A Jazz Fan’s Thanksgiving Gratitude List

November 26th, 2013 | by Laura Thompson
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak / NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak / NBAE via Getty Images

This season has been more difficult than I was expecting. I was expecting a lot of losses, but I wasn’t expecting the losses to be by this many points, and with seemingly little offensive progress or defensive intensity to compensate for the losses piling up.

When things get down, and especially during this Thanksgiving season, a mantra is to focus on what’s going well, focus on what you’re thankful for, and that will help lift the mood. So, here goes.

What’s going well? Or for what, with this 2013-2014 Jazz team, can we be thankful?

Jeremy Evans and the development of his game. After starting 12-12 from the floor, he eventually missed a shot in the Oklahoma City game, and missed three shots (gasp! three?!) in the Bulls game, and is now 16-20 on the season. Yes, a handful of those are dunks, but he’s showing a jumper and a smoothness to his game that is both new and refreshing. And besides, with how the Jazz have been shooting on the year, do we even care that a handful of Jeremy’s shots have been from very close range? I think we’re just thrilled to see the ball go in the hoop at all. And also, that alleyoop from Gordon Hayward to Evans last night was just awesome.

Trey Burke’s return has shown us what good pick-and-roll play can look like, with some good reads and passes to Favors resulting in some easy layups. He’s also hit a couple of threes and has had good looks at other times; eventually, those shots will start to fall. And while Burke may not be the pure, pass-first point guard we were spoiled with during Stockton’s tenure in Utah, his ability to drive in the lane and finish in his first games back has been invigorating. The fact that he’s doing this with his finger still recovering and sore after games, is pretty impressive and bodes well for the coming months.

Marvin Williams’ emergence as a great off-the-bench producer or as a sometimes starter. Now that Williams is no longer hampered by a bum Achilles like he was all last season, we’re able to see what he can do and his play of late has been very encouraging. He’s able to hit the three, he’s long and active on defense and matches up well against stretch fours. Given the difficult matchup that can be for Favors, having Marvin in the lineup in those situations has been helpful. He’s been averaging 14.0 points per game in the last five games and, considering how poor the offense has been at times, that’s been a needed shot in the arm. He’s also been averaging 6.2 rebounds per game in the last five games, averaging around 30 minutes per game. In a very discouraging week overall for the team, Marvin has been a very bright spot.

Gordon Hayward’s passing and all-around game. Well, minus the shooting. Even though he’s been incredibly inconsistent when it comes to getting the ball through the hoop, Hayward’s found ways to contribute in other areas, as evidenced by the fact that he keeps on breaking his career high for assists. First, he got 10 assists November 13 against New Orleans (the last time he shot 50% or higher in a game), and then he surpassed that against New Orleans (again) a week later on November 20 with 11 assists. And, once again, last night he had a new career high of 12 assists against the Bulls. He’s been rebounding at a decent rate over the course of the season—his Total Rebounding Percentage is a career high 8.6%, up from 6.3% last year—which makes the 1-17 shooting night (and the subsequent games of 5-12, 2-9, and 5-15) a little bit more palatable. A wee bit.

Derrick Favors has become the surprising model of consistency. Granted, on this team, consistency takes a slightly different look than the Stockton-to-Malone years of consistency. Given the way this team has been playing so far this year, Favors’ ability to play defense and get rebounds even while the team has struggled in both areas has been nice. While he has been seemingly unspectacular at times, he has been solid, averaging 13/10 on the year and, along with Hayward, only has two games this year where he hasn’t hit double digits in points. Perhaps even more importantly, he’s been learning how to keep from fouling at a high rate—last night’s game against the Bulls excepting—keeping himself on the floor.

Rudy Gobert has been so much fun to watch whenever he’s gotten any time. His often-talked-about wingspan alters shots and creates so much havoc for the opposing team. He even tried to create his own Jeremy-Evans-Blocking-Ronny-Turiaf-And-Taking-It-Coast-To-Coast-For-A-Dunk play, but he one-upped Evans by using his left hand to dunk. Gobert’s averaging 14.7 rebounds per 36 minutes, and has as many blocks on the season as he does field goals (11). His rebounding percentage is 23.3%, above Favors’ 17.1% (though, admittedly, Gobert is usually in at garbage time or against the other team’s second or third string, but still!). I’d love to see Gobert get a consistent 15-20 minutes a night, and even paired with Favors.

So, Jazz fans. We’re 2-14 and just coming off a great win. What’re you thankful for as a Jazz fan?

Laura Thompson

Laura Thompson

I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson

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6 Comments

  1. Drew says:

    I’m thankful that we have incredible young talent. The Sonics/Thunder went 20-62 in Kevin Durant’s rookie year, then 23-59 the following year after drafting Russell Westbrook. After that, they exploded to 50-32.

    Maybe I shouldn’t expect a fight for the playoffs. Instead, maybe I should be hoping for as many growing pains as possible. Not so that we can cross our fingers for Jabari Parker, but so we can learn as much as possible and be ready to rise next season. (But that’s almost too pessimistic; I’d love to be a 7th or 8th seed.)

  2. robin says:

    How about thanks that Corbin’s contract runs out after this season, so an end to a period of having the most embarrassing coach in the league is within sight?

    • Gerald says:

      I have to laugh at the local “experts” think someone is bad and that it is easy to get a great coach. If you listen to other “experts” from other markets over half the league are looking for a great coach. Try listening to the players, management, and national broadcasters and commentators and most praise the job Corbin is doing. If you are such of an “expert” step up and mention the great coach that the jazz should get and see if it really makes sense. I doubt that you could come up with one coach who is great who would even think about coming to Salt Lake. As long as the jazz players and management approve of Corbin and the jazz keep improving once all the players get healthy, I say keep Corbin.

      • robin says:

        What’s Lionel Hollins doing these days? Not sure what ‘national broadcasters’ you are referring to, but Zach Lowe, who I do consider an expert, has been extremely critical of Corbin for some time. I think the consensus is that Corbin is the right coach to tank with.

        • Gerald says:

          I have been listing to nba.com and nbatv to get some input into what people nationally think. I do appreciate you coming up with a good coach that you think would help the Jazz. Lionel Hollins is a good coach that pushes defense and holding the ball to keep the scores low and his team in most games. This is good for your record, if you have those type of players, but not fun to watch. I do think he would be an improvement over Ty in some respects, but to keep the core happy and in Utah sometimes you have to have a coach that will work with the players which is not something Lionel could do in the past. Why do think he is still not a head coach now. I do think the Jazz missed the boat on Horny which I think will be a great head coach in the future. But Ty is better with defense schemes and Horny is much better in offense schemes, to bad you could not keep both. You will see Horny and Phoenix have a great team in 2 years, the number of draft picks they have next year when the best draft in many years will set them up for the future. It will be interesting watching the 2 teams to see how they improve over the next while and see the Jazz and the Suns dominate the West in about 2 to 3 years.

  3. Greg says:

    Gerald,

    Thank you very much it is nice to hear someone with some rationale to the Corbin situation. Also, I am thankful that the jazz now have another chance to have a winning streak come this Friday. If they can win again it’ll be a big boost to their confidence when going on the road to complete the home and home with phoenix.

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