Last week, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that the Utah Jazz want to be “faster, more efficient on offense.” So far so good—one would wager and hope that all NBA teams have a similar goal.
Really, the headline is unfitting. It should have read, “Utah Jazz change offensive mindset” or “Utah Jazz aim to improve scoring by 15 percent”. Both of those headlines have much more information in them, as opposed to their sad counterpart above. After a successful draft, improvement is a reality.
The Jazz have looked good in the NBA’s annual Summer League, with reports of Rodney Hood and Trey Burke working well together, and the players all getting along well off the court. This bodes well, and explains why and how the Jazz are looking to improve their offensive efficiency. For many years, the Jazz played slow, deliberate basketball. Much of the league was the same. It seems that the times are changing.
In the last couple seasons, Miami, the Los Angeles Clippers and Golden State showed what many believe to be the future of the NBA: fast, running, gunning type basketball, with emphasis on transition buckets as opposed to set pieces. With the new type of player coming in from college, the NBA takes the form much as campus culture does with each new wave of incoming High School graduates. College basketball players leave their universities having shot more threes, run more (and faster), and jumped higher than their dads and role models 15-30 years before.
The NBA is changing, and it’s time that the Jazz caught up. Jerry Sloan is a great coach. He is arguably one of the best basketball minds of the last 20 years. But his offense revolved around the big men. Sloan liked to have the big men alternating on the posts, setting screens and getting guards open jump shots or passes into the hoop. For his coaching tenure, Tyrone Corbin did the same. It’s time to change.
How can a team that plays slow, melodic ball almost all of the time be expected to compete with the high flying, fast teams focused on getting transition buckets before the other team even has time to set their defense? It puts the slower team at a much greater disadvantage (around 16 points per game in Miami’s favor last year). This is what people mean when they say the Jazz want to be faster and more efficient. They want to put more basketballs through the net, and want to do it on the fast break.
This is good, and will make the fans happy. Fast paced basketball is going to change things. Basketball is going to get progressively more exciting, faster, and (most likely) dangerous. Front offices are searching for the players that make playing basketball easy a real possibility, and what is easier than scoring on an open hoop? LeBron James knows. How long it will take until we see all teams following Miami and Golden State’s lead is unknown. One thing is certain—the players sure like it.