The Triple Team: Three Thoughts on Utah Jazz vs. Atlanta Hawks 1/2/2015

January 2nd, 2015 | by Andy Larsen
Dante Exum, Trey Burke, and Quin Snyder are the key figures intonight's Triple Team. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Dante Exum, Trey Burke, and Quin Snyder are the key figures intonight’s Triple Team. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

1. Utah’s shortened bench almost came back against Atlanta.

We’ve talked a lot about how Utah’s bench is pretty shallow this season: beyond Rudy Gobert and Trevor Booker, no other player has a PER greater than 10. But in tonight’s game, Utah’s bench kept them in the game with an 8-0 run in the 1st, a 7-0 run in the second, a 10-2 run spanning the 3rd and 4th quarters, and a 12-1 run late in the 4th. Each of those runs featured at least 2 of Dante Exum, Jingles1, and Rudy Gobert. Trevor Booker often played a role too.

Dante Exum had his career high tonight with 13 points, as he was 5-9 on the floor. Even better, his length garnered him 3 steals on the defensive end. Dante’s an interesting player at this point: he’s a 3 and D player right now (7 of his 9 FGA were from beyond downtown), something that I’m not sure any 19 year old has been in the NBA. Remember, these were skills that we were told would have to be coming later for Dante, instead, these are his strengths. On the other hand, he’s shown next to no ability to get to the rim on his own, and simply doesn’t attack the hoop very frequently, if ever. The scouting reports indicated that would be his initial contribution, but it’s been nonexistent. It’s just strange.

Meanwhile, he’s the only Jazzman putting up a positive +/- when he’s on the floor right now, a remarkable fact given that NBA rookies nearly always have negative +/- impact. This probably is too positive towards Exum as adjusted plus/minus, taking into account the various lineups on the floor, rates him as a small negative2. Still, it’s a good sign. Quin Snyder commented on Exum’s play after the game, saying,

“I want Dante to play like he doesn’t have all those years in front of him, like he doesn’t have all those minutes in front of him. And when he does, we see him attacking and see juice and energy and competitiveness, and that’s I think we all have to recognize how hard that is when you’re 19.”

Rudy Gobert also played well tonight, getting 4 blocks tonight. He makes a shocking amount of difference on the floor when he’s in the paint: even when he doesn’t block the shot, I counted two times when his length turned a jump shot into an easily intercepted pass. Tonight was his 4th game in a row with at least 2 blocks, and he looks like the defensive future for the Jazz.

2. It’s good the bench played well, because they’re moving into the starting lineup tomorrow.

To recap:

  • Alec Burks is out for the season due to his shoulder surgery.
  • Rodney Hood is out for the next week or two due to inflammation in his left heel.
  • After being pushed into the starting lineup as a result of the above, Patrick Christopher dislocated his kneecap in the 1st quarter of tonight’s game. He’ll be out around 6-8 weeks, according to Tony Jones.
  • Enes Kanter sprained his ankle in the 4th quarter of tonight’s game. He won’t travel with the team tomorrow and is out for at least tomorrow’s game.

We’re probably going to see Exum move into the starting lineup tomorrow out of sheer necessity: Ian Clark is the only shooting guard who can prevent this now, and Quin’s shown a reluctance to give Clark minutes before tonight. Meanwhile, with Enes Kanter out, we’ll see one of Trevor Booker or Rudy Gobert start. My money would be on Booker, given Kanter’s role as a mid-range capable big, and Minnesota’s starting five, but we’ll see.

If it is Exum and Booker, though, it’s not exactly clear what the bench looks like: maybe Clark/Ingles/Novak/Evans/Gobert? That lineup has really limited scoring, though both Clark and Ingles have shown an ability to playmake a little. It would be really long inside 3 with Evans and Gobert, which would be fun, at least. Still, that that lineup is a possibility shows how thin the Jazz are right now.

3. Trey Burke’s shooting night.

Trey Burke went 2-19 tonight, but that wasn’t the most discouraging stat from his game tonight. Instead, his 0-11 performance from 3 was only the 2nd time in NBA regular season history that a player shot at least 11 3-point attempts without a make.4 It was a topsy-turvy performance from his game on Tuesday, in which he went 10-21 and led the Jazz with a team-high 26 points.

Neither Trey Burke nor Quin Snyder seemed too concerned about the poor shooting performance. Quin Snyder defended the shots Burke took, saying “I thought he had a lot of clean looks, they just didn’t go in – it was one of those nights.” And Trey said that, while he wasn’t demoralized, he was upset about his shooting performance. That being said, he continued, “You can’t get too high after good games or too low after bad games… I feel like I got good shots, most of the shots I got were open looks.”

Indeed, 10 of Trey’s shots tonight were uncontested, according to SportVu, only 1 of those went down. It seems like teams are more eager to drop or rotate off of Trey, giving him relatively open looks. The Jazz’s offense is an equal-opportunity one, designed to get a shot to whoever is most open. Unfortunately, that probably explains Burke leading the team in FGA in 3 of the last 4 games5 despite only shooting 35.5%(!) from the field for the season.

The offense could probably be more efficient if it force fed shots to Hayward and Favors rather than Burke, but given that this season is all about developing habits, it makes total sense to run the offense in a more egalitarian fashion, especially as the Jazz may acquire or develop a new starting PG in the years to come.

