Utah Jazz Weekly: The Only Good News is the Bad News

The Utah Jazz still have not won a game. They are the only team in the NBA to remain winless. To be fair, Utah is in the midst of an extremely rough road trip, with the more winnable games against Boston and Toronto coming on the back end of a back to back. Utah’s most winnable game was likely against the winless-at-the-time Celtics, but they fell 97-87. Hardly anything is going well for the Jazz at the moment. Their defense during the first few games of the season looked like it would be a bright spot on a terrible offensive team, but since then, the defense has followed suit with the offense. In a year we expected the Jazz to lose, a lot, what Utah hoped to see was improvement of their young core. What’s scary about Utah’s start to the season is that there isn’t very much improvement evident. Minutes have increased for the team’s core, which has helped them pad their stats, but on a per minute basis we’re not really seeing significant jumps in development.

Going into Saturday night’s game against Toronto, Utah has been the NBA’s worst shooting team. Let that sink in for a moment. Jazz fans definitely expected the offense to struggle, but being the worst shooting team in the league will be a hard pill to swallow. Utah’s also nearly the worst team in the league when it comes to turning the ball over. They rank 27th in turnover percentage. The only thing the team as a whole is doing well is offensive rebounding, as they are second in the league.

On the defensive end, things aren’t much better. Again, going into Saturday night, Utah has been 18th best in their opponents’ effective field goal percentage. Surprisingly, they are one of the league’s worst so far in defensive rebounding. Utah will hope they can figure that out as they have very capable rebounders on the roster. Utah’s also one of the worst in putting their opponents on the free throw line.  All of these numbers make it very clear why Utah remains winless.

Who’s Jazzed?

Gordon Hayward: Though the Hayward-as-a-number-one-option experiment hasn’t been a big success, he is leading the team in scoring at a little more than 18 points per game. However, it’s taking him more than 16 shots per game to get those points. A huge part of Hayward’s drop in efficiency is due to his shot selection. Not only is Hayward shooting about 40 percent of his shots as mid-range jumpers, but most of those are coming as pull-up jumpers off the dribble. Throughout the season Gordon has been hovering in the top 10 in pull-up field goal attempts per game, but has not been very successful as he’s only making about 40 percent of all of his pull-up shots. What’s surprising about this is that Hayward is a great spot-up shooter, as evidenced by his career 3-point percentage being over 40 percent. Hayward’s only taking about 20 percent of his shots from 3-point range. Ideally Gordon’s shot selection should be flipped, with 40 percent from 3 and 20 percent mid-range, as the oft-compared Paul George has (successfully) been showing so far. Look for Hayward to either start making a higher percentage of his mid-rangers, to reduce the amount of mid-rangers he takes, or both. Even with the poor shot selection and relative inefficiency, Hayward has clearly been Utah’s best player averaging about 6.5 rebounds and about five assists per game. What is clear when you watch Utah play is that when the ball does not touch Gordon’s hands, a positive offensive play is much less likely to happen.

Singin’ the Blues

The 2013-14 Utah Jazz: 0-7 and didn’t come close in any of the games on the four game road trip.

Looking Ahead

The Jazz will be excited to get back to Salt Lake City, where they will play four of their next five games. Utah will play the Denver Nuggets and the New Orleans Pelicans in their next two games. Can they finally get that first win?

Most importantly, Trey Burke has his surgically repaired finger evaluated on Monday. The Jazz desperately need him back. Until then, each loss has a silver lining as Jazz fans will look ahead to the draft all year long.

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