The Jazz have focused on defense in training camp and only allowed 78 points against Golden State on Tuesday.
The Warriors shot 32 percent and failed to score more than 21 points in any quarter. Significantly, the Jazz didn’t foul much, either. Golden State shot only 18 free throws.
"I thought we did a good job," Corbin said. "I thought our energy was good. We had some lapses, but we were up on guys early, we pushed them off their spots, we challenged shots and the rotations were pretty good. ... We made some strides."
Utah Jazz forward Jeremy Evans had the ball in his hands midway through the second quarter of Tuesday night’s preseason opener. Sitting in front of his locker before the game, Evans said he hoped to show off his outside range this season. But old habits started to take over after he missed his first attempt of the night.
There was space to raise up and fire, but Evans kept looking for a teammate.
"I wasn’t going to shoot it," he said afterward.
His teammates, however, yelled at him to do otherwise.
It’s been a common occurrence around the Jazz practice facility this season. As the slender and super-athletic Evans looks to earn more time on the court, he hopes his outside shooting will help transform him from a seldom-used spark plug to a major contributor.
The only problem? He has to shoot first.
"I’ve had times they’re all screaming at me, telling to me to shoot the ball because I pass up shots and I’m wide open," Evans said. "It’s mental. I know I can knock it down. I think I just need to be a little more selfish."
Evans was just that Tuesday night, to his coach’s and teammates’ delight. Evans took aim and raised up over Golden State’s David Lee to knock down that second jump shot attempt. Evans went on to finish with 12 points, half coming off jumpers.
"I’ve been waiting for him to show that the past three years," Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward said. "He’s been doing that in practice ever since he’s been here."
Interesting. I figured he'd just developed it recently. Hadn't really seen it til late last year.
Evans has made his living around the hoop in his three seasons in the league. Evans, a former slam dunk champion with an astonishing vertical leap, took 56 percent of his 44 attempts at the rim last season. He went 1 for 8 from beyond 5 feet the season before.
Evans said he dedicated much of his offseason to improving his outside game, firing up more jump shots this summer than ever before.
A more offensive-minded Evans certainly would be welcomed on a thin Jazz bench.
"He’s been working," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Where he don’t have the physical size to fight guys, he’s got the quickness and he can shoot the ball. He can come off and shoot in rhythm. He can make shots. … He’s gotten better. Now it’s getting the confidence to shoot in the game."
Coaches and teammates have kept pressing Evans to shoot in training camp. Only once, with a player draped all over him, he says a coach told him he shouldn’t have taken a shot he took.
"It was the first time since I’ve been in the NBA," Evans said.
Hayward, who was drafted by the Jazz the same year as Evans, said he’s been telling his friend to be more aggressive with the ball since they arrived in Utah.
"I even told him that the last play [Tuesday night] when he didn’t look at the basket," Hayward said. "I told him, ‘Next time, you better look at the rim.’ Especially when he’s hot."
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz don't have a lot of elbow room at practice, but coach Tyrone Corbin isn’t ready to trim the 20-man roster just yet.
Asked if initial cuts were coming soon, Corbin quickly pointed out that only 18 players are available. Marvin Williams (Achilles' heel) and Brandon Rush (knee) are recovering from surgeries.
The Jazz must whittle down the camp roster to a maximum of 15 players before the 2013-14 regular season begins at home against Oklahoma City on Oct. 30. Currently, Utah has 13 players with guaranteed contracts.
"We’ll look at it and see, don’t know when right now. We still have some guys banged up," Corbin said. "We still need to get a good look at the guys, give guys a chance to show what they can do in games. The guys are working hard."
Three players didn't see time Tuesday: veteran Brian Cook, late camp addition Lester Hudson and Dwayne Jones.
POWER PLAY: Power forward Dominic McGuire, an NBA journeyman who's played for seven teams in six years, saw more action than any of the guys in camp with nonguaranteed contracts. He had four points and four rebounds in 17 minutes.
“He’s a great communicator on the defensive end. He’s a physical presence out there. He tries to play right,” Corbin said. “Offensively, he runs the floor hard. He’s done a great job.”
Today Kirk Goldsberry did an interesting piece at Grantland. The premise was to figure out who is the best shooter in the NBA, using a metric better than field goal %. The thesis was De Andre Jordan has a better FG% than LeBron, but it is because of the lack of variance in his shot selection.
Goldsberry plotted every shot of every player and compared what their projected points scored should be compared to the league average based on shot location.
Inspired by Goldsberry work today I built a similar chart on last year’s Jazz team. I don’t have access to anywhere near the data that Goldsberry does. Instead, I broke all shots into 5 locations (rim, 3 to 9 feet, 10 to 15 feet, 16 to 23 and 3 pointers) and compared how players performed based on the league average at those locations.
