Say it with me. DEFENSE! DEE-FENSE!
The NBA season is just 7 games old for the Utah Jazz. Already we have seen the potential of this team when they play the right way.
Notably, the Utah Jazz are near the bottom of the league in creating turnovers (27th in steals, 25th in blocks) while coughing up 16.7 turnovers a night (29th in the NBA).
They are also fouling at a pretty high rate, hacking other teams 22 times a game (3rd worst in the league) while sending their opponents to the stripe over 27 times a night (2nd worst).
What can the Utah Jazz do better defensively so they start winning more games?
- Pick and Roll – The Jazz are getting killed by other teams on the pick and roll, and struggling to keep up with quick ballhandlers. If a team is pulling a player out to mess with your pick-and-roll defense, switch it differently than they expect. Teams have been utilizing basic strategies to destroy the Jazz in this regard, and they’ll keep doing it until we show an ability to guard a switch or pick and not give up an easy drive to the basket every time.
- Guarding the Perimeter – Other teams are getting off 3-point shots against the Jazz with ease much of the time (36.9 attempts per game). One silver lining is that teams are shooting poorly from 3 against the Jazz (32.9%). However, that’s likely to increase as opponents realize the Jazz aren’t good at guarding those shots.
- Interior Defense – The Jazz are giving up 54 points per game in the paint (6th most in the NBA) – 62 points a night on the road (0-3 record) and 48 a night at home (a better 2-2 mark).
- Decrease fouling – The Jazz seem to be cheating a lot on defense, trying to double players and giving up a lot of open looks all over the court, and aren’t recovering quickly enough to close the paint or contest shots on the perimeter. John Collins has been terrible in this regard.
- Mix things up – Different lineups are needed to find combinations that work, especially on defense. To date, the Jazz have yet to run their best defenders in a regular lineup, perhaps since that lineup might struggle at the other end. Utilizing a group like Walker Kessler, John Collins, Ochai Agbaji, Keyonte George and Kris Dunn is one possibility.
With upcoming games against Chicago, Indiana, Memphis, and Portland, who are a combined 9-18 on the season, the Utah Jazz need to get a few wins and tighten up the defense in the process, before facing off against stronger teams down the road.