SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The Utah Jazz are in the midst of a rare two days off between games, and as a result, had the opportunity to practice. That also meant Jazz coach Quin Snyder had the opportunity to answer longer form questions that traditionally aren’t available during gameday shoot around or postgame availabilities.
After the Jazz Tuesday win over the Boston Celtics, I asked Snyder about his team’s style of play and how similar it was to what he had imagined his team would play like before the season started.
In limited time, Snyder described how teams are forced to evolve based on personnel, citing the Jazz history of playing two bigs with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, to now having Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, and Mike Conley.
It was a good answer for the time allotted, but as I mentioned, it wasn’t a great opportunity to expand on how he views his team.
With the opportunity to have a longer conversation during a post-practice availability, I revisited the question and asked Snyder if he had a favorite era of basketball dating back to his time at Duke up to how the Jazz play today.
What ensued was the most incredible answer I’ve heard from any coach in any sport. Snyder offered an uninterrupted 10-minute epic of his history in the game as a coach, starting at Duke, through his time at Missouri, to his time in the D League, then as an assistant coach in the NBA, to becoming the Jazz head man.
You can listen to the full answer here, or read the transcript below.
Quin Snyder’s 10-minute Answer On His History In Basketball
“At Duke we spaced, and we attacked off the dribble. And that was the strength, and one of Coach K’s many strengths was his ability to adapt. I think that’s why he’s had so much success over the years.
When I got to the D league — well, at Missouri we played more with two traditional bigs, which was an adjustment for me, given the fact that we were playing with a shooting four at Duke really very early whether it was Shane Battier or Mike Dunleavy. And when I got to Missouri my first year we were more of a spacing team, we have a 6’4 power forward.
Part of my evolution as a coach has been the opportunity to see different ways to play in different styles. In San Antonio, the first thing I had to do is try to learn their fundamental core motion offense because that was the way that we wanted to play because we had Ian Mahinmi.
My second or third year I can recall talking to pop and just saying our personnel is so different, is it okay with you if we play differently? And he was absolutely supportive and we became really a pick and roll team. And we had multiple handlers similar to what we have now. But that was the way that we played. I remember Malik Hairston, Marcus Williams, Squeaky Johnson, Shane Gatson, Andre Barrett, all these guys that they could play pick and roll, and I’m leaving a few out.
Then the opportunity when I got in the league as an assistant, one of the things that I benefited from the most was not only did I have a chance to work for Doug Collins, Mike Brown, and Mike Budenholzer, but it was everybody’s first year. It was the first year for Coach Collins with the Sixers, and Bud’s first year in Atlanta. It was Mike’s first year with the Lakers.
So I really got to see the way that your philosophy as a coach, when implemented, has to evolve and adapt to your personnel, and you don’t know those things always on the front end. And I also benefited from that in Europe. We were more of a half-court team when I was with coach Messina at CSKA. Different style, again, more post-ups.
And you see it on both sides of the ball. But we’re talking about offense right now so my first year here I can remember coming from Atlanta and the rage in the league was pace and space, that was not necessarily my expectation but in the immediate past that’s the way we played.
And so getting here and we had Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Trevor Booker, and Rudy Gobert. And we were starting two bigs and that was our team. We weren’t a pace and space team. I can recall questions about that and as I evaluated it, that that was not the best way for us to play.
We weren’t going to space the floor. We needed to move the ball and grind through a possession. We were like a football team that runs the ball, and hopefully, in the fourth quarter, we would wear you down and play great defense, and that style in one way or the other fit that team.
Obviously, with Gordon Hayward, as Joe [Ingles] developed we became more of a pick and roll team. We ran a lot of dribble handoffs, but I think we’re at the bottom of the league in terms of pace and we didn’t shoot a lot of threes because that again wasn’t the strength of our team. And we tried to be really good at what we did.
And to me that’s the important thing. If we tried to run, the Warriors at that point we’re redefining the league as far as pace and space and shooting, and that just wasn’t — if we tried to play that way against Golden State, that was their game.
So over a period of years, as the personnel has changed, to me, your job is to try to adapt. What you do to fit your personnel and the underlying philosophy for me is not changed. We talked about being obviously unselfish and ball movement and quick decisions. But what those decisions were, or are, does change.
So last year with additional Bojan [Bogdanovic], ironically Fav, we have Fav back, but with Bojan and then with [Jordan Clarkson], and with Mike [Conley], our style was evolving. And I think for a group of guys that have played a certain way for a period of time — with Donovan [Mitchell] playing with Ricky Rubio, and Jae [Crowder] and Rudy and that group. that was a different makeup of the team.
So we’ve tried to continue to adjust and adapt and evolve. And I knew how we wanted to play at the beginning of last year. We struggled offensively at the beginning of last year I can remember. People wondering if Bojan was going to make shots and if Mike was going to get comfortable. I think it’s emblematic of those adjustments both players have to make and for me, trying to find the best way to put guys in a position to be successful, individually, but also being conscious and deliberate about how those guys fit together as a group.
So, as that year progressed, I think we got more comfortable one of the biggest challenges for us has been because we’ve been such a ball-movement oriented team in playing out of the blender and trying to break the defense down and really generate quality shots, open shots, that as we’ve progressed, and we shoot the ball so well right now, those teams, as other teams have different strengths.
This is a strength now. So the question becomes, how can you play to your strengths, and that means redefining for some guys how they’ve played over a period of years, and really helping them understand why it is we’re doing what we’re doing.
I think that’s a big part of that. If I’ve thought it through enough, and believe in it, it’s my job to communicate to the players. Because saying you’re going to do it, and doing it and doing them consistently are very different things.
So, we’re fortunate to have guys that are intelligent players that want to play together because whatever style or system you play, guys that are unselfish, that will move the ball, that will create for each other.
In our case, we’ll run for each other, make an extra pass when that’s the case, that allows whatever it is you want to do with a particular team to be much more efficient. And so now, we don’t need to be as open to shoot.
And that’s why the emphasis on shooting because oftentimes, a look early in the possession, is going to be a better look than we get later in the possession. When you look at all the numbers for us, it’s one of the reasons the more you move the ball, the chances of you making a mistake become greater.
If you come down and shoot without passing the ball, you’re probably not going to turn the ball over. No different than if you miss you’re going to have more chance for offensive rebounds. But that doesn’t mean you want to miss.
And so us finding a balance between taking those shots, particularly early in a possession and moving the ball is something that I think is where some growth can continue to occur for us.
I’d like us to not pass shots up, because when we’re driving close outs we may not get a better shot. That said, there’s plenty of times to make an extra pass and for our guys finding that balance has been really important. And I think what’s taking time.
And the other thing is recognizing the situations where shots are going to become available. We didn’t shoot a lot when people went under and pick and roll we’d rescreen. We didn’t shoot a lot when people switched dribble handoffs. We didn’t shoot a lot on pass aheads’ in transition. We didn’t shoot a lot. We’re taking shots now that I don’t think guys felt like we’re good shots and to me, the key in that is everybody is given everybody else on the team permission to take those shots.
No one feels if Georges [Niang] takes a shot after one pass, Joe’s not feeling like, ‘What’s he doing?’ And that’s the battle, and that’s the trust. I think the unique thing about this team is they trust each other. And they really are where they are our shots. It’s not one person’s shots. So I think collectively that mindset is something that’s really important. So, that’s a long answer but it’s a pretty comprehensive one.”
You can subscribe to the Jazz Notes Podcast at this link.
— to kslsports.com