Looking at the charts below you will see the Expected Pts Total, this is the amount of points a player who shot average from the 5 locations would score. Next is what the player actually scored. This is followed by the difference and then finally equalizing for shot attempts we have the Shot Score (Goldsberry term) for every 100 shots. If a player is positive this is the amount of points he would score above the league average of his shots in 100 shots and negative is the opposite
expected point chart 1
In this next chart I added some other data. Goldsberry did nothing to incorporate free throw shooting. I added a section that counts a players performance at the free throw line.
expected point chart 2
There are some flaws in this research. Players who choose to shot a large amount of shots from inefficient spots on the floor, but shoot those shots at a higher percentage than league average are rewarded. However, Goldsberry premise was he was trying to discover the league’s best shooter.
Points per shot attempt or pts per scoring opportunity (FGA and FT trips) are much better at evaluating a player’s offensive performance because they reward getting to the line and shooting three’s.
Therefore, in this chart I have added pts per shot and pts per scoring opportunity
expected point chart 3
What I discovered is Al Jefferson is truly one of the best shooters in the game. The shots he takes are very inefficient yet he does it well. His shooting was the best on the team last year. However, the majority of shots were very inefficient s and therefore his points per shot and points per scoring opportunity was not very good.
In contrast, Hayward has a terrific points per scoring opportunity, but this is based on shooting efficient shots and going to the line. It turns out Hayward is not an elite shooter. His shot score per 100 shots was only .99 pts above league average.
Of the current other 3 young Jazz players this shows how far Derrick Favors needs to go to develop his offensive game as he was considerably below the league average. Alec Burks did not have a good offensive year last year, farther below average than Derrick Favors.
On the other hand, Enes Kanter graded out as the 2nd best shooter on the Jazz roster (excluding Jeremy “small sample size” Evans). If Kanter continues his development he may be the offensive scorer of this group.
No surprises there other than I can see Burks being one of their best scorers.
Now this leads to the next research are you better off having good shooters or just shooters who shoot from the “good”(efficient) spots on the floor?
the sweet spin move Andris Biedrins did to get around Andrew Bogut from the free-throw line en route to a highlight hoop.
“It’s a good move,” Corbin said, smiling, when asked about the former Warrior big man’s surprisingly agile drive. “We’ll take it.”
He’ll also happily take a first win.
“We’ve given them a lot of stuff so far. They’ve handled it and processed it,” Corbin said. “(Tuesday) night was a pretty encouraging show of it.”
But after digesting the positive result, the Jazz coach made it clear that he’s in teacher mode with this rebuilding team.
Sure, the Warriors were limited to 32 percent shooting, but Corbin didn’t like how Golden State got early transition opportunities.
“I thought our energy for the most part was pretty good,” he said, “but we had some lapses.”
Corbin credited Jazz players, knowing the renewed emphasis on defense, for being on their guys and for pushing them out of spots.
“We challenged shots a lot, which is what we want to see,” Corbin said. “The rotations were pretty good, except for in spurts when we didn’t make the right rotations quick enough.”
“I thought we made some strides,” he said.
Corbin rattled off a list of improvements the Jazz need to make as they integrate young players into new roles and work incoming veterans into the mix. Utah has two days of practice before taking on Portland in Boise on Friday night.
“We’ve got to get a lot crisper on our offensive sets. We’ve got to get the ball down the floor a little faster,” Corbin said. “We’ve got to get to our spots quicker on the offensive end.”
The coach then returned to defense, which might give an indication of what’s been focused on in practices this fall.
“Defensively, we gave up too many transition baskets,” he said. “Their bigs outran us early. That wasn’t just on our bigs. Our bigs were trying to take a chance on offensive boards. Our perimeter guys have to get back and extend the guys a little bit sooner, meet the ball and stop the ball a little bit faster.”
Corbin isn’t one to dwell on the negative, though.
The coach was pleased with the way Lucas came in and backed up rookie point guard Trey Burke, who also played well after a shaky start. Corbin smiled when asked if Lucas, with a career scoring average of 5.1 points, will lead the Jazz in scoring, but he certainly wasn’t shocked to see an offensive outburst from the NBA veteran.
“He’s a fireball. He comes off with a lot of energy,” Corbin said. “He can make shots. He can play the game right, so we need his energy and his leadership.”
It was also a pleasure for Corbin to watch Evans hit outside jumpers and shoot with confidence. The springy 6-9 forward has wowed crowds with his dunking skills the past three years, but the team knows how effective of a scorer from mid-range Evans can be as well. Because of all the other things Evans brings to the court, particularly energetic defense and crazy athleticism, his playing time will increase with an increase in offensive confidence and production.
“He’s been working,” Corbin said. “Where he doesn’t have the physical size to fight guys, he can shoot he ball. He can make shots. He did a good job of taking the right shots.”
