The Utah Jazz have the league’s best 3-point attack — but they learned much of it in Bojan Bogdanovic’s absence
Quin Snyder was forced to take a spread-it-around approach once the forward was out with a wrist injury
(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune)
Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) reacts after hitting a 3-point shot, in NBA action between the Utah Jazz and the Golden State Warriors at Vivint Arena, on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021.
The Jazz have the best 3-point attack in the league this season — and maybe the best ever.
They’re No. 3 in attempts this year, shooting 41.6 per game. They’re No. 2 in percentage, making 40.3% of them. And that means, when you add it up, they’re first in number of 3-point makes per game: 16.8 per contest.
In fact, it’s the most 3s per game that any team has made all-time, in the history of the NBA. The 2018-19 Rockets come second, with 16.1 per game, with this year’s Toronto Raptors right below that. To give you an idea, they’re currently making three more per game than even the Warriors did at their peak, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant.
But there’s an argument to be made that the Jazz couldn’t have done it without losing their best 3-point shooter, Bojan Bogdanovic, last season.
As the season was postponed, Bogdanovic was setting the league ablaze, taking 7.3 threes per game and making them at a 41.4% clip. But when he required wrist surgery during the mid-season break, Quin Snyder realized that he’d have to get more 3-point shots from the rest of his team.
He spent the bubble’s “training camp” scheming up new ways for the Jazz to get open looks, and building confidence in his players in getting those open shots.
“There’s been a real emphasis for us not being tentative shooting the ball,” Snyder said then
. “We’ve shot the ball over the course of the year, but felt, given our size and our speed, that those were the things that we could do more of.”
You can see how it changed the Jazz’s 3-point shot profile for their main shooters. Here are the number of threes that each of Donovan Mitchell, Jordan Clarkson, Mike Conley, Joe Ingles, and Royce O’Neale took per game before the season’s suspension, in the bubble (both regular season and playoffs), and now in 2020-21.
Mitchell increased his 3-point shots by over one a game, then added even a little more this season. Clarkson did too, though he’s at about the same level as his bubble play. Conley has taken nearly two more per contest than he did last year. The gains from Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale have been smaller, but still significant.
“I thought in the bubble with Bojan gone ... we had to absorb his threes a little bit,” Snyder explained. “And I think with him back, you know, we’ve kind of kept some momentum with that.”
Overall, those players are taking six threes more per game this season than last season — even though Bogdanovic is back and fully integrated in the lineup. Meanwhile, Bogdanovic’s own 3-point shooting contribution hasn’t declined much, from 7.3 per game only down to 6.7 per game.
Now, Snyder’s a little bit wary of his record-setting offense — he doesn’t want them to panic if the threes stop falling. “It’s something we’re going to continue to try to do, but if it’s not there, we have to make good decisions and score different ways,” Snyder said.
They showed the ability to do that against the Golden State Warriors. After the Jazz’s initial 14-0 start to the game, the Warriors changed their coverage and started picking the Jazz up early in the halfcourt, 30-35 feet from the basket. But the Jazz beat the early defense and found their way into the paint, leading to layups — and then even more threes when the defense collapsed.
“I’d like to think that we can be a balanced team,” Snyder said. “But as much as anything, the focus has been on our spacing and passing the ball accurately. And I think if we do those two things that we’ll be able to continue to get some looks.”
And given the caliber of shooters on the Jazz’s roster, likely some makes.
JAZZ VS. KNICKS
At Vivint Smart Home Arena
When • Tuesday, 7 p.m.
TV • ATTSN