Last time, we covered some of Quin Snyder’s strengths, of which I feel there are many. This round covers a few of the negatives. While these negatives signify areas of improvement for Snyder from my perspective, I think they carry a lower overall weight than many of the areas discussed last time.
Over-playing veterans/odd combinations: B-
I can’t presume to speak for all Jazz fans, but discussions I’ve had lead me to think that a lot of Jazz fans like a majority of Quin Snyder’s rotations. But there does seem to be one pairing that draws a lot of ire from Jazz fans—and with good reason: Trey Lyles and Trevor Booker. It almost appears as a recipe for disaster, asking for the opposing team’s bigs to waltz into the paint and score at will against an undersized forward in Booker, and a still-learning-on-the-curve rookie in Lyles. The Booker-Lyles pairing has fared poorly so far this season; luckily it’s been trotted out less as the season has gone on—and the numbers for the pairing have improved a bit recently—but it’s still one of those moments in a game where I want to pull my hair out a little bit.
Another wonderment: what happened to Jeff Withey’s minutes? Didn’t he do enough when he was given minutes to show that he’s a good defensive anchor that can keep the defensive intensity up, even when Gobert was on the bench? His play adds a flavor to the Jazz that they’re often lacking when Booker-Lyles are in.
We’ve seen a handful of games now where Snyder has seemingly burned through his timeouts during less-critical parts of the game—all in an effort to teach as much as he can in the moment, I’m sure—but it’s come back to haunt them at the ends of games when the Jazz are within striking distance, but are out of timeouts. It’s been a head-scratching flaw, to be sure, though I think I can understand some of the method behind the madness. But in a league where coaches often keep one or two timeouts available just in case they need it at the end of the game, it can seem jarring when you realize the Jazz don’t have any timeouts to spare.
Whining at referees: B+
This is one where I think it can be both a bad thing and a good thing. Hopefully you’ve already caught Andy Larsen’s piece on KSL about the Two-Minute Reports and the Jazz on the wrong side of a lot of calls at the end of close games. It’s been both an unfortunate and a frustrating pattern to watch throughout the season, especially with some bad calls so profoundly affecting the momentum or score of the game. Andy discussed, in his article, how the Jazz are going through the appropriate channels in order to ensure the league is aware of their plight.
But what of the in-game, in-the-moment frustrations? How should those best be aired? If you’re Doc Rivers and the Clippers, it’s whining as constantly and incessantly and annoyingly as possible1 But Quin Snyder himself has taken the opposite approach, and seemingly has asked his team to do the same: keep whining and complaining at the refs to a minimum.2
I like this approach initially: it keeps the focus on internal forces, things the players and the coaches can control: their play, their decisions, their process-oriented progress. They’re not going to waste any time or energy yapping at a ref while a play goes on on the other end of the court. I wish I could say, “They’re not getting distracted by bad calls” but I think that’s asking too much of anyone, especially given how some of the calls have gone this season. It’s natural to be distracted, given the circumstances. But I like the message that Quin is sending: focus on you; focus on the team.
Having said that, occasionally giving refs an earful or two can help influence a call later in the game, or can show your team that you’re willing to go to bat for them and maybe cost yourself a technical in the process. That might go a long way.
Has any coach in recent memory had as many gif-worthy moments as Snyder? From the “Wake UP!” mini-tirade to any of the other intense glares from the bench, sometimes watching the bench and Snyder’s intensity ramp from a 10 to an 11 is as entertaining as the game itself3
What makes the stare/glare so effective is that Quin is able to somehow balance that intensity while caring deeply about his players and their improvement, both on and off the court. I’ve been struck by the number of times players have talked about how Coach cares about the details, whether it’s footwork on the court, or family life off the court. Remember when Hayward said that his first dinner with Snyder involved very little basketball discussion, and was mostly about life and family?
When there’s a strong bond of friendship, that stare/glare can be effective.
Overall, I’m thrilled with Quin Snyder. I think he’s a coach who demands as much from himself and his assistants as he does from his players, but he balances that with a good dose of humility and high emotional intelligence. I’m really excited to see how he develops as a coach over the next several years. If his trajectory matches some of the players we’ve seen who’ve developed under his tutelage, we’re in for a thrilling ride.