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Bits from Dennis Lindsey Interview, 3/20

March 23, 2015
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On March Madness
I’ve become convinced that the tournament’s good for two things for me. One, to make me fat, ’cause I’m sitting around and getting the munchies the whole time. And two, every time I think I’ve got something figured out, the NCAA Tournament has a way to humble all of us, and, whether it be with a team or a player.

So you know, the NCAA has a great monopoly on tournament play. Hopefully that’s something that our league will be able to capture in some form, the single-game elimination tournament — whether it be preseason, midseason — that can capture the one-and-done aspect of tournament basketball.

How do you assess a player that is average through the season and makes a name for himself during the tournament?
Yeah, yeah, so there’s a lotta ways to look at it, and hopefully we’re just not looking at a game or a set of games or the conference tournament; even their preseason before league starts. I think you have to look at all of those entities separately and then combine ’em. And for us, where Walt [Perrin] wants the scouting program, it’s a multi-season progression or lack thereof.

And then there’s a lot of interpretation on — we’ve seen it all the time where a guy may be in a program that’s hit tough times, maybe NCAA sanctions, and they decided to stay and the talent level surrounding them in the program is in transition, but yet they have a lot to offer. I tho–I think you saw a–saw that a little bit with Paul George in Fresno State. No one know–knew how to separate his individual performance along with middling results at Fresno.

And so, and then you have the exact opposite, the, where there’s a particular system or coach that taps into everything a player can do. And what you see, there’s not going to be anything more from an upside standpoint. And so, the narrative, you know, behind each player needs to be different because of all those subtleties.

On the scouting process
So we have, you know, we have our analytical models that we run, and then we have scouting opinion, and then you have the medical opinion, and then you have the intel on the players’ behavior, and, on and off the court. And it makes up a pie that you’re trying to fill in. And in many times, you’re going off incomplete information. So, there’s a lot of interpretation, and let’s be frank, there’s some guesswork involved. And sometimes you’re fortunate, sometimes you’re not.

And then, you have changing motivations at different stages of your life. You know, is there a family support structure that gives you a base to work from? Is the support structure around the kid tugging at the player and hurting their ability to get to the court free of mind? …

How does injury — and I suffered that at Baylor when I played. I was rehabbing most off-seasons instead of just playing basketball. So that’s a big part of what’s left of our season. You know, Quin [Snyder]’s talked to the players about managing their minutes so we can go into this off-season with rest and then teaching. And when you have to do rehabilitation, rest, and then teach — and so, is a player able to stay injury-free so he can just stay on the court? And if you’re on the court consistently, you’re gonna get better.

So, and then motivation level. Again, if we’re all being honest here, we’re trying to predict human beings, and luckily the best predictor of human beings is past performance. So, a big part of what we’re trying to do is understand performance and who drives winning. You’ll, the Kentucky situation, for example, with all of their players, you know, who’s on the train and who’s pulling the train? You have to come to those opinions, and that’s just what they are. They’re opinions.

Is there a player that tantalizes you within your draft range, and is there a player that excites you that you would be willing to “go get”?
Lindsey: What’s the cost, would be my first question.

Gordon Monson: You sound like me when I’m talking to my wife, when she wants to buy something and forgets to look at the price tag.

Lindsey: Yeah, no, no, no. I, hey, I get this line all the time…”Hey Dennis, guess how much money I saved you today?” And I was like, “Man, honey, you’re gonna save us into the poorhouse here.” So, yeah, so, my wife’s listening, and something tells me my dinner’s either gonna be in the trash or very cold.

Monson: So are there players out there that excite you?

Lindsey: Yes. Yeah…Let’s just say that under this conversation that everybody declares, we can easily get past our number [10 to 12]. And then we have to weight it with what we can trade that pick for. That pick will be valuable. It’s, we’ve already had conversations centered around it, you know, at the trade deadline. We just decided to hold on to it, but there were some conversations that were tempting.

And again, to add a veteran complement to the group or to, you know, in this case, there’s an associated cap figure that comes with the pick, and you know, would we wanna push that pick out to maximize room this particular year and/or add a vet. So it’s multi-layered…Long term, that very well could be the best alternative, just select where we’re at.

Why have the Jazz improved so much defensively since the All-Star break?
As Quin’s talked about, this is the personnel we have. And you know, we have some unique personnel defensively.

Rudy [Gobert] is really unique, and we want to be able to leverage that, and frankly, improve upon that. I think as he gets stronger, there’s a perim–even a greater perimeter that he can create around the rim, ’cause he’ll be able to keep guys off of his body.

Elijah Millsap i–just the eye test, and then the analytical numbers on how the team’s performing defensively. There’s good perimeter defenders, but there’s a lotta guys that, you know, are interchangeable, frankly, and there are only a few guys that really, truly bother guys on the perimeter, and you know, we were lucky to find him. And Quin’s been able to use those unique abilities to impact some of the better perimeter offensive players that we face.

And you know, Dante [Exum]’s growing day by day. And l–this is how humbling scouting is: When we watched the Australian high school tapes, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, will he be able to ever guard anybody?” ’cause of what he was doing out there. And we got after him about that and we joked about that, so it’s not that big of a secret. And then all of a sudden, you know, he’s taking all these lessons and habit training that we’re doing, and applying it in a [sound skips] at 19, so that’s exciting.

And then Derrick Favors — Quin’s talked about this as well — his ability to go out and cover perimeter-based “fours.” We all know about Derrick’s strength and length around the paint, but he’s also very good laterally, and he’s really good with game plans, and other player tendencies, which, that’s tough for a guy his age. But you know, he has a lot of experience.

So I think you line all those things up, and you couple it with hard work and you couple it with, “Hey, if you don’t get back, you’re coming out,” and you know, just a sense of accountability, and improve stances, improve body position and improve help and recovery and communication, that’s when you want that multiplying effect…As much as anything, we wanna be able to continue that and build on that as best we can, whether it be just through internal growth or adding to the defensive dimensions, you know, with new players. (1280)

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