The Triple Team: Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, and Quin Snyder are all frustrated after losing to the Pelicans. What needs to be changed?

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder reacts along with Rudy Gobert (27) after the official failed to call a foul, in NBA action between the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans, at Vivint Arena, in Salt Lake City, on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021.

Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s 98-97 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans from Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.

1. Rudy Gobert is frustrated. He’s also right.

Rudy Gobert needs to get the ball more. He is literally on a NBA-record streak of games shooting over 50% from the field. In 53 straight games, he’s had an efficient night from the floor. So maybe get him the ball, ever?

I get it — he’s weak in the post. But he’s not useless. He just played with the French national team in the Olympics (against NBA players!) where he tore teams, including the U.S., to shreds by getting the ball in the post against mismatches and finishing.

And there are situations whether the question isn’t “Hey, can Rudy finish this?,” it’s “Hey, are you willing to even consider passing it to him?” I’m not sure Bogdanovic looks for Gobert for one second on this play, even though it’s an obvious 4-on-3 opportunity.

On this very dumb Mitchell inbounds turnover, Gobert is right there for the easy pass, and instead Mitchell throws to Conley for the interception.

This makes Gobert incredibly frustrated. Like, watch what he does to Tomas Satoransky as “Sato” disrupts his roll: he just chucks him out of the way. Uh, yeah, that’s a foul — a dumb one.

One great strength of Gobert is his honesty; but when Gobert is this frustrated, he’ll start to drop truth bombs in post-game pressers, too.

“I don’t know how many years we’re gonna keep losing in the playoffs and not learn from it. I might be 30. I might be 40. We need to put our egos aside and learn,” Gobert said. “We’re not playing like a team that wants to compete for a championship. … Even the young teams are playing better than us in the clutch.”

You know what, though? He’s right! I’m fine with him being critical and ruffling some feathers — maybe that will lead to change in the team’s play.

2. Donovan Mitchell’s play

I get that Mitchell didn’t shoot well against OKC. But I thought he played well anyway — he moved the ball when they were putting defensive attention on him, and just missed open shots. It happens. And after the game, Jazz head coach Quin Snyder complimented Mitchell’s play.

Tonight, was perhaps the lowest basketball IQ game I’ve seen from him in years. The shooting obviously wasn’t there, and he forced a lot of contested midrange shots in the paint. We’ve seen that before, but it’s still disappointing to see.

The Jazz scored two points in 6:29 in the second quarter tonight. Why? Well, when Mitchell was splitting plays to get 4-on-3 situations, he was taking bad midrange shots instead. Look how many options he has here! Instead, he calls his own number.

Donovan Mitchell has several options here, but chooses the midrange floater — the least efficient look.

But I thought most damaging tonight were the other kinds of mistakes. Like, this turnover in the second quarter is just sloppy. He gets cut off — fine — and is looking to recycle the ball. But what is this pass?

The Jazz are in the penalty here, and have three men back. There’s absolutely no reason to foul in transition here, but Mitchell gives up the two free throws anyway. Gosh, the Jazz sure could have used those points.

This is after the inbounds turnover shown earlier. Mitchell running back here would have put him in position to get the rebound — but nope.

As Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said after the game,

“After the last game, I think our whole team felt good about the way the ball moved. The anticipation is that that continues to happen, but it didn’t,” Snyder said. “When we don’t just make an easy pass... and just trust each other. It’s harder for us. It’s hard on a lot of levels.”

I think Mitchell is really responsible for the overall ball-movement vibe of the team. If he’s selfish, the Jazz can be. If he’s not, they play very beautiful basketball. They need a higher level from Mitchell to reach their goals.

3. Talking about Quin

Do you know what the number one thing in my Twitter mentions was tonight? It was that the Jazz should fire Quin Snyder.

Here’s the #fireSnyder argument: the Jazz are playing below the level of their talent. They’re playing with poor chemistry. Isn’t that the sign that the coach is to blame?

And here would be my counterargument to that — I don’t think you guys realize just how important Quin is to this team staying together.

There’s something I’ve heard said about Snyder that I think is basically true: he’s almost like an extremely effective cult leader. He inspires support, certainly beyond the standards of the typical NBA coach.

This team works emotionally because they all trust Quin Snyder.

They trust him because he’s made their careers — he gave the ball to Mitchell as a rookie, he turned Gobert from a G-League player into an All-NBA center. He gave Conley his first All-Star appearance, and he gave Clarkson his first quality role on a good team (and a Sixth Man of the Year award). He gave Bogdanovic his only 20-PPG scoring season, he gave Hassan Whiteside a rotation role when it looked like he had fallen out of the league, he turned Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale from scrap-heap guys to starters.

They trust him because they know how insane he is, how hard he works. He texts them at all hours of the night, he’s always coming up with new plays to get them going, he talks to them about non-basketball stuff, and supports them behind the scenes, with family issues and things like that. Most say they have a deeper connection to Snyder than any coach they’ve played for.

And I know that the #fireSnyder crowd is saying right now: well, how come they’re not playing better, then?

Well, I think Gobert had a point: there are still egos at play here, and right now, everyone’s trying a little bit too hard to rewrite their own narrative. Mitchell desperately wants to be All-NBA, Clarkson’s trying to come back from a horrible start to the season, Gobert’s trying to prove his haters wrong after last year’s playoffs, Conley/Ingles/Whiteside are all trying to prove they’re still capable of what they were in seasons past, despite the aging. That’s a lot of individualistic pressure.

Without Snyder, I don’t think the Jazz have a chance to get it together: they would splinter, create factions on the team, and we would see an ugly falling apart. Heck, we still might. But with Snyder, there’s someone they all still trust to get the best out of them, and that’s a starting place for increased cohesion.

We saw Mitchell say as much after the game: “You can’t put this on Quin or the assistants. This is on us. We’ve just got to (expletive) play better.”

They certainly do.

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