There’s improvements basketball teams can make — shooting, passing, dribbling — that coaches can make fun. They can dress up those fundamentals with drills or friendly wagers to make it enjoyable.
But limiting turnovers — everything about improving in that area is tedious.
Still, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said that hasn’t stopped the Jazz from looking at footage of all 22 of their turnovers against the Houston Rockets in Monday’s loss. The Jazz still are going through the drills of passing more efficiently, which are rote and familiar to the point of being mind-numbing.
But the coaches in the end simply are counting on players to make better decisions.
“Ultimately in some of these situations, guys just really have to concentrate while they’re on the floor,” Snyder said at Wednesday’s practice. “The kind of drills you do not to turn the ball over are very mundane. We’ll do them, but more than anything, it’s just a mindset that we have to be tougher.”
It’s been disconcerting for Jazz fans to see turnover issues crop up lately. Utah has piled up a combined 41 turnovers in the two losses to Portland and Houston since the All-Star break. For reference, the Jazz didn’t post 20 turnovers once during their 11-game winning streak, and they had 17 combined turnovers in the two wins before the All-Star break against San Antonio and Phoenix.
It’s been a multitude of issues, including banged-up point guards (Ricky Rubio still recovering from a hip injury; Raul Neto out with a sprained ankle). But one noticeable factor against the Rockets was Donovan Mitchell, who had eight turnovers.
Snyder said part of Mitchell’s issues have been being predictable with his moves, such as passing back with a certain rhythm or attempting to split double-teams. He also was being guarded by Trevor Ariza, long known as a top wing defender. But a lot also comes down to the high-profile rookie being … a rookie.
“When you’re the primary offensive player on a team competing for a postseason spot, to have a rookie be your leading scorer is unique,” Snyder said. “His teammates have embraced him in that, but there’s going to be growing pains. Guys have tough games.”
There’s also a certain amount of system integration going on for not just the rookies (including Royce O’Neale) but also for Jae Crowder, who has emerged as Utah’s top bench player. Snyder pointed out that Crowder and Rubio only recently have begun playing together since the break ended.
Much of the last 21 games will involve making adjustments on the fly. But the Jazz hope to get the turnovers under control with a few days in between games.
“We’ve just gotta be better as individuals and as a group being in the right spot for the guy and that individual completing the pass,” Joe Ingles said. “We need to look at it and work on it. We’ve watched it, and we have to get better from it.”
Thabo Sefolosha staying in the fold
Just over a month off his season-ending surgery, Thabo Sefolosha was spotted in the practice facility Thursday, putting up free throws with a brace around his injured right knee. It was the first time media had seen the veteran forward on the court since his injury.
But that hasn’t meant that Sefolosha hasn’t been around. He’s been a presence with the team in the facility getting treatment and before games. Often getting around on crutches, he’s still been willing to dispense advice. Sefolosha reportedly has a team option on his contract for next season, and indications are that, even on the mend, he’s been valued.
“He’s a great guy to have around,” Ingles said. “Even at halftime of games, he’s talking to guys and trying to help from afar. A dude with that much experience is great. Obviously we’d much prefer him playing, but what he’s done off court, with his rehab and trying to get back, and helping guys has been awesome.”