Which Jazz Players Will Make The All-Star Team And More Mailbag Answers

Feb 5, 2021, 3:26 PM | Updated: 4:48 pm
Utah Jazz guards Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell defender New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (P...
Utah Jazz guards Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell defender New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball (Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s a good time to be a Utah Jazz fan as the team owns the best record in the NBA and are playing the best basketball the franchise has seen since the late 90s when it made two runs to the Finals.

The Jazz have won 13 of their last 14 games and over a 22 games sample size, there should be confidence that the 17-5 record is more substance than semblance, but should be tested during a tough February schedule.

On the latest episode of the Jazz Notes podcast, Ben Anderson discusses the team’s success and answers your Jazz related questions. You can listen in the player below, or subscribe to Jazz notes in the link at the bottom of the game.

Jazz Notes Mailbag

Why Are The Jazz An Improved Rebounding Team?

Anderson: I think there are a few reasons the Jazz have become an elite rebounding team and they are worth looking at.

The Jazz own the league’s best rebounding percentage because they’ve seen an overall increase in offensive rebounding rate. While their defensive rebounding rate has climbed modestly from 74.6 last year to 74.9 this year, their offensive rebounding rate has skyrocketed from 26.1 to 30.2.

The Jazz ranked 20th in the NBA on the offensive glass last year and have seen that ranking climb to second this season.

But why?

Last season the Jazz had three players average at least one offensive rebound per game, including Ed Davis and Tony Bradley. Bradley replaced Davis midway through the season, so in all reality, the Jazz only had two players each game averaging at least one offensive board per game.

This year, that number has climbed to five, with Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Royce O’Neale, Donovan Mitchell, and Mike Conley all averaging at least one offensive board per game.

First, Quin Snyder is asking his team to offensive rebound more aggressively than last season.

There are a few schools of thought in the NBA on whether to offensive rebound or get back on defense, and both have their strengths and weaknesses. First, teams score at a high percentage on offensive rebounds, and extra possessions are valuable.

But, you also risk allowing the other team to get the ball out in transition with favorable numbers because you might have smaller players attacking the offensive glass.

A coach has to decide if it’s better to have his team grab those offensive rebounds and get extra possessions while risking easier baskets for the opposing team. Or, push to get back in defense hoping you can slow the other team’s attack off missed baskets

Right now, Snyder is asking the Jazz to crash the glass and it’s working in the team’s favor as they still own the league’s third-best defensive rating at 107.

Additionally, the Jazz are shooting more three-pointers than they did last season. As we all know, long shots make for long rebounds, even if the Jazz do make their threes at such a high success rate.

Last year the Jazz took 35.2 threes per game, now they take 41.7. Last year they missed 21.8 threes per game, now they 29.7. That means the Jazz have 7.9 more chances of getting longer offensive rebounds each game, which is also contributing to their improved offensive rebounding, and rebounding rate overall.

Which Jazz Players Make The All-Star Team?

Anderson: The easy answer is I would love to see Mike Conley make his first All-Star team in his 14th NBA season. He’s simply a tremendous player, and right now would retire with the crown of best player to never make an All-Star game which isn’t a title anyone wants to own.

Conley should make it, but the West is loaded with guards and it will be tough to get picked even as a reserve.

I do think however that with the number of players who have expressed concern about the league holding the game, Conley may have more opportunities than just the four guard spots and two wildcard spots to make the Western Conference team.

I won’t be surprised if a few players opt to skip the All-Star game, forcing commissioner Adam Silver to handpick a few late additions to the squad, and it would be hard to pass on Conley in that situation.

Second, I think Mitchell is probably more deserving of the All-Star game this year, though again, with the West’s loaded guard rotation, Gobert probably has an easier pathway.

I will tell you this, Gobert gets a million-dollar bonus if he makes the All-Star team which affects the Jazz salary cap situation, so behind closed doors, they may prefer to have Mitchell make it instead.

Don’t be surprised if all three make it if the Jazz still sit atop the West for the next few weeks.

Can Anyone Stop The Jazz Offense?

Anderson: Here’s a bad answer, yes and no.

While Atlanta did a nice job of stymying the Jazz three-point attack, I think there was some mirage in how well they performed.

First, the Jazz still made 13 threes and shot 48 percent, which is their third-best success rate of the season. Though Atlanta broke the Jazz streak of 11 straight games with at least 15 made threes, they still let the Jazz get enough good looks from the perimeter that the result of the game was a 21 point blowout.

Second, Mike Conley may have been as big a reason for the Jazz lack of threes as anything Atlanta did. Conley picked up a stupid third foul late in the first quarter and had to miss the entire second quarter as a result.

The Jazz took 12 threes in the first half getting only eight minutes from Conley and still made five.

They took 15 threes in the second half and made eight. If Conley had played a full 30 minutes, the Jazz might have easily attempted 30+ threes and continued their streak of 15 makes.

But to Atlanta’s credit, they did have two long, experienced defensive players in Rajon Rondo and Clint Capela that helped disrupt the Jazz pick and roll play in the first half.

The reason the Jazz are so good defensively is that Gobert is such a force, he allows them to defend the pick and roll with just two players. Favors does the same, and ideally so does Udoka Azubuike, which is one of the reasons they drafted him.

The Hawks can do the same with Capela, and Rondo in place of the injured Trae Young. That means perimeter defenders didn’t have to help off the Jazz shooters, which limited the Jazz ability to get threes through most of the game.

So, who has a good guard defender and a good big who can both switch, drop, and defender the rim against the pick and roll? The truth is, not many, and that’s why the Jazz are so good this year.

The Brooklyn Nets were able to do it with Jarrett Allen in the lineup, but shouldn’t be able to after the James Harden trade.

The New York Knicks did it for stretches with Elfird Payton and Nerlens Noel, but Noel doesn’t start.

The Los Angeles Lakers can do it with a few wing defenders, including LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and might be able to blow the Jazz offense up as a result. The Jazz will get a good test of this when they see the Lakers on the 24th of this month.

The Milwaukee Bucks have the length and rim protection, so do the Indiana Pacers, and now the Cleveland Cavaliers.

But just because those teams have the pieces to do it, doesn’t mean they can totally shut down the Jazz offense. Last night in the first half when the Jazz pick and roll was failing, which eliminated the team’s three-point shooting, the Jazz went isolation heavy with Bojan Bogdanovic and Jordan Clarkson, and those two combined to score 25 points no 10-16 shooting.

You really have to pick your poison against the Jazz and there aren’t many good answers for opposing defenses.

If I didn’t answer your questions here, I did in the podcast. Give it a listen and thanks for responding.

You can subscribe and download the Jazz Notes Podcast at the link here.

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Which Jazz Players Will Make The All-Star Team And More Mailbag Answers