Salt City Hoops http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Thu, 21 Aug 2014 21:14:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg 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/ 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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Coach Quin Snyder: Communication and Development http://saltcityhoops.com/coach-quin-snyder-communication-and-development/ http://saltcityhoops.com/coach-quin-snyder-communication-and-development/#comments Wed, 20 Aug 2014 20:32:19 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12598 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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QS

Elsa/Getty Images

Listening to this recent interview with Quin Snyder, I came away so impressed with a few things:

  • He’s incredibly articulate. You’d expect that from someone with a J.D./M.B.A., but it’s still wonderfully refreshing to listen to him in an interview. He gives insightful answers to questions, and gives more details and specifics than I’m used to hearing from a coach.
  • He’s put a lot of thought into coaching. Any coach who writes pages upon pages about pick-and-roll defense is something who has spent a lot of time analyzing all possible angles of a play, literally and figuratively.
  • You can tell he places a lot of value on communication and interpersonal relationships. From Gordon Hayward discussing his chats with Coach Q (having nothing to do with basketball, but everything to do with Gordon as a person and his life), to DeMarre Carroll talking about Snyder’s interest in his game’s improvement, and how Snyder was the first coach to really help him develop specific aspects of his game.
  • Development. This is something Jazz fans have been hearing about for years, but it feels like Snyder is a coach who will practice what he preaches. He talked about how, with no disrespect to the college, the NBA game agrees with him a bit more, and part of that is that, if you draft a player, you have him for at least 4-5 years, and potentially longer if offer sheets are matched when the player’s restricted.

I want to especially focus on the last two points: communication, interpersonal relationships, and trust; and development.

Communication, interpersonal relationships, and trust

Snyder was asked, “How do you get guys to trust?” He responded by saying, in part, that it’s going to require faith on the players’ part. He’s going to ask for an opportunity, he’s going to be real, and he’s going to show them who he is. “I think the biggest thing is to try not to force it.” It takes a lot of inner security and confidence within oneself to say that–and mean it.

Where he really impressed me is by saying, “Then it’s up to you, the things you’re going to say and coach them with integrity. And if you make a mistake–and you will–’Hey, I was wrong.’”

That humility and that willingness to own up to mistakes can be a powerful motivator for the players and can show them how serious Snyder is about developing a relationship of trust with each of the players. Any time someone genuinely apologizes to you for an error on his or her part, it can’t help but provide an opportunity for the relationship to grow stronger or deepen.

Ever since his hire, Snyder has discussed how much coaching is about teaching and how you have to really love teaching in order to be an effective coach.

Development

I’m a bit of a nerd, so I love definitions. Here are some of the Dictionary.com definitions for “develop”:

1.to bring out the capabilities or possibilities of; bring to a more advanced or effective state: to develop natural resources; to develop one’s musical talent.

2. to cause to grow or expand: to develop one’s muscles.

One of the frustrations many Jazz fans have had over the last few years is that we never really got to know exactly what we have in the Core 4 of Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, and Alec Burks. Whether sporadic playing time, being asked to play a different position, being shuffled in between the starting lineup and coming off the bench, or being stuck behind a veteran a couple years shy of retirement (and a couple years past effectiveness?), we still don’t know what we have.

Enter Snyder. Ideally, given all his talk about love of player development (and DeMarre Carroll’s discussion of Snyder’s effect ON his development), we’ll begin to see the current roster shaped to a more advanced or effective state. We’ll see the capabilities of the players more than we saw before.

Will we see examples those definitions above? Will we see Enes Kanter given the green light–and will he have the range–to shoot threes? Will Alec Burks be more creative on offense–while still working within an offense? Will Gordon Hayward find the offensive load more balanced and spread among teammates so he can be the jack-of-all-trades player at which he excels? Will Derrick Favors be able to develop more of a two-way game, and perhaps a go-to move?

So, Jazz fans, are you feeling a difference in discussion from Quin Snyder? What do you think will be his forte?

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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The NBA’s Goaltending Leaders http://saltcityhoops.com/the-nbas-goaltending-leaders/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-nbas-goaltending-leaders/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 05:43:16 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12584 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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Serge Ibaka blocks Matt Barnes' layup during this season's NBA playoffs. But how often does he goaltend?

Serge Ibaka goes for the block on Tony Parker’s shot during this year’s NBA playoffs. But how often does Ibaka goaltend? (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Goaltending is awesome.

