The positive thing, we were in position to win the game…We gotta continue to work…We’ll continue to work…We’re disappointed, but you know, we understand that, you know, it’s part of the journey. We have to continue to work…We could’ve very easily been 3-0 on the trip, but you know, it’s not that way. We can’t get ‘em back. So we’ll continue to work to get better. – Tyrone Corbin(from Jazz Fanatical)
So, apparently the Jazz need to get better to be able to close out games, let alone think about winning one. The problem is that I wonder whether the Jazz want to get better. The front office has made little if any change to this team through the trade deadline or offseason acquisitions (player or coaching). Corbin himself has also shown little improvement as a coach, and unlike the young core of the Jazz, he is getting plenty of playing time to learn.
Is it possible for this team to be better without any personnel changes? Yes. As David Locke has mentioned, a few more defensive rebounds and the Jazz would be 3-0 on this road trip. How do the Jazz resolve this? The Big Lineup. Yep, I said it. The big lineup has been put on the shelf for most of the year. I know the Jazz tried to use the big lineup to start games and it ended belly up. However, if the Jazz finish with the big lineup the mismatches should force the other team to try to match the size. The Jazz would also rack up all the rebounds with their best rebounders on the floor with Favors, Jefferson, and Millsap.
What about the 1st & 3rd quarters? Could the Jazz ever win one or the other? In looking at the game flows since Mo Williams’s return, I think the problem with the 1st quarter may be resolved. The 3rd quarter is another story. I would expect that halftime is a time for teams to make adjustments to their game plan based on what is working and what isn’t. It appears the only teams making adjustments when playing the Jazz are their opponents.
What can the Jazz do about the coaching staff? Corbin is clearly not at the point he needs to be to make all the calls as head coach, but he could learn. I believe there are two changes that need to be made to the coaching staff conceptually. First, get Corbin a mentor. Someone like Phil Johnson to be the lead assistant. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wise and sage like influence on the coaching staff? This would give Corbin a sounding board for ideas and someone with experience to point out other viewpoints. Second, I am a big fan of the coordinator-style coaching staff teams have began to use. There is the head coach with assistants that focus on defense and offense. As the Jazz are 19th in the league in defensive efficiency, why not hire Scott Skiles? He is a defensive specialist that could potentially install a level of toughness the Jazz don’t have.
No matter what changes take place the Jazz are who they are, a bottom tier playoff team. Until either one of the young core becomes an all-star or Tyrone learns to pull rabbits out of a hat that will not change. The biggest question is whether the Jazz organization even wants that to happen.