Posts Tagged ‘Trey Burke’

Jazz at Trailblazers 2-21-14

Final Score: Trailblazers 102, Jazz 94

The Jazz gave one of their more impressive road efforts of the 2013-14 season, going toe-to-toe with the 36-18 Trailblazers for 45-minutes before folding late. While Alec Burks provided a scoring spark in the 1st-half and Gordon Hayward turned in a quietly impressive line (17 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists on 5-11 shooting), the two stars of the game for Utah were clearly Trey Burke and Enes Kanter.

Trey Burke

Burke scored 21 points on 8-16 shooting from the field and 3-5 from behind the arc, while also dishing 7 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds.

Burke completely owned the 3rd-quarter, in which he scored 12 points and handed out 3 assists on a perfect 5-5 shooting, including two threes. In addition, the rookie made an outstanding steal in which he face-guarded Lillard and drifted with him along the three-point line and used his peripheral vision to deflect an incoming kickout pass, that directly led to a throw-ahead assist to Alec Burks for a fastbreak layup.

Although Burke shot just 3-8 on the pick&roll, one of his misses (a driving left-hand layup) freed up Kanter for an uncontested tip-in and another attempted floater enabled Burke to rebound his own miss and score so in reality Utah was 5-10 when he shot via screen-roll. Additionally, on mid-range pick&roll jumpshots Burke hit an impressive 3-4 – critical considering it is Portland’s intent to force opponents to take contested midrange shots while trying to minimize scramble rotations that often lead to open threes and paint points.

Burke nailed 2 of his 3 catch&shoot three-point attempts and of his 7 assists, 4 came in transition (or early offense before the defense could setup) while two others were setting the table for a Kanter jumper via pick&pop.

Burke’s a playmaker with the ability to push the tempo (if the Jazz ever try to do that) and create for his teammates but right now it comes down to making shots. After inexplicably sitting for the first 6 minutes of the 4th-quarter (in which the Jazz shot 1-11 and were outscored 14-2), he came back in the game and confidently drilled a right-wing three to pull Utah back to within 83-80. There’s no question that even as a rookie Trey Burke wants to be the guy to take and make all the big shots, and that’s a quality that will only bode well for the future as the Jazz look to him run the show over the next several seasons.

Enes Kanter

Enes Kanter tied his career-high with 25 points on 12-20 shooting, to go along with 10 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks.

Most impressively, Kanter scored his points in a variety of ways. He shot 2-3 and scored 5 points when getting touches on the left-block. He shot 3-4 from direct opportunities via the pick&roll, including 2-3 on pick&pop jumpers. He scored 6 points on 3-6 shooting on offensive rebounds and he was a perfect 4-4 playing off-the-ball as a weakside dive/kickout man (including 2-2 on spotup mid-range jumpers).

He’s shown he can be an effective low-post scorer but doesn’t demand the ball to find ways to contribute, with his offensive rebounding and pick&pop ability helping to round out his game.

Kanter also started in place of Favors in Utah’s December-9th meeting with Portland and had an impressive game as well, scoring 19 points on 50% shooting as Utah also hung in against the Blazers before another late collapse.

Kanter’s Screen-Roll Defense

From the outset one member of the Utah Jazz broadcast team made it a point to harp on what he considered poor defense by Kanter – namely Kanter’s refusal to show out and contest a lot of shots on the pick&roll. Similar to how teams used to attack Al Jefferson in the previous two seasons, Portland made it a priority to involve Kanter in defending pick&roll as often as possible.

Utah’s strategy remained simple – allow Kanter to drop back into the lane and force Portland into taking a lot of mid-range jumpshots. Of the 41 direct pick&rolls that involved Kanter defending the screener, Utah allowed just 31 points on initial defense (not counting second-change opportunities).  Of those 41 plays, Portland shot 13-34 (38.2) from the field, drew 3 fouls (resulting in 4-4 from the foul line) and turned the ball over 4 times. Most impressively, out of their 34 shot attempts only two were three-point field goals.

Obviously the Blazers missed LaMarcus Aldrige’s mid-range shooting but when Kanter was involved in defending screen-roll, Utah could not have asked for better results against Portland’s high-octane offense. One negative is how susceptible Utah leaves themselves on the offensive glass. With Marvin playing at PF, anytime their center (be it Kanter or Favors) leaves his man to help, Utah is left with a huge disadvantage trying to rebound the basketball (12 offensive rebounds for Portland tonight).

Nevertheless, allowing 31 points on 41 possessions speaks for itself. Considering there were also a handful of plays where the initial screen-roll yielded no shot so Portland continued to move the ball, admonishing Kanter’s defensive performance last night is not only unnecessary but ridiculous.

Kanter will give up points at the rim but he also did a good job staying vertical in his challenges which resulted in quite a few Portland misses in the paint (many by Lillard who is among the poorer finishers in the basket area). It’s also important to remember Kanter isn’t a shotblocking force. Jerry Sloan didn’t rant and rave on the sideline when Mehmet Okur didn’t block a shot and Kanter deserves a similar approach. What you ask for from Kanter is good positional defense where he can use his 6-11 frame to contest shots to the best of his ability, and if the ball still goes in the hoop you can live with it because he can contribute in a lot of other ways.

(Side Tangent: It’s also absurd to criticize Kanter when he leaves his man to pick up a free driver toward the rim and then gets burned because no one rotated to his man. In Jazzbasketball that’s called “helping the helper” and it’s very difficult to be a good defensive team when your defensive rotations can’t extend to that level.)

