The Utah Jazz hosted their third media training camp on Friday, inviting a few dozen members from the Salt Lake Media to participate in some basketball drills, and three scrimmages to five.
To get the nonsensical issue out of the way, I was on one of three teams, featuring Tony Jones (Salt Lake City Stars Try Out Participant), David Locke (Jazz Radio Voice), Nick Bolerjack (Jazz Social), Josh Furlong (KSL.com), and Corrie Hemry (Utah Jazz PR). At 6’0, I was the tallest player on my team by about 4 inches, so its safe to say we lacked size. Over the three scrimmages, our team managed just 2 points total, and I went 0-for for for the day, including a few point blank layups.
To be fair to our team, Locke was attempting to broadcast the game on instagram live, even while playing, and Tony Jones at one point missed an entire defensive possession because he was attending to his daughter.
Now, more importantly, we did gain some insight into the Jazz by meeting with some of the coaches in the drill segment of the workout.
The media was introduced to Fotis Katsikaris for the first time, the newest Jazz assistant who had previously coached the Greek national team. This hire once again underlined the Jazz desired to carry one of the more diverse coaching staffs in the NBA, giving them access to knowledge of the European game, and European players beyond the front office, and down onto the floor. (When does Giannis Antetokounmpo become a free agent?) Secondly, it highlights the Jazz are going to continue to play a European style of basketball, relying more on passing and exploiting small advantages, like slow defensive rotations, with hopes to turn them into big advantages, like open shots at the rim, or beyond the three point line.
Second, we got a small sense of the Jazz defensive mindset. Assistant coach Mike Wells led the defensive drill, walking the media through how the Jazz prefer to close out on three point shooters. First, in the corners, the Jazz prefer to close out on the high side of the shooter to push them to the baseline should they choose to put the ball on the floor. That allows Rudy Gobert to help on the baseline, and cut off any cross court passes. Additionally, Wells said the Jazz aren’t too worried about three second calls from officials. They may call a few in games, but odds are they won’t ruin flow of the game because a defensive player is camped in the lane, and because modern offenses are constantly featuring cutters through the paint, odds are Gobert or Derrick Favors won’t risk many violations anyways.
The work out was a fun experience, if they do it again next year, I’ll work on landing on a team with better size.
Here is some of the coverage of the workout from other local media members.
— Deseret News Sports (@desnewssports) September 22, 2018
Thanks to our Jazz coaching staff, our 2018 Media Training Camp is underway! pic.twitter.com/ROJAFrwIIY
— Utah Jazz PR (@UtahJazzPR) September 21, 2018