Salt City Hoops » NBA http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +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 » NBA http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com/category/blog/nba/ The NBA’s Goaltending Leaders http://saltcityhoops.com/the-nbas-goaltending-leaders/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-nbas-goaltending-leaders/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 05:43:16 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12584 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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Serge Ibaka blocks Matt Barnes' layup during this season's NBA playoffs. But how often does he goaltend?

Serge Ibaka goes for the block on Tony Parker’s shot during this year’s NBA playoffs. But how often does Ibaka goaltend? (Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

Goaltending is awesome.

Basketball players have an unfortunate choice: they can sky above the rim and forcefully reject a shot in a direction of their choosing, or they can meekly hope a shot misses so they may gather the rebound. The former is a remarkable feat limited to only the most athletic and genetically gifted of humans, an artistic feat of animal expression. The latter is a game delay while gravity takes its course. Unfortunately, the rules have chosen to punish goaltending. Lame.

But which players are the most likely to break the goaltending rules? To find out, I used a play-by-play database of the 2013-14 NBA season, acquired using APBRForums’ user kpascual’s NBAscrape Python tool. Essentially, this tool goes to the play-by-play section of every NBA game on NBA.com, and saves the contents to a database to use for whatever kind of basketball analysis you want, including a lot of stuff that wouldn’t be available in the box score. Today, we’re looking at goaltends, because they’re awesome.

In the 2013-14 NBA season, 758 offensive and defensive goaltends took place, or an average of 0.616 goaltends per NBA game. Below is the list of all of the NBA players with more than 10.

Total Goaltend Leaders, 2013-14 season.

Total Goaltending Leaders, 2013-14 season.

We have a tie! Serge Ibaka and Andre Drummond are co-champions of the goaltend, going above and slightly-too-far beyond to protect their team’s rim. While they were often caught, both players had big moments last season during missed goaltending calls. Ibaka had several high-profile goaltends-turned-blocks in the NBA Playoffs (including this one), while Drummond somehow escaped being punished for this:

Both Plumlee brothers finish amongst the top group, and Jazzman Derrick Favors barely makes the list. What about offensive goaltending alone?

2013-14 Offensive Goaltending leaders

2013-14 Offensive Goaltending Leaders

Drummond and Ibaka again top this list, showing that goaltending violations are probably reflective of eagerness, rather than an innate desire to protect the rim. Here’s the list of defensive goaltending leaders:

2013-14 Defensive Goaltending leaders.

2013-14 Defensive Goaltending leaders

At the top: Ibaka and Drummond, but Dwight Howard also goaltends on D quite frequently too. Since this is a Utah Jazz site, I’ll include all of the Utah Jazz’s goaltends last season:

2013-14 Utah Jazz Goaltending

2013-14 Utah Jazz Goaltending

Sadly, the Jazz didn’t go for the style points while losing, goaltending just 23 times last season, an average of only .28 goaltends per game.

If you’d like to look up your favorite team or player’s goaltending data, don’t fret. The whole 2013-14 season of goaltending data is available for download here on Salt City Hoops.

Author information

Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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The Utah Jazz Search for a Third Point Guard http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-search-for-a-third-point-guard/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-utah-jazz-search-for-a-third-point-guard/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:43:28 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12445 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Photo: Anthony J. Causi

Photo: Anthony J. Causi, NY Post

The Utah Jazz always carry three point guards on the roster. That is one of the constant constants with this organization, going back to the dawn of time. With the team guaranteeing combo guard Ian Clark’s deal for the 2014-2015 season, the team now has 13 players under contract. Even with that move, it sounds like they hope to still add a third point guard. Now, if Clark can show he can fill that role, this becomes a moot point. But the jury’s still out on that front.

What point guards are out there? Here’s a quick rundown of some remaining free agents and guys who may be available in the trade market. As one can imagine, the names are anything but glamorous. Then again, neither is this role.

Pablo Prigioni: According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Prigioni may be available. The New York Knicks have changed things up at the point guard position, adding Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin. Prigioni is a pure point guard, as evidenced by his assists to field goal attempt ratio (228 dimes to 191 FGAs). Ditto for his 25.6 AST% and 9.3 USG%. He is an excellent marksman when he does shoot, posting .642 TS% and .631 eFG%. He is a very good 3-point shooter who rarely gets to the free throw line. Prigioni is owed $1.66M this year and is partially guaranteed in 2015-2016 for $290,000. He might be obtainable for very little– a second-round pick. At last check, Utah has an abundance of those coming up. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Prigioni is 37-years old, given that he’s only played two seasons in the NBA. That would make him almost the same age as Trey Burke and Dante Exum combined.

Toure’ Murry: Murry was rumored to be someone Utah is considering. His body of work is meager, as he played just 7.3 MPG in 51 games for the New York Knicks as a rookie. He only attempted 12 3-pointers in 373 total minutes. This is where the Jazz scouting department probably plays a factor. Perhaps Murry impressed them over the past few years.

Ramon Sessions: Sessions had a nice season (12.3 PPG and 4.1 APG, including 15.8 and 4.8 with the Milwaukee Bucks) and it’s frankly a surprise that he has not been picked up yet. Given his productivity and age (hard to believe he is just 27 years old), he most likely would be looking for more minutes than he could get in Utah.

Jordan Crawford: Another unlikely Jazz target. Crawford has the reputation of a gunner–he’s never been shy at hoisting shots up. He did show he can dish the ball, registering 5.7 APG for the Boston Celtics in Rajon Rondo’s absence. Given his youth and the ability he’s shown to put points on the board, he’ll be looking for a team in need of bench production.

Toney Douglas: Douglas quickly became a journeyman, toiled for five different franchises the past three seasons (part of three trades during that span). He started his career with the reputation of a shooter, but he has been wildly inconsistent from long distance. Douglas hit just 27.9 percent with the Miami Heat, which is not good given the open looks he got there. He is decent defensively and as a playmaker.

Tyshawn Taylor: Taylor received spot minutes behind Deron Williams in Brooklyn the past two seasons. He is a solid facilitator (21.4% AST%), but is horrendous offensively otherwise (.427 TS% and .357 eFG%).

Chauncey Billups: The long-time veteran and former Finals MVP is winding down what could be a Hall of Fame career. He showed he did not have much in the tank last season in his return to Detroit. Sadly, he has only played 61 total games the past three years. At 37, if he decides to try for one more season, it will likely be with a contender.

Earl Watson: Watson too is finishing up a solid career and was a fan favorite during his three seasons with the Jazz. He inked with the Portland Trailblazers to play the mentor role and only appeared in 24 games. As a player who is familiar with the environs, is a consummate pro and would not chafe in this role, Watson might be a good fit.

Ronnie Price: Yet another popular former Jazz guard. Price also went the “veteran presence in the locker room” route, playing just 31 games.  He was never a shooter (career 37.8 percent from the field and just 29.2 percent beyond the arc). Price does work hard defensively and exudes hustle , but may have lost a bit of his quickness since his time in Utah.

Leandro Barbosa: A midyear signing by the Phoenix Suns, Barbosa showed he still had some game (7.5 PPG in 18.4 MPG). He still possesses some speed, but as a combo guard, has never been a true play maker.

The Jazz could also bring in some undrafted rookies to compete in training camp, as David Locke has mentioned. There may be others who have been playing overseas or in the D-League that have Utah’s eye.

While NBA and Jazz fans certainly find themselves mired in the doldrums of the NBA offseason, this is something to watch over the next several weeks.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Should Hayward Get a Max If He’s Not The First Option? http://saltcityhoops.com/should-hayward-get-a-max-if-hes-not-the-first-option/ http://saltcityhoops.com/should-hayward-get-a-max-if-hes-not-the-first-option/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:10:27 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12188 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Well, it’s been an interesting couple days in Jazzland to say the least. Tuesday appeared to be coming to a close as one of the slowest and least newsworthy days thus far in the offseason until Charlotte beat man Rick Bonnell broke news right around midnight Eastern Time that Jazz RFA Gordon Hayward would sign a maximum offer sheet with the Charlotte Hornets. The deal was officially inked yesterday, and Utah’s 72-hour window with which to match began ticking down.

To my mild frustration, many of the immediate hot takes against Utah matching the deal, as seems to frequently be the case during the rare instances where the Jazz are squarely in the national spotlight, lacked any sort of basic team context and contained a number of different totally illegitimate arguments.

Perhaps most confusing was the sentiment that this deal is right for Charlotte, but not for Utah. Not only does this view likely once again miss team context here in terms of future plans and payroll trajectory, it’s just plain wrong – the fact that Utah is likely two years away from being a contender while the Hornets appear ready to challenge for a top-four seed in a weaker East next year is in no way whatsoever a justification for such an argument, and is in fact closer to the opposite. The Jazz easily have the space to eat a small overpay plus give extensions to whichever young pieces are deserving, and remain flexible through the life of his deal given projected large increases in the cap – plus, a potential max extension for Dante Exum, should he turn out to be worthy of one, would not need to come until the year after Hayward is off the books.

But much of this has been covered in the time since by more reasonable analysts, with Grantland’s Zach Lowe and BasketballInsiders’ Nate Duncan both echoing most reasonable local sentiments that while the situation surely isn’t ideal, it’s a relatively standard match for the Jazz given every bit of context involved. SCH cap guru Dan Clayton also weighed in yesterday, and while his piece was centered more around explaining some cap FAQ’s after the new developments, it contained several excellent bits of analysis that roughly line up with my own thinking.

One of the major arguments against matching the offer is that Hayward never projects to be a first option on a contender, one of the few bits from the “don’t match” camp that actually does appear to hold up to legitimate analysis given his failings in this role last season. If we assume this to be true going forward, Hayward projects as a second or third option, and the argument goes that over $15 million per year average salary is far too much to pay for a non-star player.

But is it? Given cap numbers announced officially on Wednesday, Hayward’s deal will take up roughly 23 percent of Utah’s cap sheet next season and, given fairly conservative estimates for subsequent years, should incrementally drop closer to 20 percent. I went team by team for each of the last three seasons, marking down any team that paid over 20 percent of its available cap to any player who clearly wasn’t their first option. Keep in mind there were plenty of occasions where the actual first option on these teams made less than 20 percent of the cap, but this is a potential scenario for Utah also if Derrick Favors were to make the leap in the next couple years.

Of 90 individual team seasons, 50, or slightly over half, paid over 20 percent of that year’s salary cap to a second or third option (or in many cases to a guy who wasn’t even that). Of these 50, 33 made the playoffs, or 66 percent. 10 of the 12 conference final appearances made during this time were by teams that fit the bill, with the only exceptions being this year’s Spurs and the 2012 Thunder. There were several cases of multiple non-stars making over 20 percent of the cap on the same team (the Knicks pulled it off all three years and still made the playoffs twice), and several of the teams typically paying huge money to a second or third banana (Miami, OKC, Chicago) have been some of the most successful teams in the league during this period.

Again, this data doesn’t prove anything. It doesn’t account for the specifics of each team, which vary wildly. But it’s pretty darn indicative that managing such a situation, and even thriving in one, is easily doable in today’s league if over half the teams in the league are doing it and two-thirds of them are making the playoffs. This isn’t an assertion that the Jazz are in an optimal situation here; it would have of course been preferable to get Hayward for less. But guess what? This is always the case. Show me a general manager in the NBA who wouldn’t prefer to pay his best players less and save cap room for other assets, and I’ll show you a guy who’s going to be out of a job in a hurry.

Their cap sheet may be the slightest bit tighter than they’d prefer at this point in the process, but this is a no-brainer match for the Jazz. In a new system with a role more suited to his talents, Hayward can absolutely be one of the most versatile combo guards in the league. Even if he “lacks one elite skill” and tops out as a solid second or third option (on a squad that will run a very Spurs-ian team offense that likely won’t emphasize that sort of pecking order), league trends in the last few years have shown that paying this sort of percentage of a team’s available cap to non-superstars is easily manageable for contending and even elite teams.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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The “After” Math: Hayward’s Offer and the Jazz Cap Sheet http://saltcityhoops.com/the-after-math-haywards-offer-and-the-jazz-cap-sheet/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-after-math-haywards-offer-and-the-jazz-cap-sheet/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 22:23:47 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12176 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Time to rework some numbers.

A Tuesday BonnellBomb told us that restricted free agent Gordon Hayward is getting paid by somebody, and that we need to update our spreadsheets.

By now, you know the basics. The Charlotte Horcats committed to a $63 million offer sheet with Hayward. Once signed tomorrow, Utah will have until 7/13 to decide whether to sign the checks themselves or let Charlotte do the honors. Multiple outlets are reporting that Bailey’s Moving & Storage will not be needed at the Hayward home, as Utah is expected to match.

But what does this mean to the Jazz’s financial position? Here’s the new math on the dollarific details behind Hayward’s offer sheet and what it could mean to the Jazz, starting with the most obvious.

Are the Jazz going to match the offer?

Yes.

Should the Jazz match the offer?

Yes. (Wow, we’re really cruising here.)

Why?

I’ve written and spoken already about how Hayward is probably underappreciated when you look at his skill set relative to other young wings around the league. Even in what was admittedly a rough year for him, he still put up 16-5-5. With a better cast, a more spread system and a quicker pace (meaning more possessions on both ends), it’s not a stretch to imagine him getting to 18-6-6 pretty quickly, which would put him in pretty elite company. Granted, a max offer to Hayward today is based on the hope of him filling out the top of his projected range as a prospect, but I like the chances. As Zach Lowe opined, “[T]he brains and skills are there, and they’re developing.”