Blazers announcer Mike Rice may have said it best late in the 3rd-quarter, “Once again, Kanter has been the man in there, he’s been able to defend that rim against – and I mean everybody is dribble-driving for the Blazers – and testing him. So far he’s not done a bad job at all.”

Portland’s 4th-Quarter Huddle

One really neat thing about the Blazers telecast is Portland’s sideline reporter, Michael Holton, was able to listen in on the Blazers’ huddle during the timeout and then relay that information to the viewers prior to the start of the 4th-quarter.

Holton reported: “Well the entire timeout was spent talking about defense. Terry Stotts wants the Blazers to keep the ball on the sideline and then rotate the defense to the [middle]. They’re (Utah) turning the corner, getting all the way to the rim. He spent the entire timeout breaking down how they need to correct that.”

Some of those adjustments were noticeable on a Burks turnover (7:59 4th-Qtr) where they pushed him wide and stole the ball as he tried to come back middle but a lot of it came down to Robin Lopez closing up the middle when there appeared to be gaps in the defense.

Regardless, it’s nice to be given access to that type of inside information as the game progresses. It was reminiscent to the days of the NBA on NBC when Jim Gray would camp by Utah’s bench and report Jerry Sloan’s message to his team during timeouts.

The Final Word

Overall last night’s is precisely the type of contest you hope the Jazz have more of as the season winds down. Although Portland is in a bit of a funk while playing without LaMarcus Aldrige and an under-the-weather Nicolas Batum, the Jazz’s young core came to play and pushed the Blazers to their limit, forcing Portland to elevate their game to another level. I believe it’s those 10-12 minute stretches when opponents raise their intensity like Portland did to start the 4th-quarter that is ultimately more beneficial to Utah’s growth and development than the other 36 minutes played at the regular speed limit.

Burke, Burks, Hayward, and Kanter all had their moments on the road against a good team. At this point when you know what to expect from the coaching and other role players, that sort of thing is really all you can ask for at this point. I don’t believe in moral victories in professional sports, but if there is such a thing as a “good loss,” this was probably it.

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Jazz at Magic 12-18-13Final Score: Jazz 86, Magic 82

Player of the Game: Trey Burke scored a career-high 30 points go along with 8 assists and 7 rebounds in 40 minutes of play. He shot an impressive 12-20 from the field, 2-2 from the FT line and 4-8 from behind the arc while only turning the basketball over twice. The Jazz were +21 in Burke’s 40:28 minutes and -17 in the 7:32 he was on the bench.

Trey Burke 12 Field Goals:
6:46 1st-Qtr – Left-wing catch&shoot transition three.
5:09 1st-Qtr – Pull-up 18-foot banker from off high screen-roll with Favors.
0:03 1st-Qtr – Pull-up 17-footer on high screen-roll with Kanter.
3:58 2nd-Qtr – Left-corner catch&shoot three off ball rotation.
3:29 2nd-Qtr – Uncontested run-out layup (from Hayward).
2:19 2nd-Qtr – Transition catch&shoot right-wing three (from Hayward).
10:07 3rd-Qtr – Top-of-the-circle catch&shoot three (from Hayward).
8:16 3rd-Qtr – 20-footer off side pick&roll with Favors.
1:53 3rd-Qtr –  14-foot floater off glass on high screen-roll with Favors.
0:01 3rd-Qtr – 2-on-1 fastbreak that Burke kept himself by faking a behind-the-back pass then converting a hanging up&under reverse layup maneuvering around E-Twaun Moore. The proper play was to pass the ball to Burks on the left-wing for a layup but Burke finished with spectacular ball-fake/layup so I could only stay mad at him for about 5-tenths of a second.
6:34 4th-Qtr – Side pick&roll with Favors (screening baseline) for 15-foot floater.
3:45 4th-Qtr – Pump-fake dribble-in 16-footer from Hayward running a side pick&roll.

As you can see of Burke’s 12 baskets – 5 came via pick&roll, 4 came in transition and 3 came playing off-the-ball. The Magic defend screen-roll as I’ve diagrammed in great detail here, by going over on the screen and dropping the big back into the lane – where you’re funneling the ball-handler and/or screener into taking the mid-range jumper.

Trey Burke assists:
11:47 1st-Qtr – Hayward 22-foot pindown jumper.
10:48 1st-Qtr – Ball-rotation and swing pass to Jefferson for right-corner 3.
6:18 1st-Qtr – Transition pass ahead to Hayward for catch&shoot 18-footer.
0:53 1st-Qtr – Side pick&pop to Jeremy Evans for 18-foot baseline jumper.
5:26 3rd-Qtr – One-hand off-the-bounce bullet pass to Marvin for layup.
1:23 3rd-Qtr – Fastbreak pass to Hayward for layup.
7:45 4th-Qtr – Hayward 16-foot baseline jumper.
1:14 4th-Qtr – Hayward right-wing 19-footer off curl/pindown.

Of Burke’s 8 assists, 3 came in transition (in a low-scoring game the Jazz finished with 17 fastbreak points) and 5 of the 8 went to Gordon Hayward. Also only one of Burke’s assists came via the pick&roll although 5 of his baskets did – which again reflects what an Indiana/Portland-style screen-roll (which Corbin has finally begun consistently using) tries to do – which is take away the screener rolling to the basket and take away deep penetration that leads to direct layups or drive&kick threes. Favors had a couple pick&pop jumpers he missed and Evans made the one, but the Magic wanted to force Trey Burke to beat them with his mid-range game and last night Burke made them pay.

See A Different Game

The Jazz were able to create open looks thanks to Gordon Hayward’s hard and smart utilization of off-ball screens.

