Five Themes from Utah Jazz Media Day
Five themes such out from the comments of the executives, coaches, and players who participated in Utah Jazz media day
Hurray for Media Day!
Following the most successful free agency period in Utah’s history, Jazz fans were on cloud nine with the prospects of their team. “If only the season started tomorrow,” we thought.
But the dogs days of summer loomed ahead. The weeks creeped by as the anticipation continued to bubble up.
Monday’s Media Day was the first sign to the fan base that the season is within view.
Players, coaches, and executives participated in interviews, streamed live on instagram, and participated in photo shoots and commercial films.
After digesting the hours of content from Media Day, five themes stick out from Monday’s action:
Throughout the offseason, much has been mentioned regarding Utah’s roster turnover. With so many new faces and undefined roles, opportunities abound everywhere.
Royce O’Neale and Georges Niang have put in a lot of work this summer. Both expect to receive bigger roles this year and are poised to exploit it.
Nigel Williams-Goss signed a deal with the Jazz this summer, giving him an exciting opportunity. He commented that “I got out here as soon as I could… Just working, every single day, just trying to get ready for the season.” Miye Oni and William Howard find themselves in similar situations.
Dante Exum may find his role expanded as Dennis Linsey shared that they are putting him down as “a player”, capable of providing value at multiple positions.
From two-way players to training camp invitees to veteran Joe Ingles, there are opportunities at every turn to learn and grow together.
Part of growing together is finding the chemistry, the synchronicity. Camaraderie is a theme hinted at throughout Media Day that could have the biggest impact on the Jazz’s success early on.
One of the most humorous moments of Media Day came at the tail end of Ingles’ and Conley’s turn at the podium. Mitchell ended with the final question: what do call the Bogdanovic/Ingles shooting duo.
Conley, quick on his feet, proposed the nickname “The BoJoe Show”. His response was met with approving laughter from the media members and Donovan himself.
This is just one example of the camaraderie that is building within this team.
Bojan Bogdanovic joked with David Locke about not having to talk because Joe Ingles would for him. Conley worked out with Donovan over the summer and regularly talks with Stanton Kidd.
Rudy hosted the team for dinner at his home just last week. Many of the Jazz players attended an RSL game together last weekend.
Though continuity isn’t a theme this year (thank goodness), it seems as though the “Jazz DNA” is helping to foster unity amidst the players and trust in their coach.
We all know of Quin Snyder’s genius. Over the summer we at Jabber Jazz wrote an article arguing that Snyder is the biggest beneficiary of the offseason additions.
Still, Utah Jazz executives made it a point to note their trust and confidence in Quin. “I think I get really excited about the possibilities that are available to Q. He’s an unbelievable teacher.”
Quin’s ability to teach and connect with players was a talking point for Mike Conley. “I always thought he was a great coach,” Mike said of Snyder. “He’s really intense, he really knows his stuff. When he tells you he’s gonna talk to you for 5 minutes it ends up being an hour.”
As stated previously, Quin’s basketball genius is old news. Even his ability to develop young players is widely known.
But one underrated part of Quin Snyder’s
success has been his ability to bond with and establish mutual respect with his star players.
Quin put his signature on the Jazz his first year by teaching them defensive habits and solidifying Gobert as their future centerpiece. Since then they’ve become a defensive powerhouse.
But after a summer that lost plus defenders in Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors, questions have mounted about the Jazz’s potential on that end of the floor.
When asked about that end, Dennis Lindsey said, “Rudy’s gonna have to take on a little bit more. We feel great about Ed Davis who had a great defensive year.”
When you’re counting on Rudy to make up some of the difference, those are some good hands to be in. But not all of the owness is on Gobert.
Donovan Mitchell’s primary focus during the FIBA World Cup was defense, he said during his podium session. The advanced stats tell us that Mitchell is in the top 25% of defenders of the past three years. He
could be in for an impressive defensive year.
Arguably the second best defender on the team, Royce O’Neale has been working extremely hard this offseason. He’s in the 91%tile of defenders over the past three years, ninth among forwards. He could shoulder a majority share of the perimeter defense responsibilities.
In the end, Rudy believes they can still be as good as last year, saying as much to the Tribune’s Andy Larsen in an interview following Tuesday’s practice.
If he believes the new team can do it, shouldn’t we?
One of the biggest benefits of this Jazz team is the versatility that will lend itself to unique lineup combinations.
Up and down the roster are players who can float in and out of specific positions. It is definitely going to be a focus for the Jazz this year and a fascinating puzzle for Quin to tinker with.
Just last week we published an article talking about the Jazz utilizing a backup PG by committee. While seemingly far fetched, Jazz GM Justin Zanik near confirmed the approach during his podium time.
“We feel like there’s enough options there that we’ll get through the season at the beginning of the year… We have multiple ball-handlers on the team. Whether there’s a pecking order or not will be determined. Whether that’s Emmanuel Mudiay or Dante Exum or Donovan or Joe.”
The starting 4 position could also be adjusted on a game by game basis. Against the elite forwards in the league, the Jazz could start O’Neale for additional defense. Against teams with weaker defenses at the forward spot, the Jazz could start a potent lineup with Joe and Bojan at the forward spots.
The combinations are endless and the strategy could take varying forms. Quin has never had this luxury before and seemingly everyone involved is giddy about the possibilities.
In the coming weeks we’ll hear from training camp and witness the Jazz will square off in preseason. By month’s end they’ll kick off the 2019-20 season hosting the OKC Thunder. We’ll find out if such themes play out or if they’ll quickly be debunked.
But for now we know what we know.
Opportunities abound for the team as much as the players. Camaraderie is already building between the key cogs. Quin is a mastermind who has just scratched the surface of his potential. The defense is still a focus and has as much potential as ever. Lineup combinations will give the Jazz ultimate versatility.
We know the excitement is legitimate, the potential is real, and the ceiling is high.
For now, Jazz fans can relish that the season is just around the corner.