Please disregard the fact that the screenshot clearly states that this occurred at 1:03 AM last night and pretend like I nailed it on the first try.
It feels like I only go backwards baby,
Every part of me says “go ahead”.
But I got my hopes up again, oh no, not again.
Feels like we only go backwards, darling.
Well, that was… uninteresting. Initial reactions to Utah’s lack of movement through the deadline were pretty dismal, even attracting the brief attention of national NBA writers who suddenly have no reason to pay any attention to the Jazz for the remainder of the season, but I think Matt Moore summarized the media’s position when he sent out this tweet:
So much terrible awfulness, Jazz. Terrible, horrible awfulness.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) February 21, 2013
As is often the case, Jazz Nation reacted much more harshly, creating a sort of bloodthirsty, self-loathing vibe for our first mailbag run. Let’s get to it!
In an effort to collect all the great thoughts and ideas that you’re currently typing out and sending to your brother, we’re happy to introduce Ask Salt City Hoops. Copy email@example.com in that email to your brother/sister/coworker/neighbor/cellmate and send us your greatest stories and questions.
This week will feature a special edition trade-deadline mailbag wherein we post the best contributions and try to answer your questions. You can also submit questions you’d like us to ask the players. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll hype Eric Bledsoe and discuss Sydney Lowe’s ill-conceived plan to never pay taxes. Go ahead and send anything that is Jazz-related, sort of Jazz-related, and barely Jazz-related. Send recipes, poems, and photos from Cancun. It’s all welcome.
Can’t wait to hear from you!
Having rooted for Marvin Williams for 8 games now, I have a slightly better understanding of why Atlanta’s fans always had such high expectations for him. He looks amazing doing everything. His shot looks incredibly smooth, his defense looks like it is impenetrable, and he never seems like he’s out of control. Thankfully, we don’t have any draft remorse so he should be fine with Jazz fans, but it’s still worth mentioning. After Utah traded for him in July, I moped around for two days because Devin Harris got kicked out the door after carrying the Jazz to the playoffs, and then I realized that Marvin Williams is one of the most interesting, compelling players that has ever played for Utah and I lost my head and compared his career to one of the greatest bands of our generation.
Offseason Accomplishments: Was the nicest guy ever in his introductory press conference after he was traded to the Jazz; made a bunch of threes in the preseason.
Stat to Watch: Defensive Rating. While his outside shooting is really important to Utah’s success, his most important contribution will come if he turns out to be the lock-down defensive wing the Jazz have been missing. He should really thrive on D guarding small forwards all the time after Atlanta put him at power forward where he was at a disadvantage guarding bigger guys.
Three Potential Outcomes of the Season:
1. He averages 10 or 12 points per game, 27 minutes a night, and always sits in crunch time. He is neither a huge addition or a huge liability; he falls into a moderate role and is neither loved nor reviled by the Jazz universe. His three-point shooting is average, his rebounding is average, his defense is average. He picks up his player option for next season and everyone shrugs.
2. He steps up on the defensive end and starts locking down people like DeMar DeRozan. Between his perimeter defense and an increasing role for Derrick Favors, Utah starts to build an identity around being a defensive juggernaut. Having actually found an identity, the Jazz live up to their potential and earn the fourth seed in the playoffs, making it to the second round before losing to the Spurs again… though we’d actually win at least one game this time.
3. As Randy Foye keeps shooting well (and plentifully) from long range, Ty Corbin decides to go in the complete opposite direction and benches Marvin so that Mo, Foye, Hayward, Millsap, and Jefferson can score lots of points and give up even more points. Marvin, Favors, Kanter and Burks consider starting their own Utopian basketball team where everyone- young and old, expiring contract or rookie contract- is free to play basketball according to their abilities. The Jazz miss the playoffs and Marvin is sad.
