On this week’s episode, the team takes a look at the winless, hapless Jazz. Sure, the Jazz are playing terribly, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make light of the situation. Andy Larsen throws out Sad Jazz Facts, which Dan Clayton and Clark Schmutz rank overall. Even better, then Clark makes a real-life sad comparison of each Sad Jazz Fact. Is it the Jazz’s terrible shooting, the fact they haven’t won in a month, or the Jazz’s historically awful offense that depresses us most? Find out, with lots of laughs, on this week’s Salt City Hoops Saturday Show!
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Ashly Mae used to scare her daughter while watching Utah Jazz games.
“When I watch a Jazz game alone, I’m a completely different person,” Ashly says. “I’m a lunatic. I’m screaming, I’m yelling, my neighbors hate me, my daughter in her room is like ‘Mom! I can’t do homework on Jazz game nights!’”
The good news: she doesn’t have to watch them alone anymore. Last Saturday, November 2nd, Ashly and Dustin LaMarr (@prodigal_punk on Twitter), a longtime writer for SLCDunk, were married in downtown Salt Lake City. This isn’t a typical love story, though; these two lovers met on Twitter while discussing Jazz basketball.
It all started when the Jazz posted a link to some team blogs on UtahJazz.com in 2011. Ashly (perhaps better known as @SurlyMae), who had “no one in [her] real life who would talk about the Jazz”, found the conversation with other Jazz fans on SLCDunk scintillating.
She started a Twitter account to get more of the conversation. There, she became an integral part of the Jazz Twitter community, participating in discussions with Jazz fans around the world, including Dustin. When a “Tweetup”, a real-life meetup for Jazz Twitter participants, was organized prior to the playoff-clinching game against the Phoenix Suns in April 2012, Ashly was excited to meet the people she had been communicating with online so long in real life.
The meetup took place at Iggy’s in Downtown SLC, and Ashly had an eye out for Dustin.
1. In the second half, the Jazz fell apart both offensively and defensively.
The Jazz took a 16 point lead into halftime of this one, having both out-executed and out-hustled the Rockets on both ends of the floor. But in the second half, Houston took a much different approach. The Rockets returned to their incredibly successful pick and roll game, getting James Harden and Dwight Howard 16 and 12 points respectively between them in the second half. This might have been expected from two NBA stars as elite as Harden and Howard.
Unexpected, though, was the Jazz’s total collapse on offense. The Jazz scored just 37 points in the second half after scoring 54 in the first. Worse, the Jazz had just 1 assist in the second half, coming after the Rockets had already extended an 11 point lead on the reeling Jazz. “Jazz basketball”, or at least the ideal thereof, involves lots of passing to open cutters leading to many assists for all involved. That was’t the case in the second half. While the Jazz’s media guide promises me that the Jazz have had 0 or 1 assists in a half “many times”, it hasn’t happened since before 2000, when basketball-reference.com’s play-by-play data begins. Corbin used a lack of “energy” as the reason behind the second half display, the nonexistent ball movement in the half suggests more was at fault with Utah’s quick slide.
2. Alec Burks’ on-ball defense has really improved.
This week on the Salt City Hoops Saturday Show, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton, and Ben Gaines take a closer look at Hayward’s non-extension. What does it mean for the team that he wasn’t extended before the October 31st deadline? Will it affect his play this season? Why weren’t the Jazz able to agree to terms? Then, we break down the first games of the regular season. The Jazz are staying competitive, but losing. Is that ideal for the team at this stage? What have we learned about the Core Four of Hayward, Burks, Favors, and Kanter so far? All that and more in this week’s Saturday Show!
The NBA just released its 2013-14 Referee Media Guide, which you can download here. It’s a wonderful document full of NBA refereeing minutia, perfect for basketball nerds who have come to know the referees’ names through hours upon hours of NBA watching.
The best part of the media guide is getting to know the personalities behind those names. I’ve taken the best stories from the guide and summarized them for you here.
Bennie Adams was a collegiate math instructor! After getting both a Bachelors and Masters degree from Southern University, he went onto instruct at SU. As I joked with @bjcseven, perhaps this explains why he’s one of the more, um, inconsistent refs in the NBA. He’s simply miscast; he should be working with numbers, not making subjective calls about athletic achievements. Today we’d give him a blog and send him to the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. But 30 years ago, what other choice did a nerd who loved basketball have but refereeing?
1. The Core Four showed a lot of ability.
With the injury to Trey Burke, there’s no need to fabricate new names for the Jazz’s dynamic young team; the moniker “Core Four” suffices. And indeed, Utah’s fabled Core Four did not did not disappoint: The Four (Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks) combined for 66 points on the night. Perhaps more impressive, each contributed without scoring: Favors showed off a newfound willingness to pass out of trouble when the defense dove toward him, garnering 5 assists (although he did accumulate 6 turnovers to go with them). Kanter regained his rebounding focus after struggling in the preseason. Hayward managed to accumulate 3 steals to go along with his 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
But, for the Jazz at least, the night’s best performance belonged to Alec Burks. For the game he finished with 24 points, just short of his career high. Included in those 24 were these 2 off of this incredible reverse layup, efforted in with significant english:
Scoring 11 points in the 4th quarter on 4-5 shooting, Burks singlehandledly brought the Jazz back late in the game. Even better, he showed an ability to contribute off the ball, something that’s been a significant worry for the Jazz; Burks contributed 6 assists and 6 rebounds to the overall effort. While it’s doubtful all nights will be as encouraging as this one, the night’s Core Four performances will put a smile on Jazz fans faces.
