Weekly Run: Are recent shooting woes by the shooting-dependent Utah Jazz cause for concern?

The team as a whole is a combined 23 for 88 beyond the arc these past two games, while Royce O’Neale has struggled for the past five games, and Jordan Clarkson’s been inefficient for several weeks now.

(Tony Gutierrez | AP) Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson (13) drives past Utah Jazz forward Royce O'Neale (23) for a shot opportunity in the second half of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Monday, April 5, 2021.

It’s something of an inevitability that shooters will, at times, go through shooting slumps.

On Wednesday vs. the Suns, the Utah Jazz shot 11 of 44 from 3-point range. On Monday against Dallas, it was 12 for 44. That’s a combined 26.1%.

Still, these days, we can’t ask Quin Snyder about the sudden inability of Player X (whoever that may be at the time) to get the ball into the basket with any consistency without him invoking everyone’s concerns about Bojan Bogdanovic back in the preseason of 2019. Remember how Bogey couldn’t make a shot to save his life, and everyone was freaking out that the Jazz had just given him $73 million, Quin likes to remind us all, before asking some variation of, “So, how’d that turn out?”

Such sporadic periods, however, have taken on more life this season, though — given how much Utah’s success has been predicated upon their ability to make 3s, any wobble in proficiency sets off alarm bells. Bogey has been up and down this season following his wrist surgery. Donovan Mitchell’s had intermittent moments.

Right now, the sources of concern are Royce O’Neale and Jordan Clarkson.

Royce’s woes are very much a recent development, as he went 1 for 3 from 3-point range in Memphis, 0 for 2 in the victory over the Bulls, 1 for 5 in the win against the Magic, 0 for 8 in Monday’s loss to the Mavericks, then missed his only two deep attempts in Wednesday’s loss to the Suns. That’s 2 for 20 in his past five games. Not that he’s terribly concerned.

“No, I think It’s just me putting a lot of pressure on myself to make those shots. But at the end of the day, I’ve been doing this my whole life, so I just need to relax, just have fun with, and be myself,” he said. “… One game is not going to break the whole season or destroy my confidence over what I built this whole time. So, 0 for 8, 8 for 8, 4 for 8, I really don’t care. I’m gonna keep shooting, regardless.”

As for JC, well his shooting issues go back a bit longer. As Zach Harper of The Athletic pointed out in a Thursday morning article about how he perceives the various awards races, “Over Clarkson’s last 19 games, he’s averaging 15.3 points per game. However, his shooting percentage has not been good. We’ve seen wild swings in his efficiency during this time. He’s made 36.3% of his shots and 29.8% of his 3-pointers during this stretch.”

Those are some yikes numbers from a guy with his volume of shots.

Royce’s and JC’s shooting hasn’t cost Utah too much yet (still first in the standings, first in 3s made, fourth in 3P%, and fourth in offensive rating). And Royce shoots infrequently enough that the Jazz could withstand a prolonged slump from him. Jordan, however, has not been finding the right balance between being aggressive and being unselfish, his nine-assist game the other night notwithstanding. He’s out of rhythm, he’s hunting bad shots, he’s forcing the issue. And if it persists, the Jazz will pay a price.

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