The Jazz are on the second night of a back to back. The Jazz got blown out last nigh in Oklahoma City. This was an all around poor effort across the board. No reason to "beat a dead horse" time to move on.
I want to look at tonight's game from a different perspective. Let's look at some things to watch both from a team perspective and individually.
- Team rebounding. This is a big deal. Early in the season the Jazz were in the top 5 in rebounding. Currently ranked 27th! Getting 40.3 boards a game. There is no reason this team should not be in the top 5. The have size, length and athleticism to be a great rebounding team. Simply put, rebounding is about effort and we can clearly see where the Jazz effort has been recently.
- Gordon Haywards aggressiveness. I think its clear that Hayward may not be a #1 option, the unfortunate thing for him is, he has been thrust in to that role. While he may not have all the intangibles to be that #1, he is slated as that option, he needs to be as efficient as possible. Gordon has been turning the ball over 3.5 times a game. When the team's offense slides, Gordon starts to force the issue, driving to the basket and the defense collapses and knocks the ball away. Last 4 games look like this...6, 5, 1, 6. The one game he had 1 turnover was versus the Pelicans. He let the game come to him and finished with 11 assists. Gordon needs to be aggressive, this is a given. He needs to pick his spots and in my opinion, needs to start his offense with aggressive drives to the basket.
- Post/Paint presence. The Jazz desperately need this on both ends of the court. Favors and Kanter must be more physical and deter the opponent from getting easy buckets inside. If they are going to foul, make it a hard foul. Make sure the opponent feels it. It will make the opponent think twice about driving to the basket. On offense, the Jazz need to throw the ball in to these two more often. Kanter has relied upon that mid-range jumper too much this year. He needs to get back inside and bang, use those good post moves he has. I think he is too worried about getting his shot blocked. If he is concerned about that, he needs to be going into the body of the big every time, trying to draw as much contact as possible, putting the onus on the officials. Favors post game has improved. Most teams are double both Jazz big men as soon as the start to dribble. This means that there is someone open. Also, if the bigs go early (make a move as soon as they catch in the post) its going to take away the effectiveness of the double. Teams will then be forced to foul Favors and Kanter. I would also like to see more of Jeremy Evans and Rudy Gobert in the rotation. Jeremy Evans starts fast and plays with a lot of energy. Its hard to keep him off the court. Gobert is constantly improving. If you are not getting the defense at the rim like you would like, put this guy in. He changes shots.
- Transition/Fast break. The Jazz are getting next to nothing from this part of the game. When they do run the floor, they don't do it with any sort of purpose. Where the Jazz can not shoot right now, there is not a better fix that than fast break, transition basketball. This is another area that is dictated by effort. You either want to or you don't. If the Jazz choose to play uptempo and be aggressive, Ty and the staff can not get upset or frustrated with a few bad shots in transition. I would rather have bad shots in transition as is show an effort to get some easy buckets.
- Turnover and free-throws. These to come down to concentration and execution. The Jazz turnovers have come down some from the start of the season, where they were averaging 19 a game. They have cut that down to 17 but that is still too many. Again its not so much just the turnovers, but where they make those turnovers. The majority of the turnovers are coming from the foul line extended, giving the defense a free run in transition for an easy basket. This kills the Jazz, due to the fact that the only guys back are your guards. No bigs there to protect the rim. As for Free-throws, this is simply about reps. The schedule has not been kind to the Jazz and has not given them much time to get in the gym and practice. But that is no excuse. There are plenty of stories of great players, great shooters having an off night from the the field or the line, being on the road and asking the arena to stay open or lights on for a while after the game so that player can get some reps in. If the Jazz want to get out of the shooting slump they are in and want to reach their potential, these are the kinds of things that need to be done.
Tonight the Chicago Bulls will be with out their MVP Derrick Rose. He tore his meniscus in his right knee a couple of nights ago and under went surgery this morning. His season is now over. Sad to see such an incredible player have such bad luck. Here's to a speedy recovery for the former MVP. That being said, the Jazz will still need to give 48 minutes of effort. As Jazz fans, that's all they want. They don't expect them to win every game. They just expect them to COMPETE EVERY GAME!