And there are broader reasons to bite the bullet, too. First, it would set the whole rebuilding project back, which I think costs the Jazz more capital — literally and figuratively — than just signing on the dotted line. Plus, there’s something to be said for showing people the Jazz will pay for talent. Think about it: in the past 4 years, the Jazz have let nearly all their key players walk: Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.

I don’t want to rehash those individual decisions, but how does it look if once again, the first time that one of the Utah’s young core approaches an opportunity to get paid or walk, the guy they’ve made the franchise face is gone? To rebuild, you eventually have to decide to, you know, build on some of the pieces. Continuing to usher talent away would send a bad message to potential free agents — not to mention the rest of Utah’s young core. Want Dante Exum to believe in what he’s building in Utah? Show him that the team is willing to reward good players and move forward.

But you came here for a cap breakdown, so let’s move on…

If the Jazz match, are they done spending?

No. Depending on exactly where the cap falls, the Jazz will have about $9 million left under the cap, with another $4M or so they could free up by waiving non-guaranteed contracts. They could use that to sign players, absorb salary in trades, or make lopsided deals where they package smaller-salaried players for an impact player another team wants to clear from their cap. Or, they could opt to operate as an over-the-cap team, retaining the free agent rights to their own guys, and then using exceptions such as the MLE to fill out the rotation.

I heard Hayward’s cap hold is just $8.6M. Can we use that lower figure to fit in some signings during the 72-hour waiting period and then match the $14.8M offer sheet?

Turns out I was wrong on this, even falsely correcting the hard-working David Locke. For the RFA’s original team, the cap hold amount until the match notice is sent is the greater of the RFA’s cap hold or his QO – in Hayward’s case, that’s his $8.6M cap hold. For the team submitting the offer sheet, the new salary amount counts right away.

So yes, the Jazz have an extra $6.2M of cap space up until they match the offer. My apologies to those I steered wrong before double checking the CBA document.

Does the player option or trade bonus make Utah less likely to match?

I don’t think so. The trade kicker slightly dings the value of Hayward-the-trade-asset, but I think they like Hayward-the-basketball-player enough that it’s not really about that. The player option is discouraging because it means he could be an unrestricted free agent as early as 2017, but I don’t think it changes their math. They’ll either get him for 4 years and $63M or for 3 years and $46M. Either way, I think they want him back.

Did the Jazz mess up by not extending Hayward last fall?

It certainly cost them some money, sure. But I don’t know if they “messed up,” and it’s hard to say without knowing exactly what was on the table in October. You could also make the argument that the Jazz simply wanted more of a sample size on Hayward — particularly as a team leader and core guy — before making the decision. If that’s true, then maybe they’re more comfortable investing $63M based on what they know today, versus investing mid-50s based on what they knew 9 months ago. If that was their logic and they made a conscious decision to pay for some extra evidence, it’s hard to say they made a mistake. But the extra data points definitely came at a price.

Will the contract hurt Utah’s flexibility later?

It could, but it’s important to remember that the cap and tax threshold are both expected to climb sharply in the next few years. Gordon’s 4th year salary ($16M) sounds like a lot in today’s salary construct: about a quarter of the cap. But if the cap has done what it’s supposed to by then, that may only be on fifth of the cap, or the equivalent to a 12M salary in today’s NBA economy. Either way, this shouldn’t be a huge issue as long as Hayward earns this salary by being one the top three players on a good Jazz team during this contract. Look at the salary construct of good teams: you can afford to pay eight-figure salaries to your best 3-4 guys, especially when you still have a lot of rookie-scale salaries on your roster.

But can they still extend or keep Enes Kanter, Alec Burks, Trey Burke and Dante Exum?

Two-part answer. First: yes, they can. The Jazz will have Bird Rights to all of those players, as well as the ability to secure matching rights with a qualifying offer. I’m also not sure that any of those guys outside of Exum will command the type of price range Hayward did. Most in the NBA are project Kanter, Burks and Burke as really good rotation players or part-time starters, but the Jazz won’t be in a position where they have to pay all six guys (plus Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, Jeremy Evans when his contract expires, etc.) eight-figure salaries.

Second: no fan likes to hear this, but the reality is that not every one of these players is going to be a part of Utah’s indefinite future. If the Jazz are contending any time in the next 5 years, it’s going to be because they’re figured out which 3-4 of these guys are truly the core, and then they’ve cashed in assets to surround that core with complementary impact players. I actually keep thinking we’re close to the point where “asset accumulation” turns into spending mode, and somebody gets parlayed into the right kind of impact glue guy. Wouldn’t surprised me if that trade is coming sometime in the next 12 months. Having a dozen good players is nice; to compete, though, you need 2-3 guys who are at least in the All-NBA conversation, as well as a really strong top 6-7.

Is Hayward really a “max” guy?

I’ll concede that this contract has a lot more to do with potential than where he’s at today, but Hayward really is undervalued for the unique skill set he brings to the table. Also, remember that there are many levels of “max,” so him getting $63M isn’t tantamount to saying he’s as good as LeBron James. There are certainly some things Hayward needs to improve upon, and he knows that. His defense, his rebounding and of course the perceived engagement issues from last season come to mind. But again, the tools are there.

What if the Jazz don’t match?

Then they’ll be sitting on about $38.7M in salary, more than $24M under the cap and about $18M below an amount they’re going to be forced to pay anyway. Not sure what they’d do with that $24M given the realistic free agent targets out there. They’d probably get filler guys, or maybe perform some more cap-dump trades for assets. But one thing’s for sure: they’d have a big hole to fill on the basketball floor, too.

Don’t the Jazz have to spend a certain amount anyway? What happens if they don’t?

Every team is guaranteed to spend $56.76M in salaries, one way or another. If they don’t reach that level, the NBA adjusts its players’ salaries upward proportionally. So there’s really nothing wrong with falling short — but the Jazz are going to pay at least that much no matter what happens. Even with a Hayward match, they’re not quite at the floor.

The Jazz's cap sheet, post Hayward offer sheet. Figures are estimates, compiled from a number of online sources.

The Jazz’s cap sheet, post Hayward offer sheet. Figures are estimates, compiled from a number of online sources.

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Free Agency Preview: How Does the Draft Affect Potential Targets? http://saltcityhoops.com/free-agency-preview-how-does-the-draft-affect-potential-targets/ http://saltcityhoops.com/free-agency-preview-how-does-the-draft-affect-potential-targets/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 04:13:48 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12067 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

We interrupt the collective glow-basking of Jazz fans everywhere following a resoundingly successful draft to look at the next phase of the offseason.

