Early Thursday morning as I was sipping my glass of Mountain Dew and attempting to wake up, I happened upon a rather interesting article from Kevin Graham over on KSL.com. Graham shared his thoughts on the ever-divisive and extremely controversial topic of Utah Jazz head coach Ty Corbin. As I read through Graham’s musings on Corbin, I smiled slightly, because every argument he presented against Corbin was one I’ve heard probably a thousand times by now.
For those of you who follow me on Twitter (repent if you don’t!) my stance on Corbin has been crystal clear – he deserves one more season, one more shot to prove himself, before a fair judgement on his coaching skills can be passed. Graham presented a few reasons, a lot of which I agreed with, as to why Corbin shouldn’t be the coach of the Jazz any longer.
” Tyrone Corbin: In his second full season on the job, Corbin’s Utah Jazz finished 43-39, missing the playoffs by two games. His career record after taking over for Jerry Sloan, who abruptly resigned three years ago, is 87-89,” wrote Graham.
However, one thing that Graham made sure to note in his article is a thing quite a few of “Core Four” enthusiasts tend to overlook – “Corbin was put in an impossible situation this past year by management. Asked to lead a locker room of free-agent mercenaries while developing the youth, and oh by the way, expected to win and make the playoffs as well.”
Despite those pretty solid talking points, I disagree with Graham. I think Corbin deserves to be at the helm of Utah’s lone professional sports franchise, and I also think he could do good things with this current group of players. I’m not saying Corbin is going to be around for another 20 years as Jerry Sloan was, but I’m not completely writing him off after what he’s gone through as a coach.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why Corbin should stay around Salt Lake City, at least for another year. First off, Corbin is still running a version of the flex offense Sloan brought to the Jazz all those years ago during the late 80s. Jazz basketball is a trademarked brand around the NBA, and no other team currently runs the same flex offense as Utah does. This means all those young guns some fans are in love with, the C4, have all grown up in the NBA learning one very narrow, disciplined offensive style. By changing coaches, unless the Jazz hire from inside the organization, the offensive system will most likely change. While groups of fans in every teams’ fanbase scream for change on a daily basis, change isn’t always a good thing. In the case of changing offensive styles, I think the Jazz would see some serious drop-off in terms of how well the offense flows.
For the last few years, Utah has ran a system based entirely on the left block, which is where center Al Jefferson has made a living in the NBA. Almost every option on nearly every play was based on what Jefferson chose to do on the left block. If he got the ball up on the elbow, around 15 feet out with his back to the basket, often times a few cutters would flash on the baseline and another man would be stationed outside the three-point line. However, Jefferson and the left block were the primary focus for that play. If Jefferson managed to get position early and be right on the left block, then he usually went for his push-shot or faked out his defender with a classy up-and-under layup.
Even when Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter came off the bench, they seemed to set up shop on the left block as well. The point I’m trying to make with this is to show how ingrained the left block is in Utah’s offense. Taking a coach away, who knows the system and is familiar with it can only hurt the offensive prowess of a team.
Moving on, the Jazz have never been an organization to quickly give up on coaches or players. Letting Corbin go after the hard situation he was put into and the rather interesting rosters he’s had to work with is incredibly un-Jazzlike. Take a look at the San Antonio Spurs – their club is one of the most stable, successful franchises of the past 15 years. Certainly they’ve had their high and low moments en route to four (maybe five?) championships, but they kept on their steady course. After losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder in last season’s Western Conference Finals, did Spurs management immediately call for the dismissal of Gregg Poppovich? Did they let petty financial problems get in the way of their great coach returning, as the Memphis Grizzlies did this season?
No. San Antonio stayed true to its championship blueprint and put trust in their coach and players to learn and move on. Doesn’t Corbin and his group of players deserve at least some level of that same respect from their ownership? Granted, they haven’t won a championship – they haven’t even won a playoff game. But how will these players ever learn unless their first given a chance to fail?
Corbin deserves at least one more year to prove his salt as a coach. If we see more lackluster defense (even that sounds too positive) and disappointing finishes to close games, then I’d be open to change. Until next season ends, however, I feel like passing judgment on Corbin is premature.