1. Here the Jazz run a little stagger-screen action for Hayward. Hayward’s man (#5 Victor Oladipo) trails, giving Hayward the green-light to curl the entire way around.

Jazz at Magic 12-18-13 #10

2. Hayward curls hard off the screens with Oladipo still trailing from behind – which forces Orlando to sag down to cut off his driving lane. The result is a simple kickout back to Burke at the top of the key for a three which he made (or a swingpass to the weakside if RJ’s man rotates). If they don’t drop down from the top but the big still shows out (like #9 Nikola Vucevic does) then Hayward can look for the big diving to the rim.

Smart basketball is about reading and reacting and when the Magic tried to defend this set differently – Hayward still made them pay.

1. Here Hayward’s man (#22 Tobias Harris) tries to shoot the gap.

Jazz at Magic 12-18-13 #11

2. Hayward reads this and rather continue his curl – the on-sight adjustment is to fade. Harris is caught going under and Hayward drains the 18-foot jumper to put Utah up 4 ultimately seal the win. These are the types of mid-range shots you don’t mind because they’re wide-open, in rhythm, and give the offense a positional advantage while putting pressure on the defense.

Film Room

Here are the sorted plays I mentioned above – beginning with:
1. Trey Burke’s pick&roll mid-range scores (watch how Orlando’s bigs dare him to shoot).
2. Hayward’s hard/smart movement utilizing off-ball screens (watch how the curl sets up scenarios where a simple kickout pass leads to a three/ball-rotation).
3. Burke/Hayward Transition Opportunities


Odds and Ends

  • Trey Burke recorded the first 30-point game by a Jazz point guard since Deron Williams scored 39 points against the Spurs on January 26, 2011.
  • Utah’s 86 points are the fewest they’ve scored in a win since February 1, 2013 in an 86-77 victory over Portland.
  • Utah’s lineup of Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter played 4:30 together and were +5 over Orlando during that time.

Alec Burks – Forever Young

During last night’s game Peter Novak began tweeting out classic lovesong lyrics with Trey Burke’s name in them. (Sidenote: Peter’s is one of my favorite twitter follows, follow him for a nice dose of Jazz-related intelligent humor, snark, sarcasm, common-sense, and salary cap expertise).

In the spirit of Jazz lyrics, I thought I’d share my own – set to Forever Young by Rod Stewart.

Alec Burks – Forever Young
May Ty Corbin be your coach every day you wake
May your substitute check in after every drive you make
And may you grow to be a starter, vet-er-an and old
Who’s kept in the lineup no matter if he’s hot or cold
But if you score and play the same
In Ty’s heart you will remain
Forever young, forever young, forever young, forever young

May poor fortune be with you, may Ty’s job security be strong
May you always be blamed no matter if it’s right or wrong
And may you never start a game
And in Ty’s mind you will remain
Forever young, forever young, forever young, forever young
For-ever young

For-ever young

And when you finally leave the Jazz we’ll be doubting that we served you well
Why you never started here no one can even tell
But whatever team you choose
Dennis Lindsey wants Ty to help him lose
Forever young, forever young, forever young, forever young
For-ever young

The official music video is a bit dull, but in the Jazz re-make I see Jeff Hornacek singing this to Alec as they both ride in the back of the pickup immediately after he accepted the Phoenix Suns’ head coaching position, with Boler, Harpring, and Sidney Lowe making cameos in the motorcycle gang.

(And yes I know Ty has played Burks a lot more in the past few games while giving Jefferson fewer minutes and the lyrics I wrote are only like 10% serious. Well, maybe 25%.)

The Final Word

In his first 15 games Trey Burke had alot of great plays and multiple very good games – but last night it all came together as he turned in one of the best performances not only for the Jazz but in all of the NBA. Coming into the game he was shooting just 39% on two-point FG’s but he made 8-12 last night, to go along with 4-8 from behind the arc. He showcased his complete offensive repertoire, his passing ability, a beyond-his-years understanding of the pick&roll and he again took care of the basketball (only 2 turnovers and averaging just 1.4 for the season).

Burke is receiving major playing time as a rookie and he has made the most of it, continuing to develop and improve right before our eyes. I don’t think anyone is still recommending that Burke shouldn’t start simply because John Stockton didn’t start immediately nearly 30 years ago.

It’s also important to understand that the Jazz are still a team with a 7-21 record. If you claim the Jazz’s 1-14 start is irrelevant because of their early-season injuries, then you also have to say 4 of Utah’s 7 wins that came against opponents missing key players – Chicago (without Derrick Rose), Houston (without Chandler Parsons), Sacramento (without Rudy Gay) and now Orlando (without Aaron Affalo) – also deserve an asterisk.

With Burke back the Jazz are clearly playing better offensively (although even with Burke’s brilliance they struggled with a 37-point 2nd-half), played well defensively last night – and have started to resemble the fun, exciting and competitive team most hoped they would be entering the season. That doesn’t erase the trainwreck start Utah had to the season, but that reprieve seems to be a growing sentiment from those inside the organization that is reflective of the past several Jazz seasons. The problem is once you start making excuses – you lower the surrounding expectations, accountability and standards.

I feel fortunate the Jazz have a high-profile rookie like Trey Burke who not only has the talent and confidence in his ability – but most importantly is someone who’s been a winner on every level and is used to being on the right side of the scoreboard. I don’t expect the Jazz to win 3 out of 5 for the remainder of the season, but with Burke leading the way I do feel confident losing won’t be something the players will come to accept or excuse. Jazz fans have big goals in mind for this team down the road, but most importantly – so does Trey Burke.