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.
Andy Larsen


  1. gotag says:

    Fun stat! Trey has more games shooting 30% or under (12), that 40% or over (11).

    Considering how bad his defense is right now (an NBA 5th worst in defensive real +/- and a team worst drtg of 114 on a team with the 3rd worst drtg league wide). It’s not a stretch to think that Trey might not even be playing in the league in another 2 seasons.

  2. Spencer says:

    Dragic anyone?

    BTW Andy, what is the possibility that you could give us a list of future Jazz draft picks and free agents next summer?

    gotag: I think that there is a place for Trey in the second unit. Somebody needs to fix his shot though, too flat and always fading left.

  3. cw says:

    There was an interview with Lindsey where he was asked about not directing the offense towards his best offensive players and he said that was old fashioned and the way the Jazz are playing was the future in the NBA. I guess you could say they are developing a culture but there are a lot of weak links in the Jazz offense (and D) and this style won’t be super successful until the weak links get stronger. I also just read somewhere Lindsey saying that the Jazz are years away from a finished product. That goes in with all those not going to skip steps statements. So instituting a particular style of play must be one of those steps. Trying to develop players over a long period seems to be another.

    This is an interesting experiment but it seems to me to be a little on the idealistic/over-thought side. Pelton, for instance, has said several times lately that iso based teams are just as effective as passing teams. And fitting players to a particular style is a lot more difficult than fitting a style to the players you have, on all kinds of levels. It’s like drawing to an inside straight. Kanter is a really good example. He is a really good back to the basket scorer but the Snyder-style wants him to be a stretch four and a passer. And Favors seems like he could be an Amare level PnR guy, but in the current offense he ends up taking a lot of short jump shots. And finally, IF the Jazz are committed to a culture of long-term development of the young guys, then that is actually a hinderence to finding the perfect guys for their style. Instead of having a lot of churn with trades and FA they have to keep playing the guys the drafted and hope they can learn to play the Snyder style. A good example of this is Milsap and Carrol. THose guys would be perfect for the Snyder style, but Lindsey let them walk for nothing.

    I like passing as much as anyone, but if I was a GM/coach I would churn through as many players as possible until I found keepers and then build the system around them. Talent wins in the NBA, not systems.

    • Nathan says:

      Talent wins the NBA, not systems? Tell that to Pop and see what he says. :) Who would have rated Ginobli, Kawai, Patty Mills, Danny Green a few years back?

      • cw says:

        The spurs are exactly the wrong example you should use to make your point. The spurs are who they are becasue David Robinson got hurt and the Spurs tanked and stretched out his injury and lucked into the no. one pick: Duncan. They built their team around him. They were a defensive team for a decade and pounded the ball into the post. Then as Duncan got older they rebuilt the team around Tony Parker and became a more offensive oriented team. They are not a system driven team, but a talent driven team. Guys like Danny Green and Patty Mills, they are able to succeed because they play off the core talent.

  4. Spencer says:

    My Favorites from each team:

    DREAM SCENARIOS NEXT TO IMPOSSIBLE (In order of most coveted)
    Kawaii Leonard
    Jimmy Butler
    Tobias Harris

    Goran Dragic
    Paul Millsap
    Brandon Knight

    KJ McDaniels
    Damarre Carroll
    Danny Green
    Wes Mathews
    Dreymond Green
    Patrick Beverly
    Gerald Green

    Gary Neal
    Jonas Jerebko
    CJ Watson
    Chris Middleton
    Jeff Withey
    Travis Wear
    Darrell Arthur
    Omri Casspi


    • cw says:

      Those are really good choices. I think Milsap, Dragic, McDaniels, Carroll or any of the Greens are to one degree or another desirable/getable. Maybe Brandon Knight. There are also going to be some guys like Ed Davis or Monroe or Monta Ellis who don’t get good offers for one reason or another. The jazz should keep a look out for those guys too.

      Like I just wrote, I would load up on talent and not worry who goes to the bench or about cap space. Just accumulate talent, look for bargins, see who fits, trade who doesn’t.

      But I’m pretty sure that’s not what is going to happen. I think Lindsey knows what he’s doing and is capable of crafting a comprehensive plan and making it happen, but luck is a huge part of team building in the NBA, both bad and good.

    • Mewko says:

      C Marcin Gortat
      PF LaMarcus Aldridge
      SF Gordon Hayward
      SG Danny Green
      PG Goran Dragic

      That lineup would let Hayward thrive as a third option.

    • Paul Johnson says:

      Out of the free agents you listed I like Jimmy Butler, KJ McDaniels, Gerald Green and Jonas Jerebko for the Jazz.

      If the Jazz can’t get those players, maybe they can get a similar, but younger and less experienced, player in the draft.

  5. Rusty says:

    I know this will be a little controversial but just think about it. I don’t know if it is possible but a Trey Burke and Enes Kanter trade for, wait for it…Carmelo Anthony would do wonders for everyone offensively. I realize we might have to throw in others to get salaries in order but this would leave a starting line up next year of Exum, Hayward, Anthony, Favors, and Gobert. with Booker and Hood another high draft pick to pick up the bench. I think this would really legitimize the Jazz as an offensive juggernaut with Rudy and Favors protecting the paint on the defensive end.

Leave a Reply

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