At some point in every NBA season, every team will be tasked with overcoming some sort of adversity.

There are injuries, dips in shooting, tough times in the schedule, tough times when a team doesn’t live up to its own standards or doesn’t respect the competition. There are players leaving trades and new ones arriving, chemistry issues that need to be ironed out, changes to patterns, games and covers.

Often, the teams that are left standing at the end of an NBA season are the teams that can adapt and respond to the adversity they face by not collapsing, but emerging stronger from it. other side. And it’s not just an ability to adapt that’s needed, it’s the will to do it even when you don’t know how to do it or what the outcome will be.

This season, like the two before it, is unique in that COVID-19 has been added to the list of things that can negatively impact a team and every team has had to deal with it.

“I think the ability to adapt tactically, but also your players being able to adapt to the situation,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said, reflecting on what would be important in the toughest times of the game. season. “Maybe there are opportunities to work on things that you might not have in another situation.”

When Snyder said this, in an interview with the Deseret News on January 5, the team had just learned that Joe Ingles had returned a positive COVID-19 test and had become Jazz’s first player of the 2021-22 season at enter league health and safety protocol.

“Frankly, it was a matter of time,” Snyder said. “It’s something you take head on.”

What Snyder didn’t know was how badly the Jazz would face over the next two weeks and that the Jazz would be heading into one of the toughest times the team had seen in years.

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder, left, instructs guard Donovan Mitchell during the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City on Monday, November 29, 2021.
Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

January saw the Jazz lose more games in a single calendar month than the team since 2018 and there are still some tough games to play this month.

The Jazz had players in and out of health and safety protocol, two players suffered concussions and missed multiple games and twice the Jazz were stripped of their entire front five.

So far in 2022, due to injuries, health issues or personal issues, the Jazz have yet to play a game with a fully healthy roster.

Questions of identity, consistency, effort and ability all hung over the Jazz in January like a dark cloud just waiting to flood the team with despair. Adaptability might be what keeps the Jazz from truly entering the storm.

It’s important to note that adjusting to what this season has in store for the Jazz could mean something different from day to day, or mean something completely different for the coaching staff than it does. for gamers.

The obvious definition is that players and coaches must remain alert and be prepared for all possibilities in the event of injury or illness. Since COVID-19 makes things a little more unpredictable than during non-global pandemic seasons, Snyder, his staff, and the front office have had to have more conversations playing with what-if scenarios.

If X-player can’t play, then who intervenes? If X-player tests positive for COVID-19, then based on the contact, which players are most likely to follow it in the health and safety protocol? If we have to bring in a player with a difficult contract, who makes sense? Who is available?

These are all storylines that have been discussed and stretched and twisted in every way the Jazz can imagine so they can be as prepared as possible for anything.

But, as Snyder made sure to point out, those extra conversations don’t necessarily involve the team’s players or disrupt their normal routines. What is disturbing, however, is when players are injured, when they are sick, when they are away from the team.

Adapting to these situations is important in real time, but there is also a larger framework that needs to be considered.

Let’s take the current Jazz situation as a perfect example. Things aren’t great, to put it plainly. Frustrations are running high, new injuries seem to be lurking around every corner, and the looming February 10 deadline looks very likely to bring even more change to a locker room that doesn’t seem to find its place.

If you take a narrow view, it might seem like the Jazz doesn’t adapt well to adversity. The losses keep piling up and there is no real continuity for anything.

The view from further away takes time. It’s time to see how the team reacts and adapts between now and the playoffs.

Are the Jazz emerging from a horrible month as a broken team that seems beyond repair? Or are they slowly emerging from the rubble, dusting themselves off, ready for battle?

Obviously, the Jazz are hoping they’ll prove they’re the last, and to make that a reality, Snyder is taking on this season’s challenges with a silver lining every step of the way.

So, are key players missing? There is no precise timetable for their return? It’s an opportunity.

“You have rosters together that haven’t run a certain play or defended in a certain way,” Snyder said. “These adjustments will sometimes take place on the fly, and to some extent that can be what happens in a game.”

It’s hard for a coach to find the time to tinker with lineups and try combinations and test different covers, even at the best of times. But being forced to try them is a chance for the Jazz to become even more adaptable.

Perhaps the most important element of all of this is that players, coaches, staff and entire organizations may need to adopt a different way of reacting and solving problems.

“Are you going to let him beat you down and bring you down? Or will you keep fighting? said Mike Conley. “I think those teams that have that kind of mental toughness, that kind of depth and that next-man mentality during those stages of the season, are normally the teams that create a bit of distance from the rest of the field. “

This is the team the Jazz want to be.

“Your ability and willingness to adapt are not only more important, but more necessary,” Snyder said.

They know it’s not going to be easy and some days are going to be darker than others and learning new ways to adapt on and off the court is going to take time, and the Jazz are ready. to let things take their course. course and to devote the necessary time.

This willingness to adapt, according to the head coach of the Jazz, could be the key to unlocking everything.