That’s right, fellow Jazz fanatics.  You only have mere minutes left to enjoy the acquisitions of Dante Exum and Rodney Hood before free agency frenzy begins in full swing.  (Adrian Wojnarowski is chugging a 55-gallon drum of espresso as we speak.)  Now that the draft is over, a much clearer picture is forming in regards to what holes positional and skill-based holes each team will need to look to the free agent pool to fill.

With the selection of the Australian wunderkind Exum, Utah gets an exceedingly young combo guard with a potent combination of size and speed.  Exum is a promising, albeit unproven prospect whose prior level of competition caused many to wonder out loud if his impressive stats and skills are  a product of this lower level of opposing play.  Rodney Hood brings good athleticism and versatile scoring ability to a squad that often struggled to score.  Like Exum, Hood’s strengths lie almost exclusively on the offensive end.  From a pure on-court standpoint, the Jazz could use some defensive assistance from incoming free agents, especially on the perimeter.  There are a handful of free agents who could fit the bill.

Shawn Marion would provide defensive help, but has certainly lost some of the zip on his fastball since is “Matrix” days, and will likely be looking to join a contender.  Avery Bradley and Eric Bledsoe are two restricted free agents who, although would be solid young talent who would immediately shore up Utah’s perimeter defense, are quite unlikely to be pried away from their current teams.  One interesting defensive talent would be Thunder pending free agent Thabo Sefolosha.  If you just threw up in your mouth after remembering his performance in the Western Conference semifinals, I sincerely apologize.  After seemingly forgetting how to shoot, Sefolosha’s stock has never been lower.  If coach Snyder and his staff have faith in themselves to correct Sefolosha’s offensive woes, he could be a good value.

From a development and off-court standpoint, the Jazz will likely be targeting established veterans who, in addition to having solid work ethics and good habits to pass along, have professional and positive attitudes.  These intangibles can be invaluable for members of a team that’s as young and impressionable as Utah to have.  As I don’t have unfettered access to every NBA locker room to see the interactions between players behind closed doors, it’s a bit more difficult to peg down just who fits this bill that Utah could be targeting outside of oft-repeated anecdotes and what has been reported.  By many accounts, one person who fits the good person and good habits role is Utah’s own pending free agent Marvin Williams.  Williams looks like an ideal mentor to Hood, who has a similar build and somewhat similar skill set to Williams.  Utah Jazz radio commentator David Locke repeatedly raved about the class and professionalism with which Williams conducted himself; what better influence to have around a handful of still-developing players who are all hovering just above or just below the legal drinking age in Utah?

Though Hood figures to help boost Utah’s shooting numbers a few notches, Utah’s 25th-ranked offense in ’13-’14 could use some knock-down shooters who won’t break the bank. Mike Miller from Memphis could fit the bill.  The 34-year-old played in all 82 games for the Grizzlies and clocked about 20 minutes-per-game while shooting a crisp 45% from behind the arc, good for 2nd in the league behind former Jazz man Kyle Korver.  Matt Bonner from San Antonio will likely not be brought back after seeing sparse playing time this season, and is a three-point specialist whose work Jazz fans are familiar with from the numerous times he went 6-7 from three-point land against Utah.  While his contributions would largely be one-dimensional, a steady long-distance shooter would be even more valuable after adding a speedy player like Exum.  The slash-and-kick possibilities are endless!

Spencer Hawes is another, more versatile option.  A 7-footer who can stretch the floor, Hawes hit threes at a 41.6% clip last season for the Sixers and Cavs, and could add a veteran to Utah’s front court as at least a placeholder until Kanter and/or Gobert develop into reliable starters.  The competing offers for Hawes will likely include more years and money than the other previously mentioned candidates.

Oh, I forgot one last possibility.

jimmer

 

Happy free agency, everyone!

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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SCH Mailbag: Your Questions Needed http://saltcityhoops.com/sch-mailbag-your-questions-needed/ http://saltcityhoops.com/sch-mailbag-your-questions-needed/#comments Tue, 24 Jun 2014 00:49:15 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11993 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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If Favors is really on the block, how would that work? Submit your cap questions here. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

If Favors is really on the block, how would that work? Submit your cap questions here. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

It’s time to get down to business.

The next two to three weeks will be among the most interesting of the year for NBA fans, particularly those of rebuilding team. There is already a persistent hum of rumors involving the Jazz, and the volume will only increase leading up to the draft and free agency. It can also get increasingly complex, with a complicated set of rules governing every potential transaction. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

This week we’ll be reaching into the SCH Mailbag to answer your questions about the salary and trade rules that will dictate what the Jazz do over the coming weeks as they build their team and their future. We want to know what Jazz-related questions you have about cap space, draft-day trades, post-draft trades, cap holds, free agency, restricted free agency, and any other CBA-related issues.

Submit your question in the comments below, or Tweet/DM @danclayt0n (that’s a zero). I’ll grab as many as possible and attach answers well before the Draft on Thursday so you know what the options are before Adam Silver takes the podium.

And…go!

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Podiatry Primer: A Med Student on Embiid’s Injury http://saltcityhoops.com/a-med-student-on-embiids-injury/ http://saltcityhoops.com/a-med-student-on-embiids-injury/#comments Sat, 21 Jun 2014 14:46:13 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11971 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Special to SCH: Former Jazzbot writer Danny Hansen is a fourth-year medical student at the Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine at Midwestern University. As a specialist in the area of medicine specific to Joel Embiid’s injury, he brings his knowledge to bear in this special guest post on the medical realities of Embiid’s injury and whether the Jazz should consider drafting him.

Early Thursday, news appeared that top draft prospect Joel Embiid had a broken foot. GMs and the media were sent scrambling to gather more information. Draft boards across the league and mock drafts across the Internet were in disarray as we waited to discover which of the foot’s 26 bones was actually broken. It was later revealed that the Kansas phenom had a stress fracture of his navicular bone.

A panic then followed. The navicular bone has been known to affect the careers of Yao Ming, Bill Walton, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and former Jazzman Curtis Borchardt. Embiid’s status has been elevated to “ultimate risk”. However, looking at his condition, how much of a risk is it really to draft Embiid? If he were to fall to the Jazz at #5, should they select him? To better answer these questions, we need to analyze his situation and condition. What is the navicular bone? How long does it take to heal? Will this be a chronic problem for him?

The Navicular and Stress Fractures

The navicular is a comma-shaped bone on the medial side of your midfoot. It serves as the location for various ligament and tendon attachments. It is the keystone of the medial longitudinal arch. The blood supply for the navicular comes from branches off an artery on top of the navicular, which come together with branches off an artery on the bottom of the navicular. This pattern creates an area in the center of the bone where blood supply is poor, also known as a watershed area. Watershed areas are more prone to fracture and take longer to heal. 

