Why the Utah Jazz are ready to shoot the lights out in 2020-2021 season

Why the Utah Jazz are ready to shoot the lights out in 2020-2021 season

by Daniel Olsen |

While week one of the NBA offseason hasn’t been perfect, the Jazz have somehow remained perfect on the road. It was apparent after game one that the Jazz intend to shoot early and often. Teams are already starting to adjust to this strategy so the Jazz will be tested early and often. Let’s take a look at the trends for the Jazz and see how they can adjust to the strategies of other teams.

Shot chart breakdown:

Let’s focus on the three-point shot first. The Jazz have attempted less threes in their last two games. This has resulted in a gradual decline in point totals over the last three games. The Jazz attempted a franchise record 50 threes in their first game, 34 in their second and 36 in their most recent game.

The hottest spot from downtown varies with each game. The Jazz were hot on the right side from the break in their one point win over the Thunder last night. They were cold from everywhere else. In the loss to the Timberwolves, the Jazz struggled everywhere, making only 10 of their 34 attempted shots – a feeble 29 percent. While they made shots from everywhere beyond the arc, each make seemed to be coupled with three misses from the same spot.

Shot chart via espn.com analysis.
Shot chart via espn.com analysis.

The first game was the best of the season. The Jazz were perfect in preseason and carried that momentum into opening night in Portland. They were especially hot from the right corner and everywhere above the break.

From the shot charts, we can see that the Jazz shooters love the right side from above the break and favor the right corner over the left. They also seem to be not as comfortable from straight on. Perhaps they need to focus on that shot more as it seems to be an easy shot. They focus a lot on the corner three so maybe they need to go back to the basic and figure out how to be lethal from every spot on the floor.

Player analysis: Hot or Not?

No we are not bringing back a Utah Jazz version of the old dating app. In this segment, we will see where the Jazz do their most damage not only from a shooting perspective but other stats as well.

Hot: Mountain Mike

Mike Conley Jr. is shooting better than anyone on the team from three (with the exception of Miye Oni who made the only shot from downtown that he attempted). He is shooting an electric 42.9 percent from deep. Ironically, he is shooting that same percentage from the field. He hasn’t gotten to the line a bunch yet so his 72.7 percent shooting from the charity stripe isn’t as underwhelming as it may seem.

He has done most of his damage from deep in the first game and found his inside game in the second. In the third game he got the mid range going. His experience and versatility are critical for the Jazz. He isn’t a pure shooter but he is a consistent scorer (that is the 2020 HORSE Champion, after all) and averages just under 20 points per game. He will be critical in the success of the Utah Jazz.

Not: Bojan Bogdanovic

After being one of the clutch shooters for the Jazz in the pre-bubble season last year, Bojan has cooled off. He is currently an underwhelming 26.7 percent from the field and 31.3 percent from the three. While he is a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line, his overall scoring is leaving much to be desired. He doesn’t need to be the top scorer on the team but he needs to show up in key moments. He really cooled off against the Timberwolves, but he had a great first game and marginally good third game.

My concern here is the fourth quarter play. Bogdanovic is supposed to be the clutch guy. His game-winners against Milwaukee and Houston last year were unforgettable. However, in his first three games he only managed one make from the field and that was a deep three in the most recent win for the Jazz. That shot brought the Jazz within two points with just over six minutes to go. Hopefully that shot will be the catalyst for more clutch play when his name is called.

Undecided: Donovan Mitchell

While Mitchell’s percentages are unbecoming of a player with a max extension, he is still leading the team in scoring with 20.5 points per game. He also had a clutch layup to give the Jazz the lead for good in a closer than expected win over the young Thunder. Mitchell has already missed 62 shots from the field and made just 16, but he is still the leader on offense. He does put up a larger volume of shots than anyone on the team, but he is making them in the clutch when it counts.

His hot spots are above the break and at the rim. He is hardly taking any mid-range shots (about 1-2 per game) which is good. The shots he is taking are high quality shots. He did shoot a couple more mid-range shots in the last game so maybe he is trying to add a few more looks to his arsenal.

Rudy Gobert: Defense is valuable too

Of players that average more than ten minutes per game, Rudy Gobert has the highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) on the Jazz. Ironically it matches his jersey number at 27.88. This metric was created by John Hollinger and is meant to boil down a player’s contributions into one number.

While it measures mostly offensive statistics, it does take blocks and steals into account. Gobert is averaging 1.7 blocks and .7 steals a game, but expect that number to go up. Also, he does pull down 14.7 rebounds a game which is currently tied with Andre Drummond for best in the league. While every shot Gobert makes is in the paint, he makes these shots at a high clip which is why his PER is so high.

16.7 points a game is not bad for Gobert so hopefully he can keep getting good looks. He will become an MVP caliber player if he can eventually get at least a mid-range game like Karl Malone did late in his career. He did attempt one mid-range shot in the second game but it wasn’t that pretty.

Key for the Jazz: Do what makes you great

Every player has something that makes them great. Right now the stars in Gobert, Conley and Mitchell are doing their thing. Role players like Bogdanovic, Ingles and O’Neale need to step it up and gain some confidence. Once these players start having some breakout games, things will start to click. It can sometimes be too much pressure for the stars to handle teams every game. The three is a big part of what the Jazz do but they also need to get the pick and roll going. The Derrick Favors pick and roll needs to be used way more. Gobert’s offense thrives off it and Favors can thrive too if this is utilized when he comes off the bench.

If the Jazz can create wide open looks from three, run the pick and roll with a variety of players to perfection, and feed off the defense of The Stifle Tower himself, the Jazz will start to emerge as one of the top contenders in the West. For now, they aren’t looking that great. They had an A+ performance vs Portland but followed that up with two sub-par performances vs bad teams. They did find a way to win though so 2-1 isn’t bad for week 1. Hopefully if they implement these suggestions I’ve described, they can get one more win in 2020 when they take on the Phoenix Suns on New Year’s Eve.

Featured image © AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

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