Utah Jazz: One area of improvement for every player on the roster

Utah Jazz (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)
Utah Jazz (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Utah Jazz
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports) /

Rudy Gobert: Spacing 

The decision between floor-spacing and defensive versatility was not made without considerable apprehension. With that said, we’ve already spilled too much ink over Gobert’s inability to close-out three-point attempts in the Western Conference semi-finals against the Los Angeles Clippers, and besides, a man with such size that he’s nicknamed for a tower is unlikely to dramatically improve his foot speed over an offseason.

So, we went with spacing. Anyone who watches the Utah Jazz knows that Rudy Gobert is an absolute non-spacer. The front office has done a fantastic job of ensuring they run plenty of four-out lineups by surrounding the French rim-protector with shooters aplenty. Still, the development of an occasional three-point cannon, or even a midrange jumper, would do wonders for Gobert’s offensive profile.

Maybe the mere mention of the possibility of Gobert adding a jumper to his repertoire is wishful thinking. On the other hand, we know he practices them. Whether added floor-spacing is a realistic goal for Gobert or not, it would certainly benefit the Jazz’s quest for an NBA title.

Elijah Hughes: Finishing 

Elijah Hughes is yet another Utah Jazz prospect who is unlikely to garner Coach Snyder’s favor in 2021-22. However, improving his ability to finish at the rim could go a long way towards achieving that goal.

During Hughes’ 2020-21 rookie campaign, he shot an unimpressive 33% from the field. Uniquely, he actually shot a higher percentage on three-point attempts at 34.8%.

Granted, the 3.6 minutes he averaged over 18 games for the Jazzmen is a smaller-than-small sample size, but those statistics actually square with Hughes’ reputation heading into the draft. We know Hughes has a deep bag of dribble moves that allow him to be an effective isolation scorer, but until he can finish with consistency, his sizzle-to-steak ratio is too poor to find a consistent role with the contending Utah Jazz.

Joe Ingles: Nothing 

Here, we confirm what Utah Jazz fans have long expected: Joe Ingles is the perfect basketball player.

Jokes aside, Ingles plays the game with a level of athleticism that more closely resembles your local YMCA than the National Basketball Association. With that said, you try finding a hole in Ingles’ game that isn’t his inalterable lack of athletic prowess. We’ll wait.

He’s a crafty, intelligent passer who coach Snyder relies on for secondary, and at times primary, playmaking. He’s a lethal three-point threat, as indicated by the 45.1% he shot on 6.1 attempts per game last season. He’s also a savvy, reliable defender with a 107 career Defensive Rating.

If making significant strides in foot speed and vertical leap were an attainable goal, we’d list athleticism as the area in which Ingles could stand to improve. It isn’t, and for that reason, we’re left without a feasible suggestion for Joe Ingles’ improvement.

Donovan Mitchell: Defense

Donovan Mitchell is the most important player on the Utah Jazz. That’s a designation you earn with 26.4 points per game. He is the Jazz’s offensive lifeline, and without an offensive lifeline, an NBA team is dead in its tracks.

With that said, his -0.6 Defensive Box Plus/Minus (DBPM) does suggest room for improvement on the defensive end. With the prerequisite length and burst, Mitchell could stand to make a habit of playing passing lanes, hounding ball-handlers, and generally making a larger mark on the defensive end.

If Mitchell never develops into a plus-defender, the Utah Jazz will survive. After all, he possesses the type of elite offensive creation that comfortably compensates for deficiencies on the other end. Nonetheless, a stronger two-way impact would be the safest avenue to improvement for Utah’s young star guard.

Juwan Morgan: Aggression 

Like every other young player on the Utah Jazz’s roster, Morgan has not found a great deal of opportunity in Coach Quin Snyder’s rotation. However, it might be fair to say that Morgan has done the least with the opportunities he has had.

Nobody could expect Morgan to light up the scoreboard in the 5.1 minutes per game he averaged last season, however, the 8.6 points per game he scored per 36 minutes last season are suggestive of a player who is still unsure of himself.

It’s hard to talk about a player we’ve seen so little. It’s unclear what Morgan’s bankable NBA skills are. Whatever opportunity he gets to show them next season, it’s imperative that he does so.