Salt City Hoops » Scott Stevens http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:52:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Scott Stevens http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com An Open Letter to Utah Jazz Management http://saltcityhoops.com/an-open-letter-to-utah-jazz-management/ http://saltcityhoops.com/an-open-letter-to-utah-jazz-management/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:52:29 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12988 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Press Conference

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dear Jazz brass,

On behalf of Jazz fans everywhere, let me simply say thank you.

With everything that’s been happening in the professional sports world recently, from racism, drug abuse, domestic violence and everything in between, I can’t help but feel extremely grateful for the entire Utah Jazz organization. I’m proud to be a fan. Sure, there are always things that we, as fans, wish would have gone differently at times, but overall, I wouldn’t trade this organization for any other in the entire league.

So again, thank you.

For the most part, you have stayed completely out of the spotlight when it comes to scandals, drama, policies, etc. The players that come into this franchise seem to be of a higher character. Upper management doesn’t draw attention themselves by making unnecessary commentary to the media. And most importantly, rumors aren’t constantly flying about selling and/or relocating the team. As long as the Miller family is at the helm, fans can rest easy knowing that the state of Utah will always have an NBA team.

So to the Millers especially, thank you.

I don’t point the finger at athletes as a whole, because there continue to be many standup individuals out there representing their respective families, teams, sports and leagues. But the increasing number of “professional” athletes caught up in legal allegations is growing at an alarming rate. Dealing with these types of players issues in your organization can be a cancer. It’s a betrayal of trust and a slap in the face to the fan bases that spend so much time and money supporting them, especially when one of these athletes happens to be a star player. Both Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson are leaving their teams without a franchise running back. This could be potentially crippling to an organization. Imagine, for example, if Karl Malone had trouble with the law in the mid 90’s and was forced to leave the team. Some of the best years in Jazz history would have played out completely different.

But they didn’t. And for that, I say thank you.

In the last 15 years or so, I can only think of a few minor issues with players, none of which would have drawn negative attention from the media. The Deron Williams/Jerry Sloan/subsequent Deron Williams trade scenario could have gone a lot worse. Gordan Giricek caused some locker room issues back in ‘07-’08, but he was quickly dealt for one of the most upstanding Jazz community members in Kyle Korver. A major upgrade on and off the court. And you could argue, at least according to John Stockton’s autobiography, that bringing in a player like Mark Jackson at the twilight of Stockton and Malone’s careers may have caused a premature end to two Hall of Fame careers. But again, if these are the worst of the things we’ve had to deal with, I’ll count that as a victory in itself.

In contrast, thank you for all of the positive characters brought into this organization: the Stocktons, Malones and Korvers as already mentioned; the Derrick Favors, Gordon Haywards, Mehmet Okurs, Jeff Hornaceks, Earl Watsons, Matt Harprings, Paul Millsaps, Al Jeffersons, Mark Eatons and Antoine Carrs of the world. The list could go on and on.

Yes, the fans want to win. Yes, the fans want a championship. With good reason; Utah was a one-sport state before RSL showed up. So in a way, this was all we had for a long time. But that doesn’t mean we don’t recognize all the wonderful things this team has brought to the community over the years. There is a lot to be thankful for.

Thank you for making this franchise something worth cheering for. Thank you for bringing in quality athletes and management to represent this team. Thank you for not having to deal with any issues, making a statement, redacting that statement, changing your mind and then looking like a fool. Thank you for creating the sense of inclusion that makes fans want to use the words “us” and “we” when describing the team.

For this and for many other things, thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Jazz fans

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Now, Injuries Only Consistency For Inconsistent Jazz http://saltcityhoops.com/now-injuries-only-consistency-for-inconsistent-jazz/ http://saltcityhoops.com/now-injuries-only-consistency-for-inconsistent-jazz/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 23:04:30 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10042 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Getty Images

Getty Images

The sequence of nine games since the start of January demonstrates the uncertainties that surround this team. They won at home against Milwaukee, no surprise. Then they lost to the Lakers, one of the few teams playing consistently worse than the Jazz. Oklahoma City comes to town a few days later and the Jazz win. Who saw that coming? But then they laid an egg against Cleveland just a few days later, still on their home floor. Next was a win against Denver, followed by a loss in San Antonio; two games that seemed to fit the mold. Then just last week, they played one of their best games against Detroit, and decided to not even show up for consecutive games against Minnesota.

Notice the pattern here? Me neither.

The entire season has gone this way. One night, they’ll show flashes of hope for the future. The next, they’ll make fans fear for consistent lottery picks. At least during the first 15 games, fans knew what to expect, even if the result was slightly unpleasant. That didn’t last long however. The Jazz have since shown that they’re so bad this year, they can’t even tank properly.

