The Utah Jazz have one All-Star selection locked in.
After leading his team to the best start in franchise history, Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder is set to be the Western Conference’s All-Star coach next month.
“It’s a statement about our team and our players,” Snyder said Wednesday. “The way that they’ve played, winning games, that’s ultimately the reason you’re there. … The thing that felt the best to me was to have those guys congratulate me on really something they did.”
But Snyder’s players know the man with the clipboard deserves plenty of credit for what the 24-5 Utah Jazz have accomplished so far this season.
“I love Coach,” guard Donovan Mitchell said. “This is well deserved. We go out and play, but we’re a really well-coached team. That’s something that stands out.”
After beating the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday night, Snyder’s Jazz had won nine straight games and 20 of their last 21 contests. It is a run of success that has come neither easily nor by accident.
Mitchell smiled as he recalled all of the late-night calls he received from Snyder during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine, anxious to discuss the game.
The man never sleeps. He’s always up,” Mitchell said. “I can’t tell you how many times we had conversations about schemes and what I see, what he sees, how I can be better, how we can be better.
In the Orlando Bubble, Mitchell would spot Snyder after a game already working on the game plan for the next one. And when last season had come to a disappointing end, Snyder stayed in close contact with Mitchell and his teammates, keeping them focused on hungry for this year.
“The amount of effort that he puts into his craft is truly incredible. I’ve got all the respect and love in the world for him. This is truly deserved and I’m really happy for him,” Mitchell said. “… He’s the best coach in the league, in my opinion. He’s a guy that goes out there every night and competes in his own right. He’s competing mentally, finding ways to get the best out of his players, the video guys, the trainers, the coaches.”
Snyder will be the first Jazz head coach to lead an All-Star team since Frank Layden in 1984. That midseason showcase, however, is far from the end goal for the coach.
“It’s particularly gratifying for me to see the way our guys have been winning and to feel their enthusiasm for me being able to do that and represent them, I’m honored to do that,” Snyder said. “Not to diminish anything with that honor, but we haven’t achieved some of the things that we want to try to achieve. That begins with the second half of the season.”
For center Rudy Gobert, the successes of this season have been in the works since Snyder arrived in Utah back in 2014.
“It’s a great feeling when you look back … where we started,” Gobert said. “Obviously we’re far from finished. The road has never been easy. But we went through a lot. To be able to have Quin coaching the All-Star game is a blessing, and I think it’s just a reward for how he changed this franchise. I think we all appreciate it.”
Jazz wing Joe Ingles called Snyder “the best coach I’ve ever had” and an instrumental part of his life on and off the court.
“The Xs and Os, and the adjustments in the game, and the preparation, and the details of the development, and the stuff we’ve built over the last seven years is all cool. Obviously we’re getting the benefits of that process,” Ingles said. “But the off-court stuff for me is something I’ve never had. … To have someone who genuinely cares — and about everyone, guys who were cut, guys on 10-days, guys who were traded, everyone — to me that’s pretty special and pretty rare.”