In seven of the Utah Jazz’s first 10 games of the season the team committed 18 or more turnovers. In four of those games, they committed 20 or more.
On Tuesday night, in a 115-99 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the Jazz took better care of the ball than they have in weeks, closing the game with just 13 miscues, and it came after days of really examining what the cause of the turnovers has been and why they are happening.
“I don’t doubt the intent of anybody on our team. I don’t think we have a selfish player on the roster. I don’t think that there are people that are trying to do it by themselves in a bad way. So, I always just think of it as like, it is my responsibility to maintain a level head and continue to teach the best I can.” — Jazz coach Will Hardy
In doing so, the answer seems to be a mix of making decisions a hair too late, and allowing bad decisions to pile up.
“I don’t doubt the intent of anybody on our team,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “I don’t think we have a selfish player on the roster. I don’t think that there are people that are trying to do it by themselves in a bad way. So, I always just think of it as like, it is my responsibility to maintain a level head and continue to teach the best I can.”
Of course, there are moments when the frustration gets to Hardy and he lets out that frustration — often during a game, in the heat of the moment — but he tries not to let that frustration bleed into the next day or a film session. It’s not like he’s showing the Jazz every single turnover they commit and making them explain themselves, because he knows that they’re aware when they mess up.
“The players are just as mad about the turnovers as I am,” Hardy said. “Yelling and screaming works in certain environments. There’s certain moments that you have to kind of lose your mind a little bit. But I think day-to-day, it’s far more effective and impactful for me to just continue to try to teach and to always revisit my own process.”
That involves trying to look at different clips, getting advice from his assistant coaches, asking the players what they’re seeing, emphasizing the sequences prior to turnovers that could be preventative and recognizing that a young team is not going to change overnight.
More than anything, the Jazz are learning to be OK with progress not being a straight line. Some times things look good in one game and then they might hit a few more bumps before they see more improvement. They might have a good game when it comes to turnovers, like they did on Tuesday night, and then might have a few setbacks.
“I think that’s a good thing, especially with the young team,” Kelly Olynyk said. “You still want guys to play free and attack and be aggressive. You don’t want to take that away from them and it’s a fine line … just keep it simple. You know, take it easy and don’t try to force anything.”
That’s the message right now. Keep it simple.
Since turnovers can often happen in bunches, the Jazz are focusing on being able to refocus during points in the game when things start to look like they’re getting out of control. Hardy believes that if the Jazz can learn to put a sequence behind them and refocus on the next couple of possessions, that they’ll be in a better position to quell some of the turnover issues.
“We’re continuing to try to learn how to refocus in a game,” Hardy said. “I think our team has been very good at learning and understanding and refocusing in between games. Right now we’re struggling a little bit in the moment when things start to go poorly to be able to snap back and minimize those tough moments.”