When I look at the San Antonio Spurs‘ roster, it’s laughable when I look back at the Utah Jazz‘ organization at this point in time as the Jazz go to 1-9 on the season losing to the Spurs 91-82 at home, and the Spurs improve to 9-1.
When I look at the Spurs, I can’t help but think that Tim Duncan has had a luxury career compared to what Karl Malone had when he was with the Jazz. The Spurs have done a better job of surrounding their star players with quality depth when you include Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker into that mix.
The Jazz failed to surround their team with depth when you consider what Malone, John Stockton and Deron Williams went through. The Jazz could learn from the Spurs.
The Jazz and Spurs are similar organizations that have built quality teams for much of the last 30 years. But the difference between the two is the fact that the Spurs went the extra mile in surrounding their team with talent to help Duncan, and the Jazz failed to do so with Malone.
Look, Malone had arguably the greatest point guard in NBA history in Stockton, and I get that. But after that, Duncan has had superior talent across the board over the course of his career.
For example, Duncan had a quality big man to help him in his younger days who is in the Hall of Fame in David Robinson, and Malone was stuck with Greg Ostertag in the critical stages of his career in the late 90s. If you want a perfect picture of the Jazz’ organization and the Spurs’ organization, that is it.
The Spurs also knew it was critical to have slasher on the roster who could create his own shot off the dribble, and that person is Ginobli.
Did the Jazz under Malone and Stockton ever have a slasher? No. Not at all.
Not only has Duncan had better talent around him, but a better philosophy as well. The Spurs understand that three-point shooting is critical to win a championship. That is the genius of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
With the Jazz, head coach Jerry Sloan in the middle and end of Malone’s career didn’t seem to care for three-point shooting too much as they went with the traditional style of play good defense and attack the paint. They needed to involve all aspects of the game, and specifically, Sloan didn’t do that and current Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin isn’t good enough to make a difference.
Being balanced is a foundation for the Spurs right now.
Maybe the Jazz have learned their lesson as they are trying to grow with a solid core of young players in Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and rookie Trey Burke. One can only hope.
At the end of the day, the Spurs have always been a team trying to keep up with the trends in the NBA, and the Jazz have always been stuck doing things their own way without really adapting by playing small ball.
The Jazz have won a lot of games over the years doing things their own way, but it hasn’t won them a championship.