Navicular stress fractures usually run in a vertical pattern, and involve the body of the navicular, or the center area of the bone.  These kinds of stress fractures in the navicular account for 15% of all stress fractures in the foot. There are 3 kinds of these stress fractures. A Type I fracture means only the upper portion of the bone is fractured and it only descends minimally into the body of the bone. Type II is like a Type I, but it does descend into the body of the bone. Both a Type I and Type II are called incomplete fractures. Finally, a Type III involves the upper portion of the bone, descends through the center of the bone, and fractures on the far side of the bone. It is called a complete fracture. 

A Type I or Type II can be treated by putting the patient in a cast and keeping them off it for 6 weeks and slowly transitioning to weight bearing and physical therapy. A Type III is most often fixed with surgery. However, as is the case with Joel Embiid and other young athletes who will be putting a lot of stress on their feet in the future, surgical repair with a screw across the fracture site is usually done in all three types.  So, Embiid’s choice to have have surgery doesn’t necessarily mean that he has a Type III fracture. It is more likely, given his status as a young professional athlete and the fact it hadn’t been picked up until recently, that surgery is done to ensure it heals properly and quickly. 

Healing Time

Average return to activity for patients treated surgically and non-surgically for a Type I fracture was 3.0 months. For a Type II, healing time was 3.6 months. And for a Type III fracture, return to activity was found to be about 6.8 months. Patients who had surgical correction were found to return to activity quicker than those who were treated conservatively.  Other things, such as bone grafting and bone stimulation, can be done to aid in fracture repair. 

Reports surfaced after Embiid’s operation on Friday that he had 2 screws placed in his navicular and that his recovery time is 4 to 6 months. Once can speculate that perhaps Embiid had a Type II stress fracture of the navicular. This is definitely a better prognosis than a Type III. His recovery time indicates how soon he can return to activity and isn’t necessarily the time until he will play in the NBA. Any team that selects is going to be extremely patient to ensure the bone has adequate strength before allowing him to return to the court. 

Complications

Because of the unique blood supply in this part of the foot, and possible disruption of that blood supply, there is a chance of the fracture not healing. There is also the risk of the bone undergoing avascular necrosis, death of the bone due to lack of blood supply, as was the case with Curtis Borchardt. Refracturing the navicular is also a possibility. Yao Ming had numerous tiny fractures in the navicular that required multiple screws.

Studies show, however, that non-healing and avascular necrosis is more the exception than the rule. The problem with these studies, though, is that they weren’t conducted on professional athletes over 7 feet tall.  Joel Embiid, currently at 240 pounds, isn’t as heavy as those mentioned before (Yao Ming weighed 311 lbs, Zydrunas Ilgauskas 260), which means less stress on his feet. He is, however, more of a leaper than those other players, which adds its own forces to the foot and the previous fracture site. There are multiple theories as to the causes of navicular stress fractures. Some speculate anatomical variety, such as a high arched foot, or a short 1st metatarsal bone could contribute to increased stress on the navicular. Though these theories aren’t proven, you can bet teams will be assessing the biomechanical function of Embiid’s feet very carefully. 

Is He Worth the Risk at #5?

Embiid has the chance to be a very special player. Experts have said he reminded them of NBA great and two-time Finals MVP Hakeem Olajuwon. In a league void of impactful centers, he could be the best center in the league in a couple of years. There is no doubt he has the talent to be special. There is a good chance his navicular will heal correctly, quickly, and never be a problem again. However, Joel Embiid is a special case. He is an athletic 7 footer, who is light on his feet. He had a foot fracture that was found only recently. We won’t really know the extent of the injury until doctors get in there and assess the quality of the bone. We haven’t even mentioned his back troubles that kept him out for a big chunk of his season at Kansas, which is a serious risk in and of itself. 

If I have the #1 pick, as the Cavs do, there is a 0% chance that I take Embiid. In this draft, with other potential superstars in the waiting, you can’t miss with the first pick. However, with the 5th pick, once the potential superstars are off the board, I do seriously consider it. Do you take the potential superstar with health risks, or do you take somebody like Noah Vonleh, with just some all-star potential but more of a sure thing health-wise? It comes down to what kind of risk taker you are. When your team is down two with five seconds left, do you go for a three-pointer, or do you play it safe with the two to try and force overtime? What kind of risk taker is Dennis Lindsey? We’ll find out on draft night, but somebody is sure to take the risk.

- Danny Hansen, 4th Year Medical Student, Arizona School of Podiatric Medicine at Midwestern University

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Draft Board Etch-a-Sketch http://saltcityhoops.com/draft-board-etch-a-sketch/ http://saltcityhoops.com/draft-board-etch-a-sketch/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 01:52:47 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11948 Author information
Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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Well that changes things. Joel Embiid's foot injury shakes up the draft board. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

Well that changes things. Joel Embiid’s foot injury shakes up the draft board. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)

A lot of NBA fans and pundits were thinking the top of the 2014 Draft was beginning to make some sense.

Then Thursday happened.

And it’s not just Joel Embiid’s newly discovered bum wheel, either. A lot of new perspectives have appeared that could mess up the consensus within the top 5 — and therefore impact the Jazz’s draft outcomes directly.

So today we head around the rumor mill, notebook-style, and try to clean up the pieces as they relate to Utah’s draft position.

Joel Embattled

The biggest news today centers around Embiid, who had already been subjected to a proverbial red flag or two because of back issues, and now has a broken foot to boot

Yahoo!’s Adrian Wojnarowski tells us it’s a stress fracture, which I’ll admit does worry me a lot more than some freak trauma fracture. But the reality is that every injury is different. We had this conversation two weeks ago when the NBA Finals started and a bunch of people said, “I’ve had cramps like LeBron James, and I could play through them.” Congratulations. Not the same thing. There’s a pretty broad continuum of severity to any injury. My sprained ankle could be a lot worse than your sprained ankle, your back spasms could be significantly more tame than that guy’s back spasms, and Embiid’s navicular stress fracture… well we just don’t know.

There are other variables, too. Some human beings heal differently from others, some treatment options carry better or worse percentages, and then of course there’s just good old dumb luck.

It’s tempting to immediately draw comparisons to other high draft picks whose careers were derailed by back and foot issues: names like Greg Oden, Sam Bowie, and Jazzman of yore Curtis Borchardt have come up. And sure, those guys represent a new “worst-case scenario” for Embiid. His best-case probably hasn’t changed that much. If the injuries turn out to be a minor obstacle in the long term and he reached his full potential, he could wind up being the best player in this draft and one of the best big men in the league. So that represents the new reality for Embiid: Oden or Hakeem?

The moral of the story: we just don’t know.

Here’s what I do know, though: at some point in the draft, he’s worth the risk. From what we’re hearing, Cleveland has decided he’s not worth the risk at #1. But at #2, is the tantalizing prospect of what he could be in the best case scenario? What about at #3? #4? And, as our SCH community is no doubt wondering… what about at #5?

My educated guess: the Jazz probably don’t wind up having to make that decision. Yes, I think he’ll be gone by #5. Someone sitting in the 2-4 range will weigh the risks and decide it’s worth it. If not? I think the Jazz have to.

They can instead add a very solid player, but as we’ve discussed all year, a roster of solid players rarely presents a legitimate title challenge. At some point you have to swing for the fences and land a star. If I thought that there was another potential franchise changer on the board, I might say go the safe route. But in this case, “safe route” means settling, at least relative to the players’ ceilings. Embiid being there at #5 means that Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Dante Exum and Noah Vonleh are likely all off the board. Sorry, but I’m not passing on Embiid to take Marcus Smart or Aaron Gordon. I’m rolling the dice.

The fact that half of last year’s top six were that high in spite of major injuries tells me some GMs would agree with me. Again, there’s a point in the draft when the reward/risk calculation starts to lean heavily towards “screw it, let’s try this.”

And honestly, that point is probably before #5.

Rising stock by default

Wiggins and Parker now get to battle for the label of favorite for the overall #1. But Australia’s Exum might benefit from Embiid’s bad news as much as anyone.

Until Embiid’s worst-case scenario dropped clear down to the Oden/Bowie range, Exum was regarded as the player with the widest gap between his ceiling and his floor. Suddenly, Exum looks like a relative “safe” bet. Cleveland wants an up-close look at the 6’6″ guard now and, while he probably doesn’t go #1 overall, he’s now suddenly very much in the mix.

Vonleh is another guy who this helps. Even before word circulated about the injury, Vonleh’s name was already sneaking into the conversation, and he was being regarded as a very real option for the Magic at #4.

Who this doesn’t help

The team this hurts the worst is probably Philly. You could argue that the news devalues Cleveland’s pick substantially, but they’re going to get a potential franchise guy no matter what.

Philadelphia’s supposed target all along has been Wiggins, and this top 3 shakeup all but ensures Wiggins won’t make it to #3. That might make it more likely that the Sixers try to move up or down.

Another team it hurts in terms of the trade landscape: the Jazz. A lot of the scenarios whereby they could get up to take Parker or Wiggins just vanished.

Market rumblings

Another juicy bit came out today that impacts the top of the draft by not impacting the top of the draft.

After the Warriors’ about-face in terms of their willingness to surrender Klay Thompson in a trade for All-star Kevin Love, they have reportedly moved ahead of Boston as frontrunners on Minnesota’s trade board.

This impacts the Jazz because part of Boston’s pitch for Love included the #6 pick, and if it’s not being used to bring Love to Beantown, then suddenly the #6 is back in play. That’s competition for the Jazz on two fronts. It’s another mid lotto pick available to teams wanting to move up, impacting the supply end of that equation. And it’s another mid lotto pick from a multiple-pick team that might be hoping to move up, impacting the demand there. In either direction, that’s not a particularly good thing for Utah. Bidding in a demand-rich market (for 1-4) and taking bids in a supply-rich market (5-10) are not the positions you want to be in, so it could have helped Utah’s options to have the #6 out of play.

Ford on Parker

Finally, we’ll relay one guy’s opinion on Parker, a favorite target of many Jazz fans because of his LDS faith and the assumption that he’d be more likely than any other pick to stay in Utah at the end of his rookie contract.

ESPN’s Chad Ford magnanimously joined Jazz broadcaster David Locke for a two-part mega-podcast in which he chimed in on the theory of Parker’s Utah affinity.

Ford, who is also LDS and who has spent time getting to know Parker, essentially said “not so fast.”

He has spoken to Parker and offered, somewhat cryptically, that he thinks Parker would have no problem leaving Utah for a better basketball situation.

“They feel like Jabari, because he’s LDS, would never leave Salt Lake for more money or somewhere else,” Ford told Locke. “All I have to say to that is: I know Jabari a little bit, and Jabari is a lot like other people. If he thinks his career will be better off or his chances of winning a title are better [elsewhere], I’m sure he would leave Salt Lake.”

Personally, I know plenty of devout Mormons who don’t want to live in Utah. I know plenty of non-Mormons who live in Utah and for whom Utah is one of their very favorite places. Assuming that someone’s Mormon experience and living preferences have to look like yours is frankly a bit myopic.

There’s also a chance that Parker might not want the pressure of becoming, in one June evening, the unofficial ambassador for a team, a state and a religion all at once. If Parker’s value to the Jazz has a lot to do with the fact that he can connect a couple million Utah Mormons with the team, then isn’t he under an intense amount of scrutiny  off the floor? What 20-year-old wants that kind of pressure? So how we do know Parker’s Mormonism makes him more likely to stay, or to want to join the Jazz in the first place?

Jimmer Fredette dealt with the hype admirably but was never expected to be a franchise player. Mark Madsen once sat next to me at a Summer League game and told me about how he stayed grounded and spiritually connected throughout the NBA season, but he was an end-of-bench hustle guy and he never played in Utah. For Jabari, playing in Salt Lake means that for many people, he’d be the unofficial representative of their favorite team, their state, and their Mormon experience. That’s heavy stuff for a 20-year-old who, by the way, has shied away some from being portrayed as the “Mormon phenom.”

That said, there are plenty of basketball reasons to take Jabari. If they find a way to get him, I’m sure it’s becasue they like the idea of building a team around him on the court, and nothing to do with his diligence on his home teaching route. So how does the fan factor play into Utah’s decision?

Ford says: “The Jazz like Jabari… It does factor in that he would be very popular with the fans, [but] I promise you that Wiggins and Embiid will be popular with Jazz fans once they start playing.”

Author information

Dan Clayton
Dan Clayton
Dan covered Utah Jazz basketball for more than 10 years, including as a radio analyst for the team’s Spanish-language broadcasts from 2010 to 2014. He now lives and works in New York City where his hobbies include complaining about League Pass, finding good doughnut shops and dishing out assists for the Thoreau It Down team in the Word Bookstore basketball league.
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1st Round Mock: Version Two http://saltcityhoops.com/1st-round-mock-version-two/ http://saltcityhoops.com/1st-round-mock-version-two/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 17:12:01 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11862 Author information
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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Expect Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker to be top three picks, says SCH's Clint Johnson. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Expect Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker to be top three picks, says SCH’s Clint Johnson. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Before the mock, a thought on how to address prospects.  It comes from San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich’s, but it’s a principle I believe in wholeheartedly.  This quote probably explains better than anything else my perspective on drafting and how I hope the Jazz operate leading up to June 26th.