2. Turnovers and fouls cost the Jazz the game.
Despite the positives, and there were many, the inexperience of the Jazz displayed itself at times. The Jazz accumulated 22 turnovers. That’s generally going to be far too many to win any given game. Perhaps more damaging was the 28 personal fouls the Jazz committed during the game leading to 33 OKC free throws, including 24 by free throw master Kevin Durant. As a result, the Jazz lost the game despite outshooting their opponents, 46% to 41%.
While Durant is adept at drawing fouls, the 24 free throw attempts he garnered tonight were the second-highest total of his career. In other words, the Jazz shouldn’t be satisfied to chalk his 42 points up to greatness, but should instead look to minimize easy free throw opportunities for star players. Fouling too much has always been a Jazz bugaboo, but in a new era of leadership and personnel, fouling less could be one opportunity for improvement.
3. The Thunder’s offensive execution is not particularly impressive without Russell Westbrook.
Yes, Kevin Durant saved them this win with his 42 point performance. But how many more times can Durant step up to that degree? Despite an entire training camp and preseason without Russell Westbrook, the Thunder didn’t particularly appear to feature any creative offensive sets designed to get non-KD players open or close to the basket. The Thunder accumulated just 9 assists for the night, and the lack of ball movement was entirely responsible for their 41% shooting performance.
Royce Young of Daily Thunder assures me that things were different during Oklahoma City’s preseason, and that there’s potential for this team to show off the kind of speedy, efficient passing that’s a staple of successful NBA offenses. But in tonight’s game and last year’s postseason efforts, that hasn’t been on display whatsoever. Playoff defenses are notably stingy, but the Jazz’s defense, especially on game 1 of the season, should probably be easier to break down for a veteran team. It wasn’t, and that has to be worrisome for Thunder fans.
Editor’s note: This is the last in the annual series from Salt City Hoops ranking the current players on the Utah Jazz roster. Throughout the preseason, we’ll count up through the current Jazz roster, from worst to first, profiling each player as we go along. The profiles are individually written by Salt City Hoops’ staff of writers, while the ranking was selected by me (Andy Larsen). To go through JazzRank articles from this or past preseasons, visit our JazzRank category page. Gordon Hayward is #1.
For this article, we’re doing something a little bit different. I asked everyone on our team to write one paragraph on Gordon Hayward, taking any perspective or angle they liked. We got a lot of cool responses, and so we’re covering the man affectionately known as G-Time from 360 degrees.
How did we get here? After Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap departed the Jazz in free agency, Gordon Hayward is the team’s default leading scorer. What exactly is his role this season? Possible go-to guy? Even first option on some nights? Hayward is talented, but the 6’8” small forward is about to go against some of the league’s toughest players on a nightly basis. This is new for him; Hayward started only six games against the Eastern Conference last season, where the position is especially loaded with the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. The 9th overall pick in 2010 didn’t ask for this role, but the spotlight has a way of finding the quiet former Butler star. Hayward averaged a career-high 14.1 points in just under 30 minutes last season, although the career-high 10.7 field goal attempts led to a career-low 43.5 field goal percentage. I expect him to continue progressing into a solid NBA player. I also expect him to face his fair share of challenges on the rebuilding Jazz.
I’ve given my extensive opinion about Gordon’s facial hair, now it’s time to move on to more important things: the hair on top of his head. He seems to be stepping up his game with the hair gel. During his tenure with the Jazz, we’ve seen the shaggy look and the more clean-cut missionary look. But now, he’s going with the medium-length, I-tried-to-make-this-look-
Projecting Brandon Rush’s season is an exciting exercise in the same way that flipping a coin is exciting.
To Jazz fans, the Jazz’s recently acquired shooting guard is an enigma. He’s the only player on the roster that has not yet played any games in a Jazz uniform, meaning there’s a significant number of fans (those who only watch the Jazz, or who have watched other teams only casually) who have no idea what Rush represents.
But even those who closely follow NBA basketball have lingering questions about Rush. Of course, there are always questions about a player’s ability to recover from significant injury, and Rush’s ACL tear in the second game of 2012′s campaign looked particularly bad. But beyond that, he’s really only had one passable NBA season, his 2011-2012 campaign with the Golden State Warriors.
Before that, he played a significant number of minutes (an average of 27 per game!) for the Indiana Pacers, during which he was generally replacement-level: he shot just 42% with Indiana while only using a below-average 15.5% of his team’s possessions. He was a middling defensive player whose offense didn’t really justify huge minutes. While there were plenty of other factors in play, including a coaching change after a 17-27 start to the lockout year, it’s probably no coincidence that the Pacers went from sub-.500 to Eastern Conference elite after transferring the starting off-guard duties from Rush to eventual All-Star Paul George.
On this episode, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton, and the newly returned Ben Gaines talk about the just-concluded preseason. What can we learn from the 8 games? We grade each of the top 5 players with an A-F grade. Then, after Ty Corbin was named most likely to be the first NBA coach fired, we talk Corbin’s future. What are the odds he stays with the Jazz the whole year, and does he still have time to earn a contract extension at the end of the season? Finally, we discuss the Jamaal Tinsley deal. Why did the Jazz sign him, and what will Tinsley’s role be on this young team in 2013-14? All these questions answered, and more, on this week’s Salt City Hoops Saturday Show!
On this week’s Saturday Show, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton and Dan Clayton talk about Derrick Favors newly signed extension with the Utah Jazz. Is 4 years, $49 million too much, a bargain, or just right for the young big man? We’ll talk about how his deal works out statistically, and compare it to the contracts of other big men around the league. Then, we break down Dennis Lindsey’s interview on The Big Show from Friday. In Lindsey’s opinion, does Alec Burks make more sense as a starter or off the bench? Do we agree? How is Trey Burke’s development affected by his injury, both now and in the future? And how will the Jazz perform in the 4th quarter with the young guys? All that and more on this week’s Saturday Show!