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Utah Jazz notebook: Starting lineup? Snyder, staff will decide sometime before opening tip

SALT LAKE CITY — Less than 24 hours before his team tips it off in its 2015-16 NBA regular-season opener, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said he still wasn't quite ready to announce his starting lineup.

"No, not yet, for all the same reasons we've kind of discussed," Snyder said Tuesday afternoon following his team's practice session at Zions Bank Basketball Center in preparation for tonight's season debut on the road against the Detroit Pistons. "We've got a chance to look at different groups and different combinations the last few days, which has been good. I think we'll obviously make that decision between now and game time, probably sooner than later.

"We need to sit down as a staff and talk about it and process it. I wanted to wait to have real heavy dialogue about it because the information's been so fluid."

Snyder added that "I think our guys are excited for the season. We'll get to find out where we are a little bit, starting on the road, and I think everybody's ready to start playing real games."

UNITED THEY STAND: Coach Snyder talked about his team's "esprit de corps" — their true and sincere sense of mutual loyalty, unity, cohesiveness and camaraderie — as being one of this group's greatest strengths.

"The good thing about our group, and we talked about it some yesterday, is for us to be a good team, we've got to capitalize on our unselfishness," the second-year Jazz head coach said. "We have a group of players that we're capable of playing a number of ways. And we can only do that if everybody's in — completely.

"Let's face it, that's easier said than done because we're all human and we're all looking after our families and ourselves, and to subordinate your ego and your goals on some level to the team is hard. The irony is it always comes back and stays. ... We find teams that are unusual in the sense that they are that selfless and are good teams.

"My point is we've just got a really good group, and that's chemistry. In the end, that's what chemistry is about," Snyder said. "Anybody can be close and have the camaraderie and help one another when things are good and everybody's gotten what they want. The bottom line is over the course of the season, everybody has to sacrifice at various times, some people more than others.

"We'll have games this year where Rudy (Gobert), Fav (Derrick Favors), Gordon (Hayward) are finishing the game on the bench. And I have no doubt they'll be supporting their teammates. That's a sign of a really good player, too, to have the ability to see the big picture and also to participate and be excited for their teammates."

NBA DEBUTS: The Jazz currently have three players — point guard Raul Neto, forward Trey Lyles and center Tibor Pleiss — who will be making their NBA debuts this season.

Neto was asked about his feelings entering his first NBA campaign.

"I'm very excited," he said. "All preseason, I think about that moment, and I've been practicing hard to get ready to start the season well, so I'm very excited."

Neto denied being overly nervous going into his first regular-season game.

"I think all the nerves was for my first preseason game," he said. "I'm really confident and relaxed about this first game, so I think I'm ready for it.

"I think I've shown in the preseason games that I'm ready. Of course I still have to improve. I've still got a lot of things to get there, but I think I'm ready."

Neto's shooting ability has been questioned, and he admitted that it's a work in progress.

"I think I already improved a lot on this preseason," he said. "I've been working hard on that. I've been working every day after practice, days off I just come here (to the team's practice facility) and get some shots. I think I've still got to improve a lot, but I'm getting better. ... I got to be confident and take the shots if I'm open."

As to whether it matters to him if he's in the starting lineup or has a backup role, Neto said: "I think it's the same for me. I've just got to go out there and play basketball and do my work, so I think for me it's the same if I start or I came from the bench, so nothing changes for me."

PLAYING FOR REAL: Power forward Derrick Favors says the Jazz are extremely eager for the regular season to begin.

"I'm ready for it. I'm pretty sure that the whole team is ready and excited about it," he said. "It was a long training camp and a long preseason for us, and we're just ready to get the regular season started."

Asked what he learned about this year's Jazz team during the preseason, Favors said: "The first thing I learned is we've got a lot of stuff to work on. I know everybody had a lot of high expectations for us this year, but there's still a lot of stuff we've got to work on, as far as on the defensive end and the offensive end, for us to be that team that everybody expects us to be. But overall, I think we had a pretty good preseason.

"Last year, we basically just went out there and played basketball. This year, a lot of people expect (good) stuff out of us, so we've just got to be ready for the pressure. We've got to be ready for the teams coming after us, and just be ready to play."

Favors was also asked about the return of teammate Alec Burks, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard who missed 55 games last season with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

"It's huge for us," Favors said. "He's a guy that brings instant offense for us. He comes in and creates his own shots and get other guys going. He's a great player and we're definitely happy to have him back."

READING MATERIAL: Snyder was asked if he does much reading on airplane flights during road trips and, if so, what does he read.

"I generally try to not tell you what I read," he said, laughing. "Most of the time right now, I'm watching film on the plane. My attention span usually drifts back to pick-and-roll defense or somewhere along those lines, so if I dig into something, it's usually not a great novel. I try to read those, too, but less successful in recent years.

"I think that's kind of the life you choose, but it is important to find outlets, there's no question. I think it makes you better as a coach, better as a player when you try to have some sort of balance during this time of year. It's like anything, I think, it's something you are able to develop over time to have, not just the perspective but to be able to devote time to those things.

"It's harder right now," he said. "There's just always something you feel like you need to do, so the plane usually ends up being that — especially if you've got three little ones at home under 4. My wife's envious of the plane, I'm sure."

EMAIL: rhollis@desnews.com