Quin Snyder, in his third year as the Head Coach of the Utah Jazz, has established an identity that (dare I say) is very reminiscent of Jerry Sloan’s system. Slow and methodical offense complimented by physically tenacious defense. The toughness, resiliency and methodical ball movement that Sloan preached for decades is alive and well under Snyder’s leadership.
The problem (if that’s what it can be called) is that Snyder hasn’t figured out which players work best together from game to game. In a recent shoot around interview on utahjazz.com he was asked that very question, and his response was (shaking his head with a smile on his face) “no, I mean, more than anything you’ve seen some guys — particularly Rudy and Gordon — have really established themselves. I think George did that absolutely as well, he just hasn’t played in a while...so that’s helped me”. Even with the injuries that have plagued Utah's roster, the depth of Snyder's team has really started to produce, but the underlying issue here is that a lot of players, specifically Joe Ingles and Joe Johnson, are not getting the playing time they deserve.
When you look at Ingles this year, compared to the last two years, he’s become a legitimate threat on the offensive side of the basketball. So far this year, he's contributing 6.4 points per game, shooting .523 percent from inside the 3-point line and draining (a league leading) .508 percent from 3-point land. Over the last five games, Ingles is averaging 11.4 points, while shooting .663 from the field and making .650 percent of his shots from beyond the arc. His assist numbers remain low at 2.4 a game, but that doesn’t accurately reflect the ball movement he’s responsible for on a nightly basis. Ingles' rebounding has improved as well, averaging four a game throughout this five game stretch.
Johnson, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to get the minutes he’s deserving of. That’s not to say he should be starting every night, but with the deep talent coming off the bench and Gordon Hayward having an All-Star caliber season, the man needs to see more touches for the duration of his 24.4 minutes per game. Johnson is averaging 9.0 points per game, while shooting .443 percent from the field and .402 percent from the 3-point line. 9.0 points a game over the course of 24 minutes is less than spectacular, despite his 35 years of age — and yes, his numbers have seen a steady decline over the past six years — but when Johnson is playing the role of the sixth man, he should be far more productive than he’s been at this point of the season. The biggest question surrounding Johnson right now is this: what happens to him when Alec Burks comes back into the lineup?
Snyder is in a position that a lot of coaches around the NBA wish they could have the luxury of: too much depth. The Jazz are deep at various positions, specifically their wing players. With an abundance of great talent at every position, how do you give everyone their fair share of playing time as well as ample opportunities to produce at a high level for your team? Is this a conundrum or an intricate puzzle? Whatever it may be, Snyder is in a position that very few coaches find themselves in.