Sports / Utah Jazz / 

The new cowhide globe: The Jazz aren't blaming shooting struggles on the new ball

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) brings the ball up court in the second half during an NBA basketball game against then Sacramento Kings Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Salt Lake City.

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) brings the ball up court in the second half during an NBA basketball game against then Sacramento Kings Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (Rick Bowmer, Associated Press)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

ATLANTA β€” The new cowhide globe hasn't hit home. Well, at least not as much as the old one used to.

The NBA's 3-point revolution has hit a bit of a hiccup this season. Teams are shooting more deep shots than ever before, but many are missing more and more. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the 1998-99 season to find a lower league average on 3-point attempts.

The Jazz may be the biggest offenders, too. Utah is averaging around 43 attempts per game (the same they put up last season), but are hitting at a near-league bottom 32%.

So what gives?

"We haven't shot it well as a team. It can't go in if you don't shoot," coach Quin Snyder said. "So as long as we're taking good ones. I just want them to maintain confidence. We've got guys that are good shooters and things even out over time."

By the end of the season, these first couple weeks might just be a statistical outlier, but there is a new variable that has been thrown in the mix this season: a new ball.

Gone are the Spalding balls the league used for years and in are the WIlson balls that were supposed to be darn near identical. But are they?

"Not to make an excuse or anything, it's just a different basketball," LA Clippers forward Paul George said. "It doesn't have the same touch or softness as the Spalding ball had. You'll see this year, there's going to be a lot of bad misses."

Does that explain Jordan Clarkson missing his last 18 3-point attempts? Or the Jazz, sans Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley, going 3 of 27 from deep in Tuesday's win over the Sacramento Kings?

The new ball is a built in reason for the early struggles, but Utah isn't being so quick to use it.

"That's one I hadn't thought about," Snyder said. "I don't think so. It's supposed to be exactly the same β€” just different brands. I look at it like a tattoo. Maybe it's psychological. Same dimensions, same leather. You'd have to ask the guys."

That question was one Mitchell was expecting to get.

He'd heard George's comments, and there's been enough discussion of the topic in league circles that it got to the ears of the league's competition committee; however, the Jazz star doesn't think there's much to it.

"I'm not going to say that because I'm shooting a low percentage it's the ball," Mitchell said.

Mitchell is currently shooting a career-low 33% from 3-point range β€” nearly 6% less than what he shot last season.

He's far from alone.

Damian Lillard is shooting 23% from 3 after hitting 39% last year; while Steph Curry, who has never shot under 40% in a full season, is hitting 37%. All across the board the league averages are lower. Teams are shooting 34.3% from 3-point range. The last time the league was under 35% was 10 seasons ago.

Mitchell offered up a different explanation for the shooting struggles: The players have felt like they've had three seasons right on top of each other.

"We've had a long year," he said. "People seem to ignore that, but it is what it is."

However, Mitchell does admit the Wilson ball's texture differs from the Spalding one. He likened it to going from college to the pros and the adjustment needed from that. There's also a belief that the different feeling is because the balls are all too new. There's hope that once they get broken in a bit, they'll feel just like the ones.

Or the league just has to give everyone a couple more weeks and see if the numbers start to even out.

"I've been using it all summer and been making shots all summer," Mitchell said. "So I can't say now it's the ball."

Related Stories

SIGN UP FOR THE KSL.COM NEWSLETTER

Catch up on the top news and features from KSL.com, sent weekly.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast