After the historic loss on Monday to the visiting Houston Rockets (no link provided. We’ve all agreed to forget about it), the trade fervor is at an all-time high.
Countering several calls to simply trade every single Jazz player and fire every coach, Slam Magazine proposes a very rational trade: Jose Calderon and Chandler Parsons end up with the Jazz, while Utah ships out Paul Millsap and Marvin Williams to the Rockets and Raptors, respectively.
Rockets Receive: Paul Millsap, Landry Fields Jazz Receive:Jose Calderon, Chandler Parsons Raptors Receive:Donatas Motiejunas, Terrance Jones, Tony Douglas, Cole Aldrich, Marvin Williams
Financial Details: This one’s a doozy. The Rockets aren’t sending out nearly as much as they’re bringing back, but they have some cap space, which absorbs the difference. Meanwhile, the Jazz move about $17 million in contracts and bring in $11.5 million—a nice bonus for a small-market team. The Raptors move roughly $16 million and acquire roughly $16 million.
Here’s what’s in it for the Jazz:
The Short Answer:Missing pieces. The Long Answer:They key to this trade is that Millsap and Al Jefferson are headed for unrestricted free agency. With Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter developing behind those two, there’s no way Utah splurges to sign both impending free agents.
They’re going to lose one for nothing if they wait until the summer to figure things out, so moving one before the deadline makes all the sense in the world. Gordon Hayward has developed into a very solid wing player, but they still need one more. Parsons fits the bill perfectly. More importantly, they have a humungous opening at point guard. Mo Williams was playing well before his injury, but at this point he’s better suited to come off the bench in a Jamal Crawford combo-guard role.
They’d also have a really nice roster to build on top of. They’d enter next season with Calderon, Hayward, Parsons, Jefferson, Kanter, Favors, Mo and Alec Burks. They also have the Warriors 2013 pick via the Deron Williams trade as well as their own and the $10-16 million to spend. Top free agents this summer include Chris Paul, Brandon Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Manu Ginobili, OJ Mayo, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum. An already-good team with money to spend could do very well in that market.
The trade makes a lot of sense for all the reasons mentioned. It would pain me to see Paul Millsap go, but I think the writing is on the wall. I’m not convinced the Raptors would pull the trigger on this trade, but they’ve made worse decisions. Here’s hoping our Canadian neighbors decide to help out.
After posting the NBA Point Guard Shopping Guide yesterday, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the spectacular performance Jamaal Tinsley put on against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Watch it again now, if you haven’t already:
There’s a reason Tinsley is a streetball legend. It’s honestly been a joy to watch him redeem his career and put on a show for Jazz fans the last two seasons.
The NBA trade deadline is less than a month away. Most expect the Jazz to make a move, to flip a talented big for assets. It’s the best path, most agree, to take the promising young team one step closer to contending.
Who should the Jazz pursue? Of course it depends who’s available, but a point guard is by far the most logical target. The team has young talent up front, and on the wings, but the three point guards on the roster – Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley – are 30, 33 and 34 years old.
It may surprise you the degree to which point guard has been by far Utah’s worst position this season. Let’s take a quick look at the advanced metrics, which have their limitations, but which tell a fairly clear story.
Let’s start with data from 82games.com: PER, which summarizes the offensive production the team is getting from each position – and defensive PER, the production of their opponents. Subtract the latter from the former, and you get a quick assessment of overall productivity.
While the data has flaws – a player doesn’t always guard his counterpart on defense, for example – the numbers do roughly reflect what our eyes see: The Jazz are strongest in the frontcourt, especially on offense.
The data also clearly shows the team’s most glaring weakness: Point guard, where the team doesn’t produce enough on offense and is regularly torched by opponents. While the Jazz centers are also over-matched on defense, they make up for it by being among the best offense players in the league.
So, clearly, point guard is a position begging for improvement. And, unfortunately, while the Jazz have several likely-mid-round 2013 picks, it’s not considered a particularly strong draft, especially for guards.
So that leads to what might be the most important question for the Jazz over the next month: What point guards could be available via trade?
The following is a list of who might be available: It makes no sense to pine for Kyrie Irving or Damian Lillard, for example. Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul aren’t going anywhere.
Point guards other than the eight on this list may very well be available, but don’t seem worth pursuing. Some are clearly past their prime (ala Jameer Nelson or Andre Miller) or just not very good (Jerryd Bayless or DJ Augustin.) Once you start listing names such as those, it’s easy to argue the Jazz should just be patient, hope for Mo Williams to return in time for the playoffs, and worry about PG in the offseason.
