Process, process, process.
Those who follow Jazz coach Quin Snyder closely are surely more than familiar with this simple word, one Snyder stresses in all forms on a regular basis. The route his team takes and the habits they form, especially in what may be their final “developmental” year if all goes well, is far more important than final results.
“It’s just a way of trying to be consistent,” Quin told me when I asked about his approach. “And have a larger vision, and not let the short term disrupt your decision-making over a period of time. And in doing that, a lot of those little decisions along the way, if they’re grounded in the right philosophical approach, they end up being better more often than not.”
In many ways this is the “analytical” approach – the scoreboard is important, of course, but the steps taken to reach a positive result there often take time to develop and even occasionally a complete disregard for the tally of the game.
But the theme extends beyond the on-court game, as well. And in many ways, though there are differences of course, tonight’s opponent in the Oklahoma City Thunder serve as something of a blueprint here. The Thunder (and formerly Sonics) were at the bottom of the league several years back, bottoming out in the truest sense. Then they lucked out, nailing consecutive high draft picks and forming a solid core. But most important was the way OKC proceeded from there; rather than rush things and attempt to surround guys like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook with veterans right away, they allowed the group to develop together and in harmony. Their chemistry has been a huge part of their team success in recent seasons, and it seems notable that perhaps their only major error in this time ran contrary to this line of thinking, a trade of James Harden that has yielded a less than stellar return and may well have kept them from ultimate glory.1
The seesaw between the macro and micro levels of this process-oriented approach is evident more and more frequently with this Jazz team, and tonight’s win over something of a model in this regard was no exception. Little elements that have been items of emphasis all year peeked their heads up – from Dante Exum finding a bit more aggression to Utah’s swarming second-half defense that many would have believed impossible had they watched the team back in November. An emotional win showed just how the formula can add up, and Jazz fans know it won’t be long until games like these are a regular occasion.
|Trevor Booker, PF 33 MIN | 4-9 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -2 +/-Booker played extended minutes minus Derrick Favors, and was solid and hugely energetic from the start. He made a few timely shots and was a big part of getting OKC’s bigs in foul trouble throughout the game.|
|Gordon Hayward, SF 38 MIN | 4-16 FG | 9-12 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -1 +/-Struggling with his jumper, Hayward contributed well elsewhere. He had five boards and five assists, and made nine of his 12 free throws while playing some of the best defense we’ve seen from him all year on a variety of players.|
|Rudy Gobert, C 41 MIN | 3-6 FG | 7-10 FT | 15 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 4 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +6 +/-The Stifle Tower was back to his old ways after a few rough games, becoming one of the very few players in the league who has ever made Russell Westbrook think twice about attacking the rim. He also had seven offensive boards, a big part of Utah’s 20-10 advantage in second-chance points.|
|Rodney Hood, SG 29 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +1 +/-Hood was strangely quiet offensively, seeming far less involved coming off his absence. But he played magnificent defense, including long stretches on Westbrook where he mostly held his own, and continued to show off a versatile skill set that looks to make him a steal at the 23rd pick.|
|Dante Exum, SG 19 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +4 +/-Dante saw only 19 minutes (perhaps due to lingering effects of his illness from Friday), but was an absolute maniac defensively, mostly versus Westbrook. Utah’s 70.1 per-100 rating against while he was on the floor was easily a team best, and he even looked a little more aggressive with the ball in his hands as well. Process.|
|Joe Ingles, SF 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +7 +/-Jingles ceded some time to Chris Johnson, who was doing a better job defensively, but the Jazz thoroughly outscored the Thunder with him on the court (plus-41.4 per-100) despite a relatively modest stat line.|
|Jeremy Evans, SF 7 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | +7 +/-Evans gets to break my 10-minute minimum, because the seven he did play were vital tonight with Favors missing. And he did a good job of being in the right place, getting a couple easy buckets and crashing the boards in relief.|
|Chris Johnson, SF 15 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +8 +/-Johnson was more solid than anyone could have hoped in his second game back with the Jazz, playing strong defense and nailing a vital corner 3 with the game in flux in the fourth quarter.|
|Trey Burke, PG 33 MIN | 8-23 FG | 5-7 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 22 PTS | +5 +/-He once again lacked efficiency, but the Jazz badly needed Trey’s contributions tonight offensively with Favors out of the game. He also had one of his best defensive games of the year, swiping four steals with consistently active hands and showing a very high activity level.|
A slight knock for a strange first quarter substitution pattern that saw Jack Cooley at center and the Jazz get badly outplayed, but outside this Quin was his usual brand of excellence. He made timely rotations, smartly hid Burke away from Westbrook the majority of the night, and made lemonade despite missing one of his anchors down low.