Tag: flex offense

Utah Jazz v Dallas Mavericks

Should the Jazz move away from Sloan’s flex offense?


The Utah Jazz have been running Jerry Sloan’s flex offense since roughly the Cretaceous period, and that continued last season when Sloan unexpectedly resigned mid-season and Tyrone Corbin slid over into the big chair.

But is it time for a change?

In reporting that Jeff Honracek is going to meet this week and re-sign as an assistant coach with the Jazz, Brian Smith of the Salt Lake Tribune put out this interesting tweet.

Hornacek said Corbin could make changes to Jazz’s offensive and defensive schemes, moving to systems that better fit current roster.

It’s an interesting idea. The strength of the Jazz roster right now is a front line of Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and rookie Enes Kanter.

Favors is a tremendous athlete who, both in New Jersey and in Utah, got a high percentage of his offense off cuts (27.4 percent of his shots with the Jazz) and converted on a high rate of those (he shot 64.3 percent on those shots with the Jazz). Favors got more shots that way in Utah at the expense of being the roll man in the pick-and-roll, a play where he was not as effective in New Jersey when he did it a lot (he shot 46.7 percent with the Nets on that play). (All stats via Synergy Sports.)

Where he was effective was in transition, something the Jazz do not utilize as much. Jefferson got 38.3 percent of his shots in the post and scored a pedestrian 0.89 points per possession out of that (he shot 42.7 percent when posted up). Speed up the game and replace some of those slower post-up plays with transition opportunities for Favors and others and you might have something.

But clearly, the cuts and back doors of the flex offense worked for guys like Favors and you don’t want to get rid of all of it.

The real question the Jazz need to ask is “what kind of team do we want to be?” They have a roster that is in flux as they rebuild in the post Deron Williams years, which adds to the questions. Utah must figure out what kind of team it wants to be then get players that fit the system. That may include an evolution away from the flex offense, but it should be a slow one as it clearly works for some key players in the future of this franchise.

What will the Jazz look like under Tyrone Corbin?

Jerry Sloan
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When Tyrone Corbin Friday night starts to stand on the shoulders of Jerry Sloan (as owner Gail Miller said so eloquently Thursday), what will the Utah Jazz look like?

Well, probably not all that different at first. Even if Corbin wanted to overhaul the system — and as a long-time Jazz assistant that’s unlikely — you just can’t do that in the middle of the season. You can tweak the system you are running, but any real overhauls need to be put on hold. So expect a lot of flex sets in the half court.

But look for some differences. For example expect the Jazz to run more.

The Jazz are 20th in the NBA in possessions per game (and if you look at the Speed Index they are a little slower than that, even). Whether or not it was the reason Sloan stepped away, we know for sure Deron Williams wanted to run more and you can expect him to get more of a green light.

Which could be both good and bad, according to the amazing Sebastian Pruiti at NBA Playbook.

The Utah Jazz actually lead the league in points per possession in transition with a PPP of 1.231 on 63.1% shooting (also first in the league in transition).  However, despite the positive numbers, the Jazz don’t run all that much, with only 13.1% of their total possessions labeled as “transition” by Synergy Sports Technology, which is only the 11th most in the NBA…

Another reason why Sloan doesn’t want to run is because Deron Williams isn’t a very good point guard in transition.  Williams is posting a PPP of 1.16 when in transition which is 164th in the NBA.  This is due mostly to turnovers as Williams is turning the ball over on 15.5% of his individual transition possessions which is good for a ranking of 246th.

It’s an oddly mixed bag. But when you watch the video it appears that Williams wants to run so badly that he pushes into places he should not go.

A few seasons back the Lakers were playing uncharacteristically fast for a Phil Jackson team, because he realized he had some good athletes for transition. What he said to the team was basically “you have the first seven seconds of the shot clock to run and improvise some offense, but if nothing is there pull it out and set up the triangle.” I could see something like that working for the Jazz, where they have more freedom to run but with that comes the responsibility to pull out and set it up if nothing quality is there.

Friday night, in their first game under Corbin, the Jazz need to be careful. They are taking on the Suns — there are certain teams you do not want to get into a track meet with, this is one of them. The Jazz need to be careful about pushing any newfound freedoms too far in this one.

Aside that maybe there will be more high pick-and-rolls for Williams to work off of. There are standard NBA sets — double high-post “horns” for example — that virtually every NBA team runs and players are familiar with. Things that can relatively easily be slid into an offense.

But don’t expect Ty Corbin’s Jazz to look a whole lot different from Jerry Sloan’s Jazz. Not this season, anyway.