SALT LAKE CITY — One big storyline in the NBA last season, particularly during the playoffs, concerned fouling perimeter shooters.
Most notably, many felt that offensive players took too far the task to lean into their defender to try to get fouled for three free throws. Also, the topic of how defenders close out on shooters came to the forefront when Golden State Warriors big man Zaza Pachulia wound up injuring San Antonio Spurs star forward Kawhi Leonard in the Western Conference semifinals.
Last week, the NBA announced that it would place more emphasis on watching potentially floppers as well as defenders who close out too closely. At the Utah Jazz’s annual media day on Monday, general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder spoke of the upcoming emphasis.
“I think protecting shooters is a good thing,” Lindsey said, noting that former Jazzman George Hill was skilled at drawing fouls behind the 3-point line. “Anything that officials don’t get tricked, that emphasis is a good thing.”
Added Snyder: “Anytime you see a point of emphasis, it means that someone’s thinking about it, and anytime someone’s thinking about those things relative to the game it’s a good thing, and then the challenge is when it’s actually happening, it’s difficult.”
CONTRACT EXTENSIONS?: By Oct. 17, the deadline will come for the Jazz to sign Dante Exum and Rodney Hood to contract extensions or see them become free agents next summer.
As perhaps would be expected, both deflected the question to a large degree on Monday.
“I’ve just got a big opportunity for me here to be one of the leaders of this team to try to lead us back to where we were last year,” he said. “It kind of goes to the backburner. It always takes care of itself. I’m just focused on what I can control.”
Said Exum: “That’s why I pay an agent. I haven’t dealt with it a lot. My agent talks to me occasionally about it, but he’s dealing with that. That’s why I can just worry about playing basketball.”
DERRICK FAVORS A POINT GUARD? Before last season, Derrick Favors played most of his time at power forward. Last year, however, he saw an increase of minutes as Rudy Gobert’s backup center.
Favors has said in the past that he prefers playing power forward over center, but on Monday he said he’d be willing to play any position.
“Whatever Coach needs me to play, basically,” he said. “If he needs me to play the 5, I’ll play the 5. If he needs me to be a point guard, I’ll be a point guard. Two guard, whatever he needs, I’m there.”
NEW TRAINING STAFF MAKING AN IMPACT: Having dealt with significant injuries in each of the last two seasons, the Jazz during the offseason made major changes to their training staff, hiring Mike Elliott away from the Phoenix Suns to work as vice president of performance health care and Eric Waters as head athletic trainer.
Exum noted that the new staff is already making an impact even though the season hasn’t even started. Most notably, he pointed to increased preparation before players hit the court. Before, they may have stretched for 15 minutes or so, but now they’re working for up to 45 minutes, doing such things as getting massages or strengthening their quads.
“I think it’s just only going to help us be prepared and stay injury-free,” Exum said.
RUBIO PRAISES KOKOSKOV: One Jazz player who saw firsthand assistant coach Igor Kokoskov lead Slovenia to the Eurobasket title earlier this month was Ricky Rubio, as his Spain team lost to Slovenia 92-72 in the semifinals.
“I am mad at him. I haven’t talked to him,” Rubio joked. “No, he did a really, really good job in the Euros. He had a team that was good, but he put that team on another level. They played great basketball, and I’m really excited moving forward to share a lot of thoughts about how he got them ready. They played great. They played excellent.”