Williams and Boozer had Korver.
The Utah Jazz offensive system requires a great outside threat to spread the floor and open other options. First, it allows room for the point guard to penetrate in the lane, giving him space to either shoot or pass to a better shot. The low post also benefits from the threat of a shooter. Defenses must choose between double teaming the post while leaving the shooter open, or you take your chances in the low post and guard our forward with one player.
This season, the 3-point shooting has been so inconsistent, opposing defenses are able to jam the paint on the Jazz without fearing a shooter. In the modern NBA, the three is more important than ever, with teams able to shoot with such consistency that at times they are more efficient from behind the arc than in two point range. NBA leader Miami shoots 40 percent from three, while the Jazz shoot just 29 percent for the season, the very bottom of the league in shooting the three.
The Jazz know who they are. They understand they aren’t great shooters. Coach Ty Corbin runs the offense through the paint, and the Jazz shoot fewer threes per game than most of the league. Even under Jerry Sloan, the Jazz never have been a “shooting” team, preferring to force the ball down low to take shots as close to the rim as possible.
Unfortunately, the rest of the league uses the three as a deadly weapon, putting the Jazz far behind in this arms race. This was evident over the holiday weekend as the Jazz dropped two games against Houston and San Antonio. Both teams shot a combined 50 percent from the three point line, each hitting 10 shots in each game. Kyle Lowry for Houston and Matt Bonner for the Spurs were especially deadly, shooting 7-8 and 5-6 for three respectfully.
Until Jeff Hornacek joined the Jazz, the team in the ‘90s never had a real shot to make the NBA Finals. Kyle Korver, with help from Mehmet Okur, helped push the team last decade to the Western Conference Finals and remain a constant threat in the West. For the Jazz to build another contending team, they need to make a move for a 3-point shooter.
Besides the common shooting ability, both Hornacek and Korver were acquired by the Jazz via trade in the mid-season (ironically both trades were made with Philadelphia). Hornacek came to the team for Jeff Malone, a solid shooting guard but who didn’t have the 3-point range. Korver was traded for Gordan Giracek, who never developed the consistent shot we expected from him.
General Manager Kevin O’Connor needs to decide which route to take to add the deep threat to the current team. With the Jazz sitting at 15-16 as of Tuesday, this team is not going to contend for the Finals.
However, with the developing project going on right now, adding another player via trade could affect the minutes needed for the young players to develop, or worse, we could lose some of these players in the trade. O’Connor does have the trade exception from the Okur trade in the preseason, but using it this season would just add another player to an already crowded roster. In the offseason, the Jazz will have some money to spend in free agency, but will not have enough to bid for the top free agents.
To say the least, the Jazz building project is not finished yet.