From good to great: How can the Utah Jazz get there?


Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder watches play during the second half an NBA first round playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday, Sept. 1,2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. | AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

SALT LAKE CITY — On a few occasions during Quin Snyder’s six seasons as head coach of the Utah Jazz, either he or executive vice president of basketball operations Dennis Lindsey has been asked if it’s harder to go from being a bad team to a good one or a good one to a great one.

The queries have come as the Jazz have made the leap from bad to good under Snyder and Lindsey, improving from a 38-44 record in the 2014-15 season — Snyder’s first — to 51-31 two seasons later. In addition to more wins, Utah made the second round of the playoffs in 2017 and 2018.

Each time Snyder or Lindsey has been asked the question, the answer has always essentially been the same: It’s harder to go from good to great than it is from bad to good.

That notion is evidenced by the Jazz’s last two seasons, as they made the playoffs but bowed out in the first round. The 2019-20 campaign in particular was supposed to be a year the Utah would advance farther than it had in a decade, as many predicted the Jazz would be in contention to reach the Western Conference finals after adding a bunch of new pieces last summer.

The Jazz, however, were eliminated in the first round, and now they are left to figure out how to take the next step.

“Going from good to great is really hard,” Utah general manager Justin Zanik said last week as he and Lindsey met with media via Zoom. “There are a lot of other teams that are trying to do the same thing. We can just commit to our fans and groups that support us that we will stop at nothing to try to reach that goal and do that in the best interest of the Jazz, the organization, the fans and the Millers.”

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So what does going from good to great look like? For as much as basketball is a team game, the best squads generally have the best players. Utah made the NBA Finals in the 1990s because it had two Hall of Famers in John Stockton and Karl Malone, but it was still beaten twice by a Chicago Bulls team that had Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

More recently, the Golden State Warriors were so good because Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were All-Stars. This year, the Los Angeles Lakers and LA Clippers took steps forward into the NBA’s elite because the Lakers added Anthony Davis to pair with LeBron James, and the Clippers brought in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

That group has combined for 33 All-Star appearances.

So, first and foremost, the Jazz’s most likely path to greatness is that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert take more steps forward after …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News


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