Posted by: KCJones on April 9th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
I’m just wondering to myself after watching the Jazz fall to the Spurs….are the Jazz really good enough? I want them to make the playoffs, I really do. I like watching playoff games when the Jazz are in it. But I’m not sure they actually deserve to be in there. I was thinking about this when Patrick, a regular on these boards, blamed our wing play for our losses and absolved the bigs from responsibility. I feel differently about it. I think it comes down to efficiency, and frankly, two of our main scoring options are pretty bad in the efficiency category. I think it just comes down to that.
Let me show you something to illustrate. I’ve picked a random game in the NBA.
Random game: Team A – took 93 shots vs. Team B – took 69 shots.
Now that’s a pretty huge difference in shots taken, wouldn’t you say? Let’s pretend it was a contest between two teams without all the dribbling and whatnot. Just one team shooting 93 times and the other team shooting 69 teams. Feel free to divvy those shots out to members of each team as you will, and by the way — you must take a fixed percentage of those from close, a fixed amount from mid-range and a fixed amount from the three point line. Also, we’re going to throw in some foul shots, which don’t count against the total shots taken. We’re going to award those to players on each team based on how often they drive to the hole. Wouldn’t you think 93 shots would be a huge advantage to Team A versus a Team B that only gets 69 shots? If you score on average 1 point per shot, you would expect Team A to win 93-69, right? Well, let me surprise you (you saw this coming didn’t you): Team A LOST the game, even after shooting 24 more shots. And it wasn’t even close as they lost by 10 points. And double surprise, this wasn’t a random game, it was the Jazz loss to the Spurs last night.
Firstly, getting more shots than the other team IS important. 93 shots to the other teams 69?? I’ll take that every game. That’s a huge advantage. So why did we still lose? It all comes down to your efficiency with the shots you get.
WHERE you take your shots matters. Corner threes, layups and dunks. If your 93 shots are all those, you’re in good position. Contested mid-range jumpers and threes, not so much. Double-teamed shots from the post, not so great.
WHO is taking those shots and more specifically, how good they are at making them. Is your worst three point shooter taking the majority of your threes? Probably not a good idea.
DRIVING TO THE HOOP results in foul shots. You want players who move towards the hoop aggressively. Not only do you get foul shots, but you still have a chance to score on the shot AND you put other players in foul trouble.
GOOD DEFENSE keeps the other teams from being efficient. Good defenses force mid-range jumpers. Good defenses stay in front of their man and keep players from driving past them. Good defenses don’t foul a lot. when they do foul, they make smart fouls (not reach-n fouls on the other team’s point guard in the back-court). When they foul at the rim, it’s not a soft foul, it’s a foul to show the other team they should stay away from the rim and to keep shots from going in for three-point plays.
So I see a lot of deficiencies with the Jazz. First of all, Big Al is our #1 shot-taker. But he’s not very efficient. He shoots close to 50%. BUT, the way he plays isn’t conducive to getting free throws. He shoots jumpers, does lots of fake pumps. Most of his shots aren’t actually at the rim, and because he’s not driving to the hole much, he doesn’t shoot many free throws. When he scores 30 points its most likely because he shot the ball 30 times. Paul Millsap is a bright spot. He’s a very efficient scorer with a smooth jump shot. As far as efficiency, Paul Millsap is great. The concern I see with him is volume. He relies on energy play and when he’s gotten increased playing time, he has periods where he isn’t as effective because he lacks the energy he needs. We saw it this year after his great start and we’ve seen it in the past. Next up is CJ Miles. Our fourth-highest shot-taker, barely edged out by Gordon Hayward, although CJ beats him in shots-taken-per-minute. Basically, CJ is a chucker. CJ is also TERRIBLY INEFFICIENT, shooting 38% and just 30% from three. Here’s a run-down of each player and how many points-per-field-goal-attempt they average:
- 1.12 – Big Al
- 1.24 – Paul Millsap
- 1.28 – Gordon Hayward
- 1.09 - CJ Miles
- 1.32 – Devin Harris
- 1.25 – Derrick Favors
- 1.03 – Josh Howard
- 1.16 – Alec Burks
- 1.21 – Enes Kanter
- 1.28 – Raja Bell
- 0.93 – Earl Watson
- 0.98 – Jamaal Tinsley
- 1.07 - DeMarre Carroll
- 1.45 – Jeremy Evans
So…some problems. Big Al and CJ are not very efficient, yet together they have taken roughly 29% of all the Jazz shots. Let’s just say 1/3 for a nice round amount. That’s not good, Jazz fans. That’s a lot of points we’re leaving on the court. This also supports my ongoing campaign for Jeremy Evans to see more minutes. He just makes getting points EASY! 1.44 points per field goal attempt! Also, just to confirm: Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley are some of our worst offensive efficiency players. Just for kicks, some Spurs comparison info: Tony Parker scores 1.23 per FGA, Duncan scores 1.19 per FGA and Manu Ginobli scores 1.50 per FGA (wow), and together they shoot 36% of all shots. Notice a PG, Big and Wing are their three main guys and they are all efficient, and they take the biggest chunk of those shots.
So, I would disagree with Patrick in that it’s our wing and PG play that is killing us. In fact, G-Hay and D-Hair (those are going to catch on I promise) are among our most efficient scorers on the team! If you’re specifically talking about CJ, then yes, I concur. Sadly, with Josh and Raja out and Burks slumping a bit, we’re basically stuck with CJ getting minutes (unless his calf strain sidelines him long term).
I still hold to a couple things: A Big Al trade for an elite wing (I like Granger, Iguodala) would help this team’s efficiency. Jeremy Evans needs more playing time (also accomplished by the aforementioned Big Al trade). Devin Harris is our best PG, but we need one who can get into the paint and dish, preferrably a young guy who can grow with the team to back up Harris for a bit, then take over. And we need one or two more good shooting / driving wings. I just don’t think we’re good enough when our best offensive option is Al Jefferson.
One last note. This post isn’t to bag on Al or CJ, in fact I think both of those guys are great guys and I love having them on the team. Do I think they should shoot less of our team’s shots? Yes, definitely. I wouldn’t trade Al for just anything. Only an elite wing. CJ is a good dude, but I think he needs more coaching, honestly. I’m not sure he’s getting it with the Jazz. He would probably thrive in a Thibodeau or Popovich system. He would learn or he would ride the pine permanently. In fact, if he could just do a couple things to change his game I’d love to keep him: Don’t reach in. Just play D with your feet, stay between your man and the basket, and keep your hands up high. Don’t ever shoot a three pointer unless we are more than 8 points ahead. Drive to the hole every time. Look for the easy dump pass near the hoop. And boom, CJ becomes a solid wing. Also, I’m not sure Favors and Kanter can develop unless we release a dominant ego like Big Al. Raja seemed to have issue also with Burks getting playing time over him, so honestly I’m just not sure that the ‘win now and develop for the future at the same time’ can work with the giant egos that are NBA players.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.