and passing, which is extremely fun to watch. In the 3 games, he averaged 5.3 assists/game in just over 19 MPG. Adjusted for playing 30 minutes a game (my estimate for his playing time this year), that equates to 8.1 assists/30 minutes. Those  stats are even more impressive given that  he has been a co-point guard with Matthew Dellavedova on the national team; a similar situation as this upcoming season may hold! Oh, and he averaged about 3 hockey assists/30 minutes as well. His court awareness at his age is stunning.
  • Dante’s second natural skill is his speed. Although he isn’t aggressively looking for his shot at this point in his development, he drew 3 fouls/30 minutes on his dribble-drives. Most of these came when he was blowing by his defender on the fast break or in the half-court. He did get lost on defense a few times, but for the most part he used his speed and quickness well while defending on the perimeter.
  • As you can see from the shot chart below, Exum takes what are typically thought of as highly-efficient shots. He took one mid-range jumper over the three games, and the other 23 shots were either 3-pointers or within 8 feet of the basket. This tendency is definitely in line with the desirable shots of the new offense that Quin Snyder is instituting.
Dante Exum's shooting in the 3-game sample.

Dante Exum’s shooting in the 3-game sample.

The Negatives

  • Those corner-threes. The sad part: all of those 7 corner threes were  open looks. With Trey and Dante sharing the point guard duties, when Trey is running the pick and roll, Dante will most likely be parked in the corner. He is still young, so I’m hoping he could develop a serviceable 3-point shot a la Kawhi Leonard, who was not a shooter at all at San Diego State.
  • Dante shot a dismal 5 free throws over his 9 exhibition games;and he only made one of those. Yikes. From the shot chart (and personally watching him) you can tell that he gets to the rack, he’s just not to the point of seeking contact at the rim yet. Instead, he’s either going in uncontested or most likely dishing the ball off. He did have one sick drive and floater in Jonas Valanciunas’ face though.
  • Exum’s playmaking ability was consistent, but his shooting was not. Against sub-par competition (i.e. Finland, the Philippines), he shot 51.5% from the field. In the three games against France and Lithuania, he only shot 27.3%. As we also saw in the summer league, Dante is going to have to adjust to the higher level of competition.

 

 

Author information

Freelance Friday
Freelance Friday
The post above is one of our Freelance Friday posts, giving those from the Jazz community as a whole a chance to contribute to Salt City Hoops.
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Utah Jazz Roster Additions: Dee Bost, Kevin Murphy, and Jack Cooley http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-roster-additions-dee-bost-kevin-murphy-and-jack-cooley/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-roster-additions-dee-bost-kevin-murphy-and-jack-cooley/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:25:03 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12607 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE

Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE

While training camp is still several weeks away, the Utah Jazz roster is starting to materialize quickly. In the past week, three names have emerged: point guard Dee Bost, shooting guard Kevin Murphy and forward Jack Cooley. Who are these players and realistically, what are their chances of making the regular season roster? Let’s take a look.

Dee Bost, 6’2″, 176 lbs, 24 years old, Rookie

Bost is perhaps the most intriguing, because it is known that he has a modest guarantee ($65,000 this year) built-in to his three-year pact. That is not known yet with Murphy or Cooley.  He showed consistent improvement during his four seasons at Mississippi State, tallying 15.8 PPG and 5.5 APG as a senior and All-SEC first team performer. Bost went undrafted in 2012. He encountered some trouble–a 14-game NCAA suspension as a result of not withdrawing properly from the 2010 NBA Draft, along with some academic issues.

Bost is an all-around player, as displayed in college and thus far in his professional career. This is evidenced by his stat-stuffing numbers last year in the D-League: 15.2 PPG, 6.1 RPG and 8.4 APG, along with 2.1 SPG. His shooting was less stellar–just 36.2 percent from the floor and 29.3 percent from beyond the arc (on 7 attempts per outing). He was an D-League All-Star with the Idaho Stampede and earned All-Defensive team honors, as well. While his wingspan (6’3.25″) is not eye-opening, he seems to have a propensity for playing the passing lanes.

