Three post free agency questions for the Utah Jazz

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Can the Jazz offense be average?

Looking through the current Jazz roster, it is obvious there will not be a dip on the defensive end this next season. Almost every pickup over the off-season made us even better on that end of the court.

The big question is going to be how they can stay afloat on the offensive side of the ball. That happens when you lose your top two scorers from the season before (Hayward – 21.9, Hill – 16.9).

It becomes an even more pressing question since they didn’t replace those players with known scorers. The primary replacement for Hayward is Thabo Sefolosha, who has a career scoring average of 5.9 points, and has never averaged more than 10 points per game.

We also replaced George Hill’s 16.9 points, with Ricky Rubio’s 10.3 career average. He is coming off a career year of scoring at a whopping 11.1 points per game, though.

Both Sefolosha and Rubio are upgrades on the defensive end, and while their scoring prowess is nothing to write home about, their defense could actually help us on offense in a roundabout way.

Last season, the Jazz ranked in the bottom 10 of turnover percentage, and they were second to last in steals per game. They primarily focused on forcing bad shots over forcing turnovers.

Next year, I expect those numbers to jump up because of the additions of Sefolosha (1.5 steals per game last season), Rubio (2.1 per game for his career), and Donovan Mitchell, who averaged 2.1 steals last season at Louisville, and six per game in the Vegas Summer League.

Rubio is one of the best fast break point guards in the league, and with the additional turnovers being created, the offense should be able to get some easy baskets.

Quin Snyder will also help to keep this offense afloat through his equal opportunity half court offense. Snyder has created an offense that focuses on everyone touching the ball, and using screens and ball movement to get open shots. They were fifth in the league last season with 11.7 screen assists per game.

It’s a longer video, but the footage below does a terrific job of showing detailed examples of the types of offensive sets the Jazz run.

David Locke recently wrote an article on The Medium that went over the history of slow pace teams that were also in the top half of the league in three point attempts per game.

"Synonymous with 3 point shooting has been playing with space and pace. However, this pairing may very well be faulty. Their has never been a correlation between pace and winning. Space yes, pace no. The money-ball approach to NBA offense is space and 3 point shooting, but a slower pace shows to be more important than high possession style."

The results were extremely encouraging for the Jazz next season. In the past 10 seasons, 11 teams have finished within the bottom 20 percent of pace, and also the top 20 percent in 3-point attempts.

Only one of those teams did not finish with a winning record, and that was last season’s Dallas Mavericks, who weren’t trying to win.

If the Jazz increase the turnovers they create on defense, continue with their slow style of play and have an uptick in 3-point attempts, their offense could remain above average enough to keep them in the fight for a playoff spot.