Basketball players have an unfortunate choice: they can sky above the rim and forcefully reject a shot in a direction of their choosing, or they can meekly hope a shot misses so they may gather the rebound. The former is a remarkable feat limited to only the most athletic and genetically gifted of humans, an artistic feat of animal expression. The latter is a game delay while gravity takes its course. Unfortunately, the rules have chosen to punish goaltending. Lame.

But which players are the most likely to break the goaltending rules? To find out, I used a play-by-play database of the 2013-14 NBA season, acquired using APBRForums’ user kpascual’s NBAscrape Python tool. Essentially, this tool goes to the play-by-play section of every NBA game on NBA.com, and saves the contents to a database to use for whatever kind of basketball analysis you want, including a lot of stuff that wouldn’t be available in the box score. Today, we’re looking at goaltends, because they’re awesome.

In the 2013-14 NBA season, 758 offensive and defensive goaltends took place, or an average of 0.616 goaltends per NBA game. Below is the list of all of the NBA players with more than 10.

Total Goaltend Leaders, 2013-14 season.

Total Goaltending Leaders, 2013-14 season.

We have a tie! Serge Ibaka and Andre Drummond are co-champions of the goaltend, going above and slightly-too-far beyond to protect their team’s rim. While they were often caught, both players had big moments last season during missed goaltending calls. Ibaka had several high-profile goaltends-turned-blocks in the NBA Playoffs (including this one), while Drummond somehow escaped being punished for this:

Both Plumlee brothers finish amongst the top group, and Jazzman Derrick Favors barely makes the list. What about offensive goaltending alone?

2013-14 Offensive Goaltending leaders

2013-14 Offensive Goaltending Leaders

Drummond and Ibaka again top this list, showing that goaltending violations are probably reflective of eagerness, rather than an innate desire to protect the rim. Here’s the list of defensive goaltending leaders:

2013-14 Defensive Goaltending leaders.

2013-14 Defensive Goaltending leaders

At the top: Ibaka and Drummond, but Dwight Howard also goaltends on D quite frequently too. Since this is a Utah Jazz site, I’ll include all of the Utah Jazz’s goaltends last season:

2013-14 Utah Jazz Goaltending

2013-14 Utah Jazz Goaltending

Sadly, the Jazz didn’t go for the style points while losing, goaltending just 23 times last season, an average of only .28 goaltends per game.

If you’d like to look up your favorite team or player’s goaltending data, don’t fret. The whole 2013-14 season of goaltending data is available for download here 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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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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TeamSPACE and the Jazz’s “Core Five” http://saltcityhoops.com/teamspace-and-the-jazzs-core-five/ http://saltcityhoops.com/teamspace-and-the-jazzs-core-five/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 19:07:09 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12559 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 contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Earlier in the week, I spent some time breaking down last year’s Jazz starting (and most-used) lineup using shooting data expertly compiled by Matt D’Anna of Nylon Calculus – how the five-man unit as a whole as well as individuals within it functioned in terms of their shot selection, frequency, and effectiveness. Continuing the nerd-out today, we’ll turn an eye toward the future pieces within the franchise. How did Utah’s “Core Five” lineup stack up from Matt’s TeamSPACE perspective last year? The lineup played 122 minutes together over 24 different games, per NBA.com, so they don’t have as large a sample to draw on as the starters from last year, but such a sample is still easily large enough (214 FGA) to draw conclusions from. Here’s the chart:

Jazz1314core5

The TeamSPACE chart for Burke/Burks/Hayward/Favors/Kanter.

And just for the purposes of convenient contrasting, here’s the chart I used earlier in the week for last year’s starters:

Jazz most-used lineup: Burke/Hayward/Jefferson/Williams/Favors in 13-14

Jazz most-used lineup: Burke/Hayward/Jefferson/Williams/Favors in 13-14

The Not-So-Good:

We’ll begin with the areas that still need work this time around, in part to mix things up and in part because, despite a still-flawed chart for the core youngsters, I think there are a few more areas of promise to highlight here. These are mostly individual areas, though – on the team level, it’s likely this chart showcases even less overall direction and efficiency than that of the starters. Smaller, somewhat isolated splotches are even more frequent, particularly those in the longer midrange areas.

The “in-between” areas, between at-the-hoop looks and midrange, are far too populated with clusters. These shots aren’t necessarily bad from time to time, but in larger groups generally tend to indicate either frequently rebuffed driving attempts or rushed shots after rebounds and at the end of the shot clock. Perhaps worst of all, though, is the way their activity from beyond the arc was so staggered and inconsistent – the group certainly has work to do in terms of spreading the floor and finding the areas that will best stretch defenses. Of nine Utah lineups with over 100 total minutes last year, this one shot the second-fewest three-point attempts and had the fewest makes.

