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Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 129-119 win over the Washington Wizards from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. It’s nice to play the league’s worst defense
The Jazz’s offense played at its highest level in weeks, scoring 129 points on the Washington Wizards — who do feature the league’s worst defense. That’s a 127 offensive rating, which is nice on its own, but a 118 offensive rating just on their half-court possessions, which is really, really elite.

As you’d expect, that’s a combination of good Jazz offense and questionable Wizards defense. This basket was the Jazz’s first three of the game, and it’s a nice ready by Bojan Bogdanovic to fake the pass inside to Rudy Gobert, then kick it to Royce O’Neale in the corner.

On the other hand, it’s pretty lazy work by Ian Mahinmi in getting back to Gobert, and that was a very unscary closeout by Bradley Beal.

This is good ball movement by the Jazz, to be sure, but also… Shabazz Napier makes a terrible gamble on the play.

In other words, this was a really nice team to play in terms of getting out of a slump, especially one in which it seemed like the ball stuck far too much. With how aggressive Washington’s defense was in terms of helping, both on the perimeter and with Gobert’s rolls, the Jazz had to pass to get open looks.

I also thought it was a little strange that the Wizards played Isaac Bonga, their best perimeter defender, only 12 minutes, and played Mahinmi, probably their best interior defender, only 13 minutes. Their second unit really struggled with defensive rebounding. Davis Bertans only had five rebounds in his 28 minutes, and Thomas Bryant, who only had two rebounds in his 18 minutes, was even worse.

2. The bench
The Jazz were legitimately saved by the Cheap Tony Bradley Jersey/Cheap Georges Niang Jersey minutes. Gobert and Donovan Mitchell were matching -16s on the game. Meanwhile, Niang had a +23, Bradley a +22, Ingles and Clarkson +17, and Conley — the starter who played most with the bench — a +18.

Here’s NBA.com’s graphic showing the Jazz’s rotation, along with their plus-minuses during each stint.

NBA.com
NBA.com

Bradley’s ability to get offensive rebounds — including his own — was crucial. This is nice set-up by Conley, but after Niang misses the three, Bradley’s early work allows him to get the very easy tip in.

But Bradley flashed more of his fringe skills tonight, too. The first opportunity was his three, caught and launched after a jump ball.

“It’s a great feeling shooting it,” Bradley said. “Joe [Ingles] told me, everyone told me to shoot it. Georges [Niang] especially encouraged me to shoot it and make it. There were four seconds left on the clock and Joe was like, ‘Shoot it!’ and I was like, ‘Alright.’ So I took my time, had all day it felt like and shot with confidence.”

It probably surprised people, but Bradley takes and makes those in his G-League games, so of course he’s capable of making the wide open ones in this level. Once, I saw him make 13 threes in a row in practice. That’s just practice, but it’s still pretty impressive!

More regularly useful was his defense, in which he did a pretty good job of defending without fouling. The Jazz’s defensive rating with Bradley out there was just 67, pretty terrific, and Bradley only had one foul. As with many of the positives in this article, this number is significantly caveated by the Wizards’ play, in this case the fact that Ish Smith, Jerome Robinson, and Thomas Bryant frequently took some pretty ill-advised shots.

I also appreciated Cheap Joe Ingles Jersey early aggression from 3-point range, especially after the troubles there against Boston. He only ended up taking five shots, but I thought the early ones he took allowed him to draw in the defense later, leading to his six assists.
Cheap Jordan Clarkson Jersey remains good, especially against teams with limited rim protection.

3. A good night for random milestones
About a year ago, the NBA gave me access to their NBA Courtside web app, a media-only site that is directly tied to the league’s scorekeeping apparatuses. In short, what it means is faster updates on in-game stats: as soon as the stats are updated by those at the scorers’ table, they refresh on my computer, so I can see how many points a player has, how well he’s shooting, etc. It’s useful for someone in my shoes, but the speed is especially helpful to play-by-play announcers and color commentators.

My favorite feature, though, is the in-game alerts, where it will tell me when teams go on runs, or when a player has a spectacular number of points in a quarter, or when a player has reached a milestone of some sort. It’s pretty lenient about what defines a milestone, so you get some really random ones. Here’s the list from tonight:

Cheap Bojan Bogdanovic Jersey passed Ricky Rubio for 21st on the Jazz All-Time three pointers list with 176.
Cheap Mike Conley Jersey passed Wesley Person for 80th on the All-Time three pointers list with 1,151
Mike Conley tied Shawn Kemp for 95th on the All-Time steals list with 1,185
Joe Ingles tied Aaron James for 24th on the Jazz All-Time points list with 3,829
Cheap Rudy Gobert Jersey passed Emeka Okafor for 93rd on the All-Time blocks list with 1,004
Donovan Mitchell tied Cheap Mehmet Okur Jersey for 6th on the Jazz All-Time three pointers list with 517
Donovan Mitchell passed Cheap Al Jefferson Jersey for 21st on the Jazz All-Time made shots list at 1,782
It is not surprising that Rubio was surpassed by Bogdanovic in about a two-thirds of a season. But Conley has a real chance to move up the NBA All-Time three leaderboard pretty quickly: he’s now just two made threes behind Jameer Nelson, and three behind Metta World Peace — both notorious 3-point shooters! (Okay, not really.)

