The Utah Jazz have the best record in the Western Conference and the number 2 offense in the NBA and are rolling along like usual. We have heard this story before, nothing new right? Oh, except that the Jazz traded away their 3 best players and was supposed to be tanking but instead decided to run a modern 5-Out offense that helped eliminate them the past few postseasons and are blending good NBA players into a great early season start.
Currently the Utah Jazz have the #2 overall offense in the NBA running 5-Out and spacing the floor looking for 3 point shots – ranking 5th in frequency and 6th in accuracy. However they are not just standing around shooting 3s, they cut well off the ball, drive and kick effectively, and are 4th in offensive rebounding %, grabbing back 31.1% of their missed shots. In addition to this the Jazz are 4th in the NBA in transition points added, running off both steals and live ball rebounds with 5-Out spacing.
The Jazz space the floor in 5-Out with their starting lineup and use the skillsets of Markannen, Olynyk, and Vanderbilt as elite connectors, creators, and scorers to ensure spacing is maintained. Guard play from Conley, Clarkson, Sexton & Beasley ensures the Jazz can attack any defensive coverage and create chances for good shots.
When driving, the way the help reacts is much different from the beautiful spacing the Jazz always maintains. Here the slot drive draws corner help from Capela, and that advantage is maintained with an extra pass to Conley and ending up with the 3 ball from Markannen.
The constant spacing and movement allow for downhill driving lanes and you can see when the defense collapses on these drives the kicks are open.
Another example of maintaining advantages and moving the ball, the extra pass allows THT to attack the closeout with the defense scrambling for the layup.
A huge benefit of this spacing is the paint remaining open so with the floor spaced, it allows room for backdoor cuts.
Cut Into Space
The Jazz also have high IQ players who recognize when to cut into space and the passers to recognize when to pass it to them.
Finishing Cuts & Rolls
Here in early offense, Vanderbilt is looking for a ball screen then dives right to the rim with a basket cut. Not only does this create a driving lane but he then makes himself available for the drop-off pass. His defender has to recognize this in transition defense and then stop the ball but no help can come because players are concerned with the spacing.
This creates 4-out spacing randomly and gives the defense different looks, something that the Jazz will look for often when Walker Kessler is in the game with their second unit.
3 Side Dives
The Utah Jazz will run actions with one side of the floor empty with 3 players on one side of the court. When they run any actions with this spacing the player spaced in the middle of the 3 or at the “45” break will be the player who either screen or cut into space. Here Sexton recognizes gap help at the nail and flare screens for a 3 point shot.
In this clip, he initially looks for the same screen, but when space opens up he makes himself available for the pass and finish.
On any drives the Jazz have the option to make themselves available for the pass with their “Paired Cutter” concept. When driving baseline the Jazz look for players filling space from the opposite wing and slot cutting as the drive takes place.
On any slot drives, the players on the baseline will cut behind the help (also called “Burn” or “Wade” cuts).
When the Jazz drive and kick a big part of the way they attack closeouts are “Stampedes” or a drive through the pass.
This is a concept the Jazz ran under Snyder so it makes sense this carries over to this years team.
Pindowns are not anything new or crazy, but the way the Jazz use them is fun and interesting, using guards to screen down for players like Markannen. Using these guars presents problems and is a creative way to attack bad defenders like in this example where they use Trae Young’s defender to set the pindown.
I love ghost screens. I will continue to talk about ghost screens in pretty much every breakdown for every team that runs them, but another creative way the Jazz create advantages by having guards set them for players like Markannen and Olynyk to get a downhill drive.
I now know where the Boston Celtics got the idea to use more flare screens as the playoffs because the Jazz under Hardy LOVE to run these flare screens in their 5-Out motion.
Kelly Olynyk really enjoys faking a dribble handoff, and one of the best ways to fool opposing defenses is to fake the handoff and attack.
Using the size of some of their bigger wings when defenses try to switch or early in cross-match scenarios, the Jazz will back down their defenders with a dribble into a post-up.
Ballscreen – Speed Rolls
Running basic pick-and-roll action works with great screeners and rollers like Rudy Gobert or Luka Doncic but the Jazz doesn’t always run typical screen and rolls as they have previously. When they involve their screeners in the action (typically whoever the big on the other team is defending) they will run a couple of different roller actions. Here the “Speed Roll” or a step-up screen with a quick dive almost with no contact, this creates a short roll look to a skip pass for a corner 3 because the low man guarding the corner has to help on the quick roll.
