Jazz Vs. Nets And The Team’s List Of Priorities
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast, New York Daily News reporter Kristian Winfield jumps on to discuss the Utah Jazz matchup with the Brooklyn Nets and why they’ve gotten off to a slow start so far this season.
Then, KSL Sports own Ben Anderson answers your mailbag questions regarding the Jazz, including sorting out their priorities as they further develop the roster this season.
You can listen to the podcast in the player below, or subscribe to Jazz Notes at the bottom of the page.
Jazz Face Shorthanded Nets
When the NBA schedule was released, it looked like the Jazz would get their two first true tests of the season against the Los Angeles Clippers in Salt Lake City, and the Nets in Brooklyn within the first seven games of the season.
The Jazz proved they had the depth to compete with the Clippers in the 106-100 victory, but might not be facing the championship contender they expected in Brooklyn. The Nets came into the season with high hopes, but injuries and a lack of chemistry have doomed them to a 3-4 start through seven games.
“There was a belief that [Durant] and Kyrie were going to come in and they were going to be the saviors, they were going to just carry this team to a championship,” Winfield said in the podcast. “And we’re learning very quickly that that is not the case.”
The Nets ran in their first real bump in the road when guard Spencer Dinwiddie suffered a partially torn ACL that will cause him to miss the rest of the season. Beyond poor health, the team has yet to click as an entire unit after a shortened offseason and training.
Nets star Kevin Durant is expected to require seven days of quarantine before returning to action due to contact tracing/exposure to COVID-19, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) January 4, 2021
“There’s that period where you understand this team has to grow to get from point A to point B,” Winfield said. “But the growing pains, you did not expect them to be this ugly. And early on it is not pretty in Brooklyn.”
Now, after being exposed to someone with COVID-19, Durant is expected to miss the next seven days with the Nets due to league protocol, further slowing the team’s development.
The Jazz suffered a similar fate last season after acquiring Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in the summer of 2019. Fans expected the Jazz roster to step on the floor ready to compete for a championship but were eliminated in the first round thanks to injuries and inconsistency.
Though the Nets are unlikely to suffer a similar fate in this year’s postseason, they undoubtedly will have some growing pains throughout the season, and the Jazz are catching them at a good point in the season.
Answering Your Mailbag Questions
Do you anticipate Shaq Harrison’s role increasing, or do you think he’ll be stuck playing clean up unless there’s an injury to one of the guards?
— Jerruh (@chairmanotb) January 4, 2021
Anderson: I do think developing a clearer role for Shaq Harrison in the Jazz rotation is on the team’s list of priorities. But for now, I think there are still a few things higher on the list that Quin Snyder wants to take care of.
First of all, the starters finally appear to be jelling after more than a year together, and when it works, they are going to be really hard to beat. Even when Donovan Mitchell and Bogdanovic have struggled this season, the Jazz have enough depth with Conley and Rudy Gobert to provide in the starting lineup.
Against the Clippers, the bench play of Joe Ingles and Derrick Favors carried the Jazz the rest of the way.
Against the Spurs, Mitchell and Bogdanovic had the hot hands, while Jordan Clarkson carried the second unit.
I think solidifying those eight guys (add Royce O’Neale in with the starters) are the top two priorities for the Jazz this season. Then it gets into who gets those minutes as the ninth man. Right now it’s been Georges Niang due to his added spacing, but if Harrison can prove his defense and shooting from last season are real, he might be able to carve out a spot as well.
It would be ideal if the Jazz knew what to expect from him come the postseason when they are almost sure to be matched up with one of Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Devin Booker, James Harden, Jamal Murray, or Steph Curry in the first round.
With how reliant the Jazz may be on older players for post season success + a condensed schedule, do you foresee the team load-managing their players throughout the season at some point?
— Tommy Newell (@the__toe) January 4, 2021
Anderson: I suspect they will with the amount of travel and back to backs that they will face throughout the season. It just makes sense to try to steal a few days off for Mitchell, Gobert, and Conley at certain points throughout the season considering the depth they have.
However, Snyder has had opportunities to do it in the past and hasn’t really used the change very often, so it might not be in his MO. He’s a pretty big believer and using every opportunity you can to improve and learn something new.
In regards to Harrison, resting one of Conley, Michell, or Clarkson on different nights throughout the year might give Snyder a good option to play the fourth-year guard in real rotational minutes.
Will jazz sign someone to there 15th man
— Miles Newby (@newbymiles89) January 4, 2021
Anderson: I would bet the Jazz leave it open through the trade deadline in case they decided to dump salary to get under the luxury tax.
The Jazz could conceivably trade one of their higher-priced roster players, but due to salary matching restrictions, they could be required to take back two players in exchange for whoever they send out.
With a roster spot open, they wouldn’t have to cut another player on the roster to take back the player in the trade.
Am I imagining it, or is JC's defense better this year. He always tried hard, but made bad decisions a lot. I don't think I've seen that as much this year
— Matt Miller (@Matt9204) January 4, 2021
Anderson: You’re right that he has always competed hard, Snyder has mentioned that several times.
It felt to me early in the season that he was still missing some rotations, and after a perimeter player would get an open look from three Clarkson would recognize that he was a step slow as a help defender. But that can apply to every defender in the NBA.
He does have the team’s fourth-best defensive rating at 100.3, but it’s probably too early in the season to think those mean a lot, though it does support what you’ve seen.
Last year Clarkson had the worst defensive rating of any real rotation player on the team, so seeing that improve is a good sign.
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