Maybe the Jazz continue to hover around the .500 mark for the rest of the season. But being a middle of the road team is what they’ve been struggling with for the last 3-4 years. Something drastic needs to change.

Management must know that too. I won’t suggest they’re playing their hand already, but the recent string of phantom injuries is all too suspect. Granted, I’m no doctor, (sorry, Mom) but a hip flexor injury the day after going for a career high? C’mon. Although Gordon Hayward looks like he’s going to break every bone in his leg when he attacks the basket, he’s proven to be fairly injury-free thus far into his career. So G-time, next time you decide to drop 37 and go toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, leave it all on the court like you did, because you’re going to get a few days off afterwards.

But at that point, I was only suspicious. My suspicion only turned to skepticism, however, when Derrick Favors came up with a hip injury just as Hayward was getting better. How convenient. Both of those guys have played a lot of minutes this year, Hayward especially, so wear and tear isn’t totally unexpected. It’s simply the timing of it all.

Dennis Lindsey has already demonstrated his commitment to the youth movement/rebuild. There’s not a doubt in my mind he understands how crucial this offseason is, probably more so than each and every one of us can imagine. He knows drafting anywhere from 6-10 is not nearly as impactful as 1-5. I also don’t doubt his ability to make something happen when he needs to, as he proved last summer. But certain things can be done now, rather than waiting for the bounce of the lottery balls, and he is making that happen.

Ty Corbin made things a little easier for Lindsey early on, with all those minutes to players like Lucas, Biedrins and Jefferson. But no one can play that lineup in the face of such negative results. All except for Jefferson, that is. And if Ty won’t keep this ship going down on his own, Lindsey might do everything he can to help out. Trey Burke might want to watch those fingers again, because we’re going to see more injuries the rest of the way. Phantom or not.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Trey Burke: Is He Rookie of the Year? http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-is-he-rookie-of-the-year/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trey-burke-is-he-rookie-of-the-year/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 20:04:12 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9229 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

Alright, I’ll admit it up front. I’m a little biased towards one of the candidates for Rookie of the Year. With that being said, let’s take a look at Trey Burke’s positioning against the other leading rookies.

It’s no secret about the upper echelon of talent among rookies this season. Three players have already proven themselves as the early favorites: the Sixers’ Michael Carter-Williams, the Magic’s Victor Oladipo, and the Jazz’s Burke. Other players such as Ben McLemore, Kelly Olynyk and Cody Zeller have made nice names for themselves, but nowhere to the level of the first three.

MCW has been the consensus favorite to this point in the season. He astounded the entire league with his opening night stat line of 22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and 9 steals in 36 minutes. I mean, wow! Three rebounds and a steal away from a quadruple double. The NBA hasn’t had a quadruple double since David Robinson did it in 1994. There’s a chance he could win the award from the lingering effects of that game alone. But he has since continued to impress. He’s won the only Rookie of the Month so far this season, and is averaging 17.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists, leading all rookies in all three categories. Needless to say, the kid can play.

Oladipo, meanwhile, has excelled while adjusting to a new position. His averages aren’t quite up to the level of MCW, but impressive nonetheless: 13.3 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He has displayed the most pure athleticism of the three thus far, which was no secret coming in to the season. His defensive abilities are also probably a notch above the other two, although defense doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet.

The most impressive thing when you start comparing Burke to these other two rookie phenoms, is how quickly he has climbed into this conversation after such a huge disadvantage to start the season. While Oladipo and Carter-Williams were impressing the league and slating themselves at the top, Burke waited patiently for his chance to shine. I honestly didn’t think Burke was going to get the recognition he deserved just because of the importance of first impressions in this league. As I mentioned earlier, I think a lot of analysts were ready wrap up the award and hand it over to MCW one game in.

It didn’t take long for Burke to make his impact, though. And more than any individual stat, he has the Jazz clicking. After starting the season 1-11 without him, they’ve now gone 6-8 with him in the starting lineup. Miserable to mediocre— a large jump! He simply makes everyone around him better, as good players usually do. His averages have climbed up to 13.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists. One of the most impressive stats is how well he’s protecting the ball. His assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.73 is 4th in the NBA, not just rookies, that’s everybody. Take that, MCW.

Each of these three brings something unique to the table. MCW has set himself apart as the best individual player, Oladipo on the defensive end, and Burke as a true floor general. The other two notched their first triple-doubles in the same game, while Burke surpassed both of them on Wednesday with the highest single-game point total of 30—against Oladipo might I add.

