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How the Utah Jazz plan on compensating for Bojan Bogdanovic’s 3-point shooting in Orlando

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Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell, center left, shoots over Boston Celtics’ Kemba Walker (8) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, March 6, 2020, in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)


SALT LAKE CITY — Each season since Quin Snyder became head coach of the Utah Jazz in 2014, the team has increased the percentage of its total shots it has taken from behind the 3-point line, following the general trend in the NBA, according to the subscription-based website Cleaning The Glass.

Given Snyder’s desire for his players to shoot 3s, it made a lot of sense when the Jazz signed Bojan Bogdanovic last summer, as he’s one of the best perimeter shooters in the league, and it’s a big reason why his absence during the season restart in Orlando is such a big deal.

When play was halted in March, Bogdanovic was 19th in the NBA in 3-point attempts per game at 7.3, and he was an even better 13th in percentage made at a 41.4 clip.

Last Saturday before Utah played the Miami Heat in its second scrimmage in Orlando, Snyder noted that it’s not really an option for his team to just take fewer 3s with Bogdanovic out (according to Cleaning The Glass, 37.5 percent of the team’s shots this season have been 3s). Rather, they’ll have to not only rely on others to take them, but they may have to find different ways of generating them than they did when the Croatian was on the floor.

“We’ve been mainly a catch-and-shoot 3-point team,” Snyder said. “In order for us to absorb (Bogdanovic’s attempts) and hopefully have more, I think we have to shoot off the dribble more. We have some guys that can do that.”

In addition to more 3s off the dribble, Snyder said he also wants more early in the shot clock, and he pointed specifically to Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles as players who are more than capable of doing that. He also charged Georges Niang and Royce O’Neale with the task of taking more from beyond the arc.

On Monday afternoon in their final scrimmage before games start for real on Thursday, the Jazz rode hot shooting from distance to a big lead before the squad’s rookie contingent played the fourth quarter and held on for the 112-107 win over the Brooklyn Nets, the second game in a row that group has done so.

How are these for numbers? Conley went 4-of-6 from deep, Mitchell a perfect 3-for-3, Clarkson 3-for-8, Ingles 2-of-6 and even big man Tony Bradley, who has worked on the corner 3 since he entered the NBA, made one, from above the break no less.

“We’ve been mainly a catch-and-shoot 3-point team. In order for us to absorb (Bojan Bogdanovic’s attempts) and hopefully have more, I think we have to shoot off the dribble more. We have some guys that can do that.” — Jazz coach Quin Snyder

Perhaps more important than just those numbers is how they were made, as it was a good combination of ball movement generating open looks against a Nets defense that struggled, and also players being willing to take them off the dribble and early in the shot clock. 

By the end of the first quarter, Utah had made six of its 13 3s. It was 10-of-22 at halftime and 12-of-27 after three quarters before the rookies went just 1-of-8 in the final frame (O’Neale finished 0-for-2 and Niang 0-for-5). 

“I think with Bojan out, obviously there’s opportunity from the 3-point line that we really need to take advantage of,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s very crucial to our game getting there and knocking shots down, just being confident and taking the early shots.”

Added Snyder: “It was great to see Joe come out really aggressive at the beginning of the game. Mike’s taking his shot. They’re all being as aggressive as we want, and I think for a team that can shoot it, that’ll open up a lot of other things, and it has.”

Most notably, effective 3-point shooting helps center Rudy Gobert — arguably the best player in the NBA at rolling to the basket — become even more effective inside. On Monday, he and Conley led the Jazz with 15 points apiece at halftime as they held a 62-50 lead.

Gobert wound up leading Utah for the game with 20 and Conley scored 18, making his last 3 in the third quarter.

“That’s the key to our offense,” Gobert said. “We try to put a lot of pressure on the rim, whether it’s with the roll or drives, and when the defense collapses, find the open 3s, and we have a lot of guys that can knock down those 3s.”

Indeed, as Gobert noted, it’s not just him who benefits from good outside shooting. That spacing also allows for guards to more effectively drive into the paint.

“I think if Donovan or Mike or Jordan are going to find the rim, we have to really be spaced, and those guys taking those shots may be as important as them making them,” Snyder said Saturday. “I think if they take them, we’ll make a fair share.”