He played summer league for the Portland Trailblazers in 2012 and inked a deal with them in 2013, only to be waived during the preseason.  Bost spent time overseas the past two seasons. He most recently toiled for the Indiana Pacers’ summer entry (5.8 PPG, 2.2 APG).

Kevin Murphy, 6’6″, 185 lbs, 24 years old, 2nd season

While the Jazz have not made a formal announcement, several sources indicate the guard will be in the fold for training camp. Murphy is clearly a familiar face, being the franchise’s lone draft pick in 2012 (47th pick). The Tennessee Tech product struggled in his lone NBA season, earning only 52 total minutes (0.9 PPG). Murphy was shipped out to the Golden State Warriors in the asset-accumulating move that netted Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush and Andris Biedrins, along with a bevy of draft picks. He was promptly waived and then spent a spell in France.

After that, Murphy tore it up with the Idaho Stampede of the D-League last season. Displaying some impressive shooting (48 percent field goals, 38.6 percent 3s and 85.1 percent on free throws), Murphy averaged 25.5 PPG, good for second behind Pierre Jackson. After notching a 50-point game in college, he bested that with a 51-point explosion for Idaho (this included a league-record 21 made field goals).

Jack Cooley, 6’9″, 246 lbs, 23 years old, Rookie

Cooley is someone that Utah has had its eye on the past year. The Jazz had him in both for pre-draft workouts and as part of free agent mini camps. The bruising forward showed steady improvement at Notre Dame, averaging a 13.1 PPG/10.1 RPG double-double senior year. Despite the All-Big East first team accolades, he too went undrafted.

The bruising forward spent time with both the Houston Rockets and Memphis Grizzlies’ summer league teams. From some accounts, Cooley had received a lot of attention from NBA teams, some of whom presented some partially guaranteed contracts. He opted to play in Turkey last season and is giving the NBA another try.

With 13 players with contracts for the 2014-2015 season and forward Brock Motum, this trio brings the Jazz training camp roster up to 17. Utah will undoubtedly invite the maximum number of players possible, seeing as it gives them a close look at individuals they like.

What are the chances for these three?

The Jazz will most likely be adding a third point guard and Bost will compete for that role (Ian Clark may also get a good look here). Of the threesome of free agents, he may have the best chance.

The swingmen and power forward spots are already seemingly stocked, so it may be even more of an uphill battle for Murphy and Cooley. If Murphy is to stick, it will be because of improvement from his last Jazz stint and his ability to make shots. With Clark and Carrick Felix already on the roster, this may be a challenge. With the front court depth, Cooley will be fighting with Brock Motum for a final roster spot.

With the Jazz uniting with the Idaho Stampede this offseason, any training camp cuts could find themselves with a roster spot in Boise. While the team traditionally keeps one vacant spot for flexibility’s sake, if they like players, it would not be surprising to see a full roster with 15 guys. Likewise, if any of the  invitees impresses, it is not beyond reason for the Jazz to cut someone with guaranteed money or make a trade as necessary.

As has been mentioned often, Utah’s front office does its homework on players and only invites players who they are intrigued with–players who might provide some healthy competition for a roster spot.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Trey Burke Video Scouting Report http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-scouting-report/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-video-scouting-report/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:21:43 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12571 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak - NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak – NBAE via Getty Images

After the expected departures of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap during the 2013 offseason, it was apparent that the Jazz were in the midst of an extended rebuilding period. While that chapter of the franchise was on the verge of beginning, they already had some key, young pieces that were set to become the pillars for the future of the team. Those names included a slew of former top 10 picks(Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors), who would to be looked upon to step up as leaders of an organization. However, in that same summer, that trio was met with a new partner, as they were joined by former Michigan guard Trey Burke.