Of course, much of this is entirely understandable. This unit had no members over the age of 24, had never played together before Trey Burke’s debut, and certainly wasn’t helped much by Ty Corbin’s refusal to start or play them many sustained minutes throughout the year. It’s easy to see how that translates into a lack of in-depth understanding from each player of their individual role within the lineup, and it’s a big part of why there’s so much visible overlapping between guys. But there are positives to glean for multiple individuals within the chart (more below).

The Good:

After all the flack his shooting has taken from myself and basically the entire known basketball world these last few months, you bet Gordon Hayward gets the first mention here. His chart within the core five group last year, while still far from ideal given the role Utah wants to see him in long term, was a major improvement over the performance he put forth as part of the starting unit. Barely visible in much of the halfcourt with the starters despite his nominal “first option” title, Hayward’s red clusters appear in a far more prevalent way with the rest of the youngsters – and with better results, as well. Per nbawowy.com, Hayward had an Effective Field-Goal Percentage of 47.4 with the starters, a figure that skyrocketed to 55.3 when he played with the core unit. Gordon is far too spread out in an overall sense, but his increased activity with this lineup showcases a comfort level and sense of responsibility that will prove vital as the team works its way up to contender status. It’d be nice to see him move some of those longer midrange shots back beyond the arc, but of course spacing plays a big role here and often isn’t under his control.

Alec Burks also receives a mostly positive grade here, though like both Burke and Hayward his selection is somewhat all over the place. Burks did rank in the top third of guards for “In the Paint (Non-RA)” percentage, but a slightly sub-40-percent figure from there again has me wishing he’d eliminate some of those in-between looks. That said, he was likely the best of the three guards at somewhat clustering his locations. I’ve talked before about his off-the-bounce game being notably more effective when going to his right hand, and either defenses noticed also or Alec wasn’t doing a good enough job getting to those spots – larger clusters to his left side would likely be better served if they were going to his stronger hand. But overall, he seems to be grasping his role reasonably, loading up from distance and in close while hopefully limiting his midrange to more of a secondary option going forward.

I was surprised to see such little activity from Kanter, the de facto shooter at the big position within this lineup. In particular, the (shooter’s) left baseline is noticeably bare of jumpers from the big Turk, despite it being easily his most common and most effective jump-shooting area over the full season. Whether this speaks to positioning issues with Favors, opportunity issues given the three guards, or something else entirely, I’d expect Enes to make himself more known within these sort of lineups this season, particularly if his midrange game continues the solid upward trajectory it’s followed thus far in his career. But outside this, he’s doing what he should – sticking to shots in his office by the hoop, with a few selective splotches from midrange to complement it. Favors and Burke don’t show too many marked departures from their performances with the starting lineup, so many of the same talking points apply for them.

As a unit, while the entire picture likely isn’t as pretty as we might like, to my eye there’s plenty of promise. Hayward and Burks are clearly comfortable with their young peers, and both are reaching an age where shot selection refinement is a common addition to a player’s game. The group is almost insanely young, and a fairly large amount of improvement across the board, particularly from Burke as he enters his sophomore season, isn’t out of the question whatsoever. They’ll be a lock to well exceed their total minutes last year barring major injury, likely in more sustained periods where they can really nail down the chemistry aspect. And of course, all five have another year of experience under their belts, a heralded player development staff newly on board, and a new scheme within which to operate. Can’t wait to team back up with Matt and take a look at their progress as the season takes shape.

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 contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Jody Genessy On The Beat Writer Life – Salt City Hoops Podcast http://saltcityhoops.com/jody-genessy-on-the-beat-writer-life-salt-city-hoops-podcast/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jody-genessy-on-the-beat-writer-life-salt-city-hoops-podcast/#comments Thu, 14 Aug 2014 18:22:40 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12554 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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@jashin_mizuho's great portrait of Jody Genessy (left) and Utah Jazz PR director Jonathan Rinehart (right).

@jashin_mizuho’s great portrait of Jody Genessy (left) and Utah Jazz PR director Jonathan Rinehart (right).

On this week’s episode of the Salt City Hoops Podcast, we interview the Deseret News’ Utah Jazz beat reporter, Jody Genessy, about life as an NBA beat writer. We talk about the long hours and the perks of Marriott status. We also go behind the scenes and find out what it’s like to interview LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and find out who on the Jazz is the best interview. We also talk about our favorite coaches to interview… where do Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, and Doc Rivers rank? All that, plus the Crazy Trade Idea of the Week, on this mid-August edition of the Salt City Hoops Podcast!