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Pacers at Jazz 12-4-2013

Final Score: Pacers 95, Jazz 86

Run It Back

Player(s) of the Game: Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.
Seeing essentially their first action together since the 1st-half in Dallas six games ago, Favors and Kanter  showed they can definitely play effectively together. The two combined for 42 points and 23 rebounds on 17-36 shooting and 8-8 from the foul line. In 30 1/2 minutes playing together, the Jazz were +4 over the Pacers. Of course that means in the other 17 1/2 they were -13.

Favors played Hibbert strong and it felt good to see Kanter enjoy success. After battling confidence issues since his demotion, he was back to playing rather than over-thinking. Still has a few little things to clean up, but a major step in the right direction.

Run of the Game: Utah opened the 4th-Qtr with Kanter posting and scoring over Ian Mahinmi to give the Jazz a 69-68 lead. Over the final 11 minutes, the Pacers out-scored the Jazz 27-17 with half-court precision and a stifling defense that led to transition opportunities.

Best Move: 2:51 1st-Qtr – With Roy Hibbert on the ground battling Favors for rebound position, Trey Burke wisely pushed the ball in the open court, using a beautiful hesitation and cross-over to blow past George Hill and finish with a layup with no shot-blocker in the paint. That play sums up the lift Burke gives the Jazz – a point guard who can control the pace but also understands when to attack – and has the ability to be a playmaker in the open-court.

See A Different Game

Trey Burke had another impressive performance with 13 points and a game-high 9 assists (he should’ve had a minimum of 11 with a couple of point-blank looks missed by Favors and Kanter) and just 1 turnover. Burke shot 5-12 from the field and 2-2 from behind the arc.

The interesting thing is that of 4 Burke’s 5 field goals came in transition – 3 layups and a right-wing pull-up three. Burke’s lone half-court basket was a catch&shoot three off a Richard Jefferson penetration&kickout.

The Pacers did a fantastic job taking away the threes and layup attempts Burke was getting via pick&roll the past three games. In high screen-roll last night, Burke shot 0-5 from the floor to go along with 1 turnover and 3 assists. A couple of Burke’s misses were open shots you feel comfortable with him taking while the rest were the types of contested/semi-rushed pull-up jumpers that the Indiana Pacers typically force.

Pacers at Jazz 12-4-2013 Screen-Roll Defense

As you can see, on high screen-roll the Pacers (#3 George Hill) goes over the screen which chases the ball-handler off the 3pt-line. Roy Hibbert (#55) always drops back off the screener into the lane, where he is put into position to address his responsibility of defending the paint. As a result, the Pacers bait you into shooting that pull-up mid-range jumper – one that often comes with an open look at the rim but also can be rushed with a defender challenging from behind.

This is what helps make Indiana so good defensively – they keep their rim-protector in the paint to defend and stay at home on the perimeter so they don’t get caught in many 3-on-4 disadvantages that often a accompany a big showing out hard then trying to recover.

On side screen-roll the Pacers normally tried to force baseline into help where they gave up the pick&pop jumper to the screener. Kanter and Favors were able to take advantage by shooting 5-8 in side pick&roll situations. As a team Utah shot 7-13 in side screen-roll to go along with 2 turnovers for 16 points. Even on their empty possessions, they still got excellent looks (such as a turnover the result of a fumbled pass by Kanter who had a wide-open 6-footer, Favors missing a wide-open 12-foot baseline jumper, and Favors not being able to put down a dunk over Mahinmi).

The Pacers are a terrific defensive team, but given the open shots Favors and Kanter were receiving – next time I think the Jazz would like to run a few more side pick&rolls where they got good looks rather than high screen-roll which plays more into the Pacers’ strategy.

I Don’t Get It!

The biggest surprise to me was following the game when Trey Burke said the Pacers’ pick&roll defensive tactics caught him off guard.

Question: “Anything surprise you about what [Pacers] did in the 1st or 2nd half?”

Yeah I would say the pick&roll coverage, you know they were kinda lulling us into shooting that 5-foot jump shot…there was a couple of times I came off and kinda held it a little bit when I jumped in the air…and I think those are shots that I can definitely hit – they tried to stay in the corners with the shooters so it wasn’t like I could come off and hit Gordon or Alec in the corner cause they stayed…it was just a matter of just executing.” -Burke.

As you can see – that is who the Pacers are defensively (when watching focus on the defender guarding the screener).

When I heard these comments I wanted to shout from the roof-tops:

It’s mind-boggling to me that a professional basketball team can play the Pacers and afterward have a point guard who was unprepared for their screen-roll defense. Considering Burke is a rookie playing just his NBA 8th game and facing Indiana for the first time, you can’t fault him. With an off-day and playing at home (in a game the opponent also chose to play offense in front of their own bench in the 2nd-half), it is entirely on the coaching staff to prepare their team for this.

Even this idiot wrote two days ago that after torching the Rockets’ screen-roll defense, Burke would need to convert from mid-range against Indiana. It’s like playing the Broncos and being surprised afterward that they played 11 personnel (1RB1TE = 3WRs) so often. You might not have success against it – but you shouldn’t be surprised about their tendencies.

(Oh and if any Jazz coaches or players are reading this your next opponent, the 16-3 Portland Trailblazers defend high screen-roll in a similar manner).