But each of the following players has the potential to be better than that – this year and beyond — and could be available. And the Jazz, as much as any team in the league, have a wealth of trade assets: productive players on expiring deals (Millsap, Jefferson, Foye), young, cheap assets (Kanter, Burks) and draft picks (their own and Golden State’s). They can put together a decent deal at basically every salary level.
Without further ado, here’s the list. We’ll go in order of increasing excitement: from the “hmmmm” ones to the “holy crap, we can get him?” players.
For each, we’ll offer a few numbers: Age, their per-36-minute traditional stats, PER (15 is average. Above 20 is excellent) and their DRtg (100 is average: higher is worse.)
8. Jose Calderon, Toronto Raptors
The struggling Toronto Raptors have been long-rumored to be interested in dealing one of their point guards. Both have value, and would be a significant upgrade for the Jazz. Two factors make the productive Calderon less intriguing: the first is his age (31) and the fact that he’s on the last year of his deal. The Jazz would have to make a three- or four-year commitment to an aging guard to retain him.
However, as you can see, Calderon is a solid offensive player who would immediately boost the Jazz: He’s an efficient if low-volume scorer, a terrific passer and can shoot the 3. His defense isn’t great, however, and that isn’t going to improve as he ages.
Calderon is likely quite available – and if the Jazz main focus is boosting their roster for the 2013 playoff push, he’d be solid choice, if hardly a long-term solution.
7. Isaiah Thomas, Sacramento Kings
If Utahns have heard of Thomas’ name, it would likely be as the guy who took Jimmer’s minutes. An undersized, second-round draft pick, Thomas was a huge surprise for the Kings last year: a genuine offensive threat who both earned plenty of free throws and shot well from the outside.
In his second year, Thomas has both taken a step back and seen his minutes go down. He still scores – if less efficiently — but his assists are way down and his defense, according to the metrics, is abysmal. Both those measures are the worst of any player on this list.
The Jazz would have to hope that Thomas has failed to thrive due to the dysfunctional Kings’ organization – and that in a stable organization, he could build upon his rookie year’s promise. His size (5’9’’) makes it unlikely he’ll ever be a plus defender, however. Out of everyone on this list, he would probably come cheapest, although his absurdly low salary (he’s signed for less than $1 million next year) mean that if he’s available, the Jazz wouldn’t be the only team interested.
6. Jarret Jack, Golden State Warriors
Jack has played well this year as the sixth man for a surprising Golden State team. He’s a well-traveled vet, who has been on five teams in eight years (a red flag, perhaps.)
Jack and Calderon offer similar positives and negatives: Each would be a significant upgrade, but each is in the final year of his deal and would need to be re-signed. Jack is two key years younger than Calderon, however, and would be more likely to play well through his next contract.
Jack’s strengths are his mid-range game and distribution skills. He rarely shoots 3s, but shoots 2s at a high percentage and takes a decent number of free throws. According to Hollinger’s ESPN Insider profile, he struggles to guard quick point guards (as does everyone on the Jazz’ current roster), but does quite well against bigger 2s.
Golden State has played so well that it’s not clear they want to trade anyone. Jack doesn’t start, but finishes most games, averaging nearly 30 minutes. However, given that he has an expiring contract, and the fact that the Warriors are thin up front, they might just be willing to deal him for the right offer.
5. Brandon Knight, Detroit Pistons
Knight has objectively been a disappointment for the Pistons over the past two years. However, he’s very young and has incredible athleticism. To give up talent for him, the Jazz would have to believe Knight could improve significantly: Perhaps the Pistons haven’t used or coached him properly.
His poor PER is largely a reflection of a mediocre shooting rate, relatively few free throws and middling assist numbers. On the more positive side, he shoots 3s at around 38 percent, and has the athletic tools to improve on defense.
21-year-old lottery picks that struggle can take a leap and improve dramatically. Or they remain disappointments. It’s impossible to know what Knights’ career path will be, but he would certainly be an intriguing talent addition for the Jazz.
Trading for Knight might be difficult: The Pistons’ have talent up front – Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond – and if they’re willing to trade Knight, would probably want a pick or two, plus a promising wing. The Jazz might need to involve a third team for this trade to work.
4. Brandon Jennings, Milwaukee Bucks
Jennings is a quick, young point guard who can score at will – so why isn’t he higher on this list? Unfortunately, the promise he showed in moments such as the magical 55-point game from his rookie year has largely failed to materialize.