Each of them, however, has his disadvantages as well. I already talked about Burke’s uphill battle to recover from the finger injury. He missed a total of 12 games. And while MCW set the bar fairly high to begin the season, he too has succumbed to injuries, missing 11 total games—including the last seven. Oladipo seems to have the tendency of disappearing, as he did against the Jazz, and his plus/minus has been in the negative in well over half of their total games—as low as -25 in some.

So if the season ended today, who would get the award? It would be hard for me to say Michael Carter-Williams, purely because of his current injuries, although he is slated to return on Friday for the Sixers game against the Nets. Oladipo has seemingly eclipsed MCW in most rookie power rankings, but that seems like a placeholder to me. That’s why I think Burke is in a great position to claim this award. If you were to remove MCW from the equation for whatever reason, and both Burke and Oladipo maintained the same level of productivity, you have to give it to Burke. However, at this point, MCW has a leg up. But I’m not the only one who thinks Burke might be the new sheriff in town.

Burke’s only chance of winning is to keep improving. He might have a few rough games like he did against Miami this week, but the most important aspect was that the bounced back and had his best game of the year in the very next go-around.

Burke still has that chip on his shoulder, and I wouldn’t want to mess with him. If you don’t believe me, look again at the picture at the top. He’s so hot right now, he doesn’t actually touch the ground when he plays.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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The Great Jazz Fan Tanking Dilemma http://saltcityhoops.com/the-great-jazz-fan-tanking-dilemma/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-great-jazz-fan-tanking-dilemma/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 22:05:48 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=9134 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Photo courtesy of Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Garrett Ellwood, Getty Images

It’s been just over a quarter of the season, and so far Jazz fans have found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. The rock being progress, while the hard place is the upcoming draft. So what is a fan to do? Cheer for your team and still hope they lose? Pretty much.

So how did this happen? Well, the Jazz opened up the season much worse than anyone could have anticipated. Sure, no one was picking them as a dark horse team of the West, but occasional members of the media had Utah as at least as a League Pass team from time to time. After all, the CORE FOURTM existed! So jumping out to the worst start in franchise history and owning the league-worst record caught all of us by surprise.

When something like that happens, it’s easy to lose hope and go all in on the draft. The Jazz really weren’t showing any signs of promise yet and rather than settling for kind-of-bad, they might as well be REALLY bad. Right? Who knows, maybe Jabari will come knocking?

Then Trey Burke comes back. Suddenly, this team has a little spark in them, winning three out of four games. Who do they think they are, the Spurs? And just like that, Jazz fans find themselves in the current James-Franco/Aron-Ralston-esque dilemma a la 127 Hours. While you could technically call that stretch a “winning streak,” it was anything but that in my opinion. They might win a few games, but they’re far from being a good team. How else can you win three of four and remain in last place? Not this year.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all this already, staying in last place takes almost as much effort as fighting for first place. At least from a fan perspective. Each win is bittersweet. Being a fan means cheering for your team through the good times and bad, and herein lies the root of the dilemma. We want to see Burke run as floor general; we want Hayward to become a consistent 20-10 guy; we want Favors to dominate the paint. But where is the line between watching progress unfold and understanding the need for a true number one option? Even the casual Jazz fan knows that this team needs a key piece in the upcoming draft. If beating the Kings gets in the way of that, then put on your jester outfit and lose to the Kings no matter what it takes.

Speaking of the Kings, the last two games against Sac-Town are perfect examples of this idea. Last Saturday at home, the Jazz showed what they were made of. Other than a botched defensive assignment of, oh I don’t know, guarding a three when you’re up three with only a few seconds to play, the Jazz had that game won. But they were smarter than that. Maybe that assignment wasn’t botched at all: they had the Kings right where they wanted them but decided to hand it over in overtime. I’m totally okay with that kind of loss, actually. We still got four quarters of solid Jazz basketball. We got to see progress and still chalk up the loss tally.

The most recent game in Sacramento, however, was a little heavy handed on the positive side. The Jazz shot lights out and won by a comfortable margin. Every now and then, a win like that is good for morale. It helps steady the ship during a rocky season. But a win against a team like that is really like a double loss. We lose ground in the lottery odds, and they gain ground. The only team that Jazz fans should really want to beat is the Warriors, because the Jazz own GSW’s pick.

With a whopping five wins now, there are a few other examples of smart losses and dumb wins. We battled hard against Portland, even Indiana among others. But what it ultimately comes down to is short term versus long term. Winning feels good in the short term, while losing is the best thing for the long term, despite how counterintuitive that sounds.