Odds and Ends

  • Wednesday’s official attendance of 15,519 marks a season-low and (re)sets the mark as the 2nd-lowest figure in the 23-year history of the Delta Center/Energy Solutions Arena (that the Jazz have set three times this season). The 2013-14 Jazz now hold 3 of the 4 and 5 of the 11 smallest crowds in DC/ESA history.
  • Enes Kanter and Brandon Rush vented frustration at each other (10:16 4th-Qtr) on a play where Burks had a reverse-layup blocked that led to a George dunk in transition. Racing back on defense, Kanter repeatedly motioned for Rush to stop ball while Rush retreated as if he expected Kanter to do so. After the basket Kanter said something to Rush who slammed the ball down in frustration and barked back at Kanter. Heat of the moment play, but not one we’ve seen in live action too often.
  • Favors and Kanter became the first pair of Jazz players to post 20-points/10-rebounds in the same game since Favors and Millsap did it March 4, 2013 in Milwaukee.
  • Favors has shot 56% in the last 13 games and currently sits at 51% for the season.

The Final Word

The Jazz got out to a quick start and gave good effort overall. Favors and Kanter showed they could play effectively together (like they did last season) and despite a cold-shooting night from Hayward (3-14) and some depleted depth (no Marvin or Evans), Utah still held a 1-point lead early in the 4th-quarter. Richard Jefferson again struggled mightily to the point it may be time for a change at SF with Marvin or Burks (who played another strong game) getting the nod.

The most disconcerting thing was the apparent lack of preparation by the Jazz coaching staff for Indiana’s screen-roll defense. It’s not simply looking at losses and drawing the conclusion that a poor job is being done. It’s little incidents like these that add up over 3 years.

As John Wooden said, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. The Jazz have built a little momentum recently and finally appear to be playing near potential. A fundamental key to coaching is putting your players in the best position to succeed. I’m not sure better preparation would have produced any better results against Indiana, but with youth and not a great deal of experience – preparation is the one thing the Jazz can control. It may not have been great last night, but it needs to be in the future. Trey Burke deserves that.

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Jazz at Pelicans 11-20-13

Final Score: Pelicans 105, Jazz 98

Run It Back

Best Shot: 5:50 4th-Qtr – On high screen roll, Trey Burke faked Jrue Holiday like he was utilizing the screen going right, crossed behind-his-back and came back middle where he hit a pull-up 3 to pull Utah within 90-82. More on Burke later.

Best Move(s): 10:14 3rd-Qtr – Enes Kanter hit a Jack Sikma reverse-pivot face-up jumper over Jason Smith stepping off the right block.
9:02 3rd-Qtr – 3 possessions later Kanter found himself in the same position. This time Smith had to crowd him to takeaway the jumper so Kanter put the ball on the floor, drove baseline and finished with a reverse dunk similar to the hammer he put on Cole Aldrich in the 2012 preseason. This is the basic move/counter-move setup that great bigmen utilize. Good offensive game for Kanter with 19 points on 8-13 shooting. Appeared to struggle defensively but not all of that was his fault (will elaborate later).

Best Drive: 1:39 1st-Qtr – Alec Burks drove baseline around Evans and converted a hanging up-and-under reverse layup under the outstretched arms of Ryan Anderson.

Best Execution: 7:07 3rd-Qtr – With 2.7 left on the shotclock and inbounding from the baseline, Utah wrapped Lucas off a 4-man picket fence for a wide-open layup. Lucas started the 3rd-quarter on fire, with 11 points in the first 5-minutes. He cooled down with two misses and a turnover that led to two Pelican fastbreak layups, but raised his 3pt% from 24% to 31%. 14 points shooting 4-5 behind the arc – I’ll take that like it’s already Christmas.

Best Block: 9:23 3rd-Qtr – Anthony Davis was jogging back on defense when he got to midcourt and saw an open Hayward on the right wing where he sprinted 15-feet like a Cheetah pouncing on his prey to emphatically block Hayward’s three out-of-bounds. What a player Davis is already, he’s going to be a nightmare to face 4x/season for the next decade.

 Stat of the Game: Gordon Hayward shot 1-17, dropping his FG% from 43% to 40%.

Gordon Hayward’s Misses

1. 19-foot baseline jumper fading to his left with the 7-footer Smith lunging out at him (off Jazz’s standard screen-the-screener baseline out-of-bounds play).
2. Step-back three behind Favors’ hand-off with Anthony Davis challenging.
3. Missed layup off curl with Smith challenging.
4. 20-footer from top-of-the-key off pin-down with Eric Gordon’s hand in his face.
5. Screen-roll yielded a switch with Davis on him, going 1-on-1 Hayward’s step-back three was partially blocked.
6. Pull-up 18-footer in-and-out. Wide-open look but bizarre timing, Jazz ran after a Pelicans’ make and Hayward shot with 20-seconds left in 1st-Qtr – too late for a 2-for-1.
7. Catch-and-shoot three from top-of-the-key, pretty clean look with a late challenge by Davis.
8. Left-wing transition catch-and-shoot three with Davis flying out but another good look.
9. Open baseline jumper fading to right off baseline-out-of-bounds play.
10. Wide-open pull-up 15-footer off high screen-roll.
11. Wide-open transition three that Davis blocked from the backside.
12. Wide-open left corner three against New Orleans zone.
13. Open top-of-the-key three vs New Orleans zone.
14. Side screen-roll, drive down lane emphatically rejected by Tyreke Evans.
15. Must-shoot contested three from right wing with shotclock winding down.
16. Left-corner three off kickout from Burke.

Hayward started the game taking some difficult low-percentage shots, then spent the rest of the game missing a lot of makeable looks. Maybe the early misses caused him to start pressing or maybe it just wasn’t his night at all, but while a few misses rimmed out a good portion weren’t even close. I’m no shooting expert but when you take a lot of tough shots on the move or have them altered by length, sometimes that’s enough to break your mechanics down. This is the same guy who scored 27 on 12 shots in the win last Wednesday so I expect a strong bounceback game from Gordon Friday night.

