Three reasons the Utah Jazz offense will be better than people think

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 16: Rodney Hood (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UT - DECEMBER 16: Rodney Hood (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Faster Pace and Fast Break Opportunities

It’s no secret that the Utah Jazz have been one of the slowest teams in the league over the past few seasons as they’ve found success by slowly, methodically setting up a half-court offense and forcing teams to have to try to avoid making a defensive error for nearly the full 24-second shot clock. In the half-court set, the Jazz will likely continue this approach and rely heavily on consistent ball movement to get the best shot possible.

However, this season could indicate a major shift in Utah’s overall style as rather than rely so heavily on setting up the offense each and every time, they could very well look to pick up the pace, run the floor and take advantage of a disruptive defense which will lead to more fast break opportunities.

If offense is already going to be hard to come by, then finding ways to convert on easy baskets is going to have to be a point of emphasis for the Jazz. And there are few shots easier than a wide open layup on the break. Those points were few and far between last season, but fortunately, with several players who excel at logging steals, the Jazz should have ample opportunities to turn takeaways into easy baskets.

Perhaps the Salt Lake Tribune’s Kyle Goon said it best in a recent piece touching precisely on Utah’s offense:

"It seems that part of that identity will lie in what the Jazz see as their strength — defense. With Gobert protecting the rim and adding steal-creators in Rubio (1.7 spg in 2016-17), Thabo Sefolosha (1.5 spg) and potentially rookie Donovan Mitchell among others, Utah could be creating more fast-break opportunities. There’s certainly room to grow. The Jazz were second-to-last in fast break points per game last year (8.1 ppg). Snyder said having Hayward as a weapon factored into Utah’s dedication to running half-court sets. Without him, defensive stops that turn into fast breaks could be more of a focal point, particularly with a passer like Rubio running the show."

He brings up several solid points here. First of all, he mentions not only the steal experts that I already alluded to, but also the fact that Rubio is well-versed in pushing the tempo and getting the ball quickly down the court. We already saw examples of this in the Utah Jazz scrimmage at Hill Air Force Base and there likely will be many more still to come.

Additionally, it seems apparent that catering to Hayward, the team’s most prolific scorer from last season, was an enormous reason why the Jazz looked to slow the pace so often. Since he’s no longer in the picture, the Jazz could very well have more freedom to adjust their offense in a way that helps create more easy scoring opportunities.

Make no mistake about it, Hayward’s roughly 22 points per game and Hill’s roughly 17 won’t be easy to make up, but with a tempo-pusher in Ricky Rubio and steal experts in Rubio, Mitchell and Sefolosha, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see Utah knock out a big chunk of the scoring by simply getting to the rim with more ease off of takeaways and fast breaks.