In some ways, Jennings isn’t really a point guard: He’s an indifferent distributor and mostly looks for his own shot. The good news is he’s a genuine offensive threat – going to the rim and pulling up for 3s. He rarely turns the bull over. His defense, while not sterling, actually measures fairly well.
Whether Jennings is even available is open for debate: He shows up on some lists of possible trade targets, given that he is a restricted free agent after this season. The Bucks have just fired their coach and might be looking to start over, building around their cadre of freakishly athletic bigs. Jennings’ game is quite redundant with the also productive but even more one-dimensional Monta Ellis, but Ellis is considered virtually untradeable, so they might have to move Jennings to bring back talent.
Of all the players on this list, Jennings is the one that inspires the most mixed feelings: Yes, he’s way more gifted than any PG currently on the Jazz roster. But, despite his youth and the potential for improvement, he might just remain the kind of player with decent stats that doesn’t push a team to win.
3. Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns
Dragic has played well this year and was signed to a reasonable deal this past off-season (4 yrs, $30 million). He’s one of the few above-average Suns. He only comes available, it would seem, if a team makes a great offer – or, perhaps, if the Suns (which just fired their coach) are in blow-it-up mode.
Dragic’s strengths are that he’s big, finishes well at the rim and shoots a lot of free throws. He’s improved significantly as a passer. While his steals numbers are decent, his defensive numbers overall have been a little weak, and his outside shooting uneven. Three years ago in Houston he shot 51 percent from the 3 – making nearly 3 a game – but this year he’s below 32 percent.
Overall, the Jazz would likely be thrilled if they could land the Slovenian: He’s signed for three more years and is in his prime. The question is how dear the price would be.
2. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
And now we take a big jump up in quality. Lowry would seem to be the perfect target for the Jazz: He’s in his prime, he’s signed for next year as well at just $6.2 million and he has a reputation as an above-average defensive guard, which the Jazz badly need. And, as we note in the Calderon comment, the Raptors are desperate to shake things up and have an extra point guard.
One potential problem is that Lowry has developed a reputation as a difficult character, a label which the Jazz tend to shun. How true that is, who knows, but by the numbers, Lowry would be a massive upgrade – and give the Jazz a dynamic, productive athlete at the point guard.
Statistically, it’s hard to find a hole in Lowry’s game, although his defensive numbers aren’t as strong as the reputation. He shoots at a high percentage, including from 3, and is a terrific rebounder and a solid distributor. He’s actually has the fourth-highest PER in the league among PGs right now, behind only Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and Tony Parker. That certainly overstates his value – you won’t find anyone on Earth that would prefer him to Kyrie Irving or Jrue Holiday or Rajon Rondo – but he’s a very productive and efficient player the Jazz should work hard to obtain.
1. Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers.
It’s drool time. Bledsoe has had an eye-opening season as part of the Clippers’ vaunted second unit, but he’s still only playing 19 minutes a game. He’s easily the best defender on this list, and observers such as Bill Simmons regularly write about how opposing point guards often struggle to simply bring the ball up the court because Bledsoe is so athletic and relentless.
Until this year, the knock on Bledsoe was his offense: He turned the ball over way too much and couldn’t shoot at all from the outside, which kept his PER down around 11. However, his numbers are up across the board this year: He shoots a ton of free throws and is actually shooting 36 percent from 3, suggesting his outside shot will become an effective weapon. And, of course, he’s very young – with room to develop better shooting and passing to go with the world-class motor and finishing skills.
So why in the heck would the Clippers trade him? He’s productive, young and cheap – and virtually certain to get better, maybe a LOT better. He’s also in the final year of his deal. ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote this week, “The problem is there is almost no chance that Bledsoe is wearing a Clippers uniform next year. A restricted free agent in the summer of 2014, he will get a major offer from a team under the cap, and the Clippers already know they won’t be able to afford to match it.”
Maybe a great trade offer would force the Clippers to act. They’re thin up front and have title pretensions, so maybe a Millsap or Jefferson plus Burks (who would replace some of Bledsoe’s offense off the bench) gets it done.
Probably half the league will make an offer for Bledsoe if he’s available. However, he’s shown such a huge boost in performance this year, it’s possible to project him as an All-Star – one of the best wing defenders in the league, with an offensive game opponents have to respect.
Well, before we do anything, let me apologize. It’s been a while since the last segment of the #LindList. The holidays, flu, hospital, and general craziness that surround the new year are to blame, but I’m back and ready for action. This week’s tweets are going to be a spattering from the past month. So much has happened, that I’m not even going to attempt a theme… I’m just gonna drop my favorites on you. As a bonus, we’re going to give a TOP 15, so hang on and enjoy.
