One Team, One Stat: Should Jazz pick up the tempo?
Utah Jazz guard Ricky Rubio, left, passes around Los Angeles Lakers guard Tyler Ennis during the first half of an NBA preseason basketball game in Los Angeles, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
By John Schuhmann, NBA.com
NBA.com's John Schuhmann gets you ready for the 2017-18 season with a key stat for each team in the league and shows you why it matters. Today, we look at the Utah Jazz, who have been the league's slowest team under coach Quin Snyder.
The Utah Jazz averaged 1.22 points per possession in transition, the highest rate in the league last season.
But only nine percent of Utah's possessions, the second lowest rate in the league, were in transition.
The Jazz ran well, but didn't run often, playing a slow and deliberate style that allowed opposing defenses to get set. In each of Quin Snyder's three seasons as coach, Utah has ranked last in pace and either first or second in passes per possession.
As an aside, it's interesting that the other team that plays at a high altitude -- the Denver Nuggets -- has played at an above-average pace in 37 of the last 40 seasons, while the Jazz have played at a below-average pace in 25 of the last 29.
Ball movement is good, but transition opportunities are better. League-wide effective field goal percentage dropped from 60 percent in the first six seconds of the shot clock to 50 percent thereafter last season. The Jazz's effective field goal percentage in the first six seconds was a league-best 66 percent.
But the Jazz ranked last in the percentage of their shots that came in the first six seconds and first in the percentage of their shots that came in the last six seconds, when their effective field goal percentage was just 44 percent. They got 1.5 times the value in their early-clock shots.
With how slow they play, the Jazz haven't taken advantage of how good their defense has been. They've been a better-than-average defensive team in each of Snyder's three seasons, ranking third (their highest rank in 28 years) last season. The Jazz didn't force a lot of turnovers (they ranked 29th in steals per game), but more stops should still generate more transition opportunities.
Now, with Gordon Hayward gone, the Jazz are really lacking players who can create offense in the half court. They should have a top-five defense again, but to remain in the Western Conference playoff picture, they'll need to get more easy baskets.
It may be time to pick up the pace.
JAZZ NOTES - GENERAL
1. One of two teams (Boston is the other) that has seen an increase in wins in each of the last three seasons. They had the league's third biggest win increase (+11) last season.
2. One of three teams -- Golden State (first, second) and San Antonio (eighth, first) were the others -- that had both a top-10 offense vs. the league's top-10 defenses (seventh) and a top-10 defense against the league's top-10 offenses (sixth).
3. Were 27-18 (0.600) in games that were within five points in the last five minutes after going 14-28 (0.333) in those games the season before. That was the league's second biggest improvement in clutch games.
4. One of three teams -- Portland (13-2) and Sacramento (7-2) were the others -- that lost multiple games after leading by 20 or more points, going 20-2. They lost to Sacramento on Dec. 21 after leading by 20 and in Dallas on Feb. 9 after leading by 21.
5. Have ranked in the top five in rebounding percentage in 19 of the last 23 seasons.
JAZZ NOTES - OFFENSE
1. Ranked second with 3.44 passes per possession, but 23rd in assist rate, assisting on just 54.4 percent of their field goals.
2. Had the league's worst offense in the second quarter (100.1 points scored per 100 possessions) and the league's best offense in the fourth quarter (115.4).
3. Ranked second in clutch offense, scoring 121.6 points per 100 possessions with the game within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. That was an increase of 14.7 points per 100 from their efficiency on non-clutch possessions (106.9). Their two leaders in clutch usage rate -- Hayward and George Hill -- are no longer with the team.
4. In the playoffs, they took just 60.3 percent of their shots from the restricted area or 3-point range (the second lowest rate among the 16 teams), down from 65.8 percent in the regular season (the 11th highest rate in the league). That was the biggest decrease from the regular season to the postseason.
JAZZ NOTES - DEFENSE
1. Allowed their opponents to shoot just 51.3 percent, the league's lowest opponent mark, in the paint.
2. Only 28 percent of their opponents' shots, the league's second lowest rate, were from 3-point range. And only 20 percent of their opponents' 3-pointers, the lowest rate, were from the corners. The 144 corner 3-pointers they allowed were 12 fewer than the number allowed by any other team.