Quincy Lewis, DeShawn Stevenson, Sasha Pavlovic, Kirk Snyder, C.J. Miles, Morris Almond. What do all of these players have in common? They all broke my heart. Each of them were selected by the Jazz with first- or early second-round draft picks, arrived in Utah with the promise of bringing athleticism, sharp-shooting, or some combination of the two to the Jazz wing rotation, and I bought in every single time. Alec Burks was drafted a little bit higher than any of the guys above, but the same danger abounds. I want to get excited about him, and it’s easy to do when he fairly consistently does amazing things, but I haven’t quite overcome my previous baggage yet. (Note: the lone exception to this legacy of heartbreak is Ronnie Brewer, who was the best. Long live Ronnie Brewer.) I find myself bracing anytime I hear a questionable story about him or hear something that might be an indictment on his level of maturity or work ethic. I think that he works hard and is going to be really good, but I’m still scared. Will we find out if he’s the real deal this season? Unlikely, unless injuries give him a more prominent role in the rotation. For now, he’ll still be Utah’s high-flying enigma, capable of doing amazing things and full of awesome and terrible potential.
Offseason Accomplishments: Rained down doom on the unsuspecting Orlando Summer League, leaving Evan wholly unable to describe him without using Once and Future King references.
Stat to Watch: Three-point field goal percentage. Burks just placed fifth in the NBA through the preseason by shooting 63.6% from beyond the arc (7 for 11… Small sample size, but still). If he can keep that number in the high thirties, he will secure the position of most dangerous wing scorer on the Jazz. This would be huge. If he could balance his amazing ability to get to the basket with good enough range to demand attention outside from defenders, then watch out.
Three Potential Outcomes of the Season:
1. His preseason outside shooting turns out to be a legitimate addition to his game and before we know it, Alec Burks is freed. He gets 25 minutes a night off the bench and provides valuable surges of scoring on Utah’s already formidable bench. He plays good defense and averages 15 points a game, getting a little bit of traction going for a Sixth Man of the Year campaign (which he ultimately loses on account of playing in Salt Lake City).
2. Between Hayward starting at SG and Randy Foye, all of Burks’ potential minutes disappear. He keeps putting up 15 minutes a game until, to everyone’s immense horror, he is subjected to a couple of totally unwarranted “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” box scores. There are riots on the internet streets and @FreeAlecBurks finishes the season with 1,000 followers and the movement pops up in TrueHoop’s morning bullets a handful of times throughout the season. The Ty Corbin approval rating suffers.
3. Strangely enough, the point guard experiment works and Burks emerges as a change-of-pace floor general that makes plays excellently in transition and locks down opposing point guards on defense. His assist to turnover becomes decent and a few “Alec Burks is the Point Guard of the Future” articles start popping up here and there. Then, in June, when we have Golden State’s draft pick (#9) everyone secretly hopes that we draft a small forward instead of a point guard so that Burks can start at the 1 and we can play some of the tallest lineups of all time. Seriously: Alec Burks (6’6″), Gordon Hayward (6’8″), Marvin Williams (6’9″), Derrick Favors (6’10″), and Enes Kanter (6’11″). Wow.
Don’t hate Randy Foye. As soon as Utah signed Foye back in July, it seemed like most Jazz fans were initially impressed at how reasonable the deal was for a proven 3-point threat… then everyone was suddenly terrified that he was going to devour all of Alec Burks’ minutes. Fans might be preconditioned to have that sort of response after watching C.J. Miles and Raja Bell do unspeakable basketball things last season while Burks stared into space from the bench, but there isn’t nearly the same amount danger with Foye. I have two central reasons why Randy Foye is awesome: 1) His Villanova teams from a few years back are in the pantheon for most entertaining college basketball teams ever. Easily. I picked them to go too far in my March Madness bracket in both 2005 and 2006 and I don’t even regret it at all because they were so much fun. Whatever happened to Allan Ray, anyway? 2) If he plays backup point guard and fills in for Mo Williams, like he did in the final preseason game tonight, then Burks’ minutes will go largely unscathed. They can easily share the backcourt together and Foye won’t take lots of terrible shots or disappear completely or anything disastrous. 3) (Bonus!) His organs are all backwards.
Offseason Accomplishments: He is always keeping busy working for his nonprofit organization. This summer he put together Regina’s Run, named after his late mother, a 5k in Newark to help families in need. He also signed with the Jazz, obviously.