Corbin hasn’t set his lineup in stone, so it’s still possible Burks will join the starting crew at some point. But his coach was thrilled with what he brought off the bench against the Warriors.
“He’s crisper in his moves. If he makes his mind to go, he’s there,” Corbin said. “He’s such an athletic young guy. His body’s gotten stronger. He can deliver a blow to the big guys in the paint and finish after the contact.”
The Jazz had a strong defensive night last night holding the Warriors to 33. 6% shooting. The Warriors hit their season average nearly 40% from 3 but it was near the rim where the Jazz defense took effect.
The Warriors played their starters, who were playing their third game in 4 nights in the pre-season, mostly for the 1st and 3rd quarters against the Jazz starters. The Jazz did two things very well defensively, they rebounding and they protected the rim.
That should be one thing they are better at this year is protecting the rim.
Candidates: John Lucas III, Alec Burks. To a much lesser extent: Ian Clark, Scott Machado
This spot has some intrigue to me. Lucas has said all the right things since signing on the dotted line, and it appears that he is eager to serve in the mentor role for Burke. He is not the purest of point guards, but has experience that should suit him fine in Utah. Against the Warriors, Lucas was often the best player on the court. His shot selection was excellent and his hustle and enthusiasm, contagious. It was telling that the Jazz brass sent Burks to Spokane to work with Stockton, as well. He played minutes as the back-up last season, and while he had his moments, his performance was largely unspectacular. That said, the talent is there to be another ball handler and facilitator and he could get some extra PT here. A tandem of Burks and Lucas could be exciting and disruptive on defense. An interesting guy to watch during pre-season will be Ian Clark and whether he can play spot point guard minutes as needed. Machado has a good chance of making the team, but if so, will most likely anchor the bench.
Prediction: John Lucas III
Hayward, Burks and Burke should have the ball. Lucas is a 3rd stringer.
BACK-UP SHOOTING GUARD
Candidates: Alec Burks, Brandon Rush. Outside chance: Ian Clark
Tuesday evening, Burks came off the pine. That said, at least for now, I’ll stick with my prediction that he earns the starting nod. I could indeed see that possibly changing when Rush is fully healthy (in that scenario, I see Hayward starting at small forward and Richard Jefferson moving to a reserve role). Either way, Burks or Rush would be depended upon to provide leadership and scoring in the second unit.
Prediction: Brandon Rush
Makes sense to have Burks or Burke come off the bench if not both. Rush could start or come off the bench.
BACK-UP SMALL FORWARD
Candidates: Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans. Don’t forget: Dominic McGuire
Again, Jefferson got the opening night nod at the three. This is another situation in which I think health will factor heavily. It makes sense why Tyrone Corbin went this way last evening, especially seeing the results of Burks as the featured scorer off the bench. So, to remain consistent, my money is still on Hayward being the starter and then watching an interesting battle between Williams and Jefferson. Marvin has more to offer at this point in their careers. Jeremy Evans could get spot minutes at the small forward, especially if he continues to show a much-improved jump shot. Dominic McGuire not only has a great chance of making the final roster, but being called upon as a situational player. He does a lot of the small things that coaches love.
Prediction: Marvin Williams
Evans, Burks and Rush fill these minutes hopefully.
BACK-UP POWER FORWARD
Candidates: Jeremy Evans, Marvin Williams.
Evans has always been wildly productive during the spot minutes he’s played his first three seasons. Against Golden State, he displayed the full repertoire of what he can potentially offer as a rotational player. He hustled, crashed the boards, played solid defense, and showed offensive abilities. While he may still struggle against bulkier opponents in the post, his length and ridiculous leaping ability might more than compensate. This role is his for the taking and Corbin sounds very happy with his progress. Williams could fill the need for a stretch four against teams that employ a big front court.
Prediction: Jeremy Evans
Candidates: Andris Biedrins, Rudy Gobert
While Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will man most of the big man minutes, this will be a battle to watch. Against the Warriors, the veteran Biedrins got the first opportunity, but the young rookie played more minutes. The reports have been positive on both, with Corbin expressing admiration for the growth Gobert has already shown. This one could initially be a toss-up, but I think the French center will earn some minutes in the pivot.
Prediction: Rudy Gobert
Might see both of them.
Lastly, with 13 players on the roster with contracts (including Clark’s partially guaranteed deal), there could be two more who start the season in a Jazz uniform. Local media has mentioned the possibility of carrying a maximum 15 players–especially with recovering injuries being a factor. Should that be the case, McGuire and Machado might have the edge right now, with swingman Justin Holiday also being in the mix.
Mcguire looks to have the lead. Toss up after that.
The Mailman is serious about delivering his knowledge to the Utah Jazz big men — until his hunting trip in November. "To keep me from being late to practices I didn't bring my [camouflage], gun or a bow. I left them home so my focus was to come here every day." he said.
