Alex Goodlett, Deseret News
Utah Jazz guard Rodney Hood #5 shoots over Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant #35 during game four of the Western Conference Semifinal at Vivant Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, May 8, 2017.
SALT LAKE CITY — For years (and really, decades), the Utah Jazz have prided themselves on being a blue-collar team. If points were being scored, it was happening from the paint. And if defensive stops were being made, it was happening through sheer physicality.
But the Jazz have adapted, even if the foundation of the team — a focus on passing and defending — hasn’t.
As the league has become more perimeter-oriented, so have the Jazz.
Ever since the Jazz named Quin Snyder as head coach three years ago, the team has become more interested in shooting from the outside.
In 2013-14, the Jazz were 24th in 3-point shots made per game. The season after, the Jazz moved up six spots to 18th overall. In 2015-16, the Jazz were 16th, still slowly creeping up the shooting ranks. Then finally, in 2016-17, the Jazz cracked the top half of the league, making the 13th most threes per game.
This summer, though, Utah lost two of the five players on their roster with the highest likelihood to shoot the 3-point shot. Gordon Hayward (who led the Jazz in 3-point shots made in 2016-17) and George Hill accounted for 10 of the teams 26 attempts from deep on a game-by-game basis.
Based purely on the losses Utah suffered this offseason (Hayward and Hill) and the signings made — Ricky Rubio, Thabo Sefolosha and Jonas Jerebko — the Jazz are expected to make slightly over 22 threes per game, which would place them among the three-worst shooting teams in the NBA. This, of course, does not include the incoming production of Donovan Mitchell, who hasn’t recorded any statistics so thus cannot be used in the projections.
Utah’s identity — which, again, is predicated on a pass-first offense and an intense defense, particularly the rim protection provided by Rudy Gobert — won’t shift, but the team’s overall effectiveness inevitably…