Trey Burke’s Debut

Trey Burke began his NBA career in impressive fashion, with 11 points, 1 assist, and no turnovers in 12-minutes of play.

A few noteworthy plays:
1. 3:43 1st-Qtr – Drove left on Brian Roberts down lane and converted finger-roll with Anthony Davis challenging for first career points.
2. 0:45 st-Qtr – Drove left off high screen-roll for another layup. Love how Burke was strong with the ball and used veteran-like patience and hesitation to let Amundson (guarding the screener) show out, where he then used Amundson’s recovery path as interference to start his drive.
3. 11:07 2nd-Qtr – High screen-roll, Pelicans show out and Burks comes off the screen wide enough to fire a laser right-hand pass off-the-bounce to rolling Favors for a layup.
4. 11:22 4th-Qtr – On Utah’s first possession of the quarter, Favors drew a double in the post and kicked out to a wide-open Burke who missed a three. Burke didn’t hang his head and on next possession dogged Austin Rivers to disrupt a dribble-handoff leading to runout lay-in.
5. 9:16 4th-Qtr – High screen-roll between Burke/Favors netted no advantage initially so they re-screened and this time Burke made an outstanding bounce pass to Favors down the lane. Favors missed but got the rebound and scored.
6. 7:22 4th-Qtr – High-screen roll Burksecame off really hard and wide, forcing Anderson (showing out) to switch onto him where he then hit a step-back 20-footer from the left wing.
7. 5:50 4th-Qtr – High screen roll where Burke faked using the screen and crossed back middle and hit pull-up 3.

Burke was the best screen-roll point guard in college basketball and that was evident last night. He knew when to come off hard and wide to stretch the defense and force a switch, how to use the lumbering bigman defender to create interference and most importantly was able to make shots.

Quickness is often attributed to his game, but I love how Burke is “strong with the ball.” He’s able to take contact while getting to his spots, and he’s able to use his off-arm to create just enough separation on his drives to the basket. There are a lot of quick guards in the NBA who can’t get into the lane consistently because they need a clean path. Burke can use screen-roll to his advantage and then turn that half-step into a full-one because of his craftiness and “point guard strength.” Only 12 minutes, but he showed everything we hoped from him in his brief appearance.

Screen-roll Defense

Sorry to beat this like a drum but it’s the primary reason the Jazz rank 25th in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions. As is often the case, Utah’s screen-roll defense involved having their big (guarding the screener) show out while the guard fights over the screen, then recover back.

The Good
7:07 1st-Qtr – A Jrue Holiday/Jason Smith high screen-roll (guarded by Hayward/Kanter), where Kanter showed out and Smith rolled free down lane, caught the pass but Richard Jefferson (who left non-shooter Al-Farouq Aminu in corner) rotated to make a spectacular block at the rim.

This is probably how Corbin and Lowe envision their pick&roll defense working.
The problem is not only are you relying on your 6-7 SF to block a 7-footer at the rim, you leave atleast one wing wide-open and as I wrote in last weekend’s Jazz/Warriors Breakdown, even if you do rotate properly, you’re still left with mismatch disadvantages if the offense choses to back the ball out.

The Bad
2:36 1st-Qtr – A Brian Roberts/Anthony Davis screen-roll with Favors showing out, forcing Evans to rotate to Davis rolling down lane leaving Evans’ man – sharpshooter Ryan Anderson – wide-open for three.

6:50 2nd-Qtr – High-screen roll where you’re asking Favors to show out on Holiday and then recover and beat a rolling Anthony Davis to the rim after Davis has a 5-foot head start. Layup for Davis in an unfair footrace for Favors.

1:01 2nd-Qtr – Jason Smith pick&pop with Kanter not able to show and recover to him in time. The only strongside help capable of rotating in time was Favors who’s guarding Davis on the baseline. If Kanter can’t teleport from the foul line area to the right win in half-a-second, this play is virtually impossible to defend with this sort of strategy.

6:11 3rd-Qtr – More show and recover screen-roll defense gives Holiday a wide-open 5-footer where Kanter briefly shows then runs back to the screener (Anderson camping out at the 3pt-line) and Lucas (trailing Holiday by about 8-feet) was unable to catch up.

0:24 3rd-Qtr – High-screen roll where the Jazz made a good recovery and chased Anderson off the 3pt-line, but he drove and kicked to Jason Smith who Evans raced out to but fouled on the close-out. Again – the constant scramble to recover just puts you in bad situations and your opponent in advantageous ones.

How Did Ryan Anderson Get Free?

New Orleans took advantage of Utah’s screen-roll defense with a clever wrinkle. The Pelicans ran a pick&roll with 7-footer Jason Smith setting the screen, but instead of rolling to the rim Smith screened then ran and set a pindown screen for Ryan Anderson stepping back to the 3-point line.

Considering the Jazz have problems guarding basic pick&roll – this caused mass confusion that they never could decipher.

11:47 2nd-Qtr – Pelicans ran a Brian Roberts/Luois Amundson side screen-roll, where Amundson ball-screens for Roberts then off-ball screens for Ryan Anderson stepping back behind the arc. With Favors showing on the ball-handler Roberts, there was no one to help Harris (matched up on Anderson) being screened by Amundson. Harris oddly decided to run through the screen and picked up a foul that was tacked onto Anderson’s three.

