Giving Thanks to the Utah Jazz

November 26th, 2014 | by David J Smith
Quin Snyder, always the teacher, has been a breath of fresh air (Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images)

Quin Snyder, always the teacher, has been a breath of fresh air (Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images)

Thanksgiving is fast approaching. The food, football, family, fun and festivities are here. With that in mind, there is a lot to be grateful for from a Utah Jazz perspective. There is a lot to be excited about right now. Here are just three things for which I have gratitude, as one who has followed this team for decades:

Quin Snyder’s Passion and Philosophies: Coach Quin Snyder has been a breath of fresh air. As the first external head coach hire since the franchise’s move to Utah, everyone was very curious when his signing was announced. During his short months at the helm, Snyder has shown quite a bit about who he is and how he approaches the game of basketball. While there have been hiccups along the way, his philosophies on playing with pace and playing with the pass have already shown a lot of on-court benefit. The team is running and the players are looking for teammates more than in years past. It is getting better shots and it is shooting with more accuracy, as evidenced by the eFG% increase from .484 in 2013-14 to .508 through 15 games this year. Utah is getting to the free throw line more (+3.1% on FTA and .220 FT/FGA). The Jazz are dishing out 6.4% more assists, which is one of the more exciting developments for me.

There is still a lot of room for growth. Utah is actually getting less FGA/game (-3.8%) and is turning the ball over more (+4.3%). While the team is shooting a lot more 3-pointers – a huge 9.5% increase in attempts – the accuracy has actually gone down a touch. And we an in-depth look at the defensive end would require a separate post. It is good to remember that this is a youthful team adopting some very different nuances. It will take time, but the early signs on these fronts are positive. The fun thing: Snyder has mentioned a few times that there is a lot more he will introduce to his roster as this season progresses and in subsequent seasons. In a few years, this offense could be humming.

By most accounts, Snyder brings a professionalism, passion and intense work ethic to the table. He is thorough in his game preparation and demands a lot from his players. That sense of accountability will help elicit individual and collective improvement. It is enjoyable to see him constantly teaching, even in the throes of a few blowout losses. While a 5-10 record is still a 5-10 record, Snyder is the right person for this team, both in the now and the future.

Dennis Lindsey’s Approach: Dennis Lindsey is making this his team. Here’s a run-down on a few of the things he’s accomplished and implemented:

  • Lindsey wanted Trey Burke and found a way to get him, swapping the #14 and #21 picks for him. While Burke has had his areas for improvement, it was great to see the organization target the guy they wanted and do what they needed to get him.
  • He made a deal to snag Rudy Gobert at #27. When it’s all said and done, Gobert could be one of the biggest steals in that 2013 Draft, if not the biggest.
  • This is for the future, but a lot of NBA experts are high on 2013 second-round pick, Raul Neto. He showed well last summer against top flight competition. It seems likely he will come over to Utah in the next season or two.
  • Through an extensive interviewing and vetting process, Lindsey got his guy in Snyder. There was some familiarity from their San Antonio connection. It is clear that the GM and head coach are on the same page.
  • While there was some luck involved, the Jazz finished the 2014 Draft with two guys who slipped past where most prognosticated in Dante Exum and Rodney Hood. Exum has shown a lot already and the future is bright for both players.
  • Lindsey picked up Joe Ingles off the waiver wire and while his numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, he has quickly become a player Snyder really trusts. He’s had several nice outings recently.
  • He’s picked up a gazillion draft picks in the past few years. While it could be argued that the better picks could have been acquired for the financials involved in the Golden State deal, Lindsey’s used Utah’s salary cap to broker a lot of moves that is stored the Jazz shelves with assets. My guess is he is not afraid to use them too, if and when a potential move arises. Something to watch.
  • Trevor Booker was on fire to start the year and while things have tapered down, he has been a nice free agent pick-up.
  • The Jazz have Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks locked up for the next several years. It’s early yet, but Favors and Hayward are showing they are worth their lucrative deals. Burks’ pact kicks in next year, so his growth will be something to keep an eye on this year.
  • Lindsey has devoted more time and resources in Utah’s scouting department. Record number of draft prospects came to Salt Lake City for workouts. The team has also held numerous mini free agent camps, workouts, etc. Lindsey’s also shown that he’s open to giving guys opportunities to have an extended tryout with the team, using the 15th roster spot for that reason.

Lindsey is well respected and is building an exciting roster that could be something special within the next few years. His transparency during interviews is refreshing. A lot of credit should go to longtime GM Kevin O’Connor. Lindsey’s taken the good things from his tenure and added to it in a lot of positive ways.

The Millers: Nothing would be possible without the Miller family; a lot of the aforementioned was made possible with the Millers’ blessings. They have shown a willingness to spend in order to acquire players and draft picks, boost the coaching and front office staff and so forth. The fact that Utah is among the NBA’s most profitable teams is a testament to the Jazz’s ownership. Utah Jazz fans are certainly very lucky to have had Larry, Gail, Greg and family. They are in this to help produce a championship caliber team. The Millers’ devotion to the community and to putting forth an excellent product on and off the court is clear to see.

There you have it–just a few Jazz-related Thanksgiving thoughts. Feel free to share yours below. Now, it’s time to pass the turkey…

David J Smith

David J Smith

Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News and has written for the Utah Jazz website and Hoopsworld.com (now Basketball Insiders). He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. He and his incredibly patient wife have five amazing children--four girls and a boy named Stockton (yes, really).
David J Smith
David J Smith

Latest posts by David J Smith (see all)

2 Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    I’m thankful that only one of our players has a nickname that sucks. D Faves is a terrible nickname, but The Wonder From Down Under, Jingles (Or Jose English. That one’s great, some guys in the NBA are stuck with crap like CP3 and KD, and somehow this guy gets TWO great nicknames!), The Human Pogo Stick, Big Turkey, Prince of Threes, and the best nickname in the NBA, The Stifle Tower.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *