The stats may not back it up, but Quin Snyder insists that his two best players are friends.
Snyder, in a 3,000-word rant lasting nearly 20 minutes before the Utah Jazz’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies on Tuesday night, defended Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert — who have been the subject of some strange yet intense criticism recently.
“Let’s just not try to drive a wedge between some of these players and especially using numbers,” Snyder said, via the Salt Lake Tribune. “We should be more responsible than that … We’re not playing great all the time. We want to play better. But you don’t get there by trying to say that one player’s not passing to another.”
The stat Snyder is referring to is baffling.
Mitchell — according to a tweet that is making the rounds on Jazz Twitter in recent days, which clearly made it back to Snyder — only passes to Gobert two times each game.
Here’s a fun stat:
Donovan averages 2 passes a game to Rudy Gobert.
Not assists. Passes…
— Dustin Taylor ⌚️ (@DustinT_NBA) April 3, 2022
Coming from a star point guard to a star big man, that’s obviously not ideal.
Assuming the stat is correct, that means that Mitchell has passed to Gobert about 156 times this season before Tuesday’s game. By comparison — which Snyder also noticed on social media — Atlanta Hawks star Trae Young has hit Clint Capela more than 400 passes this season.
“Trae Young and Capela, that’s the comp that we’re using, right?” Snyder said, via the Tribune. “You know, out of 3,442 possessions, he’s passed to Capela 472 times. OK. Donovan, out of 1600, he’s passed to Rudy 150 times. So those are roughly the same number, right?”
There’s about a four percent difference between the two, but sure. Roughly the same.
Still, Snyder is not happy with the narrative.
Mitchell, however, isn’t quite as shook as his head coach is. He also admitted that he’s “missed big fella in the paint” before, and that mistakes have happened – like against the Warriors on Saturday.
Rudy Gobert gets Klay on a mismatch, seals him in the restricted area, and gets completely ignored pic.twitter.com/6NK07PFH1n
— ProCity Hoops (@ProCityHoops) April 3, 2022
“I mean, it’s a wild stat,” Mitchell said earlier on Tuesday, via the Tribune. “I don’t know. I mean, we have the No. 1 offense, you know what I mean? So clearly, we’re doing something right as a group, as a team … I’m not going to lie. I see it. I’m on Twitter or whatever, but I don’t think it has an effect on us, the group.”
Considering the history between Gobert and Mitchell — their whole incident with COVID-19 a few years ago is a great example — it’s not hard to think that stat has a deeper meaning.
Snyder, though, isn’t here for anything like that. He insisted that the two are just fine.
After all, he’s seen them eat together before.
“The suggestion that Donovan would look Rudy off when Rudy’s deep in the paint …” Snyder said before a long pause, via The Tribune. "When it gets to the point where Donovan’s answering questions [about it after shootaround], the inference there is that he doesn’t pass to him and there’s a problem between the two. So those aren’t illogical jumps.
“I haven’t seen that. I haven’t seen that at all. They sit at the same table when they eat sometimes.”