This article was first published as the Jazz Insiders newsletter. Sign up to receive the newsletter in your inbox each Friday.
There are certainly winners and losers in every NBA game and even in every scrimmage during an NBA practice.
But newly minted head coach of the Utah Jazz, Will Hardy, wants to create a culture of competitiveness and toughness on this team, so in everything that the Jazz do during practice, there are winners and losers.
So, for every drill, every exercise, every short clock scrimmage, every shooting contest, every activity in practice, there are winners and losers and there are stakes.
“If there aren’t stakes, sometimes it doesn’t sink in quite the same,” Hardy said.
The players have said since the very first day of training camp that Jazz practices have been more competitive than most are used to during the preseason. Mike Conley said that he was picking up guys full court in scrimmages and that some of the younger players have been showing up to the gym two to three hours early just so they can be the first one in because they’re eager to compete.
Some of the competitions are set up for one side to have a clear advantage. The coaches will put two or three minutes on the game clock and put a team behind on the scoreboard. The goal is to play out a late-game scenario. It’s up to the leading team to hold on to their late-game lead. It’s up to the team that’s behind to fight back.
“It’s hard to come back in two minutes,” Stanley Johnson said. “When you have to run or do something for it, we’ve had teams come back from down seven in two minutes. So it’s really good for practice.”
By all accounts the ultra competitive nature of Jazz practices has been welcomed by the players and has brought them together.
“I think we’re pushing each other,” Lauri Markkanen said. “Every drill, no matter if it’s a shooting drill or playing in transition, or if we’re playing five-on-five, we’re all competing and it’s a good environment to be in.”
New with the Jazz
This week on ‘Unsalvageable’
Check out “Unsalvageable” hosted by Deseret News Utah Jazz beat reporter Sarah Todd and lifelong Jazz fan Greg Foster (no, not that Greg Foster).
This week, Sarah welcomes Salt Lake Tribune reporter Eric Walden on the show to discuss preseason observations and standouts from the first half of training camp.
The podcast has moved to a new feed, so remember to follow or subscribe by searching for “Unsalvageable” through your podcast provider.
From the archives
- What NBA GMs think about the Utah Jazz’s offseason (Deseret News)
- Jazz rookie Walker Kessler knows he’s facing a steep learning curve (Deseret News)
- The Jazz need to do everything they can to get Victor Wenbamyama (Salt Lake Tribune)
Around the league
LeBron James wants to own NBA expansion team in Las Vegas.
Preseason rankings: the best and worst NBA teams.
Up next: Preseason
Oct. 11 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. San Antonio Spurs | AT&T SportsNet
Oct. 14 | 7 p.m. | Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks | AT&T SportsNet