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Quin Snyder: Utah Jazz Return A “Maze” Of Preparation

Head coach Quin Snyder of the Utah Jazz sits with his team during a time out in their game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on January 17, 2018 in Sacramento, California.(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

.SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is one of the most detail-oriented teachers in the NBA. Notorious for hosting long practices for his players, the coach is a bastion of basketball execution. Now, Snyder says preparing for the Jazz return has been a maze of preparation.

The Jazz will travel to Orlando on July 7 to begin training camp. The team then has three weeks to prepare for their final eight ‘seeding games,’ after which the NBA postseason begins. The Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans will reopen the NBA season on July 30th.

Though the next three weeks of preparation have been dubbed as a mini-training camp, Snyder sees the opportunity as something different.

“I don’t really see it as a typical training camp,” Snyder said, “I see it differently than that. I think we have to compete — we have to play so we can see some of those things in order to make some of the adjustments. The word that comes to mind for me always lately is nimble.”

As a result, Snyder said the team has to be willing to embrace the unknowns that may present themselves within the NBA bubble.

“We have to be nimble in our ability to make adjustments and make them quickly,” Snyder said. “We may discover things about our team in the first scrimmage.”

Snyder: Jazz Return A Maze Of Preparation

With Snyder said the team has been willing to adjust to the unknowns they will face as they travel to Orlando, the coach said the lack of certainty demands more preparation rather than relying solely on reaction.

“There are so many variables, and that doesn’t mean we’re not thinking about them,” Snyder said. “You’re not going into it blind saying, ‘Oh wow, I wonder what’s going to happen?’ I think it requires you to plan even more because it can be a little bit of a maze and you try to figure out if you make a left turn, wow quickly can you go back and make a right turn if you run into a dead end.”

Despite the unknowns, Snyder said he has examined how the NBA’s return will mirror typical early-season games. The Jazz are tied with the Miami Heat for the best three-point shooting percentage in the NBA this season. While that’s been a strength of the roster, Snyder recognizes two issues with the team’s shooting identity as it returns to action.

First, the Jazz will be without forward Bojan Bogdanovic, one of the NBA’s premier shooting forwards. Second, shooting requires a skill that has to be honed during the NBA season. Having been away from the floor, Snyder said his team must develop that rhythm quickly upon their return.

“We can shoot,” Snyder acknowledged. “And when you’ve looked at some of these different situations as leagues have started to come back early in the year, there are some comps there. And shooting is usually something that suffers a little bit. So, I think we need to get a lot of shots I think we need to play with confidence.”

While the team can hope to regain its rhythm from beyond the three-point line, Snyder knows Bogdanovic won’t be returning to the floor this season.

“He’s not going to come back and pull a Willis Reed and run out to the court and be able to play,” Snyder said, referencing Reed’s infamous 1970 game seven performance for the Knicks against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Without Bogdanovic, the coach said he believes the Jazz will have to replace the high scoring forward by finding a new level of cohesiveness.

“He’s one of the top shooters in the league and you can score in the post you can score a variety of ways,” Snyder said. “So guys will begin to have a feel for one another and how this team functions as we get on the court and practice, scrimmage, and then play.”

Reconnecting on the Court

While all NBA teams have faced struggles during the league’s hiatus, perhaps no team was more uniquely impacted over the last four months. Jazz center Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player to publicly test positive for CVID-19, pushing the NBA to suspend its season. One morning later, Donovan Mitchell tested positive for the virus, leading to a highly speculative narrative regarding the two players’ relationship.

Mixing in the season-ending injury to Bogdanovic, and the Jazz have had a tumultuous late-season stretch that will require solutions upon returning to Orlando. Though the team faces an uphill climb, Snyder pointed towards one variable the team will have to channel to succeed in their return.

“I think our ability to reconnect,” Snyder said of the first challenge in Florida. “We’re a team. We know each other. At this point in the year, we’ve had a good regular season to be in the position that we’re in.”

Currently, the Jazz own the West’s fourth-best record. With just eight games remaining, the team will finish no lower than seventh in the playoff standings. Conversely, the team can overtake the Denver Nuggets and Los Angeles Clippers for the second seed, but can’t catch the Los Angeles Lakers.

While the team has had its off the floor struggles during the suspension of the season, Snyder said his team is excited to finish the season.

“The real enthusiasm right now is around playing basketball,” Snyder said. “The format is one that’s obviously foreign to everybody. It’s new, but the courts and the basket and the balls are the same, whether there are fans or not. Guys are going to compete, and I know our guys are looking forward to having that opportunity.”