“As time evolves and you get older in the business, you figure out what’s really important, and you don’t waste time trying to make people what they’re not going to be,” Pop said. “You’ve just got to figure out who people are and what they can give you and take advantage of their positives. A lot of people talk about they’re going to draft this guy or that guy, and in time he’s going to really be something.”

The 2014 Coach of the Year continued: “It’s usually with big guys. You look around, and you say, how many big guys, these 7-foot guys, have really gotten better five years later? You look at Hakeem (Olajuwon), and Hakeem was Hakeem when Hakeem started to play in the league. He didn’t become Hakeem; he already was. So you learn that you can’t make everything the way you think you might. You can’t make somebody great, so you don’t waste your time. You make a trade. You get rid of somebody. You make sure you’re bringing people in who fit in all the areas you want. Competitiveness and team play, that kind of thing.”

I believe in teaching, but I believe you teach someone to be a better, more fully realized version of themselves.  You can’t make them someone else.

It’s an important question when it comes to the draft: do you draft a player for who they are or who you think you can make them?

Now to the mock!

#1: Cavaliers–Joel Embiid, C

Unless his back is red flagged (unlikely given the limited workouts he’ll risk), Embiid will go first because of his class-topping upside.  The Cavs need a defensive anchor, and having young stars at PG and C leaves plenty of room for number six to come home.

#2: Bucks–Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF

Jabari Parker makes a lot of sense if the team is looking to win now, but I still think defense and upside will win out on draft night given the Bucks new ownership.

#3: 76ers–Jabari Parker, SF/PF

The Sixers will be crestfallen if Embiid goes first yet Wiggins still doesn’t fall to them, but they won’t hesitate to take the polished scorer to compensate for offensive liabilities in Michael Carter-Williams (shooting) and Nerlens Noel (everything).

#4: Magic–Dante Exum, PG/SG

I think the Magic truly love Smart and would take him if Orlando fans would accept the known product over the tantalizing Australian youngster–but they won’t and that combined with Exum’s better prospects as a shooter will induce management to take the riskier player.

#5: Jazz–Marcus Smart, PG/SG

Quin Snyder is a coach who loves and depends on ball handlers who can score as well as distribute to make his offense flow, and Smart’s defensive aptitude and leadership will be welcome additions to Trey Burke in the backcourt.

#6: Celtics–Noah Vonleh, PF/C

Consistent word from Boston is Danny Ainge loves Aaron Gordon, which makes me think Vonleh is the guy, as Ainge is known for being transparent as duct tape.

#7: Lakers–Julius Randle, PF

Randle will be in play starting with the Jazz at five, but concerns about Randle’s surgically repaired foot healing improperly and requiring summer surgery will keep him on the board until the Lakers take him as a piece for their push to rise from the ashes next season.

#8: Kings–Doug McDermott, SF/PF

McDermott has produced some sterling workouts, the Kings want to surround DeMarcus Cousins with as many shooters as possible, and Dougie McBuckets can contribute immediately for a win-now team, which all suggest the reigning NCAA Player of the Year becomes a King.

#9: Hornets–Nik Stauskas, SG

The once-again Hornets have already built a great defensive culture that employs Al Jefferson to better ends than the Jazz ever did, and Stauskas’ ability to stretch the floor will give Big Al more room to do his thing.

#10: 76ers–Aaron Gordon, SF/PF

The Sixers may have wanted Wiggins in place of Parker, but the polished Duke scorer makes it easier for them to pick the best remaining talent in two ways: Parker will play at a high level immediately where Gordon will take some time, and Parker can carry an offense while Gordon will need to be carried offensively, at least initially.

#11: Nuggets–Gary Harris, SG

The Nuggets are in a tough spot given their roster full of good but not great players and downward trend in the loaded west, which I think will induce them to try to make a big trade for a star, and Harris will be a solid asset while bolstering their weak off-guard position.

#12: Magic–Dario Saric, SF/PF

Saric isn’t doing a single workout, which means he isn’t making the jump to the NBA this season, and it only makes sense to draft him if you’re a team like Orlando, who already has a franchise prospect in this draft and are willing to wait a few seasons to add Saric.

#13: Timberwolves–Zach LaVine, PG/SG

This is high for LaVine in my opinion, but I’m assuming Minnesota knows deep down that Kevin Love is already gone so they’ll swing for the fences in the hopes the uber-athlete LaVine eventually fills the superstar void in their roster and gives Wolves  fans hope in the meantime.

#14: Suns–Rodney Hood, SF

I don’t think the Suns have written off Alex Len, so Hood makes a lot of sense stretching the floor as Phoenix’s two-guard tandem drives the offense and Len develops.

#15: Hawks–Kristaps Porzingis, PF/C

Without an available player who is a clear immediate upgrade on their current roster, I expect Danny Ferry to take another play from his Spurs handbook and stash the young big overseas in the hopes he provides lottery quality talent in a few seasons.

#16: Bulls–Tyler Ennis, PG

No team knows the importance of a backup point guard as well as Chicago, and they’ll be pleased to land one with the upside of Ennis.

#17: Celtics–James Young, SG/SF

Young is a risk/reward pick, but combined with Vonleh will provide Danny Ainge with more ammunition to pull off a franchise-altering trade, which requires talent, and talent Young has.

#18: Suns–Clint Capela, PF/C

After getting a contributing role player at a position of need earlier, the Suns have the latitude to take Capela, leave him overseas for a few seasons, and hope he becomes a major talent.

#19: Bulls–Adreian Payne, PF

So long as the Bulls have Rose and Noah on contract, they will try to win now, and Payne can contribute to that effort immediately.

#20: Raptors–Elfrid Payton, PG

Kyle Lowry’s future is uncertain, and Payton would be fine security in case the Raptors lose their best player from last season.

#21: Thunder–P. J. Hairston, SG

Incredibly, the still-young Thunder are starting to feel their contender clock ticking, and Hairston can offer immediate scoring and shooting support for next season’s title run.

#22: Grizzlies–Jusuf Nurkic, C

In a great value pick, the Grizzlies draft a replacement for Marc Gasol who possesses a similarly diverse game.

#23: Jazz–Kyle Anderson, SF

The Jazz hired a coach with diverse experience who stressed the importance of adaptation in competition, and such a coach can make the unique (outside the Spurs secret finals weapon, Boris Diaw) skill set of Anderson a nice value pick here.

#24: Hornets–T.J. Warren, SF/PF

The Hornets played Josh McRoberts thirty minutes a game last season, and Warren will offer them some insurance of floor spacing if McRoberts moves elsewhere in free agency.

