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Is it possible the Utah Jazz defense is better than we realize?

David Locke

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The Utah Jazz defense is currently ranked 3rd in the NBA and there is a good chance they are even better than that.  Through 8 games, the Jazz defensive rating is an incredible 96.3 pts allowed per 100 possession.   Only the Boston Celtics and the Oklahoma City Thunder defensive rating is better than Utah’s.

Digging into the numbers and the Jazz defense looks more suffocating.   Four of the Jazz eight opponents are currently ranked in the top 10 offensively.    The Jazz have held three of the four substantially below their season average.  The Denver Nuggets offensive rating against the Jazz was 98.7, in all their other games their offense has been a 107.3.  The Minnesota Timberwolves were 5.2 pts per 100 worse against the Jazz than in all their other games.   Oklahoma City whose offense is rolling at 108.1 in all games other than the Jazz was a 91.2 against the Jazz.

Thus far this season the Jazz have held opponents on average 8.5 pts per 100 possessions below their season average in their other games.

OPPONENT Off RTG

(not including Jazz)

Off RTG v. Jazz Difference
Denver 107.3 98.7 8.6
Minnesota 106.8 101.6 5.2
Oklahoma City 108.3 91.2 17.1
LA Clippers 109.0 108.2 .8
Phoenix 101.5 97.0 4.5
L.A. Lakers 98.3 88.2 10.1
Dallas 100.7 92.9 7.8
Portland 107.0 92.9 14.1

 

An eight game sample size does not make a complete season of work.  However, to get a perspective on this level of defense let’s compare it to some of the best defenses over the past few season

SEASON Best Defense Compared to Average
2016-17 San Antonio (100.9) 5.4 better than average
2015-16 San Antonio (96.6) 7.3 better than average
2014-15 Golden State (98.2) 7.8 better than average
2013-14 Indiana (96.7) 7.4 better than average
2012-13 Indiana (96.6) 6.4 better than average
2011-12 Chicago (95.3) 6.8 better than average

 

Defense are ahead of offenses early in the season so a defensive minded team such as the Jazz have an early season advantage.  Moreover, there is a regression to the mean that happens with all teams as sample sizes grow.  Yet, at 8.5 pts per 100 possessions better than league average the Jazz are functioning at very elite level.

Over the next stretch of games it doesn’t get an easier for the Jazz defense.   They play the 6th ranked offense in Toronto, the #12 ranked Rockets, the #11 ranked Brooklyn Nets and the #8th ranked Timberwolves in their next five games.    If their defense continues to protect the fort with the same veracity sample size will no longer be an issue.

Before embracing an offense or defense as “real” this early in the season it is astute to look to see if there are any shooting abnormalities.   Unlike Boston whose opponents are shooting an unsustainable 31% from three or Oklahoma City whose opponents are shooting 30.8% on above the break three point shots nothing jumps out when looking at the Jazz.

Opponents are well below average on the corner three against the Jazz just 10 of 38 and that will certainly increase.   The damage may not be extreme as the Jazz only allow opponents to shoot 5.2% of their shots as corner 3s the 2nd lowest rate in the league, something they did last year as well.    If the Jazz were to allow the league average 36% it would have a 1.5 pts per game impact.   For Oklahoma City and Boston the impact is in the range of 4 to 5 points per game.

The sample sizes are still very small with huge variance possible, but if the opening stretch of stifling Jazz defense is an indicator the Jazz defense maybe even better than realized.

 

David Locke enters his ninth year as the radio play-by-play voice of the Utah Jazz, having spent the majority of his career in radio in Salt Lake City and Seattle. In the summer of 2016, Locke created the Locked on Podcast Network which has podcast daily bite sized podcasts for every NBA and NFL team. A native of Palo Alto, Calif., Locke graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a degree in Political Science and Sociology. Locke and his wife have a son and a daughter.

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Utah Jazz

Danny Ainge the Executive Part 1 – Rebuild to Championship – What can we learn

David Locke

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In a part series a deep dive look into Danny Ainge career as a General Manager and what we can learn from how he might run the Utah Jazz. Ainge’s career has 4 stages and today we look at the first two the rebuild to the Championship. In the next episode we will look at the Fleece into a contender. The common threads of Ainge’s career are a great read of the moment, a variety in the types of players he acquires, added value that matters, perfect recognition of his talent, fleecing of other teams and he doesn’t always hit on this draft picks but he doesn’t miss. David Locke, the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider brings you the daily podcast on the Utah Jazz. Locked On Jazz Podcast https://www.lockedonjazz.net/ LockedOnJazz.com https://buff.ly/2FEZTVY Apple https://apple.co/3Dc8QBq Spotify https://spoti.fi/3IfvgVX Stitcher https://bit.ly/3pkGyzB Google https://bit.ly/3I8TwJz Follow David Locke on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DLocke09 #NBA #UtahJazz #DonovanMitchell #RudyGobert #NBAPodcast

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Utah Jazz

Luka Doncic and Dallas made Phoenix look like Utah and it was a bad day for Centers

David Locke

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Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks made the Phoenix Suns look the same way they made the Utah Jazz look. How did they do it? What does it mean for the Jazz and the Suns looking forward.

The Game 7 match-ups were a bad day for Centers in the NBA. Brook Lopez who had led the take away the rim style of NBA defense in Milwaukee had Grant Williams shooting 16 three point shots and the Celtics got the win. The Phoenix Suns #1 pick Deandre Ayton was played off the floor by the Dallas Mavericks as well as “internal” issues. Plus, the Mavericks 5 out drive offense makes it very hard for a center to defend on the perimeter.

David Locke the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider looks at all those options and sets the table for what the Utah Jazz can do.

Locked On Jazz Podcast

Locked on Jazz

LockedOnJazz.com https://buff.ly/2FEZTVY

Apple https://apple.co/3Dc8QBq

Spotify https://spoti.fi/3IfvgVX

Stitcher https://bit.ly/3pkGyzB

Google https://bit.ly/3I8TwJz

Follow David Locke on Twitter:

#NBA #UtahJazz #DonovanMitchell #RudyGobert #NBAPodcast

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Utah Jazz

Five off-season models for the Utah Jazz. Which do you prefer?

David Locke

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The Utah Jazz are confronting a pivotal off-season. How will they proceed? One school of thought, it has run its self out and to blow it all up? What benefit does that have? From there, there are three different approaches, trying to add a home run to the already set core of Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Another approach would be to move the a bunch of pieces to add pieces and add depth. The final choose would be to narrow down to one of the core pieces are re-mold the franchise with that core piece. David Locke the radio voice of the Utah Jazz and Jazz NBA Insider looks at all those options and sets the table for what the Utah Jazz can do. Locked On Jazz Podcast https://www.lockedonjazz.net/ LockedOnJazz.com https://buff.ly/2FEZTVY Apple https://apple.co/3Dc8QBq Spotify https://spoti.fi/3IfvgVX Stitcher https://bit.ly/3pkGyzB Google https://bit.ly/3I8TwJz Follow David Locke on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DLocke09 #NBA #UtahJazz #DonovanMitchell #RudyGobert #NBAPodcast

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