I didn’t know who Cheap Aaron James Jersey was, so I Googled him. He played five seasons for the New Orleans Jazz. There are two good Aaron James stories in this article. First, Hod Rod Hundley, who even was the team’s radio voice way back then, had a catchphrase for him which was apparently “A.J. from the parking lot!” It wass to the point where it’s still James’ nickname.
Second, Jazz GM Bill Bertka drafted him in the second round in 1974, but somehow didn’t know what he looked like. So James walks up to him the next day at the team headquarters and introduces himself, saying, “My name is Aaron James, and you drafted me. How much you going to pay me?”

Gobert’s progress up the All-Time blocks list is going to be interesting to watch. He’s only in his seventh NBA season, so he has a ton of time to get more. On the other hand, we’re not in the era where Cheap Mark Eaton Jersey could average five blocks a game anymore — as good as Eaton was, teams now would just adjust by taking him out of the paint. If Gobert got 600-700 more blocks in his career, that’d put him at about 30th in league history. (For what it’s worth, he’s only one block behind Rick Mahorn for 92nd.)

Cheap Donovan Mitchell Jersey has played 2.6 seasons and is already even with Memo Okur — actually legitimately a notorious 3-point shooter for seven seasons — in 3-point shots. The game has changed. Mitchell has a couple of other milestones coming up: on Monday, he’ll tie Cheap Jarron Collins Jersey for games started for the Jazz with 203 — a good reminder of just how many games Collins somehow started during his Jazz career. Next week, he should also surpass Cheap Bryon Russell Jersey for 20th on the Jazz’s All-Time assists list.

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The Utah Jazz keep adding to their roster.

The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported late Thursday night following the team’s final preseason game that it has agreed to a deal with guard Yogi Ferrell.

Ferrell, a 6-0, 178-pound guard out of Indiana, has been in the NBA for four seasons. In his most productive season in the league, 2017-18, he played all 82 games for the Dallas Mavericks and averaged 10.2 points, 2.5 assists and 3 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per game.

Last season, Ferrell played 50 games for the Sacramento Kings, averaging 4.4 points, 1.4 assists and 1 rebound in 10.6 minutes per game.

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The Utah Jazz have started off the preseason in impressive fashion, knocking off the Phoenix Suns in back to back games. Remember when the Suns were apparently going to be better than the Jazz this year? Lol. I know it’s just preseason, but that did not appear to be the case heading into this season.

Anyways, a shortened preseason means the Jazz have their final tune-up game tonight on the road against the Los Angeles Clippers. This game may or may not give everyone a better indicator as to how the Jazz will look this year. Honestly, it’s hard to take too much from preseason. But it’s basketball and it’s the Jazz, so you’ll watch anyways.

Utah will be without their first round draft pick Cheap Udoka Azubuike Jersey. He’ll be sitting out tonight’s game due to left knee soreness. That, OR because he killed a guy.

Either way it’s disappointing. I was pleasantly surprised at Dok’s presence and play so far. Fortunately, to make up for it, Royce O’Neale will be back for tonight’s game!

Game Info
When: Thursday, 12/17/2020 • 8:00 PM MT

Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

TV: NBAtv, AT&T SportsNet-RM

Radio: 97.5 FM | 1280 AM The Zone

What to watch for
What will Quin Snyder’s Rotation look like?

With it being the last game of the preseason, I imagine Snyder will try to mimic regular season rotation quite a bit this evening. This will be more interesting tonight because a regular starter from last season (Royce) is back with the team. This will be our first chance at seeing Quin’s plans for this roster with the addition of Cheap Derrick Favors Jersey to the big man rotation. I’m really curious how many minutes guys get and who plays with who.

Will we get to see Shaquille Harrison?

In what was probably my favorite move of the offseason, the Jazz made a late addition by signing defensive specialist Shaq Harrison. He’s been mending from an injured wrist, but does not appear on the Jazz injury report. The assumption here is that he’ll be ready to play. But will he get minutes? Personally, I hope so. Especially after hearing some of the initial impressions people had during camp and practices. Between Cheap Miye Oni Jersey and Shaq, it will be fun to see who can carve out those guard/wing rotation minutes. This is a good problem to have!

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In less than a week the NBA will be back in action with the preseason and the regular season is right around the corner. With that, we turn to the fans to find out what questions they have as the shortened training camp continues.

The schedule is daunting. There’s 72 games in a shortened amount of time, many more back-to-back sets, longer road trips, and a lot more uncertainty as teams will be contending with the coronavirus.

I asked Jazz head coach Quin Snyder if he could foresee the schedule meaning more rest for players than maybe in previous seasons and in turn if that could mean more opportunity for some of the fringe players like Cheap Miye Oni Jersey, Cheap Juwan Morgan Jersey and Cheap Jarrell Brantley Jersey. In short, he said yes to both, but added that there’s even more at play when you consider the other variables at play.