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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http://saltcityhoops.com/jody-genessy-on-the-beat-writer-life-salt-city-hoops-podcast/feed/ 2 On this week's episode of the Salt City Hoops Podcast, we interview the Deseret News' Utah Jazz beat reporter, Jody Genessy, about life as an NBA beat writer. We talk about the long hours and the perks of Marriott status. On this week's episode of the Salt City Hoops Podcast, we interview the Deseret News' Utah Jazz beat reporter, Jody Genessy, about life as an NBA beat writer. We talk about the long hours and the perks of Marriott status. We also go behind the scenes and find out what it's like to interview LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and find out who on the Jazz is the best interview. We also talk about our favorite coaches to interview... where do Jason Kidd, Mark Jackson, and Doc Rivers rank? All that, plus the Crazy Trade Idea of the Week, on this mid-August edition of the Salt City Hoops Podcast! Salt City Hoops no 50:04
A History of Left-Handed Utah Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com/a-history-of-left-handed-utah-jazz-players/ http://saltcityhoops.com/a-history-of-left-handed-utah-jazz-players/#comments Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:48:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12542 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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this-day-05-13

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

In case you were not aware, August 13th is officially Left-Handers Day. With that in mind, and because it is also interesting to review Jazz history,  it seems fitting that Salt City Hoops takes a look back at Utah’s southpaws.

According to Basketball Reference, there have been 17 left-handed players in franchise history:

Mark Eaton: Eaton could be one of the most improbable stories in NBA history. A bit player at UCLA, he was working as the world’s tallest auto mechanic when Jazz coach Frank Layden discovered him. Through hard work, Eaton became an absolute defensive force. A two-time Defensive Player of the Year (with five All-Defensive team honors along the way), the 7’4″ center paced the NBA in blocked shots four times. He posted an NBA record with 456 swats (5.56 BPG) in 1984-85 and finished with a league-best 3.5 BPG career mark. Eaton also made one All-Star team and had his #53 retired by the Jazz. Injuries hampered the twilight of his career, but he did not miss more than three games in any of his 10 first seasons. And in the historic 1988 second-round series, Eaton gave Kareem Abdul-Jabbar fits. Not bad for a left-handed center taken in the fourth round.

C.J. Miles: Miles is sometimes maligned among Jazz fans, as there seemed to be untapped potential in the athletic, talented swingman. In fairness to him, it should be remembered that Miles was a second-round pick drafted right out of high school. Miles was a classic streaky shooter. There were outings like his 40-point performance in 2011. There were also games where he shot himself out of the game. All in all, Miles gave Utah seven solid seasons and will be asked to step up in Indiana in wake of Paul George’s injury.

John Crotty: Crotty spent five seasons backing-up John Stockton over two stints. While his first three years were so-so, his return to Utah was much more productive (6.9 PPG, 3.4 APG with some great shooting numbers in 2001-02). The lefty was a crafty player who, as a solid locker room presence, went from undrafted rookie to 11-year career.

Freddie Boyd: The little-known guard toiled for three seasons in New Orleans, having his best campaign in 1977 (9.9 PPG, 3.1 APG).

Gail Goodrich: The five-time All-Star and former All-NBA guard finished a nice career with the New Orleans Jazz, signing as a free agent in 1976. While injuries and age were factors, Goodrich had three nice seasons, posting 16.1 PPG and 4.8 APG in 1977-78.

Stephen Howard: Another “two-timing” Jazz player, Howard was a surprisingly productive player in his sparse playing time. He was the 12th man on the memorable 1997 NBA Finals squad.

Allan Bristow: An all-around utility player, Bristow had a pair of solid seasons in an Utah uniform. In 1979-80, he put up 11.6 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 4.2 APG for the Jazz.  “Disco” also played one year in the ABA. Bristow went on to coach the entertaining, early 1990s Charlotte Hornets squads that featured Larry Johnson and Muggsy  Bogues.

James Donaldson: The former Dallas Mavericks stalwart and former All-Star spent his final two years with the Jazz, signing twice as insurance for the injured Eaton and Felton Spencer. At 37 years old, he even started for Utah his final year.

Carl Nicks: Nicks backed up Rickey Green for two seasons, averaging 7.4 PPG but just 1.1 APG in 16.5 MPG in 1981-82.

Derek Fisher: Much has been said about Fisher’s departure from the Jazz, but he was a heady influence on a young  team that made it to the Western Conference Finals. He was acquired from the Golden State Warriors for a song (Andre Owens, Devin Brown and Keith McLeod). In an interesting move, Jerry Sloan opted to start the 6’1″ Fisher at shooting guard alongside Deron Williams. His numbers were not stellar (10.1 PPG on 38% FGs and 3o% 3s), but he added another playmaker who could hold his own defensively. And his game 2 effort versus the Warriors is among the most memorable moments in Jazz history.