Stat to Watch: Assist percentage. Last year, the Clippers had him play exclusively as a spot-up shooter. While he filled that role very well, it didn’t really give him a chance to show off a point guard skill set, leaving him with an assist percentage of 14%. That is really low. (For point of reference, Devin Harris was at 28% last year, Jamaal Tinsley was at 36%, and Earl Watson was at 28%.) If he can get back up to 20% or so, he’ll be much better equipped to fill the role in the Jazz backcourt that they need him to fill. Oh, and if he keeps making lots of threes. That would also be good.
Three Potential Outcomes of the Season:
1. He thrives in his role as backup point guard, leading one of the most entertaining second units the Jazz have ever had in an efficient offense and stingy defense. He throws lots of alley-oops and has a great time doing it. He keeps clipping about 38% from behind the arc, endears himself to Jazz fans, and signs on for another year. Who knows? Maybe he goes to the 3-point shootout this year so that the Jazz can win something if Jeremy Evans’ repeat bid for Slam Dunk Champ goes awry.
2. He turns out to have too much of a scoring mentality to really be what Utah needs. He generally shoots tons of pull-up threes–a few too many to merit being primarily a point guard, which leads to some problems. I have to bite my lip and repeat the two-and-a-half reasons to like him mentioned above a few times to myself throughout the season, but he still shoots well enough that he stays in the good graces of Utah’s fans and organization, even if the #FreeAlecBurks movement is somewhat incensed.
3. He does really well for the Jazz until January or so, when the Big East invites Western Michigan and Eastern Washington to be full-time members of the conference starting immediately. Bursting with Villanova pride, Foye abruptly announces his retirement from the NBA and goes to coach the Wildcats and redeem Big East basketball. He exclusively uses a 7-guard rotation without playing a single player over 6’4″, they average 90 points a game and go undefeated for the rest of the season to win March Madness. I’m simply delighted because I totally picked them in my bracket.
If there was only one thing that endeared Jamaal Tinsley’s game to me (and I assure you that there are many more than one), it would be the fact that his jump shot looks exactly like the jump shot in Double Dribble on the NES- or “Bubble Bibble,” as it introduces itself. Well, except for the crazy changing-directions-in-the-air thing. I was probably about five years old when I reached my Double Dribble prime, but the effect that all of those strange, straight-armed jumpers had on my psyche were far longer lasting.
Anyway, Jamaal Tinsley.
Tinsley’s first season with the Jazz was basically a case study in diminishing returns. After spending the entire first month of the season on the bench, in his first game of heavy action he put up 9 points, 13 assists, and 6 rebounds- his 13 assists even marked a season high for the Jazz. Then he went straight back to the bench. In March, when he started getting reps as the 2nd-string point guard, his numbers were really solid- 6 points and 4 assists in 15 minutes a game while shooting 45% from the field. As time wore on, however, and he kept getting minutes, his shot selection became less sterling and his numbers just couldn’t hold up. By the time the playoffs came around, he was pretty much out of gas. It’s hard to say how much of that we can blame on a condensed season, but the bottom line is that Jamaal Tinsley isn’t a great option to put up 15 minutes a game, every game, for a full season. He’s just a little too old.
Still, if I were to ask you which Jazz player’s YouTube highlight inspired the comment section to evolve into a Hunger Games conversation and from there become a reflection on the long-standing oppression of the North Korean regime, you’d guess Tinsley, right? Right? Well, you’d be correct. At this point, Tinsley is also the only player with a D-League highlight reel on YouTube (miss you, Blake Ahearn). You throw the Malice in the Palace in there and Tinsley is suddenly a dark horse candidate for Utah’s YouTube MVP.
Offseason Accomplishments: The Jazz picked up the second year option on his contract and so he bought a Jeep.
Stat to Watch: I’m going to go old school and say Field Goal Percentage. As previously noted, if he’s not getting worn too thin, his shots will fall more. It seems like we’ll be able to tell how well he is being used by how well he is shooting from the floor. Unless, of course, he just regresses and shoots 35% all season… though I guess you’ll still know how well he’s being used in that case too.