On the outset it would be really nice to look at the schedule and plan for some rest for certain key players. But, for example, what if Snyder is planning to have Oni fill in for a player on a back-to-back set and Oni is then unavailable because of the COVID-19 protocol. Then of course there’s always injury to think about, that can change plans in an instant.

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“Hopefully knock on wood it’s not COVID but I think we can probably anticipate some of that” Snyder said. “You do want to keep guys fresh.”

Snyder also noted his preference to give players full games off rather than limiting their minutes during any particular game.

It’s going to make the roles of the end of bench players, two-way players, and rookies even more important during the regular season and give them more opportunity than they might have had during a normal, non-pandemic season.

SALT LAKE CITY — Just eight days before the Utah Jazz are set to return to Vivint Arena for a preseason game, the organization has been hit with layoffs.

The continuing coronavirus pandemic and a transition to new ownership have led to the “difficult decision” to eliminate some furloughed and active positions from the Jazz and Vivint Arena business operations, a Cheap Larry H. Miller Jersey Sports and Entertainment spokesman told KSL. The number of employees laid off was not announced.

The layoffs come, in part, “due to the prolonged economic impact from COVID-19” as well as a “streamlined restructuring associated with the transition to new ownership,” Larry H. Miller Sports and Entertainment spokesman Frank Zang said.

Zang said the laid-off employees will continue to receive wages and health benefits through the end of the year. He also stated that outplacement services and severance packages will be available.

“We thank these individuals for their years of service and contributions to the organization,” he said.

In November, Qualtrics co-founder and CEO Ryan Smith agreed to buy the Jazz for a reported $1.6 billion-plus.

The deal also includes Vivint Arena, the Salt Lake City Stars, as well as a management agreement with the Salt Lake Bees. Smith also agreed to purchase The Zone Sports Radio Network, the Jazz’s flagship radio station, in a separate transaction. The deal is not yet official but is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In April, also due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies suffered layoffs throughout the organization — including the Sports and Entertainment division. A “small percentage” of the workforce was cut, which included former Zone radio host and Jazz and Salt Lake Bees emcee Tony Parks and former Zone producer Adrian Leiser.

The Jazz absolutely had backup plans if they weren’t able to get a deal done with Cheap Derrick Favors Jersey. Any team heads into the offseason knowing that there’s a slight chance that Plan A could backfire, but there also was a lot of reason to believe that they would be able to get the deal done, and they did.

As for who might get more playing time between Brantley, Morgan and Oni, it really is going to depend on how the season unfolds and who is available or resting during certain matchups. If this was in more of a vacuum I would anticipate Oni getting a good amount of opportunity with his ability to play on the wing and his defensive promise.

The fact that Cheap Bojan Bogdanovic Jersey took part in the team’s first practice and was a full participant is a good indication that he is as ready as he can be at this point.

There’s reason to believe that he might be one of the players that the Jazz are cautious with this season and allow him some rest, especially through heavy game sets. There’s really no reason to rush things with Bogey, the Jazz need him in the playoffs. But, there’s no reason to believe that he’s anything other than ready from the reports coming out of training camp.

I understand that with Cheap Emmanuel Mudiay Jersey gone it has a lot of people wondering where the Jazz are going to find third point guard minutes but I don’t think the Jazz are concerned with this and neither am I.

Cheap Donovan Mitchell Jersey and Cheap Mike Conley Jersey will share majority of point guard minutes but the Jazz have also run plenty of sets with Cheap Joe Ingles Jersey as the initiator as well as Cheap Jordan Clarkson Jersey. They have plenty of capable ball handlers that can initiate offense without having to dig down into the third string of players, and when the games really matter in the postseason a third point guard wouldn’t even crack the rotation.

I would expect the starting unit to be just as it was for the majority of last season (or at least as it was intended to be) — Mitchell, Conley, Bogdanovic, Cheap Rudy Gobert Jersey, and Royce O’Neale.

There’s definitely going to be some variation on that starting five depending on matchups, rest and availability, which could bring Favors, Clarkson, Ingles or any number of other players into the fold, but I would expect the main five to stay the same.

If Clarkson had been with the Jazz for the entire season last year and had been as efficient as he was for the Jazz he could have had a real case for Sixth Man of the Year consideration. It’ll depend a lot on what he’s able to do this season but I absolutely wouldn’t count him out.

I’m really looking forward to having basketball back in my life and the potential of getting back to a normal NBA calendar. I’m allowing myself to be extra optimistic and hope that we can get the coronavirus under control and possibly see a vaccine so that life can return to normal.

All that being said, a lot of the coverage this season and essentially every interview is going to be done virtually and I’m not looking forward to that. It’s really hard to create rapport with new players and build on relationships when there’s not time to talk to them on the sidelines or in the tunnels and in the locker room. I wish that it was different, but it’s just the way it has to be right now.

I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to find creative ways to keep coverage from being stale and I’m open to suggestions so maybe this will give us the opportunity to engage more with readers. Silver linings.