Jazz Still Tinkering With Starting Lineup
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In five preseason games, the Utah Jazz rolled out the same starting lineup only twice.
The line-up made its two starts against the New Orleans Pelicans, and again against the Portland Trailblazers to close the preseason.
Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell were the Jazz starting guards. Rudy Gobert was the starting center, and Royce O’Neale joined Bojan Bogdanovic in the forward rotation.
Over the final three preseason games, the starting lineup remained mostly the same, with the exception of O’Neale and forward Jeff Green trading roles off the bench.
The Jazz had one of the more unique starting rotations last season, with Gobert paired with Derrick Favors to begin games. Favors was the first starter substituted out of the game, and would then back up Gobert as the team’s reserve center.
With Favors no longer on the roster, the Jazz will likely see longer sustained minutes for the starter. That means the lineup may play a more important role than the starters did last season, as they’ll make up a larger percentage of the rotation minutes.
That also adds to the importance of finding a rotation that’s capable of giving the Jazz an advantage.
Last year’s starters outscored their opponents by an average of 5.2 points per 100 possessions.
So far, the five-man unit of Conley, Mitchell, Bogdanovic, O’Neale and Gobert have been outscored 50-45 in just under 21 minutes together on the floor.
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The Jazz, who have struggled defensively, had their best preseason outing against the Pelicans in a 128-127 loss in New Orleans. With O’Neale in the lineup, the starting lineup outscored the Pelicans 17-9 to begin the game.
O’Neale had his best game of the preseason against the Pelicans, scoring 16 points on 6-8 shooting, and 4-6 from the three-point line.
Starting O’Neale allowed the Jazz to bring Green, a 10 year veteran off the bench. Green led the Jazz in scoring, chipping in 20 points of his own, missing just one of his nine shot attempts.
The Starters, So Far
The rotating starting lineup is due to the number of new faces on the roster, and workload management for the Jazz veteran roster.
“You want to get off to a good start. You put a group on the floor, but over the course of 48 minutes those things really have an impact as far as match-ups and combinations and all that stuff.” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “So those are the things we’re still learning about and that impacts everything from starts to who finishes the quarters to windows, when certain guys are out, making sure we have combinations that we feel like can help each other.”
Conley and Mitchell appeared in the starting lineup in four of the Jazz five preseason games, each sitting a game due to rest. Gobert started all three games he was available. Green started three games, but was available in all five outings, as was O’Neale, who started two games of his own. Bogdanovic was the only Jazz player to appear in the starting lineup of all five preseason games.
The Jazz will make their regular season debut next Wednesday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but who starts will be anyone’s guess. With the number of new faces on the roster, and a team that’s struggled to show consistency throughout the preseason, finding a reliable starting unit may be key to the Jazz success.
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