Three Potential Outcomes of the Season:
1. Through a combination of Earl Watson’s health and Randy Foye’s failure to raise his assist rate to a reasonable level, Tinsley gets the primary backup minutes, also filling in at starting point guard whenever Mo Williams gets hurt. The results are a few great highlights, some solid transition offense, and a bunch of opposing point guards scoring at will on the Jazz. His sheer entertainment value still outweighs his flaws and he continues to be a valuable contributor for the Jazz all season long. His cagey play buys him two more years in the NBA before riding off into the sunset.
2. He rides off into the sunset now. Foye plays within the system, taking on a bulk of backup point guard minutes, and the Burks-at-PG experiment doesn’t completely fail, leaving no time for Tinsley or Watson. They have a good time cheering for the team and playing in the event of injuries, foul trouble, or blowouts. Otherwise, he starts a bunch of bench games with Earl Watson like who gets the most high fives after every big play or who can walk out closest to halfcourt during a timeout without looking weird. He retires next summer and opens a Jeep car dealership.
3. Situation #2 starts playing out, but Jamaal Tinsley can’t deal. He sneaks back to Brooklyn and signs with the Harlem Globetrotters under his old street name, “Mel Mel the Abuser.” He tears it up and quickly becomes a fan favorite. Since nobody actually pays attention, including Ty Corbin, to the Harlem Globetrotters, no one notices that one of their players is currently under an NBA contract. Sometime in February or so, when the Jazz are up on the Kings by 30 midway through the fourth quarter, Ty Corbin squints as he looks down the end of the bench.
Corbin: ”Jamaal! You’re in!”
Earl Watson, suddenly perking up: ”Coach, I don’t know where he is. But he owes me fifty bucks because I walked all the way out to the center circle last timeout.”
Al Jefferson: ”I haven’t seen him in like a week.”
Gordon Hayward: ”It has actually been 48 days since he has participated with our team. I corresponded with him briefly and he told me that he re-aggravated his left knee from an injury he sustained several years ago. He said to call him if we actually need him.”
Corbin: “Uhhh, Earl. Go in.”
No one was more talked-about in the NBA on Thursday than Jeremy Evans after his spectacular end-to-end-to-end block/dunk/steal exhibition on Wednesday against the Clippers. (Favorite headline: “Jeremy Evans is now the majority owner of Ronny Turiaf.”) Is it possible that Evans knew we were preparing to feature him at #13 in JazzRank? How else to explain the perfect storm of Evansonian Phenomena?
Somehow, on his chosen day, fate allowed him the opportunity to do the three things he is uniquely good at–ridiculous blocks and ridiculous dunks and ridiculous sprints–in one sequence with no one in the world but Ronny Turiaf to stop him. We already posted this video after the game, and you’ve seen it posted everywhere else, but I can’t help myself:
I don’t care how many times you’ve watched this. It’s worth watching a hundred more times. Why? The play itself it worth more than a few views, but looking for everyone’s reaction is worth that and more. In fact, I’m going to rank the top five reactions:
5. Enes Kanter: Started yelling after the dunk and did the walk-into-your-teammate-while-yelling thing right after the ball was whistled dead. He would rank higher but I’m pretty sure this is what he does after every play.
4. DeMarre Carroll: DeMarre Carroll seems like he always knows exactly how to react. He’s a true professional. He’s even a professional in his mega-dunk reactions.
3. Alec Burks: He gets all the way up to third just for looking so ticked off after he congratulates Jeremy–in a “let’s do that to them 1000 more times right now” way. Burks has that killer instinct and appreciates the swagger of a Jeremy Evans mega-dunk. He also gets props because he ran the floor really well and then just stopped because he clearly thought, “Jeremy Evans is more likely to pull up from half court and crank a 50-footer than he is to pass the ball in this situation.”
2. Randy Foye: Watch the slo-mo replay at 0:26. One of the many hidden treasures of this clip is seeing a shocked Foye watch Evans sail through the air as his expression turns to astonishment. It totally redeems him from not hustling down the floor on the fast break.