3. According to SportVU, only 67.4 percent of their opponents' 3-point attempts were off the catch. That was the lowest opponent rate in the league.
4. Only 12.7 percent of their opponents' shots, the third lowest rate in the league, came in the first six seconds of the shot clock. They had the league's second lowest opponent effective field goal percentage (38.7 percent) in the last six seconds of the shot clock.
5. Recorded just 13.4 deflections and 0.15 drawn charges per game, the lowest rate in the league. Both marks were league lows.
JAZZ NOTES - LINEUPS
1. Only playoff team that didn't have a lineup that played at least 200 minutes together in the regular season. Their regular starting lineup (and most-used lineup) -- George Hill, Rodney Hood, Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert -- played just 152 regular-season minutes (over just 14 games) together.
2. They were also one of two teams (Toronto was the other) that reached the conference semifinals and didn't have a lineup that played at least 50 postseason minutes together.
3. Outscored their opponents by 10.7 points per 100 possessions in 541 minutes with Favors and Gobert both on the floor in the regular season. But they played less than a minute together in the playoffs.
4. In the regular season, the Jazz were a plus-11.7 points per 100 possessions in 674 minutes with Joe Johnson at power forward and Gobert at center, compared to plus-1.4 with Johnson playing small forward and minus-3.7 with him at power forward alongside a different center. In the playoffs, Utah was outscored by 21.5 points per 100 possessions in 141 minutes with Gobert at the five and Johnson at the four, where he played all his postseason minutes.
JAZZ NOTES - INDIVIDUAL
1. Alec Burks recorded assists on just 8.6 percent of his possessions last season, the fourth lowest rate among 147 guards who averaged at least 15 minutes in 25 or more games.
2. Over the last five seasons, Derrick Favors has shot 34.5 percent from mid-range, the second worst mark (ahead of only that of Josh Smith) among 117 players who have attempted at least 750 mid-range shots over that time.
3. Rudy Gobert defended 10.2 shots at the rim per game, most in the league. And among players who defended at least five shots at the rim per game, only LaMarcus Aldridge held opponents to a lower field goal percentage on those shots.
4. Among 156 players who took at least 250 shots last season and 500 shots this season, Gobert (10.2 percent) had the third biggest increase in effective field goal percentage, from 55.9 percent to 66.1 percent. Only Tony Snell (12.5 percent) and Nick Young (10.5 percent) had bigger increases.
5. According to SportVU, Gobert set 2,736 ball screens, 275 more than any other player last season. He ranked second (behind Jordan) in points per possession (1.38) as the roll man on pick-and-rolls.
6. Jonas Jerebko had the sixth lowest usage rate (11.5 percent) among 153 forwards who averaged at least 15 minutes in 50 or more games last season. Thabo Sefolosha (13.4 percent) had the 20th lowest mark among that same group.
7. According to SportVU, Joe Johnson isolated 11.7 percent of the time after using a ball screen, the highest rate among 89 players who used at least 300. Among that same group, Johnson was also the least likely to pass to the screener, doing so only 6.6 percent of the time.
8. Johnson took 32.3 percent of his shots in the last six seconds of the shot clock, the highest rate among players with at least 300 total field goal attempts.
9. Among 121 players with at least 100 pick-and-roll ball-handler possessions, Rodney Hood had the second lowest turnover rate (8.1 per 100 possessions). Joe Ingles (30.5 percent) and Dante Exum (28.9) percent had the second and third highest rates, respectively.
10. Ingles and Hood were two of the 12 players who took at least 200 shots both at home and on the road and had a home-road effective field goal differential of more than 10 percentage points. Ingles had an effective field goal percentage of 64.1 percent at home and 53.4 percent on the road. Hood had an effective field goal percentage of 55.1 percent at home and just 44.9 percent on the road.
11. Ricky Rubio recorded assists on 41.3 percent of his possessions last season, the second highest rate in the league, behind only that of T.J. McConnell.
12. Rubio's effective field goal percentage of 44.8 percent was a career high, but still ranked just 166th among 174 players with at least 500 field goal attempts. He saw a big improvement in his mid-range field goal percentage (to 44.0 percent from 35.4 percent in 2015-16) but his 47.0 percent in the restricted area was the fifth worst mark among 244 players with at least 100 restricted-area attempts.
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