The Utah Jazz have reached the halfway point of the season and currently find themselves with a below .500 record. Despite a bevy of injuries, the Jazz are still in the playoff picture thanks to, in large part, the weaker bottom half of the Western Conference. Let’s look at some intriguing numbers from the Jazz during their quest for the postseason.
The Jazz are in the top five of drives at 29.9 per game. When a team is aggressive and attacks the basket, lots of good things happen. For example, Utah is top 10 in free-throw attempts per game, 23.8 to be exact. Driving to the basket provides a better chance of finding contact and thus fouls, of course. Not a complicated thought. But just as simple is the idea of converting said free throws. The Jazz rank among the league’s bottom half in free throw percentage at 75.1 percent. This season the Jazz have played in 12 games decided by five points or less and they’ve lost seven of those match ups. Utah isn’t just leaving points on the table by not making their free throws, they are leaving wins on the table.
Additionally, the Jazz shoot an inefficient 42.9 percent on their drives, putting them in the bottom five of the entire NBA. Even if they improve to the league average of about 45 percent, it’s possible some of those close losses become close wins and a much more optimistic playoff position.
The other wonderful aspect of driving is the opportunity to drive and then kick to an open shooter. Unfortunately, the Jazz rank dead last in assists per game, not for lack of trying. In fact, the Jazz have made more passes than any other team in the league, amassing almost 350 passes thus far. So the problem is clear: making shots.
Overall, the Jazz shoot 43.9 percent from the floor, landing in the bottom 10 in the league. Even worse, in catch and shoot situation, Utah shoots 37.9 percent. We are talking about rhythm shots, for the most part. That’s why players are shooting immediately after catching because, ideally, they’ve already positioned themselves for the shot. The Jazz need to improve their shooting in those situations.
Utah is one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league, nabbing 11 per game. This correlates into the Jazz scoring almost 14 second chance points. 7.5 of their offensive rebounds are considered contested, when an opponent is within 3.5 feet. So the Jazz are going to battle in the trenches on the offensive end and winning.
On the flip side, the Jazz only secure 31 defensive rebounds, among one of the lowest per game averages in the association. Granted, the Jazz only have 53.8 defensive rebounding chances a game, but their totals could increase. Utah gives up 11.5 second chance points, which is decent but something that could be improved upon.
The majority of the stats should improve with the return of Derrick Favors. Favors is one of the best rebounders on the team and shoots 41.1 percent in catch and shoot situations. And whenever Alec Burks suits up again, he’ll improve the shooting percentage on the team’s drives. Utah’s outlook is pretty positive, despite the best efforts of the basketball gods to ruin their season with injuries.