Calbert Cheaney: Cheaney was another in a long-line of vets the Jazz signed in hopes of keeping the Stockton/Malone teams in contention. The left-handed spent just one year with Utah as the starting shooting guard. He was unspectacular, averaging just 8.6 PPG in 29.0 MPG (and just 4.4 PPG in the Playoffs).

There were several other southpaws who spent just one season with Utah, including Andris Biedrins last year (the others: Keon Clark, Todd Fuller, Brooks Thompson, Aaron Williams, Terry Furlow and Neal Walk).

Utah adds one more left-hander this year in rookie Rodney Hood. Hood’s stealthy play in summer league has Jazz faithful excited about his potential to be an impactful player for years to come.

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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How Ready is Rudy Gobert? http://saltcityhoops.com/how-ready-is-rudy-gobert/ http://saltcityhoops.com/how-ready-is-rudy-gobert/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 20:52:24 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12468 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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Could Rudy Gobert really be about to lap Enes Kanter, as SCH's founder predicted? (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Could Rudy Gobert really be about to lap Enes Kanter, as SCH’s founder predicted? (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

If you like bold predictions, then the recent throwback installment of the Salt City Hoops podcast is right up your alley.

Among other gutsy calls, SCH founder Spencer Hall said he expects Rudy Gobert to play his way past teammate Enes Kanter on the Jazz’s depth chart during this upcoming season. There’s no dearth of excitement about Gobert’s tools and talent, but Spencer’s specific boldness seemed unprecedented enough to invite a conversation.

Could Gobert be ready to leapfrog his friend and go from fringe rotation player to major minute guy? What would it take? Today, we read the tea leaves relative to the battle for big man minutes.

Why it could happen

At first blush, you see things to make you think Spencer’s not that crazy. Several of Gobert’s numbers are closer to Kanter’s than you might think: they both shoot 49% from the field, and in terms of total value, Gobert adds .045 WS per 48 to Kanter’s .050. They certainly add that value in different ways, but viewed at the broadest possible level, you realize Gobert is already close in terms of per-minute value.

Gobert is already an elite rebounder, with the 7th highest total rebound percentage of any player with at least 100 minutes. His block percentage is amazing, too: 7.4% of what opponents put up while Rudy is on the floor gets sent back by the big guy. That number is second only to Cole Aldrich. Rebounds and blocks are two numbers that generally hold up OK on a per-minute basis when playing time is increased.

If Gobert works his way ahead of Kanter in the short term, it will likely be because of his defense. It’s hard to find a statistically significant category where Gobert isn’t much better defensively. He gets baited into more shooting fouls, but that’s to be expected from a rim protector.

What held Gobert back on that end was defensive understanding. Too often he freestyled, jumping out of system to do what he thought was the right thing, and leaving four teammates out on a limb. But I’m encouraged by what we saw on the court and what he said off of it in his time at the Las Vegas Summer League. Getting him to understand team defense and be in the right places appears to be a focal point. When he’s tuned in, he can absolutely dictate what’s going to happen on the defensive end for long stretches, and not a lot of players can do that.

Gobert’s defensive FG% at the rim was 10 percentage points better than Kanter’s and the best on the team. In fact, he was 8th in the league in that stat among players who defended at least one such play per game in at least 40 games last season. That tells us that, if the discipline is there, he might not be far from being an elite defensive player already.

Top 10 rim defenders w/ at least 40 GP and 1 rim FGA defended per game. Source: stats.nba.com

Top 10 rim defenders w/ at least 40 GP and 1 rim FGA defended per game. Source: stats.nba.com

 

Why he might not be there yet

While their shooting numbers overall are closer than one might expect, the composition of Gobert’s offensive game is very different from Kanter’s. The latter is an able mid-range threat, with healthy portions of his used possessions coming at that range, and with pretty good results for a big man. Not so with Gobert.

A whopping 99% of Gobert’s attempts — and literally all of his points from the field — came from inside 10 feet. Even in the 3-10 foot category, Gobert hit just 13% of his shots, so we’re basically talking about a guy who’s not an offensive weapon if he’s not within arm’s reach of the hoop. And while his Summer League performance was encouraging in overall terms, it wasn’t a departure from this script. Of his 19 Summer League field goals, 18 were in the immediate basket area — the other a short jumper created off a teammate’s drive.