By being the team’s first real young point guard since Deron Williams, the fanbase’s attention was immediately transfixed to the Michigan alum. Though before he was able to make his much-anticipated Jazz debut, Burke ran into a minor road block by suffering a bone fracture in his right index finger, which held him out for the first few weeks of the season.

Following his recovery and subsequent Jazz debut, it took a while for Burke to showcase those skills that pushed him to being the top point guard prospect in that years’ draft. Another aspect holding him was the fact that he was inserted into that starting role without getting a chance to develop chemistry with his new teammates.

As the season started to progress, it was apparent that Burke was starting to become more comfortable with the NBA pace and his role with team. As that comfort level started to increase, so did his chemistry with Utah’s first unit, as he developed an extremely solid pick and roll connection with Derrick Favors. During their first season together, that Favors and Burke duo successfully connected 67 times, which is bound to improve during the upcoming season.

Besides his chemistry with Favors, Burke was able to showcase himself as an extremely solid and efficient distributor. By utilizing that previously mentioned pick and roll connection with Favors, Burke was easily able to penetrate from the perimeter to open up a bevy of different possibilities. One of those potential options included making his way towards the paint to ultimately kick it out to one of his Jazz teammates on the perimeter. That effective playmaking ability was showcased by the fact that Burke had an extremely solid 3.02 Ast/TO ratio, which exceeded the likes of Kyle Lowry, Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio.

Apart from his continued improvement as an excellent distributor, Burke wasn’t able to maintain any level of consistency on the offensive end. While he has been able to showcase an ability to score from  most spots on the court, Burke wasn’t really able to get into a rhythm because of the previously mentioned injury on his shooting hand. Even when he was able to use Favors’ pick-and-rolls to help create some open mid-range or perimeter shots, he just struggled to consistently knock them down. That lack of consistency is showcased by his extremely pedestrian 47.3% true shooting percentage, lowest among the players that were consistently in Utah’s rotation.

With the transition to his sophomore season, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see those offensive woes subside. While he struggled to consistently score, Burke showcased a certain amount of comfort in his offensive movements. He rarely looked over aggressive or tentative with the ball in his hands, a rarity for a rookie.

Transitioning over to the defensive end, Burke was the definition of a mixed bag. While he was consistently able to move swiftly on offense, Burke always appeared to be a step or two behind the opposition. Perhaps the main example of that are his struggles with defending the pick-and-roll. In those sets, Burke consistently looked tentative about whether to work over or under the offensive screen. As he gets more accustomed to defending NBA offenses, it should be expected to see those issues diminish, even though he’ll probably never be perfect.
When he’s in man-to-man scenarios, Burke has the appearance of being a solid and focused defender. Even though there are instances where quicker opponents are able to drive past him, Burke is consistently able to be in an ideal position, temporarily hiding those previously mentioned flaws.

As Burke looks to start his 2nd NBA season, there are some questions regarding his future with the team, after Utah selected Aussie point guard Dante Exum with their 8th overall pick. While it’s likely that the rookie guard will initially have a major role inside Utah’s rotation, because of Exum’s unique 6’5 frame, head coach Quin Snyder should be able to find a way to creatively combine Burke with the rookie.

Besides the previously mentioned concerns regarding his fit with Exum, the sophomore season of Trey Burke is going to be an extremely intriguing. While Burke’s skills as a facilitator will beimportant to the future of the players that surround him, he’s going to have become a more consistent offensive threat. Even though that consistency wasn’t showcased during his rookie campaign, Burke is going to be entering the upcoming season 100% healthy, a huge improvement over how he started his rookie season.

While there are a handful of clear flaws in Burke’s game that should diminish as he starts the upcoming season, the influence that he has on the future of the Jazz organization is massive. With Burke entering training camp at full strength, he’ll able to establish that necessary chemistry with his Utah teammates. That combination of team chemistry and Burke’s natural passing instincts should be one of the most intriguing things to watch for as we move closer to the upcoming season.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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