Tyrone Corbin’s fate was likely sealed after leading the Utah Jazz to a 2-15 record during the month of March. On Monday, April 21, Corbin was fired as head coach of the Jazz. What makes this even slightly surprising is that the front office allowed both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson to walk away as free agents in the off-season. Corbin likely had more leeway than would originally be expected, but couldn’t survive the record that the Jazz ended with, 25-57.
After keeping the scoring averages of the Jazz right around 99.5 points per game for his first two and a half years, Corbin led a team that averaged just 95 points this season, good for 29th in the league. I’m skeptical that this should be put on the shoulders of Corbin. Taking out the season where Corbin took over for Jerry Sloan, the Jazz were led in points by Jefferson and Millsap, with no one reaching 15 points per game outside of those two.
After letting the two front court scorers go, without getting anything in return, Utah asked Corbin to lead a team of unproven young players and has-beens. Jazz GM Dennis Lindsey showed faith that Corbin could coach a winner when he traded for Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush.1
I’m not at all saying that Dennis Lindsey made the wrong decision to take on those oversized contracts to get draft picks for the future with a young team, but it is starting to look more and more like Corbin’s fate was sealed long before the end of March.
The more important information to judge Corbin on is the advancement of players under his tutelage. Shooting Guard, Gordon Hayward, is the new leading scorer for the Jazz (16.2/game). Not a bad average, putting him at 54th in the league. Still, being the leading scorer overrates Hayward’s progression, he jumped from 29 minutes/game to almost 36.4 minutes/game. When you look at the minute increase, his jump from 14 pts/game to 16 pts/game is much less impressive.
Perpetual intriguing prospect Derrick Favors made a similarly styled jump, mostly based on an increase of seven minutes/game. Alec Burks doubled his scoring… along with his minutes. These examples are more concrete reasons for why Corbin fired. It’s the lack of progression from the young players that the Jazz will soon rely entirely upon.
With experience as a head coach, Tyrone Corbin won’t have trouble finding work as an assistant somewhere, but the decision by Lindsey makes sense if it’s based on Corbin’s need to improve the young players on the roster. The improvements simply weren’t shown beyond a per minute basis. The Jazz will need someone with the chops to develop young talent if they want to rise back to playoff contention.