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What Will Hardy is trying to take from the Warriors


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SALT LAKE CITY — It was clear Will Hardy didn't agree with the line of questioning.

The Jazz coach had just been asked if his team needed to force feed Lauri Markkanen a bit late on Wednesday in Utah's loss to the Golden State Warriors.

To him, there was a couple issues with that question: He didn't think Markkanen, who had six shots in the fourth quarter, didn't get enough looks, and he doesn't think any player should be getting force fed at any time.

He can point to the opposing team on Wednesday as a good reason for that.

"The ball has energy at like a childhood level; everybody loves to touch the ball," Hardy said. "And I think (the Warriors) have been a model for the NBA for 10 years now, it feels like, of the ball moving around. Everybody gets to touch it and everybody feels involved in the game."

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have taken the majority of shots during Golden State's dynasty run, but everyone has been included in the plays. The ball moves around and everyone gets a chance to touch it. That's something Hardy has taken from the Warriors as he's built his own system in Utah.

"We feel like having multiple players involved in what we're doing," he said. "Having a lot of different players get to touch the ball and be involved in actions creates a different type of a vibe around the team. You have to really be a specialist to just stand to the side and wait for the ball to be swung to you 15 seconds later and just catch it and shoot it.

"You get into a different type of rhythm when you get to move your body around; you get to touch the ball a few times. It just provides a different feeling for you."

So while Markkanen didn't shoot every time down the court late in Wednesday's game, he was still involved in the actions. He set screens and he moved the ball around. He didn't force shots, but that was by design.

"Lauri is not an off the dribble isolation player and so sometimes we use him to create an advantage for his teammates, and I thought he did that tonight," Hardy said. "Of course, you would like for the ball to always find a guy in a great spot so that he can get a shot, but that's a very good defensive team we just played and they're very experienced and smart, and they're not going to just let Lauri tee off in the fourth quarter. He was involved in a lot of the stuff we were doing."

Hardy has built a system to take advantage of the Jazz's depth — of Mike Conley's decision making, Jordan Clarkson's diverse shot creation, Malik Beasley's shooting, Kelly Olynyk's unique IQ, and Markkanen's all-around skill set.

It has taken everyone for Utah to build what has been a very exciting brand of basketball. And, yes, sometimes the Jazz need to be a little more attentive to who has the hot hand, but for the most part, the offense works better when it's not focused on one player.

Markkanen is the best example of that. There's been multiple times this year that he's had 25- or 30-point nights that felt fairly quiet. He doesn't need the ball at all times to get big numbers, which is not a bad thing. It also means that more people are involved, too, and that's just what Hardy wants.

Their core guys (of the Warriors) that have been here for a long time, they've always done such a remarkable job. Even though Steph and Klay have taken a majority of the shots over the last 10 years, all those other guys feel involved in the game and they all have a role and they all touch the ball a lot," Hardy said. "So it creates a really good environment. It's definitely something that we're trying to replicate a little bit of that in Utah."

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