Quin Snyder defends Utah Jazz clutch, Donovan Mitchell’s passing in epic pre-game rant

Quin Snyder entered Tuesday’s pregame media session with an ax to grind.

Well, two actually.

While the Utah Jazz coach normally spends about 10 minutes before each game answering questions posed to him by reporters, it was a little different heading into the Jazz’s overtime showdown against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies.

Snyder – apparently spurred on by a growing sense that his struggling team is in disarray – took to the stage and launched into a passionate and demonstrative 19-minute monologue, over 3,000 words, attacking the double narrative lack of his team. of clutch play, and the suggestion that guard Donovan Mitchell barely passes to center Rudy Gobert.

“Often people use numbers to tell a story, and it’s important to do so responsibly,” Snyder began, pointedly.

The problem is that many of the numbers he later quoted were either wrong or lacking the context he complained about.

First, he took aim at the general idea that because the Jazz have lost 15 games this season in which they held a double-digit lead, the team is prone to slumps and doesn’t hang on terribly.

The premise itself is flawed by being too general, he argued.

“I think we can all agree that a 10-point first-quarter lead is different than a 10-point fourth-quarter lead,” Snyder said.

Except …

Of those 15 games, only one featured a double-digit lost lead that happened in the first quarter (December 11 at Washington), and only two of those lost leads came in the second quarter. In total, 12 of those 15 games featured a lost double-digit lead after Half time.

Yet he continued to shift the argument only to games in which the Jazz held and lost a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of a game. He claimed there were only seven such cases and went on to point out that the Jazz ended up coming back to win three; thus, their record in games in which they held a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter is a more respectable 3-4, or about a 43% winning percentage, comparable to what the Boston Celtics have done this season. .

“You can also look at that and say, we lost the lead, and we got it back three out of seven times, which maybe means we’re a resilient team,” Snyder said. “…It also says we played pretty well, because if we’re up double digits in the fourth quarter, I’d take it for the most part. I’d rather be double digit than single digit.

Except …

The Jazz actually played eight games this season in which they surrendered a fourth quarter lead and lost five of them – road games at the Magic, Lakers, Spurs, Clippers and Warriors.

Also, what he didn’t mention is that the Jazz’s eight double-digit fourth-quarter leads are still more than any other team in the league – ahead of Tuesday’s slate of games, the Knicks had squandered six of those leads, while the Nets, Celtics, Cavs, Nuggets and Sixers had squandered five each.

Yet that argument was part of a corresponding discussion of the stat that the Jazz would be 55-22 this season if the game ended after the third quarter.

Snyder scoffed at the premise, facetiously asking if it would be better if the Jazz simply never led in the first three quarters and tried to rally in the fourth, as it would help them avoid the tag of stifling games in delay. More seriously, he noted that the circumstances of each of these games were different and that it was irresponsible to try to lump them together into one meaningful storyline.

From there, the coach moved on to a tweet that has gained a lot of traction in recent days about everyone’s favorite ‘unsalvageable’ duo, Mitchell and Gobert, and how the former would barely make it to the latter, can -be as best evidenced by a play. in the Jazz’s recent loss to the Golden State Warriors (a game that saw them lose a 21-point lead, by the way), where Gobert had 6-foot-6 guard Klay Thompson sealed in paint, while a dribble Mitchell failed to get past the ball.

Snyder then referenced comparative stats that have been released on how often Hawks point guard Trae Young passes to teammate Clint Capela, and argued that it wasn’t “apples to apples.”

“Trae Young and Capela, that’s the model we use, isn’t it? You know, out of 3,442 possessions, [Young has] spent in Capela 472 times. OK. Donovan, about 1600 [possessions], he passed Rudy 150 times. So they’re roughly the same number, right? »

Except …

First of all, Young’s success percentage at Capela is 13.7%, while Mitchell’s at Gobert is 9.4%. So no, not quite the same.

Plus, it turns out that Mitchell and Gobert had actually played 2,351 possessions together this season ahead of Tuesday’s game, according to Cleaning the Glass; Jazz PR confirmed after the match that Snyder had mistakenly received a data set including possessions where all of Mitchell, Gobert, and Mike Conley shared the floor together – which was 1,674 before Tuesday’s game.

Anyway, Snyder’s larger point was that, as Conley shares a lot of assets with Mitchell and Gobert, and as he is quote-unquote the point guard while Mitchell is a secondary ball handler inclined to play farther from the ball when Conley is also in it, it is only natural that his number of passes to Gobert would be a bit reduced.

He also pointed out that, given the Jazz’s prolific 3-point shooting team, sometimes they just focus on shooting more from beyond the arc, which also reduces the number of passes. available for Gobert. Additionally, he argued that most of the time the Jazz try to lob Gobert, opponents focus on such plays and sell out to disrupt the high pass to the big man.

“Let’s just not try to drive a wedge between some of these players, and especially by using numbers. We should be more responsible than that,” Snyder said. “…We don’t play very well all the time. We want to play better. But you don’t get it by trying to say one player doesn’t pass to another.

Regarding the game where Gobert sealed off Thompson and could have easily scored had he got the ball, Snyder insisted that using a freeze frame still probably doesn’t accurately tell. the story of how the game actually unfolded, and even if it does, a singular game hardly constitutes definitive proof that Mitchell doesn’t switch to Gobert consistently and continuously.

Apparently, he views the speech as nothing more than an outside attempt to pit the two team stars against each other.

“The suggestion that Donovan would look at Rudy when Rudy is deep in the paint…” Snyder began, leaving the unfinished sentence hanging to emphasize how absurd he thought it was. “…When it gets to the point where Donovan answers questions [about it after shootaround], we deduce that it does not pass to him and that there is a problem between the two. So these are not illogical leaps.

“I haven’t seen that. I haven’t seen that at all. They sit at the same table when they eat sometimes,” he concluded. “I don’t know if they will train together – probably not, but anyway.”

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