Who leads the Golden State Warriors in total points this season?
Yes, that’s right, the guard who spent eight seasons with the Utah Jazz after being selected in the 2011 NBA draft is now the formerly-vaunted Warriors’ leading scorer. Much of that, of course, is due to injury: not just the obvious ones like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, but also the various games D’Angelo Russell has missed.
Burks has taken advantage of the opportunity, scoring 16.2 points (a career high) in his 29.5 minutes per game on the floor. He’s also passing the ball a little more often, while turning it over a little less. It’s probably been his best NBA season, with the obvious caveat that the Warriors stand at 10-35 on the season.
“Anytime a player, whether it be Alec or Dante [Exum] more recently, you play a part in their career and you want to seem them succeed," Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. "Everybody in the locker room and coaching staff and players that have played with him want to see him do well, and he is.”
Zone defense comeback
If you’ve watched the NBA this season, you’ve probably seen more zone defenses than ever before. According to a New York Times article quoting Synergy Sports data, usage of zone defenses is up 50% when compared to last year. It’s no team’s base defense, but seven teams — Dallas, Toronto, Washington, Charlotte, Los Angeles (Clippers), Miami and Brooklyn — use zone defenses as a wrinkle between to 4 and 10% of the time.
The Jazz are not one of those teams. According to Synergy, the Jazz have run zone for only two possessions all year. But they still have to run their offense well against zone defenses when teams try to use it to slow them down.
“We found maybe the most important thing is get guys in comfort zones,” Snyder said. “A lot of times, zone is successful if it just makes you stop and think.”
The Jazz have attacked zones extremely successfully this season. They’re second in the league in offensive efficiency against zone defenses, averaging 1.286 points per possession. Only Denver ranks higher.
“I think you probably want to distort the zone in some ways initially and try to at least have some variance in how you attack it, where it’s not the same every time,” Snyder said. “A lot of times that can something as simple as pick and roll and spacing.”