1. The Jazz are a terrible shooting team.
We talked about it on this week’s Salt City Hoops Saturday Show, but it’s worth mentioning in print: The Jazz are the worst shooting team in the history of the NBA since the adoption of the 3 point line. Their 40.1 FG% and 42.4 eFG%, if extended out to a whole season, would be worse than any team since the 1975-76 Chicago Bulls. The Jazz’s shooting woes showed again tonight, finishing with a shooting percentage of just 40.3%, and only 17.6% from 3. It’s just impossible to win games while making that few of shots.
Things were slightly better until the 4th quarter, as the Jazz entered in with an excellent (for them) 45 FG%! However, things quickly unraveled, as the Jazz scored just 13 points in the 4th, allowed 30, and lost a game by 19 despite leading for a period in the 4th quarter. How? Well, it’s the shooting. Check out this graphic, pointed out to me by 1320 KFAN’s excellent Ben Anderson:
That’s the Jazz’s 4th quarter shooting. They finished 4-18 for the quarter, and the closest shot they made was from 2 feet. The Jazz were 0-10 from outside the key. That’s how they lost the game.
2. The Jazz’s pick and roll defense remains inconsistent.
Another stat discussed on the Saturday Show this week was this sobering statistic about the Jazz’s defense: despite playing ostensibly better pick and roll defenders this season, the Jazz are actually the worst team in the league according to Synergy Sports at containing ball-handlers, allowing 0.93 PPP when teams finish a play with the pick and roll point guard or wing. On the other hand, the Jazz were actually best in the league at stopping the roll man on the pick and roll. Given Corbin’s strategy to generally trap the ball-handler, this seemingly doesn’t make sense, as you would think that double-teaming the ball-handler would be a surefire way to stop him, even at the expense of other counter-actions. Does this reflect the Jazz’s strategy?
I asked Ty Corbin about this before the game. Interestingly, Ty Corbin seemed to know what I was going to ask even before I finished my sentence; he was clearly aware of the statistics of how good the Jazz were against the roll man and how bad they were against the ball-handler. Interestingly, he said that the Jazz’s approach “depends on who’s in [the pick and roll]”; tonight, with Ty Lawson in the game, he wants the big man to “attack the screen where it happens”. The Jazz actually did a decent job at this, allowing Denver screen users to score only 0.87 PPP tonight. Unfortunately, they instead allowed Hickson and Faried to score 61% of plays in which they received the ball after the pick. Basically, it doesn’t seem as if the Jazz have figured this out quite yet: they don’t have an established and successful identity on the pick and roll, despite the unique skills of Favors.
3. JJ Hickson’s dunk was pretty cool.
JJ Hickson’s dunk in the second quarter is the sort of moment that will appear on end-of-year highlight reels and still amaze. It progressed like most stellar big man dunks seem to, off a inside-the-three pick and roll. Lawson made the perfect pocket pass to lead Hickson, and he absolutely took advantage, hammering over a bravely-contesting Marvin Williams. Below is the video of the dunk, and for a bonus, check out Hickson’s incredibly frightening dunk eyes.