1. The Color Commentator (Michael Smith, I think): The most impressive reaction to Jeremy Evans’ dunk, far and away, goes to Smith (a BYU alum, by the way), who was so blown away by the play that he temporarily went completely insane. His comments after the dunk happened: 1) “That was with the off hand, too!” First of all, this is totally not true in any sense. Evans blocked with his right hand, dribbled with his right hand, and dunked with his right hand, and he actually does everything related to basketball with his right hand, so… huh? Second, as a Clippers commentator, does he really pride himself on knowing whether Jeremy Evans is left- or right-handed? Third, who reacts to a mega-block/dunk combo like that? I’m full of questions about this. 2) “It is not that often that your teammates react to a play like this.” What could this possibly mean? No one knows. Maybe he meant that it isn’t often that teammates react to this kind of play, which obviously isn’t true and is a completely nonsensical thing to say. Maybe he meant that it isn’t often that teammates react in the manner that they were reacting, which makes a little more sense but is still a very weird thing to say. Then the clip ends as he starts talking about Evans’ elbow and comparing him to Julius Erving. Winner!
Patronus: Panda Bear
Stat to Watch: Field goal percentage outside the basket area. Last year, Evans shot 1-of-11 outside the basket area. As in, for the entire season. We can all love Jeremy Evans but if he can’t score at all except for his dunks, he can’t be a rotation player.
Three Potential Outcomes of the Season:
1. After an injury or two thins out the mighty Jazz front line, Evans gets a chance to show his stuff in the rotation. Suddenly putting in 12 minutes a game, Evans validates his fan support by averaging 6 points, 4 rebounds, and a block. He channels this new-found success into a magically appearing jump shot, which only goes in 30% of the time but is still way better than 1-of-11. As the injuries subside and he goes back to the bench, the #FreeJeremy campaign consumes the Utah Jazz twitterverse.
2. He rides the pine all season and mostly just looks forward to the chance to defend his dunk contest championship. He is by far the most impressive dunk artist there, but only takes second because of politics (and partly because everyone is a little embarrassed that he won last year despite having only one great dunk). He still puts together enough amazingly athletic plays across the season that his highlight reel that pops up on YouTube next summer will be three minutes long.
3. The Jazz are plagued by injuries of a different kind. Ten games into the season, the Jazz Bear breaks his tailbone by falling backwards off of those crazy stilts he sometimes walks around on. Looking for a replacement, the Jazz decide to search internally. Jeremy Evans, suddenly filled with inspiration, applies for the job and dominates the “interview” by doing a double somersault dunk off of the trampolines. Instead of Jazz Bear, there becomes Jazz Jeremy. And everyone loves it. He is inducted to the Mascot Hall of Fame by the end of February and Disney purchases the movie rights to the story by June.
UPDATE: Check out Jeremy Evans discussing The Play before practice on Friday. Evans points out that he and Turiaf share the same agent and that he respected Ronny at least hustling to get back on defense. He also said that the best comment came from his cousin, who suggested he should have given his jersey to Turiaf afterwards.
Unfortunately, we have to start JazzRank with Raja Bell, probably in part because we held the voting before preseason got going–or else he definitely would have at least fallen behind Chris Quinn (who at least threw an a perfect alley-oop to Alec Burks last Friday, which is one more highlight than Bell will pull out this year) and Darnell Jackson (who keeps getting enough playing time in these preseason games that we are becoming compelled to remember his name, despite his low chance of making the team), if not more.
Offseason Accomplishments: Let’s see here… Since the season ended, Bell 1) burned through exit interviews with the spite of a spurned middle school ex-girlfriend, publicly calling out Ty Corbin’s coaching ability, leadership skills, and general manhood, 2) started hustling his resume to all of the contenders (read: Miami), pushing the glue guy angle right after he had sold out his previous team WHILE HE WAS STILL UNDER CONTRACT FOR ANOTHER YEAR, 3) balked at the chance to take a buyout, presumably hoping to cling to his 3 million dollar paycheck after testing the waters of free agency (read: Miami) and realizing he wasn’t as popular as he had hoped, 4) somehow showed enough willingness to compromise or something to keep the Jazz from using the amnesty clause to waive him and his salary from their books, and then 5) was deemed so toxic to team chemistry that he was barred from entering training camp with the rest of the team. He did graduate from Florida International in August and ran some basketball camps in India, so congratulations to Raja on that.