It’s a tough pill to swallow. Fans want their team to win, and it will never be easy to cheer for losses. But a little bit of pain right now would potentially alleviate a lot of pain in years to come. For the time being, Jazz fans will simply have to pick their poison.

By no means does either choice make you a bad fan.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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The Problem with “Potential” http://saltcityhoops.com/the-problem-with-potential/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-problem-with-potential/#comments Sat, 16 Nov 2013 00:57:33 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8615 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Image courtesy of Melissa Majchrzak, Getty Images

Image courtesy of Melissa Majchrzak, Getty Images

I’m starting to hate a certain P-word. It’s one that Utah fans have been hearing all too much lately. “Potential” is starting to have a dirty ring to it.

What does potential mean anyway? It’s a supposed or possible amount, based on hypotheticals. It’s a value with no guarantee of fulfillment. And it made Derrick Favors a lot of money.

But how long can you keep relying on potential alone? At what point do you need to start backing up the hype? It’s something I’ve been wondering about the Jazz’s young players recently. There’s a fine line between development and failure.

The entire concept of the core four is built upon potential. Each of them has shown flashes of brilliance, but still has the tendency to disappear at times. But it’s okay because the potential is still there.

It’s a word that gets thrown around too casually with young players. They aren’t held fully accountable for their performance because they supposedly haven’t reached full speed yet.

I get it, though. I really do. Not every player has the same timeline of progression. Some are more NBA ready than others, and some players get drafted into better situations as far as playing time. Players make big leaps between years two and three, three and four, etc., but I find myself looking forward to year after year as a potential breakout year for many players.

What if it never comes? What if fans keep waiting for something that never comes about? What if, for example, Favors never really develops his offensive game? Favors is the perfect example of an athlete with unlimited potential. Call it what you will—potential, upside, ceiling, whatever—this is his fourth year in the league and he needs to play like it. There are no excuses of playing time anymore.

Enes Kanter also has a lot of potential to live up to. Because of his history with the sport, his potential can be even more potent. He doesn’t have a basketball pedigree like a lot of NBA players. He really hasn’t even been playing competitively for very long at all. But while that may grant him an extra year or two, at some point, he needs to start delivering like a number three pick should. I think he has done a fairly good job of playing at a high level. I think he stands to benefit of all the core four with an increase in minutes.

Alec Burks is still a wildcard for me. Unpredictable is the only word I can think of to describe him. That’s what makes him even more frustrating. We all know what he is capable of, but I worry that he might be getting dangerously close to what CJ Miles used to be—go for 40 out of nowhere, and then struggle with his shot for the following three months.

Gordon Hayward seems to be the only one living up to his status at the moment. He has been one of the lone bright spots on this team.

Sometimes, it becomes obvious that success in the NBA is difficult to predict. Not everyone with potential is going to amount to it. For many players, they either have it or they don’t. For a fan, all you can do is put your trust in your GM to make the right decisions on draft days. And when it comes to Utah’s potential roster members who were in action on Tuesday, the Jazz could be in good hands. Potentially.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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81 Predictions for 81 Jazz Games http://saltcityhoops.com/81-predictions-for-81-jazz-games/ http://saltcityhoops.com/81-predictions-for-81-jazz-games/#comments Fri, 01 Nov 2013 22:37:46 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8310 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Photo courtesy of Getty Images

One down. 81 to go.

After the first game of the season, we still have no idea what to expect from the youth movement. So I wanted to make some bold predictions about this Jazz team, as well as a few other things around the NBA landscape. 81 of them, to be exact.

