The goal and priority of a coach in any sport is simply to win. Whether it be in high school, college, or the pros, winning is how success is measured on playing fields and courts across the world. Even little league and Jr. Jazz coaches consider winning important when in leagues that keep score. Too many losses can get a coach fired, and even a winning record will still get some coaches fired, especially in professional sports and high level Division-I basketball and football if the wins don’t equate to a high enough percentage of wins. At the end of the season, winning is how a coach is measured.
Winning has been a problem for the Jazz this year. Is Tyrone Corbin to blame? Some of the losses, sure. But not all of them. The goal for the Jazz as an organization this year has been the development of the young players, from rookie Trey Burke to fourth year pros Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors and all the young players in between.
Tyrone Corbin is a coach though, so the ultimate goal this year was still to win as many games as possible, even if the playoffs were not a realistic possibility entering this season.
Dennis Lindsey and the rest of the Jazz front office have openly stated that this season is not about winning. Improving and winning some games, yes, but it has not been about having a winning record. Corbin, though, is coaching on a contract that expires with the Jazz this year with no inkling of what’s in store for the offseason. So far Tyrone Corbin, like most coaches, has played his veterans, like Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams, heavy minutes and has relied on them in key moments in tight games down the stretch.
Losing will benefit the Jazz this offseason with a better chance of scoring a higher pick in the NBA draft. Every loss increases their chances of winning the lottery and moving up into the top three in the draft.
Losing is beneficial to the Jazz right now, but Tyrone Corbin wants every win he can get, even if it means not playing Favors and Enes Kanter heavy minutes together to develop their on-court chemistry at both ends of the floor.
This is the conundrum that Corbin has faced all season. He might not be coaching the Jazz next season. If he’s not, every win he can get from this team will look a little bit more impressive on his resume.
No one outside of the front office knows what the team wants to do on the coaching front for next season and beyond, but I don’t expect Corbin to be here for another season. If Jazz management extend a contract his way in the offseason, then 82 games this year were mishandled by the front office. If Corbin was given the idea that he would be coaching here next season, the young guys would probably have a lot more minutes logged on the floor together and maybe a few less wins as well.
Playing the young guys together more often helps improve the chemistry that the players have together for future seasons. The earlier they learn each other’s tendencies the better they will play together in the future. Maybe Corbin has everyone fooled and playing the young guys together more often would result in more victories and a worse draft pick. If that’s the case, then maybe the Jazz don’t need a high draft pick because the talent already exists within the organization, but the Jazz don’t know that based on the way playing time has been divided this year.
Regardless of Corbin’s philosophy he has recently indicated that the young guys will start to see more minutes together over the last month of the season, like when the Jazz ended their five game losing streak by playing the five young lottery picks together to close out the game against the 76ers. This strategy is beneficial in the long run, whether they win a few more games or not. For Tyrone Corbin, next season might be starting now.