Thoughts: 1/10/2020 Jazz win big against Charlotte

The Hornets are not a good basketball team. I’m not sure they have one above average NBA basketball player right now to be honest. Devonte’ Graham is alright but nothing special, and he forces a lot of shots. Rozier, Biyombo, Zeller, Batum, and Marvin Williams are fine as bench guys but they really shouldn’t be playing any more than 20 legitimate minutes per night for a decent team. PJ Washington, Malik Monk, Dwayne Bacon, and Miles Bridges are good for their age, and they could become valuable starting level guys in the future, but they aren’t there yet. As evidence of this, Charlotte’s got the 26th worst NetRtg in the NBA at -6.8, and an expected 24.4 wins from that Net Rating going forward.

Despite this, they’ve got a record better than 8 other NBA teams, even after their loss tonight. They’ve been in some close games that they’ve managed to pull out, a good sign for a team full of young guys. Regardless, the Jazz should have won this game in the first half and that’s just what they did, going up by a bunch in the 16th minute of the game. They remain undefeated in tier 4 games (games at home against bottom ten teams). They’ve managed to take care of business against all but tier 1 games.

Now we look forward. Jazz run of late has contained 2 T1 games, 2 T2 games, 6 T3 games, and 4 T4 games. Their next six?


Then their next ten from there?


Jazz have got a chance to:

A. Continue to stack wins against bad teams and build momentum

B. Prove themselves against better teams, which they haven’t really done as much.

As of right now, we’re looking at the Jazz being the 5th best team by NetRtg against bottom 10 teams, 11th best against middle 10, and 12th best against top 10. Let’s hope that by the end of the season those can all be top 5 numbers.

Let’s check out the Jazz seasonal progress vs their past 3 years:

Quick thought on Rudy. He tallied 15 points in 29 minutes tonight. I’d be willing to bet that, more than any other player’s individual game by game counting stats, there is a higher correlation between the Jazz offense and Rudy’s point output. Essentially Rudy scoring points means one thing – the Jazz are attacking the paint and finding one of the most efficient targets in the league when there. When Rudy is involved in the offense, the ball then naturally moves to the corners and around the perimeter as we find the open man from the weak-side help. Last year, the Jazz were 15-4 when Rudy scored 20 or more points. This year, they’re just 3-2, but I expect to see that number rise.

The Jazz halfcourt play is really good. Like really, really good. While they rank 14th on the year in offensive rating, their halfcourt offense ranks 9th on the year. It’s weighed down by a lack of attempts to get offensive rebounds in order to get back on defense and a reluctancy to push fastbreak opportunities. No matter, since the turnaround began after their home loss to OKC, the Jazz have the best halfcourt offense in the league, at 101.7 points per 100 plays.

What about defensively? In that same timeframe, they’ve got the 8th best defensive rating, but they have the second best points allowed per play at 90.4. The Jazz ability to control pace and keep things in the halfcourt may make-or-break the team in the playoffs.

This is also good news for our Mike Conley fans. In his time on the court without Green or Davis (1000 possessions), the Jazz were putting up a very, very good 100.0 points per 100 plays. And Mike wasn’t even playing very well! Their halfcourt defense was similarly good, at 89.2 points allowed per 100 plays. Mike is very much an additive player, and joining him back to this now-surging group of players will only add to the good minutes we’re getting.

Of players currently getting rotation minutes, let’s take a quick guess as to how many are below average efficiency for their positions? One, maybe? Donovan right? Nope. Donovan is actually in the 75th percentile among combo guards in efficiency on the year. And better yet, he opens everything up for everyone else with his three-level scoring. So much so, that not a single player is below league average efficiency for their positions. As such, the Jazz – although just having the 14th best offense on the year – have the second best eFG% on the year – which converts threes to two point percentage – at 54.9%. Everyone on the team is blazing hot and has been all year.

Now get this, of the past decade’s 18 different conference champions, just one team (Cleveland in 2015) has finished outside the top 4 in eFG% and just four did not lead their conference in eFG%. In playoff basketball, shot making simply means more. The Jazz currently lead the Western conference.

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