  1. The Jazz will get their first win of the season tonight against the Suns. It comes down to two teams tanking, but the Suns still have the edge in that category.
  2. The Jazz only win 4 of their first 15 games.
  3. Trey Burke will suit up for his first official game with the Jazz on November 18th against the Warriors.
  4. Derrick Favors will make 2nd team All-Defense.
  5. Jazz will finish the season with 27 wins.
  6. Gordon Hayward will record 5 triple doubles this year.
  7. Analysts everywhere will keep predicting Tyrone Corbin getting fired, but everyone following the Utah organization closely knows that won’t happen this year.
  8. *Jerry Sloan will get a vote for coach of the year.
  9. Hayward will average 18, 5 and 5.
  10. Hayward will receive the most votes on the Jazz roster for NBA’s Most Improved Player.
  11. Hayward’s 3 point percentage will drop slightly from last year.
  12. But Hayward’s total number of 3 point makes will go up.
  13. Favors will finish top 10 in rebounds and blocks.
  14. Rudy Gobert will lead all rookies in blocks.
  15. New Jazz jumbotron will face technical difficulties early in the season.
  16. Trey Burke will lead all rookies in assists.
  17. Jazz will finish in bottom 10 in FT% and 3PT%.
  18. Jazz will finish 13th in the west, ahead of only PHX and SAC.
  19. *Matt Harpring gets fired.
  20. Portland will offer Hayward a max contract next off-season (OK, not Portland, but some team will).
  21. Hayward gets ejected for the first time.
  22. John Lucas III will continue to shoot as if he had the green light.
  23. Favors will lead the team in rebounds and blocks.
  24. Hayward will lead the team in scoring.
  25. Hayward also will lead the team in assists until the last few months of the season when Burke will finally edge him out.
  26. Andris Biedrins will make less than 10 free throws this year.
  27. The longest win streak for the Jazz will be four games.
  28. Favors will foul out in 15+ games.
  29. *Jamaal Tinsley will pull a Ron Artest and officially changes his name to “Mel Mel the Abuser“.
  30. The Jazz will lose another starter to injury for at least 15 games this season.
  31. Richard Jefferson will have a higher 3PT% than Hayward.
  32. Jazz will suffer at least three 5-game losing streaks.
  33. One streak will be 10+ losses.
  34. Jeremy Evans will not be invited back to the Dunk Contest.
  35. Both Hayward and Favors will get votes for the All-Star team, but neither make it.
  36. Ian Clark becomes the next fan benefactor of the #FreeJazzPlayer campaign.
  37. Enes Kanter will make at least one three pointer.
  38. Bolerjack will mention Gobert’s wingspan on every broadcast.
  39. Kanter’s name will be pronounced as “Katner” by Charles Barkley and/or Jalen Rose.
  40. Burke and Burks’ names will become unofficially interchangeable by seasons end.
  41. Alec Burks is named Subway Sub of the Game more than any other player, but never cracks the starting lineup on a consistent basis.
  42. Burke will be the only Jazz participant in All-Star weekend during the Rookie/Sophomore game.
  43. Kanter will average more points than Favors.
  44. *Jerry Sloan and Karl Malone will each get a technical from the second row behind the bench this year.
  45. Jimmer won’t get traded to the Jazz. Not this season. Not ever.
  46. Jimmer will finish another season stuck at the far end of the Kings bench.
  47. The most used words for Jazz fans this year will be “Tanking” and “Potential.”
  48. Jerry Sloan’s name will be in the mix for head coaching jobs around the league, including the Jazz.
  49. Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush will return before Christmas.
  50. Burke will make a strong, late push for ROY but ultimately fall short to Michael Carter-Williams.
  51. Brandon Rush will play only one season in Utah.
  52. Tinsley will edge out Lucas III for the backup spot once Burke returns.
  53. Burks will make more SportsCenter Top 10’s than any other Jazz player.
  54. Marvin Williams will have his highest scoring year in a Jazz uniform.
  55. Corbin will receive more technical fouls than all the players combined.
  56. Tinsley will have the lowest 3PT% on the team (min. 15 attempts).
  57. Utah will continue to struggle to close out quarters. Especially the 4th.
  58. Burks will lead the team in FTA.
  59. Only Hayward and Burks will score more than 30 points in a game this year.
  60. Jazz won’t land Wiggins.
  61. Jeremy Evans will still struggle to find minutes.
  62. Dennis Lindsey will largely keep the Jazz out of trade rumors.
  63. Burke will face fatigue adjusting to the length of the NBA season after February/March.
  64. Corbin will last one more year with the Jazz after this one.
  65. Jazz will get the 7th pick in the draft, but will trade up to 4th.
  66. Mo Williams will score the most points against the Jazz of any former Jazzman.
  67. The Heat will lose at ESA.
  68. The #1 pick won’t go to any of the bottom 3 teams.
  69. The NBA will set an all-time record for free throws in the first two weeks of the season as a result of delay of game violations.
  70. David Stern will not be missed.
  71. At least one more NBA All-Star will suffer a season-ending ACL injury.
  72. Kobe won’t play until 2014.
  73. Lakers will miss the playoffs
  74. Chris Paul will slightly nudge out Lebron for most commercial appearances.
  75. Phoenix will finish the season with the worst record in the NBA.
  76. But Phoenix will not win the Wiggins lottery.
  77. The Spurs will finish 1st in west, followed by LAC, OKC, HOU, GSW, MEM, NOP, and DEN.
  78. Durant will win his first MVP, not because he’s the best player, but because of voter fatigue for Lebron.
  79. DeMarcus Cousins will lead the league in technical fouls.
  80. The Heat win 3rd straight title.
  81. Complete madness ensues heading into 2014 free agency and draft class.