There’s something to be said for knowing who you are, and the fact that nearly 80% of his attempts come around the rim shows that Gobert understands his limitations. But it’s hard to play 4-on-5 on offense, and unless Gobert is sitting on the rim, that’s essentially what the Jazz have to do with him out there. The sub-.500 free throw shooting doesn’t help things much.

Passing is another area where Gobert is wanting. He had a total of just seven assists last season – all season!  It doesn’t look good even on a per-minute basis; if Gobert played 24 minutes per game, he’d have an assist about every third game. And it’s not just assists – he doesn’t pass a lot, period. According to the NBA’s player tracking, he had fewer passes per minute played than any other Jazz player (although Kanter was close).

 

What he’d have to improve to move up on the depth chart 

More than anything, Gobert has to address his free throw shooting if he’s going to spend 20+ minutes per night on the court. You can’t shoot 49% from the line and be on the court in any kind of pressure situations.

There’s a chance that in improving his technique relative to free throws, he might even develop a nice touch for short jumpers. If so, that’s gravy. He doesn’t necessarily need that; you can play big minutes in the middle for a good team even if your offensive range is limited. But any improvements in his offensive ability would help justify his minutes enough to unleash the havoc of his defense on other teams.

He also needs to get better at effectively and legally screening. Especially since he’s already a less-than-ideal P&R partner given that he can’t pop off the pick, it is extremely important that he not further diminish his effectiveness on the screen with offensive fouls or bad positioning.

And, as mentioned, he must improve as a ball mover. I wish we had player tracking from Vegas to see if he’s understanding and embracing Quin Snyder’s hot potato ideology. He and Kanter were the only Jazz men last year to pass the ball less than once per minute played. Again, seven assists in a season is just not enough.

 

But for now… it’s Kanter’s to lose

Gobert has a lot going for him, especially in terms of physical tools. But for now, I think Kanter has the inside lane on this one. In terms of skill areas, Kanter is far enough ahead that I think he really controls his own fate. If he does the little things, the things that require focus and discipline, I can’t imagine him surrendering too many rotation minutes to Gobert of anybody else.

Put another way: it’s easier for a highly skilled player to improve overnight in terms of effort and energy than for a raw player to improve overnight in terms of skill.

Of course, this isn’t about pitting players against one another, and the Jazz would do well to help both Kanter and Gobert realize their full potential. And either way this particular discussion turns out, the Jazz should gain from a developmental standpoint. If Gobert does indeed lap Kanter, it means he has developed enough offensively and figured out how to channel his unique, elite defensive abilities. If he doesn’t, it means Kanter has improved his focus and habits, and is doing the little things it takes to win.

When you win 25 games, nobody’s job is guaranteed, so I’m sure everybody will have to come to camp ready to earn things. But as of today, I think Kanter is penciled pretty heavily into that second big slot.

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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TeamSPACE and the 13-14 Jazz, Part 1 http://saltcityhoops.com/teamspace-and-the-13-14-jazz-part-1/ http://saltcityhoops.com/teamspace-and-the-13-14-jazz-part-1/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 19:08:38 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12485 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 contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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The NBA may take the summer off, particularly the typically dead month of August, but nerdiness has no “season”, so neither do I. Last week I used this space to look at some contextualized elements of last season for the Jazz through the lens of SportVU tracking data, namely their shooting prowess (or lack thereof), passing and elements of rebounding. The week before, I used shot charts created by my Nylon Calculus colleague Austin Clemens to accentuate individual shooting and shot selection among vital Jazz pieces going forward.

In keeping with the theme of breaking down last season with a keen eye toward next, today I’ll be highlighting another remarkable project pioneered by a Nylon Calculus writer, Matt D’Anna. The data is affectionately referred to as TeamSPACE – an extrapolation of Austin’s excellent charts focused not on individuals, but rather on entire five-man units during their periods on the floor together over a given season. Before I say anything further, check out an example in the form of last year’s New York Knicks:

San Antonio Spurs 2013-14 TeamSPACE

New York Knicks 2013-14 TeamSPACE

Matt used the Knicks as part of his inaugural TeamSPACE introduction, where you can also find more detail on his methodology. In a nutshell, though, it’s easy enough to decipher; each player within a given lineup is marked with a color in the lower right corner, and said colors correspond to their shot clusters on the court. Again, these are shots taken only while this particular five-man unit shares the floor. One extra nugget is the presence of weighted values for made shots over missed ones – clusters are primarily based on volume of attempts from the given areas, but Matt included slightly heavier weights for makes as compared to misses, so a player who chucks away repeatedly from an area they never connect from will show a lighter cluster there, or even in extreme cases perhaps no cluster at all.

