Final Score: Thunder 95, Jazz 73
The Jazz dropped to 1-14 with a listless 95-73 loss in Oklahoma City that was once against worse than the final score indicates, as Utah trailed 75-43 entering the 4th-quarter before a garbage time run (that included some positive play by Rudy Gobert) inflated their scoring totals.
Utah played somewhat decent defensively, although much of that could be attributed to OKC’s surprise decision to rest Russell Westbrook. Conversely the Jazz offense was a complete train wreck as Utah would shoot 31.5%, commit 15 turnovers and score an embarrassingly low 43 points in the game’s first 36 minutes.
The “system” of Jazzbasketball that originated with Dick Motta and was perfected by Jerry Sloan and Phil Johnson is no longer visible even in passing moments. Last night, Utah’s offense was basically a 4-out 1-in high screen-roll set with poor spacing and no consistency. Overall, the Jazz resembled little more than a group of guys playing pick-up basketball – with a high screen-roll leading to either a swing-pass for a contested jumper or into a draw-and-kick leading to another contest jumper.
Taking each shot attempt by itself – you could make a decent argument that the Jazz missed some makeable looks at the basket. Overall – they got nothing in the halfcourt, and here’s why:
Athletes are creatures of habit and routine. Not only in preparation but in participation. Skill development through good habits and repetition breeds success. That’s why all players develop a foul line routine and consistent shooting motions.
Not only is that true individually – but also collectively. For Utah’s young players, it’s vital to develop confidence and awareness by putting them into positions where they can play off habitual instinct and improve through repetition.
On far too many Jazz screen-roll possessions, players are in different locations making different plays and attempting different shots. There’s no discipline or consistency – with no (apparent) set landmarks for players to get to and screeners to screen at.
There are countless options and adjustments needed to run an effective pick&roll, but like anything – establishing ground rules to facilitate chemistry is both possible and necessary.
Stockton always knew on side pick&roll set at the left-elbow he had his 5 diving to the rim from the baseline, his 3 fading from top-of-the-key to the right wing and his 2 camped in the corner. He knew on high screen-roll at the top-of-the-key he had Horny rolling up on the weakside from the left corner. Deron knew he had Ronnie Brewer working the baseline, Korver fading to the corner, Memo rolling up on the weakside and could read&react to the defense with Boozer.
This season the Jazz run their side pick&roll at varying depths with no pre-screen action that allows defenses to easily push them baseline rather than middle. This season the Jazz run high screen-roll from any location on the court, which offers up a different set of parameters each time.
Deron had certain spots he would wear out shooting from if teams went under on the screen. Stock did too. Heck, even Howard Eisley and Carlos Arroyo had their spots to pull-up from on the right baseline and left-elbow area. What are Hayward’s spots coming off high screen-roll?
For a head coach with a young team – you put in your offense during training camp with the hope that as the season progresses – growth and progress will occur as players receive more reps, learn more of the nuances and iron out details. For the Jazz – quite the opposite is occurring. Save for a few 2nd-half runs that make the score respectable, Utah’s offense is digressing right before our eyes.
John Wooden is often regarded as the finest coach and teacher of the game that has ever lived. His philosophy on learning was quite simple.
“The four laws of learning are explanation, demonstration, imitation and repetition. The goal is to create a correct habit that can be produced instinctively under great pressure. To make sure this goal was achieved, I created eight laws of learning; namely, explanation, demonstration, imitation, repetition, repetition, repetition, repetition, and repetition.” -Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off The Court
Does anyone see something in Utah’s offense that with habitual repetition “can be produced instinctively under great pressure?” Utah never had a good offensive philosophy from Day 1, and a lack of consistency and attention to detail is preventing them from improving on it.
Odds and Ends
- The Jazz are now 1-14 for just the second time in franchise history. The only other time they started 1-14 (1974-75), they fired their head coach – Scotty Robertson – the very next day.
- The Jazz play the Chicago Bulls Monday night, and then have three days off before Phoenix comes to town on Friday. It’s the only time the Jazz have multiple days off between games until after Christmas. If they are looking for a time to make a large-scale change where they can then get some significant practice time in – this week seems like the best time.
- Ty Corbin is 0-5 in his head coaching career versus the Bulls. The other teams he is winless against are the Celtics, Hawks, and Knicks.
- Only 2 Jazz players scored in double-figures – Gobert and Kanter who each finished with exactly 10. That happened 3 times last season, 2 times in 2011-12, and zero times in 2010-11.
The Final Word
The Jazz rank 29th in offensive rating and 30th in defensive rating (points scored and allowed per 100 possessions). We knew entering the season they didn’t possess that one top-10 individual talent to carry a team to wins – but it’s still a team game and they are not functioning together at all as a 5-man unit.
In video games a young player’s ratings almost always improve simply by playing a full-season. In real life it takes more than just minutes – it takes a half-decent strategy and situation to get to the point where game reps are actually doing some good. So far, the only habit the Jazz appear to be improving on through repetition is how to lose.