10:11 2nd-Qtr – Another wrinkle. Double side screen-roll with both Amundson (vs Favors) and Anderson (vs Harris) ball-screening for Roberts. Anderson pops and Amundson rolls, Favors shows out and there was a miscommunication with Favors expecting a switch but Harris stayed with Anderson while Favors initially recovered toward Anderson also – and Amundson broke open for a layup

9:39 2nd-Qtr – Pelicans ran the exact same thing on the very next possession, this time Favors recovered straight to Amundson but still fouled him at the rim. Basically Favors had to jump out almost to the 3pt-line and then race the pass 20-feet to Amundson at the rim. Favors covered a lot of ground quickly but nobody is faster than the basketball. It’s like a human racing a speeding bullet. And people wonder why Favors doesn’t have more blocks…

1:21 3rd-Qtr – Pelicans showed high screen roll with Austin Rivers and Anderson, but instead they slipped Anderson and ran him off a (big-on-big) flare screen. Evans was out of position ready to show out when Anderson slipped, and was then picked off trailing. Kanter (guarding Smith) didn’t show out fast enough and Anderson hit his second three.

8:52 4th-Qtr – High screen-roll with Roberts/Smith, Jeremy Evans (guarding Smith) shows out on Roberts, Smith rolls and sets a pindown screen for Anderson. Favors – guarding Anderson – again had no one to help him on the screen and Anderson’s open three put New Orleans up 84-73 forcing a Jazz timeout.

8:14 4th-Qtr – On the Pelicans’ very next possession they run the same play –  a Roberts/Smith screen-roll. Kanter (in for Evans) shows out on Roberts, Smith rolls and sets a pindown screen for Anderson, no help available for Favors, Anderson three – splash. 87-73 Pelicans.

Not sure what the Jazz discussed in their timeout, but it apparently didn’t involve adjustments to counter this which had now resulted in three Anderson 3-pointers.

1:39 4th-Qtr – For good measure, Pelicans close out with a basic Holiday/Davis high screen-roll – Kanter shows out, Davis rolls free for dunk (no way Kanter can race back in time). Unlike RJ’s 1st-Qtr block, the only potential strongside help could come from Favors who was guarding the red-hot Anderson. Leave Anderson open or pick up Davis? The nightmares of a 4-on-3 dilemma.

Odds and Ends

  • Utah’s point guards combined for 29 points, 9 assists and 4 turnovers on 12-22 shooting
  • Root Sports mentioned Karl Malone had a 1-16 game. It should be noted that performance came when Malone was 39 years old, playing in the second night of a back-to-back, and facing the eventual NBA Champions. Not all 1-16 (or 1-17) games are created equal.

The Final Word

Plenty of encouraging signs last night. Trey Burke looked really good in limited action. Enes Kanter played very well offensively. Jeremy Evans is healthy and again showcasing the mid-range jumper he unveiled in summer league. The Jazz limited their turnovers to 14 after committing just 10 Monday night.

Utah’s pick&roll defense is awful – but I feel that as long as the current coaching staff is in place that will be the case. Hopefully as Trey Burke’s role increases, Utah’s offensive production will as well which could allow them to stay in more games since relying on defense doesn’t appear to be a viable option. Trey Burke is back, and that alone marks another new and exciting chapter for the development of this team.

Finally, if anyone was going to torch Utah’s abhorrent screen-roll defense, I’m glad it was Ryan Anderson. After all he’s been though, it’s nice to see him playing well in his first couple games back.

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John Stockton and Trey Burke

In Monday’s Utah Jazz media day, perhaps the most interesting story told involved Trey Burke’s summer pilgrammage to Spokane, Washington (he was accompanied by Alec Burks) where he personally trained with John Stockton. In the past Stockton had worked with Deron Williams (prior to DWill’s breakout 2006-07 sophomore season) and there’s no doubt the amount of knowledge and experience he can impart to a 20-year old rookie like Burke is invaluable.

One of the items Burke mentioned, was how to react when teams go “under” on the pick&roll. Burke stated that prior to working with Stockton, he was perhaps more prone to take a quick perimeter jumper but Stock taught him to be more patient and utilize the “re-screen.” This is another element of the pick&roll that Stockton&Malone worked to perfection and something you see players like Tony Parker of the Spurs still doing with great effectiveness now.

The real benefit you get from immediately re-screening is you essentially invert the pick&roll (sort of like flipping the direction of a run in football if you see the defense overloading to one side).

For example on side screen-roll instead of screening middle and rolling baseline, you’re screening baseline and rolling middle (or often popping as the weakside defense has more time to collapse and cut off the lane). Not only can you gain depth on the secondary screen, you often catch the defending big in “no man’s land” as he’s sagging off the screener to allow his guard to go under. If it’s side screen-roll, and the guard gets caught high, the screener’s man becomes the focal point and we all know 3/4’s of NBA bigs don’t defend screen-roll well.

Additionally, if the defender goes under the first time, he’ll often go under again so the pull-up jumper will still be there if the big doesn’t step up – but you force the defense to work harder, increase the percentage of getting your team a layup, and still receive an equal or better look at the basket.

This also takes patience and understanding on the screener’s part – to instantaneously recognize what the PG is doing, break off the initial roll and remain stationary long enough to set a legal “re-screen” – but also to know whether to pop or roll the second time around while providing the passer with the window to make that “pocket pass” which Burke mentions.


Here’s a frame-by-frame example of a classic Stockton&Malone side screen-roll where they’re patient and “re-screen” to get a better shot.

Stockton-Malone Screen-Roll Re-Screen #1

1.) Standard side screen-roll.