Today will be Part 1 of my investigation of Jazz shooting within lineups last season, where I’ll break down data from their most frequently-used lineup of Burke-Hayward-Jefferson-Williams-Favors. Let’s take a look at the chart:

Jazz most-used lineup: Burke/Hayward/Jefferson/Williams/Favors in 13-14

Jazz most-used lineup: Burke/Hayward/Jefferson/Williams/Favors in 13-14

The Good:

Part of what makes Matt’s work so interesting is that we can gauge both team and player context from the same visualization without sacrificing quality in either. Utah’s chart from last year is a prime example – within this lineup, Marvin Williams obviously stands out. Outside the Restricted Area (where all teams naturally clump up), he has the largest and most concentrated clusters of shots, particularly from beyond the 3-point arc. He has very few random blotches outside his preferred shooting areas, save for a few clusters from midrange that were frequently one-dribble step-ins after a close-out to the 3-point line from a defender. This type of clumping is almost always desirable, an indication that a player has identified his strongest areas and is taking steps to get to them regularly within the offense (more on this in a little).

Richard Jefferson was another positive through this lens, even more selective than Williams and rarely shooting from anywhere but beyond the arc or at the rim with this lineup. Derrick Favors also showed glimpses of range from the right block baseline up to free-throw line extended, but spread-out clusters here indicate that he hasn’t quite found a “sweet spot” or two to lean on, something he’ll need to work on if he wants to continue expanding his game away from the basket. And while I wish I could say more positive things about the guards’ showing here, the only major plus for Burke and Hayward was that the latter at least kept his chucking to some of the same general areas.

The Not-As-Good:

This shouldn’t surprise anyone by now, so I’ll just say it: This form of shot chart is just as ugly as any other metric we’ve attempted to analyze Jazz shooting with. I talked a couple paragraphs above about concentrated clustering being almost universally positive within this context, and Utah’s visualization displays nearly the exact opposite. Compare their chart above, for example, to last year’s NBA champion Spurs:

San Antonio Spurs 2013-14 TeamSPACE

San Antonio Spurs 2013-14 TeamSPACE

Obviously, comparing Utah’s performance to a legendary offense is foolish in a vacuum, but in this case it helps partially illustrate some of the issues they had shooting the ball and as an overall offense. Look at how much more spread out the Jazz were in their shot selection, and just how beautifully concentrated San Antonio’s individual clusters were within each player’s preferred zone. Kawhi Leonard, he of multi-talented Finals MVP-winning pedigree, was the only starter with even slightly varied clusters, and you might say he had an OK year last year – no one is complaining about his variety. And outside Leonard, it’s the embodiment of a team that knows their roles: Tony Parker and Tim Duncan handle the midrange, Danny Green bombs away from the wings and the corners, and Thiago Splitter cleans up and shoots almost exclusively near the hoop. There are slight exceptions likely born of player tendencies within the group, but this is a squad with pieces who know exactly what their roles are and remain constantly within them.

Contrast that with the Jazz and the picture is pretty ugly, especially as far as future pieces within last year’s starting lineup go. Favors, as I mentioned above, was valiant in attempting to extend his range, but he needs to take those little clumps and parlay them into larger ones in more concentrated areas. And though my readers must think I hate them after these last few weeks (I don’t), Burke and Hayward were very disappointing here, the former in particular. Trey’s clusters are littered all over the court, clumping heavily only near the basket. Hayward was a tad more selective, but still has splotches in several places and not even a sniff of one or two “go-to” areas.

As a team, these results are especially worrisome within a starting lineup designed by then-coach Ty Corbin specifically to improve Utah’s spacing after a dreadful shooting start. Some of it is certainly age, role and lack of experience – Williams and Jefferson are both veterans, and thus have had more time in the league to define their offensive games. But these factors aside, these are still professional basketball players, and both Burke and Hayward count basketball IQ as a positive element in their respective scouting reports. That neither was able to find any semblance of a niche for themselves even among improved spacing can’t be entirely overlooked, and should be one of new head coach Quin Snyder’s first priorities when instilling his system.

Like many elements of a disappointing year in 2013-14, there’s tons of context at play here. This is only a single lineup, albeit far and away Utah’s most-used, and they weren’t exactly playing within a solid offensive system. Also, while the young guards certainly need improvement, a refining of their offensive games is far from out of the question; Burke still has at least a two-year cushion before such a chart would incite truly ominous alarm bells, and the fact that “Hayward was outside his optimal role!” has been repeated ad nauseam doesn’t make it any less true. The NBA is fun in part because ugly situations can turn around so quickly, and despite several decidedly negative elements and their lingering stench, the Jazz have positioned themselves well to undergo just such a reversal should a couple chips fall their way.

