Danuel House helps Jazz defend Devin Booker and the Suns in victory. Should he finish matches more often?
Three thoughts on the Utah Jazz’ 118-114 victory over the Salt Lake Phoenix Suns Tribune Jazz beat writer Andy Larsen.
1. Change the finishing composition
For me, the biggest upside to this game: Quin Snyder opted to play new addition Danuel House alongside the rest of the top five at the end of the match against longtime stalwart Royce O’Neale.
It couldn’t have been more day and night: O’Neale really, really struggled defensively today, getting checked a few times, losing contact and control with Suns goaltender Devin Booker. I understand that Booker is a very good player, very good at opening. But it honestly feels like O’Neale tried harder to bump into opposition screens than avoid them, and that’s been a trend for a long time.
House is clearly better at navigating screens. More on this in point #2.
But here’s the question: what would you do if you were in Snyder’s shoes?
I don’t think it’s necessarily fair for O’Neale to lose his spot to House. O’Neale established himself on this team by working absurdly and playing a part in their success for years. House has been on the team for what, two months? But on the other hand, O’Neale hasn’t really had much defensive impact, my goodness, most of the season. He’s had good and bad defensive games in the last two playoffs.
In my opinion, O’Neale has more advantages. First, he’s a much better rebounder than House: critical given the average rebound of Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell, and Bojan Bogdanovic. He’s a better 3-point shooter than House, although I wish O’Neale would take more. Finally, he’s a better connector than House, especially right now. O’Neale still makes half-second decisions with the ball, finds open teammates, and just gives the ball to Conley and Mitchell.
But House has a big advantage and a small advantage. The big one is on the defensive side: House wasn’t exactly considered a stopper before arriving in Utah, but he had a good defensive reputation overall. On this team, that means he’s the best perimeter defender. Jazz desperately need perimeter help. And above all, they need it when the other team has talented guards; in other words, at the end of the games.
House is also a slightly better dribbler and driver (although neither are strengths for either player), meaning he can get his way in a few more places from the ball where O’Neale is a little more uncertain.
O’Neale is probably the best player, but House has the element the Jazz need the most right now.
Ultimately, I think I change the final roster depending on the matchups, but against most rosters the Jazz will face in the playoffs… I think I pick House. I want House over Jamal Murray, over Devin Booker, over Steph Curry or Klay Thompson. If you start losing the rebound battle, go for it, under to O’Neale.
The key is going to be consistency, which, remember, according to reports from Houston, was top-down. But if House can play well every night, he needs to be in the lineup.
2. What makes a good screen browser?
As stated above, Danuel House is excellent for on-screen navigation. But what makes a good screen browser? After the game, I asked Quin Snyder the question, and he broke it down into several facets:
• First, “the ability to become narrow, to lose weight”. Frankly, that makes sense: the best screen users try to minimize the distance between themselves and the screen when dribbling, but they still don’t want to collide. Excellent screen browsers can squeeze into this space.
Frankly, House is a much leaner human being than O’Neale. This allows O’Neale to be a better rebounder, which is incredibly helpful! But that means his body is just going to be more screen-hungry than House.
• Second, “there’s a deceptive quality to it…you can step or lean as if going under, then reconnect and step over.” I wouldn’t say House or O’Neale is a deceptive defender in that way, but I’ll start watching him.
• Third, “In House’s case: even though he’s behind the ball, he’s still in play because of his length.” Play like this, in other words:
• Fourth, “Using that back hand. It’s hard to run with your hands up, but you play to get a hand in a game and get a deflection just to create some uncertainty. It can also slow down the opposition.
• Fifth, “Pickup points too. (House) is ready to push the ground and pick up, which sometimes gives him a chance to sink. Essentially, if he picks up Booker in the backcourt, it could force the screen closer to the half-court line than the three-point line, in which case he can safely go under the screen and stay in front of her man.
• And sixth, “And then some of it is just desire. Sometimes when you’re training, the answer is “don’t get tested”. A classic and key life advice: when you’re about to suck, don’t.
I really like Snyder’s in-depth basketball answers. As you watch the Jazz (or their opponent!) defend the pick and roll games, keep an eye out for that.
3. Jordan Clarkson’s Secondary Skills
Everyone knows Jordan Clarkson can score. The score will go up and down depending on whether the shots come in or not, and everyone understands that. The same is true for virtually everyone.
What there shouldn’t be huge inconsistencies on are secondary skills: pretty much everything else. It’s probably a bit simplistic, because NBA players are human and we all have days off. But good secondary skills can lead a player through a bad shooting night.
Tonight I thought Clarkson showed both: both the ability to score and the ability to help the team in other ways.
This Clarkson assist to House was the team’s most frequently mentioned play after the game. Again, we know Clarkson thinks of the score first, but what happens when he finds the extra man there?
“A big step for me was when I had Jae Crowder in iso and kicked around the corner for three years. Those games I have to keep making,” Clarkson said. “I can do a good job of getting into the paint and getting past my man and getting another person to commit, but I don’t think I was willing to do that pass earlier in the year. the growth, the study, the time we put into it, the coaching staff bringing it to my attention.
And then stuff like that: It’s a great read on the “Spain” pick and roll game, cutting Booker, staying ahead, then sneakily getting the steal when he’s not expecting it.
“It’s the second half of the season,” Clarkson said. “Lock it down, do what we have to do. Start playing in playoff mode for the last 22 games.