* = Not likely to happen. But worth consideration anyway.

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Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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All Losses Aren’t Equal http://saltcityhoops.com/all-losses-arent-equal/ http://saltcityhoops.com/all-losses-arent-equal/#comments Fri, 25 Oct 2013 16:29:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8177 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

The Jazz’s season is now only days away. For the first time in decades, however, their success won’t be determined by wins and losses. The most important thing for this young team is something that won’t show up on a stat sheet—good losses and bad losses.

Not many expect the Jazz to compete for much this season other than lottery balls. The wins might be few and far between.  The current six-game preseason losing streak is just a taste of what’s to come.

I left each of the most recent back-to-back losses against certain LA counterparts with very different feelings. Both produced the same result in the standings, but one left me completely unfulfilled while the other optimistic. Tuesday’s game against the Lakers was ugly to say the least, and the Lakers are bad right now. Wednesday featured a much tougher Clippers team, and the Jazz held their own.

Two losses. One bad. One good.

Let’s start with the bad, and finish with the good. The Lakers hopes this season are about as high as the Jazz. As such, they gave the Jazz every opportunity to get back into the game, and the Jazz couldn’t capitalize. Hayward kept settling for long jumpers with his heels on the three-point line, and Favors had zero offensive prowess. Brian Cook was the Jazz’s leading scorer (this really happened). And of course, players like Jordan Farmar started to torch them off the bench. Always a good sign, right? Bad. Loss.

24 hours later, a symbolically-different Jazz team showed up against a literally-different LA team. No championship banners were hanging in the rafters this night, instead fans were welcomed by the oversized, smiling face of Jared Dudley. I don’t think this actually had any impact, but the number of empty seats comparative to the night before might have. From the first tip, the Jazz seemed to have more energy. Hello Mr. Favors, he of 24 points and 17 rebounds. His sudden offensive dominance was a very pleasant surprise. Hayward messed around and accumulated 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. And can you say #FreeRudyGobert and #FreeIanClark? Not all aspects of the game were great, but for the most part it was promising. Good. Loss.

Right now, I don’t need to see wins. I do, however, want to see potential. I want more good losses. If they can’t win, I’d like to think they let them slip away due to inexperience, not ineptitude.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter: The Superhero Frontcourt http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-and-enes-kanter-the-superhero-frontcourt/ http://saltcityhoops.com/derrick-favors-and-enes-kanter-the-superhero-frontcourt/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 17:26:18 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8063 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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It’s been a long time coming for Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. After waiting patiently behind on the bench and fighting for minutes, it’s finally their time to shine.

Kanter has already shown his soft touch around the rim, while Favors has proven his worth at protecting it at the other end. So which one is leading the frontcourt?

Is it possible for two big men to equally share the spotlight? Or will one always undoubtedly fall into the role of sidekick? After watching the Jazz fall to the Blazers for the second time this preseason, I recognized a unique relationship between Favors and Kanter—they are like Batman and Robin.

The only problem is: which one is which?

Kanter goes for 16 points in the first quarter alone, and 23 total. Favors pulls in 17 rebounds with 2 blocks. Kanter has shown an impressive knack for positioning, with put backs and pull ups. Favors is already putting up excellent defensive numbers.

So who runs the show and who plays second fiddle? Well, each has his weaknesses as well. Favors hasn’t really shown the development on the offensive end like many thought he would. Kanter lacks quickness to cover the way he needs to on defense, often struggling against the pick and roll.

At this point, neither has claimed the position of caped crusader. Which also means that neither has been relegated to The Boy Wonder. Until one of them decides to take the reigns, we might be looking at split superhero roles for the two bigs. Offensive Batman and Defensive Batman. They just might need to hand over the keys to Batmobile each time down the court, figuratively speaking.

All comic books aside, this offensive/defensive relationship might impact the way Kanter and Favors position on the roster. The Jazz offense, since the days of Karl Malone, has typically run through the power forward. They set up shop on the lower block and go to work. This role seems to fit Kanter’s skill set more than that of Favors. Defensively, centers are usually the ones to protect the rim. This responsibility clearly belongs to Favors.

Who’s to say that they should be classified into one position or the other? I don’t necessarily believe in forcing positional roles on players just because that’s the way it’s always been done. The NBA landscape is changing. In fact, The 2-time reigning championship team features a player that can play all five positions. So whether you think Kanter should technically play the four position or Favors should, they both need to work together. While they’re going through some growing pains, there might be nights where Favors has his way offensively, and Kanter shows some defensive presence.

