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C.J. Miles (left) and Paul Millsap are two veterans on a mostly youthful Jazz squad.
Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images

StatsCube: Changes, youth make Jazz's future plenty murky

Posted Dec 2 2011 7:07AM

To get ready for the 2011-12 season, StatsCube breaks down the critical numbers for all 30 teams.

So much has changed with the Utah Jazz in the last 33 months. The three men who were leading the franchise just a short time ago -- owner Larry Miller, coach Jerry Sloan and All-Star guard Deron Williams -- are all gone.

Now, the team moves in a new direction with a young core that includes four lottery picks (Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors) from the last two Drafts. On the bench is Tyrone Corbin, who took over after Sloan's abrupt retirement last season and needs to prove himself a worthy successor to Utah's legendary coach. To do that, he's got to make sure that his first full season isn't an extension of his first two months on the job, which were disastrous.


2010-11 Basics
Record: 39-43
Pace: 93.6 (17)
OffRtg: 104.9 (14)
DefRtg: 107.3 (24)
Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions

The Jazz missed the playoffs for the first time in five season and for just the fourth time in the last 28 seasons. But when Sloan retired on Feb. 10, they had the sixth-best record in the Western Conference. When they traded Williams (after three straight losses in the wake of Sloan's departure) to New Jersey for Devin Harris and Favors, they still had a half-game lead on the Memphis Grizzlies for eighth place.

But their winning percentage under Sloan was inflated. Though they were 31-23 when he stepped down, they had only outscored their opponents by two points (5,380-5,378). Things went south after that, especially defensively.

Jazz efficiency
Coach W L Win% Pace Rank OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
Sloan 31 23 .574 93.5 20 105.5 12 105.9 18 -0.4 18
Corbin 8 20 .286 93.9 17 103.7 19 109.8 28 -6.1 25

The Jazz defense tanked after they traded Williams, but they weren't that good defensively with him anyway. Before the trade, they allowed 108.4 points per 100 possessions with Williams on the floor, and just 99.1 when he was on the bench. At the time of the deal, it was already both their worst offensive and worst defensive season (relative to league average efficiency) since they drafting Williams in 2005.

Statistically, only one team regressed more than the Jazz, who went from outscoring their opponents by 4.8 points per 100 possessions in 2009-10 to getting outscored by 2.4 points per 100 possessions in '10-11. That team, of course, was Cleveland.

Weak beginning, strong ending

The highlight of the Jazz's season was a five-game winning streak in early November when they came back from fourth-quarter deficits totaling 50 points. But their fourth-quarter success wasn't limited to that stretch of games.

In fact, for the season, the Jazz were the best offensive team in the fourth quarter and the fifth-best team overall in the fourth quarter. But they were awful in the first quarter and pretty bad in the third quarter, too.

Jazz efficiency by quarter
Quarter OffRtg Rank DefRtg Rank NetRtg Rank
First 101.0 25 110.6 29 -9.6 28
Second 102.1 22 103.5 10 -1.4 19
Third 103.9 13 107.9 26 -4.0 22
Fourth 112.4 1 107.6 20 4.8 5
Swats are nice, but are boards better

Utah was the NBA's seventh-worst defensive team even though it did one thing well: block shots. They blocked a league-leading 7.5 percent of opponents' shots. Among players around the league who logged at least 750 minutes last season, Al Jefferson (1.9 blocks per 36 minutes) and Favors (1.6) each ranked in the top 30 in blocks per minute.

But the Jazz were awful defensively, allowing 113 points per 100 possessions, when the two big men were on the floor together.

One issue with shot-blockers is that they can disregard the defensive glass in order to challenge shots. Jefferson ranked eighth in the league in rebounds per game, but the Jazz were a better defensive rebounding team when he was on the bench. And they were a much better defensive team overall, allowing just 102 points per 100 possessions, when he was sitting down.

Hello, my name is ...

The Favors-Jefferson combo was only on the floor together for 227 minutes together, a pretty small sample size. Because of injuries, the Jazz had very little continuity over the last two months of the season.

Their most-used lineup after the Williams trade -- Harris, Raja Bell, Andrei Kirilenko, Paul Millsap and Jefferson -- played just 95 minutes together. And with Harris, Bell, Kirilenko and Millsap all dealing with late-season injuries, the lineup didn't play at all in the final 18 games.

From their rotation, the Jazz have just two free agents: Kirilenko and Ronnie Price. But in terms of continuity, Corbin doesn't have much to build on. This is a group of players that still needs to get to know one another.

A combo worth salvaging

Despite the Jazz's inefficiency on both ends, two of their forwards weren't awful from a plus-minus perspective. In 2,605 minutes, Paul Millsap was a plus-12. And in 1,969 minutes, C.J. Miles was a plus-56.

They each brought something different to the table -- Millsap with solid inside play and Miles as a capable 3-point shooter. The Jazz were much better offensively with Millsap on the floor, and much better defensively with Miles on the floor.

Jazz efficiency, Miles and Millsap on and off floor
On-off Min Pace OffRtg DefRtg NetRtg +/-
Miles on 1969 93.6 104.7 103.9 +0.8 +56
Miles off 2007 93.6 105.0 110.6 -5.6 -206
Millsap on 2605 94.0 106.6 107.0 -0.5 +12
Millsap off 1371 92.9 101.6 107.7 -6.1 -162

In the 1,002 minutes that Miles and Millsap played together, the Jazz were a plus-105, allowing less than 103 points per 100 possessions.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

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