Karl, of course, is 'old school' and he is trying to get used to the methods and approaches of the younger generation. In vintage Mailman style, he shared his feelings on a few things: "I'm not concerned with your elbow pads, your knee pads, all of your garb and your full body armor. What do you need all that for? Our soldiers need that in Iraq and they're doing a hell of a job for us. Take all that off! We don't need that. What I need you to do is show up and be ready to play. That's it. "I had one of my ‘bigs' today and he had body armor from his thigh to his neck. I ask him what he was doing and he said he was protecting himself. I said 'Who you protecting yourself [from]?' There's no sniper in this building! Man up! If you're hurt, see the trainer and play the game.
Karl Malone just wrapped up the first week of an NBA training camp as a coach. He's coaching the young big men for the Utah Jazz and trying to instill in them the same desire and skills that helped Karl climb to second on the NBA's all-time scoring list. While he is here with them, his focus is second to none. Putting these young raw talents through workouts before and after practice.
"The first day it was tough and trying," Malone said. "I think our big guys don't know the severity of what is in front of them and how serious this is. I wasn't a happy camper. Then — it's amazing — they came back, they're here early; they want to do things. That's rewarding to me."
Karl, of course, is 'old school' and he is trying to get used to the methods and approaches of the younger generation. In vintage Mailman style, he shared his feelings on a few things:
"When I played, if you came out there with a sleeve on your elbow, I won't say 'I'm going to attack it,' but you're a wounded animal and I've got to take a stab at it. I like where we're at, but let's get rid of all that and play the game, encourage your teammates," Malone said.
Despite his faux crankiness, the 'old school' Malone is finding out he likes this coaching business. As long as it doesn't interfere with his hunting trip in November.
It was only preseason, sure, but Burke left his veteran backup, John Lucas III, impressed.
"He let the game come to him," Lucas said. "When I saw that, I was like, ‘Young fella’s gonna be OK. Young fella’s gonna be all right.’ I think he’s going to be a star in this league."
If that’s going to be the case, Burke will have another chance to prove it against top competition Friday, as the Jazz continue their preseason schedule in Boise against the Portland Trail Blazers and reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard.
"I’m very excited," said Burke, who described himself as a Lillard "fan." "This is what I expected coming into the league. Every night, you can’t relax. It’s no longer college."
He may not be in a classroom, but the education of Trey Burke continues.
"We talked about it during the summer, during training camp," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "Every night you’re going up against All-Star guys. Especially for him, the first time seeing these guys in an NBA setting, the first impression means something."
The ninth overall pick in the 2013 draft left more than just Lucas impressed Tuesday night, scoring 12 points and dishing out three assists in a 101-78 win over Golden State on Tuesday. Corbin was pleased with how his rookie floor general overcame a slow start and started knocking down jump shots, helping to erase the memories of going 1 for 19 from beyond the arc in summer league.
Still, Corbin said, there’s plenty of work left to do. As the national college basketball player of the year last season, Burke averaged 18.6 points and 6.7 assists a night for the Michigan Wolverines.
Scoring chances will come, but Corbin wants his point guard to become a better facilitator for the team.
"That’s going to be a balance for him," the coach said. "It’s going to take him a while. He’s been a guy who’s been such a dynamic scorer in his career. That’s what he’s used to doing. That’s his first instinct. But he’s trying to understand the importance of finding his teammates, find his teammates early and that will free him up more as the game goes on."
Burke is still working to understand the intricacies of the Jazz offense, but he said he’s making progress every day toward knowing the new system and where his teammates will be on the floor. It’s been a change from his system in college, which he said offered him "a little more freedom."
"Now I have to learn how to get guys involved more and just try to get my teammates going," Burke said.
The youngster hasn’t been shy to ask for help, Lucas said. Burke has come to him with questions about play design, defensive positioning and terminology.
"I’m not going to come in here and act like I know everything," Burke said. "The advice that they give, I try to soak it all in."
That’s another thing that has Lucas impressed.
"Most guys that come in that are high draft picks think they know everything, think they can play," Lucas said. "He’s coming in like, ‘I want to be better. I want to be the best PG in the NBA.’ That was his mentality. That’s exactly what he told me the first day I met him."
Tonight the Jazz will see two of the seven free agents they let wander elsewhere this past offseason. Point guards Mo Williams and Earl Watson are Lillard’s backups. Former Jazz guard Wesley Matthews remains with Portland, too.
“It’s hard to see the guys go, especially the good guys,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Mo did a good job here and Earl was great here with us. The main thing is to see them to continue to play and do what they want to do — playing NBA basketball."
Friday's preseason game — to be played on the court of the D-League’s Idaho Stampede — won't be televised. … Corbin seemed to be leaning toward using the same starters: Burke, Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. … The coach also hopes to find playing time for guys who didn’t play Tuesday: Brian Cook, Dwayne Jones and Lester Hudson.