Stay tuned later this week for Part 2 of my examination of last year’s Jazz using Matt D’Anna’s TeamSPACE visualization, when I’ll look at Utah’s “Core Five” lineup and forecast their prospects for the upcoming season both as individuals and as a unit.

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 contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Trevor Booker Video Scouting Report http://saltcityhoops.com/trevor-booker-video-scouting-report/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trevor-booker-video-scouting-report/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 17:47:44 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12519 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 Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Andy Larsen did a terrific piece on this very site about the different reasons behind Utah’s signing of veteran forward Trevor Booker. In that article, Larsen pointed out the level of energy and toughness that Booker brings to the court on a game-by-game basis. While he did bring up some other aspects of his overall game, the main focus was centered around the fact that Booker would add a unique element to the team’s front-court.

As we examine the overall landscape of Utah’s front-court, it becomes extremely hazy after you look away from the likes of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. While the progression of Rudy Gobert is still going to be one of the big focuses for Utah in the upcoming season, without Booker, the Jazz potentially faced a large hole in their front-court. Despite the fact that the addition of Booker probably won’t be a game-changing move for the team, he helps fills a void in Utah’s front-count.

While Booker does help give Utah some additional depth, the forward also helps bring a certain level of toughness and tenacity that was absent from the team during the prior season. As he stands as a 6’7 power forward, Booker fits perfectly into that label as “undersized” for his position. To counteract that natural weakness, Booker acts as one of the more energetic and ferocious players in the game. That ferocity is clearly apparent when the forward is boxing out the opposition on the offensive glass. Per 36 minutes, the 6’7 Booker pulled down 3.5 offensive boards, which would have put fourth on the Jazz behind Gobert, Kanter and Jeremy Evans.

Even though his slight length puts him at a disadvantage against the majority of front-court options, Booker is able to combine the previously mentioned energy and effort with an extremely large, muscular frame. He’s regularly able to overpower the opposition when he’s working inside the paint. While that strength allows him to collect offensive boards, the veteran forward has also been able to become a relatively solid low-post option.

Apparent from the above video, Booker is extremely comfortable when he’s working inside the low-post. While that strength is a huge part of his success, Booker possesses pretty solid footwork which allows him to maneuver his way past the opponent to get an easier look at the rim. With that in mind, Booker does maintain a solid right-handed hook shot which he uses on a regular basis. That solid combination of footwork and low-post moves allowed Booker to average .9 PPP (Points Per Possession), which is a great indication of how efficient he can be.

While not as important in his offensive arsenal as his work in the low-post, Trevor Booker has developed an under-the-radar mid-range jumper. While he tends to stay away from the perimeter with his jumpers, Booker is pretty effective when he’s working around the free throw line to the key. For example, Booker shot around 46% from 8-16 feet and 40% from 16-23. While you might not consider those to be earth-shattering numbers, those percentages would have made Booker one of the best mid-range shooters on the Jazz last season.

Transitioning over to his work on the defensive end, it’s pretty difficult to judge Booker’s overall work for a variety of reasons. An example of one of those challenges pertains to the fact that Booker has to regularly defend front-court players that have a significant height advantage over him. While he does have the ability to counteract that because of his large frame, Booker still has moments where he’s overpowered by bigger opponents.

With that in mind, Booker is able to hold his own in the low-post for the majority of the time, showcasing himself as a patient and technically sound defender.

The aforementioned positives should showcase why Booker is a terrific fit for the future of the Jazz. While he’s only signed to a two-year, $10 million dollar deal, it basically boils down to a one year deal since the 2nd season is not guaranteed.

While his deal is favorable to the future of the Jazz, Booker should do a lot to help out Utah’s young 2nd unit. One of the main reasons for that is because the 6’7 forward is probably one of the more underrated pick-and-roll screeners in the league. That single ability should do a lot to help out the likes of Alec Burks, Rodney Hood and Dante Exum, who are players that will probably be seeing a lot of time in Utah’s 2nd unit alongside Booker.

Even though Booker will probably be projected as Utah’s third front-court option, the total package that he brings to the court should pay immediate dividends for the Jazz. In the short-term, he’ll be able to add some much needed depth to their front-court, while being a solid compliment to Utah’s slew of young talent. Meanwhile, the financial flexibility that his deal brings to the team could be major help to Utah, as they could potentially be looked at as players in the free agent market during the 2015 off-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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