Ballscreens – Stay Rolls
When teams switch ballscreens the Jazz will look for “Stay Rolls” (Another concept from previous seasons) or roll behind the switch keeping the defender on the high side.
Ballscreens – Hunt Big
Typically set with Vanderbilt as the ballscreener, whoever the big is guarding becomes the ballscreener and either roll or pop depending on the player or situations.
Ballscreens – Step Ups
A way they get these ballscreen advantages organically is to set step up screens in early offense in the chaos creating defensive breakdowns.
They will also use these in “21” actions to create driving lanes and flowing into 5-Out.
Ballscreens – Empty
I mentioned the Empty Ballscrens earlier with the “3 Side Dive” concept but the Jazz love to run Empty Ballscreens.
These ballscreens in particular are difficult to defend since the roller is accounted for from the opposite corner, where teams don’t want to give up corner 3s so it puts extra stress on the defense. Where it get’s fun is the Jazz will also continue this action to a second side ballscreen to a step up and force the defense to continue to defend these actions.
Sets & Concepts
A way the Jazz free up shooters and advantages is to set flare screens at the top of the key especially with the bigs defender. Here Capela is guarding Vanderbilt again and has a tendency to sag so when the defender on Beasley goes under, he screens two players at once and opens up the 3 point shot.
Top Flare (Hand-Off Entry)
A set the Jazz run with this same concept is to go into a quick dribble hand off and then into a Flare screen. Why does the hand off matter? Players in the NBA tend to focus on the off-ball action and forget about their man – watch Zubac’s head her paying attention to the hand off and not helping on the Flare screen.
Spread Pop Elbow Flare
An ATO special here where the Jazz design Flare action is to pop the big around the Elbow and then set the Flare screen into a dribble hand off.
Fip action. Love it and have talked about this action a lot, a quick flip guard to guard forces tough defensive coverages and allows more room to attack.
Oh, and the Jazz also becomes an incredible offensive team when they start going to a flip action back into a another flip into a ballscreen in early offense. Just seems unfair to do this to the Lakers at this point.
Horns Out Elbow Split
Adding this set to the Jazz’s playbook this year allows guards to run split action into hand offs and keep action. It starts off with the player getting the pass screen and then open up at the elbow.
Then it goes into split cut action with spacing that allows for slips to the rim.
If the initial hand-off after is denied, this will then flow into another hand off and then ballscreen/5-Out action.
A great concept I initially saw from Fenerbahce where the player who screened away for the ballscreener then cuts through underneath without setting a screen on anyone. Watch here how Beasley screens for KO then cuts through the nail creating confusion and a downhill driving lane.
Conley gets a wide open 3 here in the midst of the chaos where even refs can miss illegal screens.
They have also used this action in their 5-Out flow offense, showing off more IQ and intelligence when playing random. Clarkson follows KO here and shallow cuts as the drive vs extra gap help allows the open 3.
Another example here where they run the “Ram Shallow” action empty.
Run to Corners
The Jazz currently has the 4th best transition offense, a vastly different change in pace and play after ranking 27th in transition offense last season. One specific thing the Jazz are focusing on and emphasizing running to the corners looking for transition corner 3s.
While not a new concept this takes advantage of longer closeouts and combining their 5-out spacing while everyone is trying to recover it allows for drives to the rim.
The Utah Jazz are also running “Flip” action in transition, which is even harder to defend since trailers in transition are usually open with the other team defending the paint first.
This also opens up chances to attack bigs or a mismatch in transition by having random players bring the ball up just like Vanderbilt here flipping to Beasley with Gobert on defense.
The Jazz don’t do anything too crazy in transition, we will see the normal 5-out actions just like Markannen here backing down a smaller defender – Barkleys.
A flip here in semi transition when the play is settled the cross match here allows Beasley to hit the 3.
This is the main area the Jazz will look for a post up with players like Gay & Olynyk getting a cross match and posting them up.
The main areas of attack for the Jazz are through the slots and the wings, with players being able to attack while the defense is getting settled in and typically not ready to help.
The Utah Jazz runs one of the better 5-Out offenses I have seen at the NBA level and have a perfect blend of spacing, IQ, decision-making, creating and connectors.
When you are watching the NBA this season and anything stands out to you or you want to see included in these breakdowns let me know and I will include them! Thank you again for all of your support and for sharing my work.