In the end, Bell’s second run with the Jazz is like Sufjan Stevens’ new, groundbreakingly bizarre Christmas song, Christmas Unicorn. At first you think it’s cute and kind of funny, and then it keeps going and you slowly start thinking it is less and less cute until you suddenly realize you aren’t enjoying yourself at all and you’re listening to a social commentary that you hadn’t anticipated and never wanted and it keeps going and going and going and you want it to stop just so everyone can move on but it just keeps going and going and no one ever knows when it will end because Raja is still under contract and I don’t think anyone has made it to the end of the 12 minute song to confirm that it does, in fact, come to an end.
Patronus (you know, like from Harry Potter*): Jellyfish
Stat to Watch: Games Played. The only statistical question worth asking right now is whether Raja Bell will suit up for an NBA game this year.
Three Potential Outcomes for the Season:
1. The buyout never happens and Raja Bell hangs out with his family and brings in a cool 3 million while doing it. Occasionally, at slow points in the season, the Salt Lake Tribune will follow up with him and ask Dennis Lindsey a couple of questions to try to stir things up again only to find there is not much to stir. The lack of compromise hastens the end of Raja Bell’s career as no one is willing to take a chance on a 36-year-old a year removed from the speed of the game. He goes on to get an assistant coaching job at his alma mater, FIU, and slowly moves out of the realm of public awareness.
2. Raja Bell turns out to be as competitive as advertised and finally bites on the buyout option so that he can take the veteran’s minimum contract with Brooklyn. He makes a valiant effort in his ten minutes a game off the bench and averages 7 points a game in Brooklyn’s first round loss to Philadelphia.
3. Come January, when everyone is resigned to the outcome outlined in #1, Dennis Lindsey quietly makes a phone call to the Bay Area. Bob Myers, the Golden State GM, picks up on the other line. Of course, nearly halfway through the season, the Warriors will inevitably have lost all hope of a playoff berth and will be busily maximizing their losses through the rest of the year so that they don’t have to give Utah their pick. The following conversation ensues:
DL: I know you guys are going to be looking to tank again this year. I have a wonderful offer for you.
BM: How dare you! We would never lose our integrity like that! But, um, let’s hear the deal.
DL: The offer I am about to make you will both ensure that you lose more games AND clear up cap space for you.
BM: Tell me! TELL ME THE OFFER!!!
DL: Raja Bell for Harrison Barnes. Straight up. Well, plus maybe your second round draft pick.
Lindsey hangs up the phone. Kevin O’Connor sets down the cue cards he was holding for Lindsey and laughs maniacally.
*throughout JazzRank we are going to make the wild and totally indefensible assumption that, in the event of the actual existence of Hogwarts, and given proper training, all of the current Jazz players could develop the rare ability to cast corporeal Patronuses. We apologize in advance to any Harry Potter fanatics who might be offended by such an assumption.
Warning: If you’ve never listened to Radiohead before, you’re about to be exposed to the song Pitchfork named the 4th best track of the 1990′s in the weirdest way possible.
In 1996, the English rock band Radiohead had reached a state of discontentment regarding who they had become as a band. This was not an unusual feeling for them, though this time it sounded heavier than before. They were holed up in Jane Seymour’s mansion without a producer or a deadline, endlessly tinkering with their sound into the early hours of the morning and their results were entering uncharted territory, to say the least. They were using string sections that started sounding closer to traffic accidents than to Eleanor Rigby; their guitar riffs became less about melody and more about irony.
It was then, in the midst of their artistic horror regarding the dehumanization of civilization, that they decided to title their lead single after Marvin the Paranoid Android (Note: consider that Radiohead wrote the song in 1996, before Coldplay happily blew semi-ironic Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy references squarely into the sphere of stereotypical British alt-rock). It served as something of a final, tongue-in-cheek offering to the world of mainstream alternative rock that they were about to eagerly leave behind.
Was it rock music? There was suddenly no question that could have mattered less to them. They had been coronated as the saviors of rock music and they no longer cared. Following OK Computer, the award-winning album that Paranoid Android graces, they ventured further still from conventional music genres and found fulfillment in developing forms untouched by anyone close to having their talent or resources, including their follow-up album, Kid A–recently named the best album of the past decade by Rolling Stone.