The Utah Jazz got their feet wet with the open scrimmage (kudos to JP Gibson and the entire franchise), followed by a nice victory over the Portland Trailblazers in the preseason opener. With this in mind, what are a few things to look for during the rest of the preseason and the first few weeks of the 2014-2015 season?
Assisted Field Goal Percentage: As we detailed a year ago, Assisted Field Goal Percentage (aFG%)–the percentage of Jazz field goals that come as a result of assists–is and will continue to be an important statistic for the team. When everyone is involved, the results are reflected in both the overall field goal percentage and the team’s record. It also produces a fun and enjoyable on-the-court product.
Here’s the run down for the past several seasons. Last year was a down year all the way around for Utah, as the aFG% and overall FG% attests (not to mention the 25-57 record).
|Season||FGs||Asts||aFG %||Overall FG%||Record|
With head coach Quin Snyder’s focus on playing with the pass, this stat will be something to keep an eye on. While there will definitely be growing pains throughout the season, look for an improvement in this area–perhaps back to the low to mid-60s. If Tuesday’s outing is any indicator, the team will indeed push the ball and implement better spacing to free up the offense. If the team can effectively do these things, it will make for some fun basketball. Utah has a solid cadre of capable passers with Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Dante Exum, and there likewise appears to be an increased emphasis on the bigs developing their passing games–both Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter displayed a willingness and an improved ability to dish the ball versus Portland. In Jazz victories, the aFG% will most likely be a contributing factor.
Roster make-up: The Jazz have 13 guaranteed contracts1 with a bevy of training camp invitees who have partial guarantees2. Who sticks? Some may not find this too fascinating, as we’re talking about the end-of-the-bench players. But there have been many instances where those guys turn out to become major players for the Jazz. Think Bryon Russell and Wesley Matthews.
Based on the past few days, Dahntay Jones may surprisingly have an upper hand on a roster spot. While Rodney Hood was out against the Blazers, it was Jones who earned a fair share of the back-up wing minutes–ahead of other invitees Toure’ Murry, Kevin Murphy and Dee Bost. Murry reportedly has the biggest guarantee, so that could be the 15 players right there–that is if Utah opts to go with 15. Brock Motum was one of the more impressive during the scrimmage, but the front court is crowded.
It seems likely that Snyder will give each of the training camp guys chances to get some extended burn over the next few days, so this will certainly be something to discuss more later. As I alluded to last week, if a player emerges or impresses, it would not be impossible to envision the Jazz keeping him ahead of one with a guaranteed deal–either by trading or waiving a guy.