Weekly Run newsletter: Rudy Gobert remains the king of not sugar-coating it

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert (27) tries to keep Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) from getting past him, in NBA action between the Utah Jazz and the Minnesota Timberwolves in Salt Lake City, Monday, Nov. 18, 2019.

While it sometimes makes me self-conscious to ask the same question of multiple players, there’s a reason that reporters do it. Namely, it’s instructive in providing unique perspectives of the same situation.

For instance, in the Jazz’s 112-102 loss to the Timberwolves on Monday, my Trib colleague Andy Larsen led off coach Quin Snyder’s postgame media availability by noting the team had shot just 5 for 32 (15.6%) from midrange and asking if he was happy with the shot selection, especially considering that the Jazz were 18 of 33 (54.5%) at the rim, and 12 for 31 (38.7%) from 3-point range.

“When we got to the rim, I think we were much more effective,” Snyder replied. Makes sense.

That’s why I found it curious that several players afterward insisted they got the looks they wanted, and that the shooting was simply off.

“We got good looks, they just didn’t go in,” said Jeff Green.

Donovan Mitchell acknowledged he fired up some poor ones, but didn’t think that was universally the case: “I took some terrible shots. … I think as a whole, we just missed some open ones.”

And Mike Conley added that he felt the Jazz had “good” and “open” looks: “I don’t think anybody took any shots out of character. We all had very good looks. I had a lot of good looks in the paint that bounced around the rim a few times. We had a lot of guys with open looks. … We’ll take ’em all night. It’s just a matter of making ’em, and tonight we didn’t do that.”

The “out of character” part of Conley’s quote makes some sense. While midrange shots are typically the last resort, considering they’re typically more difficult than shots at the rim and worth less than 3s, this team has said frequently it will try to exploit what the defense is giving. And even after a 2-for-13 midrange game vs. Minny, Donovan is still fifth in the league in midrange FG%, at 49.1%.

Still — many of those attempts on that night may have been open looks, but it would be hard to call a lot of them good ones.

And so, naturally, Rudy Gobert, who has a well-earned reputation for calling it as he sees it (and for not always seeing it through rose-colored glasses), expressed an alternate opinion when asked if the Jazz got the shots they wanted.

“I don’t think we did,” he said. “We can play much better. We can execute better. We can play for one another better. Also, defensively, we can do a much better job.”

In case you missed it

After a poor first half and a better second half from the Jazz’s second unit against Minnesota, I took a look into the numbers to see how the team’s bench is performing overall, and there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Meanwhile, after Monday’s pregame shootaround, Andy wound up writing about a couple of interesting team tidbits — Donovan and Rudy reaching out to a local bullied teenager, and Mike Conley expressing relief to be back “home” in Utah.

Of course, there was much made last week about Conley making his first return as a visiting player to his former home in Memphis. First, I wrote about the build-up to Conley’s emotional return. Then I got a chance to talk to Mike in Memphis about what is was like to be back. His response? “Everything just feels backwards.”

And finally, Andy notes that Donovan has made the leap to becoming a top-10 player in the league so far this year, and looks into what specific improvements the star guard has made to get there.

Other people’s stuff …

• Mike Sorensen of the Deseret News went into detail on Dante Exum’s return to action after an eight-month absence due to injury.

• From the Jazz’s game against the Grizzlies, Jasen Lee, also of the D-News, wrote about the shared D-League history of Jazz coach Quin Snyder and Grizz coach Taylor Jenkins.

• After the loss to the Wolves, Ben Anderson of kslsports.com took a look at how that defeat put into focus some of the Jazz’s weaknesses this season.

• Ryan Miller of KSL.com wrote about that pass Rudy Gobert caught from Mike Conley near the end of the Brooklyn game, and how it’s a microcosm of the center’s growing ability on the offensive end.

• Ben Dowsett of Forbes noted that while Donovan and Rudy have been their usual tremendous selves, the supporting cast hasn’t caught up quite yet.

• And, following B2B losses to the Grizzlies and T-wolves, Tony Jones of The Athletic pointed out how losing games they ought to win could hurt the Jazz in an especially loaded Western Conference this season.

Up next

A busy four-game week for the Jazz sees them next get their return match against the Wolves tonight in Minnesota. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. MT. As for the rest of the week, the new-look Warriors visit the Viv on Friday night; and — saving the best for last — Saturday brings the latter half of a back-to-back, it also brings the return of longtime Jazzman Derrick Favors, who’ll be making his first visit to SLC since being traded to the Pelicans this summer.