#25: Rockets–Jerami Grant, SF

The Rockets have let Chandler Parsons become a restricted free agent in a calculated move to keep him, but Grant would be a nice defensive specialist coming off the bench for a team that really needs long, active help defenders.

#26: Heat–Shabazz Napier, PG

I expect the Heat are sick and tired of watching point guard play put them on the edge (or likely over) of losing titles to the Spurs, and Napier would bring championship mettle to a team always under the greatest of expectations and stress.

#27: Suns–K. J. McDaniels, SF/PF

The Suns go to the wing once more, this time taking a player with the defensive acumen to compensate for the possible loss of fan favorite P. J. Tucker.

#28: Clippers–Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG

Darren Collison has backed up the league’s best point guard so well he may well opt out of his contract in the search of more money, so having Clarkson to fill the gap would make sense for a team determined to win now.

#29: Thunder–Cleanthony Early, SF/PF

In another attempt to provide more weaponry beyond their big three, OKC  may look to add depth and length at the wing in the form of the 23-year-old Early.

#30: Spurs–Jordan Adams, SG

Adams offers a number of assets both offensive and defensively, but only in a strong team context that emphasizes his skills, which is what the Spurs do better than anyone.

Author information

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
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Finals Game 1: Turn Up the Heat http://saltcityhoops.com/finals-game-1-turn-up-the-heat/ http://saltcityhoops.com/finals-game-1-turn-up-the-heat/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 20:13:47 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=11798 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Andrew D Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Well.  That was interesting.

The basketball gods have clearly decided that this Finals matchup lacks the proper amount of intrigue, throwing us a curveball in what was already a doozy of a ballgame.  We’re going sticky Band-Aid style here and tearing the entire thing off in one shot, because there’s a still-amazing game of basketball to get to: The temperature in San Antonio clearly affected the on-court product for both teams.  Saying that the game would have unfolded in precisely the same manner without said heat is obviously foolish, as is insinuating that an entirely different result would absolutely have taken place under normal conditions.  The reality here is easily apparent – it’s an unfortunate event, made even more so by the fact that it appeared to affect the game’s best player the most, but nothing more than that.  Is it okay for fans (particularly Miami fans or LeBron apologists like myself) to feel a tad disappointed that the world’s best was severely limited for a (mostly) close Finals game, likely a result of his V-12 engine breaking down more quickly than all the 6- and 8-cylinders when there’s a gas shortage?  Yes, I think so.  But should the Heat or their fans feel “cheated” out of some sort of a deserved victory?  Absolutely not.

See?  That barely even hurt, and now there’s just a little red mark there.  You won’t even notice it in an hour or two.

Getting to the meat of things, here’s hoping that the typically bloated reactions to anything remotely out of the ordinary involving LeBron or the Heat don’t overshadow what was still a terrific game of basketball, particularly from the Spurs.  Miami shot better than 41 percent from beyond the arc and over 47 percent overall, collected 14 steals and an uncharacteristic 22 Spurs turnovers total…and still lost the game by 15.  It was yet another shining example of what makes San Antonio such a joy to watch, the Spurs’ reflexive machine unbothered by whichever distractions presented themselves.

The Spurs shot 58.8 percent from the field and 52 percent from beyond the arc, and these figures are made all the more remarkable by the fact that Miami undoubtedly played some of their best defense of the entire season, at least through the first three quarters.  Rotations were crisp, with all five Heat defenders on a string and at what seemed like close to maximum effort.  No matter – San Antonio simply continued to do what they always do, probing and rotating until they found a weakness:

The Spurs showed some of the same small bits of confusion against the Heat’s length that hurt them last postseason, particularly in their 18 turnovers through the first three quarters.  But while they’ll obviously hope to improve here, it just makes their overall performance that much more remarkable – San Antonio nearly doubled Miami’s assist total for the game (30-16), and they more than did so if secondary assists (hockey assists) and passes that led to free throws are counted as well (in fact, the Heat had none of the latter, a disturbing fact for coach Erik Spoelstra).  The Spurs gradually wore down Miami’s trapping defensive attack, then landed a big finishing blow with James on the bench in the fourth quarter.

Several guys played pivotal roles, perhaps none more than Manu Ginobili, who came out with a fire in his eyes and a clear desire to prove something after last year.  He nailed his first three triples and stayed energized throughout, dishing 11 assists in just 32 minutes, including a few with his patented flair:

Tony Parker flew slightly under the radar with another excellent game, dishing eight dimes of his own on a night that saw Pop tinker with his substitution times.  He played over 36 minutes and didn’t appear to show any visible signs of discomfort with his ankle, something Spurs fans will surely breathe a sigh of relief at.  Danny Green, last year’s early series hero, caught fire once again late in the game to help seal the win with LeBron on the bench, nailing triples on consecutive possessions with under five minutes to go to put the Spurs up for good.  As per usual, a terrific team effort.

On the other end, Miami has to be concerned to have just lost a game where their offense played so well.  Four different Heat players made over half their shots, and the team as a whole went an even 50 percent on contested field goal attempts, per SportVU, including 14-25 on such shots from James, Wade and Bosh.  Their lack of ball movement in comparison with the Spurs is a concern – whether it was the temperature or other factors, they devolved into more isolation-heavy sets as the game went on, and it eventually was their undoing when LeBron left the game.  It also played into a big discrepancy from the line, San Antonio doubling Miami’s number of free throw attempts for the game.

Of course, there are always little bits of silver lining, and the Heat are far from finished here.  They’ll obviously hope to avoid a repeat scenario for their top player, and a fully recovered LeBron for 38-42 minutes will certainly be an upgrade on what they got tonight.  Further, the Heat can take some solace in the general variability of jump-shooting from game to game, an element that swung in San Antonio’s favor in Game 1.  Going back to contested versus uncontested field goals, Miami actually generated more of the latter, with 37 uncontested shots to 28 for the Spurs, with Miami going 48.6 percent and San Antonio 53.6.  The bigger discrepancy was on contested shots – the Heat shot a perfectly acceptable 50 percent, but were dwarfed by the Spurs’ 62.5 percent mark, one it’s hard to imagine them sustaining over a full series.  Parker and Duncan were particularly lethal here, combining for 14-20 shooting on contested looks.  These numbers aren’t perfectly contextual, of course, but Miami can hold out some hope that shooting will even out over the course of the series and perhaps even swing heavily in their favor for a few games.

In the end, though there will certainly be plenty of rabble roused in basketball circles across the globe surrounding auxiliary events, one has to simply take a hat off to the ageless Spurs for yet another masterpiece of a game.  They have a lot of work ahead of them to back it up, though; regardless of circumstance, LeBron will take this result to heart, and a freight train wearing a headband will be coming San Antonio’s way come Sunday.  I’ll take six more just like that last one, please, waiter, but just hold the electrical surge if you will.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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