Utah Jazz Season Grades: Part 3


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By Brian Preece, Sports Writer


Originally, this was supposed to be a two-part series talking Utah Jazz. A simple recap of a memorable, but ultimately disappointing 2020-21 NBA season. But when reports about the best team in basketball, record-wise, pit the front office and coaching staff against each other, it behooves us to take a more honest look at the situation.

In most cases, these grades could have been released a week ago. However, due to contracts handed out last off-season and an accelerated league schedule during the current off-season, I felt it best to wait and see what decisions the Jazz made on draft night before closing the book on these all-important grades.

Front Office

Following the season, Salt Lake Tribune Jazz beat writers Andy Larsen and Eric Walden released what amounts to a bombshell report for the Utah Jazz, an organization known for being tight-lipped and not letting their dirty laundry reach the media.

I’ll summarize it for you; Dennis Lindsey, Jazz president of basketball operations, and head coach Quin Snyder did not see eye-to-eye when it came to what was best for the roster. They butted heads frequently, with the relationship deteriorating to the point that the two no longer spoke.

Suffice to say, that relationship dynamic at the top of a billion dollar company is untenable and heads had to roll. Lindsey stepped back into an “advisory role” and Justin Zanik was promoted to fill Lindsey’s position.

The controversial selection of Udoka Azubuike in the first round last year was widely questioned, both within and outside of the organization. As the season unfolded, it was clear that the Jazz lacked impact talent on the wings.

It would be one thing if the Azubuike pick didn’t work out, but combining that selection with nearly $10 million being allocated to Derrick Favors in free agency, Lindsey attributed far too much of the 2020-21 salary cap to the center position. A position that, year after year, becomes less important as the playoffs progress; where traditional bigs often give way to smaller, more versatile players.

With that in mind, how do you fairly grade the front office? Simple, besides some argument about the last 5-6 guys on the roster, Lindsey and Zanik built a title contender without high draft picks or huge free agent acquisitions. Who knows, if the turmoil between Lindsey and Snyder hadn’t existed, the Jazz could very well have hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy themselves.

Final Grade: B-


Seven seasons at the helm of the Utah Jazz and Quin Snyder finally coached them to home court advantage in a playoff series. Snyder’s teaching style is revered by his players and his offensive system proves to be one of the best league-wide year after year.

Where Snyder comes up short is in the playoffs. We can blame his resistance to making significant lineup changes on a limited roster and for good reason. But frankly, when you lose four straight playoff games to a team playing without their own superstar for two of those games, and you don’t make any real changes to the rotation, some blame has got to fall on Snyder for the second round collapse.

Snyder is an offensive wizard and seems to have the motivational skills that allow him to extract the best out of each of his players. As a side note, Snyder is also possibly the most intelligent man I have ever had a conversation with. Is he a top-5 coach right now? Probably not, but I don’t hesitate to put him squarely in the top-10 of current NBA coaches.

Final Grade: B


Check out parts one and two of this series.


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