The Utah Jazz hired Quin Snyder to be their next head coach recently--after choosing not to renew the contract of Tyrone Corbin. Snyder is a big departure from the way the Jazz have hired in the past. Standard operating procedure at Jazz HQ has always been to hire from within, so bringing on Snyder during such a tenuous time in the franchise’s history is subject to further cross-examination.
Upon first glance, Snyder passes the eye test. He played for and coached under the great Mike Kryszewski at Duke--then was an assistant to a litany of coaching giants before and after he had a seven-year run at the University of Missouri as its head coach. Throw in a three-year stint as a head coach with the Austin Toros of the NBA’s D-League--affiliated with the San Antonio Spurs--and you see why Utah took a chance on a relatively unproven coach but a solid player development guy.
That said, Snyder has had his issues. He was embroiled in a scandal at Missouri that ultimately put the program on NCAA probation--and led to his resignation. Since that seven-year stint at Mizzou, Snyder has moved around more often than most nomads, making coaching stops as an assistant in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Austin, Atlanta and even in Moscow, Russia.
So that Snyder might be used to brighter lights, whereas Utah is an area known for good, wholesome, family entertainment--and the propensity for staying put for decades--shouldn't worry Jazz fans. The fact that Snyder is only married to a three-year deal here could also be cause celebre for concern. But, if the coach you hire is a wanted man three years from now, you will pay him the money to stay. Here are five reasons Snyder is a good fit with the Jazz organization.
The Jazz starting roster last season consisted of five guys under the age of 25. Snyder spent last season cultivating the young talent of the Atlanta Hawks (including former Jazzman DeMarre Carroll who gave Snyder a glowing Twitter endorsement)--which helped propel them to a playoff berth. Snyder’s M.O. has been player development, and he’s been good at it since his days at Mizzou when he took a ragtag bunch to four straight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Snyder is known as a player’s coach--which might be in direct contrast to the past two Jazz coaches, Jerry Sloan and Tyrone Corbin. Again, this is new and somewhat frightening territory for a franchise that has been known for discipline and structure. But when you have such a young roster, being a bit more personable--and frankly, accessible--might spell the difference between getting your young charges to jell and having another disappointing season.
Jazz fans couldn’t have asked for better timing on this hire. With the 2014 NBA Draft fast approaching, Snyder’s hire will undoubtedly have an effect on which players the Jazz select at this all-important juncture. And with general manager Dennis Lindsey already willing--as we all well know--to pull the trigger on interesting and surprising deals come Draft Day, adding Snyder, a proven player’s coach will probably just increase a player’s willingness to not pull a Derek Harper.
Snyder is not stupid enough to assume that he can come in and win titles as soon as he stepped off the plane. He didn’t walk up to the podium and act like a pompous clown who needs his Grey Poupon as badly as he needs another Italian suit. He has a juris doctorate and an MBA from Duke, one of the finest academic institutions this nation has to offer, but that doesn't make him think he's better than everyone. He also has over a decade of experience as an NBA assistant coach and another decade as a head coach in college and the D-League.
Snyder wants to be in Utah, and that’s half the battle, frankly. For an unproven NBA coach to beat out candidates like veteran Alvin Gentry, Jazz assistant Brad Jones and Chicago Bulls assistant Adrian Griffin says a lot about a person--and their interest in the job. But, Snyder went above and beyond other coaching candidates--and his personal relationship with Lindsey as well as his European experience probably didn’t hurt his chances, either.