Stockton-Malone Screen-Roll Re-Screen #2

2.) Here the defensive strategy is to play it soft and go “under” on Stockton. Stock’s man will meet him on the other side of the pick to cut-off the driving lane while the screener’s man will loosely defend the Malone which negates any immediate roll-action. Defensively, this gives Stock an off-the-dribble three but also prevents any uncomfortable scenario where Stock is penetrating or the bigman is required to move his feet or go out on the perimeter to defend a point guard.

Stockton-Malone Screen-Roll Re-Screen #3

3. Instead Stock opts to “re-screen.” The result is his man gets caught top-side as Malone screens baseline and this puts the onus back on the bigman. If he stays at home on Malone, he gives Stock an open lane for a layup. If he comes out to defend Stock 15-20 feet from the basket he risks Malone rolling to the rim for a dunk. Ultimately he comes out but too slow – and Stock hits a pullup 15-footer in his face. So Stock was patient, passed on an initial three, went for the re-screen which put all pressure back on the bigman to defend – and got a rhythm jumper from 15-feet.


As you can see here, running the pick&roll to perfection is something John Stockton did it night-in and night-out for 19 seasons. Nobody is expecting Trey Burke to be another John Stockton – but he can take some of the things Stockton did and incorporate them into his own game to help become the best Trey Burke he can be.

Despite the questions lingering after summer league, I believe a first-rate version of Trey Burke is something that will make Jazz fans smile a lot over the next several years. Another thing that should also is the fact that John Stockton is still assisting.

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The Jazz struggled in their second game of the Orlando Pro Summer League, falling 85-71 to the Houston Rockets and losing 3 of the 4 quarters. Here are individual highlights from Utah’s most prominent players:

Trey Burke 11 Points & 2 Assists

Burke once again struggled shooting but he did improve his overall percentages from Sunday and made several plays that once again exhibited his tantalizing potential. He was at his best in high-screen roll with a pull-up jumper and then a brilliant split and lob pass to Jeremy Evans amongst his most impressive plays.

Alec Burks 18 Points

Burks led Utah in scoring with 18 points, and although he also struggled shooting just 5-15 – his aggressiveness earned him 9 free throw attempts in which he converted 8. A main problem of Burks was as the Jazz fell behind in the 2nd and 3rd quarters, Burks tried to take over the game rather than stick to Utah’s halfcourt offensive sets which weren’t having much success either against Houston’s ball pressure. As Burks began to press, he made some mistakes but overall nothing terribly to be concerned about.

Rudy Gobert 4 Points, 7 Rebounds & 2 Blocks

Gobert only took 3 shots from the field, but one was a surprising left-hand jump hook. Any offense from him outside of point-blank dunks and layups should be considered a bonus during his rookie season.

Jeremy Evans 10 Points, 8 Rebounds & 2 Blocks

Jeremy Evans showed off his hops with a spectacular block (off a great rotation against screen-roll) and an awesome rebound in which he head neared rim-level. He also hit a nice pick&pop baseline jumper off a pass from Alec Burks.

Michael Stockton Three-Pointer

Michael Stockton scored 7 points and his only FG as an open three he drained from the left wing. He remains a long shot to make the Jazz roster but even in 2013 – watching a Stockton three pointer never gets old.


The Jazz are back in action Wednesday against the Brooklyn Nets.

2013 Jazz Summer League Schedule
7/7 – Sun – Miami (W – 6 points)
7/9 – Tue – Houston (L – 1 point)
7/10 – Wed – Brooklyn – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/11 – Thu – Indiana – 11:00 AM ET/9:00 AM MT
7/12 – Fri – TBA

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Trey Burke Michigan The Journey

The Big Ten Network’s documentary-style show “The Journey” recently profiled Trey Burke and several other athletes leading up to and through the 2013 NBA Draft. Here are excerpts that include all segments featuring the Utah Jazz’s rookie point guard from the past two episodes – Michigan’s Trey Burke.

The Journey: Trey Burke – Pre-Draft

The Journey: Trey Burke – NBA Draft

“The Journey” is the BTN’s first original and highest rated series, documenting football and men’s basketball for the Big Ten Conference. The show offers behind-the-scenes access and insight and in 2010 was nominated for a Sports Emmy. Show information and airing times can be found here.

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Trey Burke Michigan Highlights #1

Today’s post will be short and sweet. It appears the Utah Jazz achieved their best-case scenario in last night’s draft by acquiring the draft rights to point guard Trey Burke (9th overall pick) from Minnesota in exchange for the 14th and 21st overall picks. Rather than sit back and take what will likely amount to two average role players at-best, Utah was aggressive and landed a playmaker widely regarded as the best point guard in the draft and someone who appears to be the perfect fit for their team. While the Jazz also made two shrewd moves in acquiring the rights to center Rudy Gobert (27th overall from Denver) and point guard Raul Neto (47th overall from Atlanta) – the Burke trade alone made their draft a success.

I’ve kept tabs on Burke since he was a senior in high school and think he will provide Utah exactly what it needs as both a point guard and leader. In the coming days I will break down Burke’s game further, but for now here’s a short video profiling his 2013 season in which he was named First-Team All-American as well as Big Ten Player of the Year and National Player of the Year. The first-half of the video includes excerpts featuring Burke from the Big Ten Network’s “The Journey,” while the second-half includes highlights from his 2013 collegiate season.

Obviously draft picks can only truly be judged several years down the road, but for now the Jazz appeared to have filled a massive hole at point guard with someone who could stabilize the position for the rest of the decade.

Winston Churchill cautioned that “Success is never final, failure is never fatal,” but after the failures from the past several Jazz seasons, celebration and excitement over the last night’s draft success is certainly justifiable.

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