Utah's Offensive Evolution Thrives From Beyond The Arc

Ryan Kostecka
Digital Content Writer

"We made a shot."

Those were head coach Quin Snyder's parting words following Utah's 110-98 victory over visiting Atlanta on Tuesday night.

Although the words were said to evoke laughter — which they did — there was also a smattering of truth and respectful sarcasm to his statement.

Just hours before Snyder walked out of that presser with a smile on his face, he sat in the same chair and answered the same questions he's been asked for weeks from media members regarding the state of Utah's offense.

Perennially one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league, the Jazz had gotten off to a shockingly slow start this year. Utah was sitting at 26th in the league, shooting the deep ball at 31.8% — nearly seven percentage points lower than last season.

But in the face of all those questions before tipoff, the customarily reserved Snyder opened up about his thoughts of Utah's offense.

"I understand the responsibility to write about the narrative of our three-point shooting," Snyder said pregame. "I don't think there's anyone on our team that redid their shot over the summer. … So I would expect, at least on some level, that we start making more shots."

Rather than ending the conversation there, Snyder took it a step further as to why he wasn't concerned about when Utah's shots were going to start falling.

"To me, what's an interesting story, our offense is ranked No. 2 in the league," he added. "If you gave me what would probably be a three-point percentage in the bottom five last year and a No. 2 offense, I'd probably take the No. 2 offense with poor shooting."

As if fulfilling a prophecy, the Jazz had one of their best shootings night of the season against the Hawks on Tuesday night. 

Utah shot 39.5% (15-for-38) from beyond the arc, their second-best percentage on the year. Six different players knocked down a three-pointer, with four of them knocking down at least two.

"It gives you life," Donovan Mitchell (27 points, 5-for-11 from deep) said postgame about the team finally knocking down some shots.

Following the victory over the Hawks, Utah currently has the No. 2 offensive team in the league. They scored 122 points per 100 possessions against Atlanta, putting them 0.1 away from the top spot.

"I want to be bold how we play. ... We got a lot of guys that can make shots," Snyder said. "We have a guy that got 49 (points) last year against Denver with a couple guys out. I don't know where you'd rank Bojan (Bogdanovic) on the scoring ladder, but we've got a lot of guys that can be a leading scorer on a different night."

Utah's ascension up the three-point ladder began to take shape in 2017 when Mitchell and Royce O'Neale joined the team. They made an immediate impact, both shooting 34% or better from beyond the arc. 

But the actual percentage change came in 2019 when Utah added Bogdanovic, Mike Conley, and Jordan Clarkson, each shooting above 36% from three-point territory.

That change in 2019 allowed the Jazz to climb the rankings and finish that season as the NBA's top three-point shooting team, jumping from No. 12 to No. 1. Utah continued its torrid shooting last year, finishing fourth in three-point percentage — the only team to rank in the top-five from the past two seasons.

With expectations set high this year, Snyder and the Jazz aren't backing down from them. They're finding ways to continue to push the envelope and keep Utah as the most efficient team in the league.

"Our focus will continue to be ways to get incrementally better. … We'll continue to try to prepare for the shots that we're going to get for something that's been a big part of what we do," Snyder said.

But ever the perfectionist, Snyder wasn't willing to concede Tuesday night's performance as the big breakthrough fans were hoping for. Instead, he ended his press conference with six words that will keep the fire burning for the players when it comes to making shots.

"Not as many as they (Atlanta) did."