All in all, the Jazz have two young, very impressive big men, each more skilled on one end of the floor than the other. But together, they cover each other’s weaknesses, kind of like a super hero and his trusty sidekick. Except in this case, they trade off in handling the bad guys based on offense and defense.

Hopefully the duo will become more like Batman and Superman together, and we can forget about Robin all together. No one, if given the choice, takes Robin anyway. Robin doesn’t beat the bad guys on his own.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Why I’m cheering against the Jazz this weekend http://saltcityhoops.com/why-im-cheering-against-the-jazz-this-weekend/ http://saltcityhoops.com/why-im-cheering-against-the-jazz-this-weekend/#comments Fri, 11 Oct 2013 22:01:17 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7963 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Let me clarify.

I hope the Jazz never lose. But given their current situation, I see a number of reasons why losing might actually be beneficial.

The first preseason game could not have gone better for Jazz Nation. Fans got to see the players they wanted, and different players stepped up and delivered when called upon. It’s a young team, and they played with a lot of energy and excitement. Confidence is up after an off-season of mixed reviews.

Before anyone hurts themselves patting their own back, though, this win against Golden State probably wasn’t as definitive as everyone hoped. As Andy Larsen, Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops pointed out in his post game notes, the Warriors were playing their third game in four nights and doing so with the altitude change.

I don’t mean to undermine the win by any means, but it was the first game in PRESEASON after all. This organization doesn’t really need another preseason championship. Been there, done that. What they need is to keep growing. If they are committed to this rebuild like they claim to be, they should do everything to keep working towards the long term. Preseason wins can often cloud reality.

Will the Jazz lose a lot of games this year? Seems likely. So why would I really want to add any more numbers to that column? Well, I have this sneaking suspicion that this Jazz team might surprise a lot of people. And while some might argue that you can learn just as much and still win, I think it has a lot to do with building character. It might even prepare fans for what lies ahead this season. Think of it like chess, sometimes you have to give up your pawn in order to advance your strategy. But I digress.

What did we learn from game one? Trey Burke can run the point. Enes Kanter is willing to run the floor and can score around the basket. Derrick Favors is a best grabbing boards and protecting the rim. Jeremy Evans apparently has a jumper to go with the rest of his jump. Alec Burks has a knack for scoring the ball. Gordon Hayward can be a leader. And when Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams come back from injury, this team will have a significant amount of depth on the bench.

So what aren’t we sure about? Well, all of it. Obviously, the sample size for all of these points is still small. In fact, it’s as small as it can possibly be to even technically be able to call it a sample—one game.

With all of those positive points in mind, here’s why I think losing a few games will help them: motivation. Winning right now doesn’t allow this team the optimal chance for improvement. Let’s start with Burke again. His shaky start and more recently his less-than-promising scrimmage appearance brought him down from cloud nine. I’d put him at a solid cloud four or five at this point. The last thing we need is for him to get a big head over a few preseason games. Now, I don’t think that will be the case, but I would hope these next few games leading up to the season opener will battle test the kid. We’ve seen how hard he’s been working since he was first humbled.

Next up are Kanter and Favors. I was really impressed with both of them, but still noticed a lot of room for improvement. They might get a few minutes against some of the dynamic front courts out there, but it won’t be anything like the regular season when all-stars play 36 minutes night in and night out. I want these two to go through the growing pains sooner than later. Battling from behind might be a good way to do that.

Can Jeremy Evans keep hitting that outside jumper?

Hayward, in my opinion, is the one who stands to grow the most from a few challenging games. When the going gets tough, and it is going to get there, Gordon needs to get going. This will be an early test for how much he can really lead the other guys. We got a brief glimpse of what should be happening when he got after Kanter in the Golden State game. He’s holding guys accountable, and if he can keep filling up a stat sheet, the others will listen. Tack on a few losses early on, and I guarantee we will start seeing what G-Time is really made of. He doesn’t like to lose. You can see it in him. If he has to, he’ll carry the team on his back, which is exactly what I think he needs to become a strong number one option for this team.

As far as the rest of the team, there are still a lot of battles for playing time.  Let’s see who has a fire in their eye. When your back is against the wall, you really only have one option. Fight or flight. Sink or swim.

If you ask me, I saw a lot of determination in that first game. It seemed liked a lot of these guys had something to prove. Whether they couldn’t shoot, weren’t big enough or fast enough, didn’t have anything left, I saw guys that wanted to play. It’s not the actual loss that will help these guys, it’s how they respond after one.

