Gregg Popovich’s assistants have flourished as NBA head coaches. In the last five seasons, four NBA Coach of the Year awards have gone to Popovich or one of his assistants. That bodes well for former assistant Quin Snyder and the rising Utah Jazz.
The Jazz have been in NBA purgatory since Snyder became head coach in 2015. They won 38 and 40 games those two seasons, respectively. He is looking to make that third-year jump into Western Conference relevancy.
Snyder brought Popovich’s defense with him to Utah. They play as a team and are always in the right position. Last season, the Jazz gave up 95.9 points per game. That ranked second in the league to Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs. The Jazz scared the NBA on defense, but not on offense.
2015 started with Dante Exum tearing his ACL playing for the Australian National Team. He didn’t play a single game that season and the Jazz shuffled Shelvin Mack, Trey Burke and Raul Neto at point guard. They finished 28th in the NBA in both assists and points per game.
Utah addressed their need at point guard by acquiring George Hill from the Indiana Pacers in a three-team trade with Exum off the bench. They also traded for Boris Diaw and signed Joe Johnson. Snyder has the facilitators, depth and veteran leadership to guide their young core into the playoffs.
Look at the players Snyder has to work with.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: George Hill
SG: Rodney Hood
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Derrick Favors
C: Rudy Gobert
PG: Dante Exum
SG: Alec Burks
SF: Joe Johnson
PF: Trey Lyles
C: Boris Diaw
PG: Shelvin Mack
PG: Raul Neto
C: Jeff Whitey
There isn’t a hole on the Jazz roster. With the best bench in the NBA, Snyder has the ability to play situational basketball and set lineups to opposing teams weaknesses. Popovich and his assistants dominate situational basketball.
If the Jazz stay healthy they will have quietly one of the best teams in the NBA. Snyder proved his system works and now there is talent on the roster. I see the Jazz going 50-32 next season and seeding fifth in the West. Winning 10 more games and seeing four spots higher would make Snyder a serious contender for Coach of the Year. Snyder is in great position to give a Popovich assistant the award a third consecutive season.