It’s only preseason after all.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Top 10 Moments in the Summer of Jazz http://saltcityhoops.com/top-10-moments-in-the-summer-of-jazz/ http://saltcityhoops.com/top-10-moments-in-the-summer-of-jazz/#comments Fri, 04 Oct 2013 17:56:03 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7888 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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It’s almost time to stop speculating and start getting some answers about this Jazz team. Media day has come and gone, the yearly scrimmage is tomorrow, and by early next week preseason games will have tipped off.

This may go down as one of the most pivotal summers in franchise history. It signaled a changing of the guard, a new direction. So it seems worthwhile to recap the top moments of the Summer of Jazz.

 

10. Heat winning championship

This may not seem very Jazz related at first glance, or any glance for that matter. But as long as Lebron is in the league, it will impact every other team. He has a Jordan-like hold on the championship department right now. And we might, unfortunately, be in the middle of his reign. Until that ends, the Jazz and every other NBA team have a very uphill battle.

9. New Jumbotron

When you upgrade to the most state-of-the-art video boards in the league, it deserves to make the list. Even if it’s at number nine.

8. Gordon and Derrick impress in Vegas

All the best young talent in the league gathered together for the Team USA minicamp in July. Two of the names that kept popping up were the Jazz’s very own Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward. Very promising for the two all-but-official leaders of this young team.

7. Underwhelming summer league

Trey Burke was lauded as the best overall player in college and the top PG in the draft. Many were even locking him in as the sure-fire ROY. As a result, the entire Jazz organization and fan base had some pretty lofty expectations for their newly drafted point guard. The results, however, were anything but promising. Luckily for the Jazz, no career is ever decided by a few summer league games.

6. Young guys working with old guys

This was by far the most entertaining of any of the storylines this summer. Big Turk hit the great outdoors with the Mailman, and the Burke/Burks name twins headed to the northwest to work with another Jazz legend. You wouldn’t know who from Trey Burke’s Instagram feed, however, since said legend asked him to remove a photo idicating he had arrived in Spokane. Either way, it’s a good sign that the young talent for the Jazz is eager enough to seek guidance from their elders, and that the elders are more than willing to lend a hand.

5. Malone hired as big man coach

Apparently Karl and Greg Miller have buried the hatchet. And although no one is exactly sure how much of a role he will play as an actual coach for this team, the work ethic of this Hall-of-Famer will hopefully rub off.

4. Golden State trade

No single move this summer made the official youth movement more evident than this trade. Not knocking Brandon Rush, Richard Jefferson or Andres Biedrins, but this was the nail in the coffin for any big moves in free agency. The Jazz front office made their intentions for this team obvious. For the first time in a long while, the Jazz were in full rebuild mode, something the fan base was enthusiastically ready to accept.

3. Jefferson AND Millsap walk

For over a year, people wondered how this logjam in the front court would shake out on the Jazz roster. Would they keep both Al and Paul? Would they sign one and not the other? If so, who stays? Who goes? We soon found out after free agency began. It’s hard to consider the offseason a “success” when your two best players walk away, but this winning the summer wasn’t the goal. Letting both the veterans sign elsewhere was about the future. But only big enough to reach number three on this list. Best of luck to both on their respective teams. Especially Millsap, who will always be the Subway Sub of the Game in my heart.

2. Sloan double dips

The best part about this story isn’t that Jerry Sloan rejoined the Jazz staff, it’s that he DIDN’T join another team. Similar to Malone’s role, I’m not sure how much direct impact Sloan will have as Senior Basketball Advisor, But I am sure of one thing—it would have hurt deep in my heart to watch him coach on another sideline. So welcome back, Jerry! Here’s to retiring where you belong. And enough for number two on the Summer of Jazz.

1. Drafting Trey Burke

This year’s draft is still a bit of a mystery to me. But Dennis Lindsey pulled off some wizard-like moves to land Trey Burke. I mean, that was Hogwarts level stuff right there. And to still land Neto and Gobert? Well played, sir. Even after a lackluster debut in Summer League (see #7), Burke still seems like a favorite to win the ROY. Utah likes its point guards, and everything seems like a good fit. With four other young lottery picks alongside, a PG was all the Jazz needed. So don’t make me regret putting you ahead of Sloan, Trey. I really don’t like eating my words.

 

Honorable mention

Jeff Hornacek hired by Phoenix

Let’s hope this doesn’t come back to bite us somehow. Best of luck to Horny though. Classy guy.

KOC stepping down/side/left/right into advisory role

Whatever it was, I’ll always remember the twitter exchanges that took place.

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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