But before we get started… This:
No Jazz games until Saturday?? What am I going to do with myself until then?
I hear you, Jeff Ross. I hear you. Now… ON WITH THE SHOW!
15:@UTESnJAZZ – The Jazz had some brutal losses over the last month. None worse than than December 19th’s outing against the Pacers. A night that got so bad it made Mayan jokes funny for a few minutes.
I wish the Mayans would have made the world end a few days earlier so I wouldn’t have had to watch this game. — Chris M (@UTESnJAZZ) December 20, 2012
14: @BeardedMangus- Did I say “none worse?” Utah at Phoenix sure felt worse. Aside from Mayan jokes, there’s very few things as terrible to watch than ugly basketball (just ask UofU Men’s Basketball fans… ZING!!).
13: @Clintonite33 - As bad as things got during the last month, there were a few bright spots. One of them came in December at ESA against the Spurs. Tim Duncan came out swinging, but Mo Williams & the Jazz pulled it off, and subsequently…
The Jazz broke the Spurs, huh? They’re about to lose 4 of 5 since the loss to Utah.
12: @DavidJSmith1232- I completely missed David’s origination of this hashtag, but no one could escape the ripple effects of it. Jazz fans had an absolute heyday with it as the Jazz crumbled down the stretch in Atlanta.
TIme to take my Jazz frustrations out in the perfect setting: Church ball! #SC20atSp9
For his career, Al Jefferson only commits 2.8 fouls per game, so his trouble isn’t that he fouls too much; it’s that he doesn’t get fouled enough. Specifically, let’s look at how Jefferson’s lack of free throw attempts affects the team.
Perhaps Utah’s most important player whenever he’s on the floor, Jefferson deserves credit for his consistent contributions. At this point in the season, he’s posting 16.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, and has contributed about a steal per game — all near his career averages. For better or for worse, he’s a huge part of the Jazz offense and defense.
It’s the odd free throw numbers that are alarming about Jefferson’s time on the floor.
[Editor's note: Jefferson's tendency to shoot jumpers and avoid contact while shooting is well-documented. As a reminder of what Jefferson does well before we re-visit his low free throw rate, let's check Hollinger's player card [Insider], with analysis from before the season began:
Jefferson discovered the joys of passing out of double-teams and had a career season as a result, unfathomably leading all centers in pure point rating (yes, this really happened) with the help of a historically low turnover ratio.
His ability to create shots without turning the ball over is truly phenomenal. Jefferson had miscues on only 4.7 percent of his possessions last season. Nobody in the history of the NBA has had a usage rate this high and turnover ratio this low. Nobody.
Yes, there were some drawbacks to this approach. Jefferson took a lot of midrange jumpers and half-hooks and rarely attacked the rim, so he had one of the lowest free throw rates at his position. As a result, his true shooting percentage was ordinary. But creating league-average shooting with virtually no turnover risk is a great bargain, and despite his penchant for ball-stopping it gave Jefferson genuine offensive value.
As for defensive value, we’ll get back to you on that. Jefferson blocks shots and is a good rebounder, but primarily he seems concerned with avoiding fouls that might take him off the court. Only seven centers fouled less, and it wasn’t because Jefferson was in such exquisite defensive position that he didn’t need to gamble. The Jazz gave up 1.9 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court last season, and that was his best mark in the past three years; Synergy also rated him below the league average.]
At 85.9%, he’s a very good shooter from the charity stripe. But that percentage matters less when you consider that Jefferson attempts fewer than three free throws per contest.
Jefferson leads the Jazz in shots attempted by far this season (512; Millsap is second with 389). Per 48 minutes, only 11 players in the league shoot more often than Jefferson. He attempts 15.1 shots per game and only shoots 2.9 free throws.
Most of this can be explained by Jefferson’s shot selection. 73% of his field goal attempts are of the jump shot variety, accounting for 9.2 of his 16.8 points per contest. This partially explains the dramatic difference in his rebounding rate on the offensive end vs. the defensive end, as shown in the table below:
[Ed: Jefferson is a very capable rebounder, but because his offensive game takes him away from the basket, the team is at a disadvantage when rebounds are available. Also, as a very good free throw shooter, Jefferson misses opportunities for free points. Teams would be terrified to put Jefferson on the line in a Hack-a-Jefferson scenario, but opponents are never forced to make that choice.]
In the effort to put some context into Jefferson’s FTA figure, here’s a list of the same statistic from other Jazz players (minimum 250 field goal attempts):
Gordon Hayward: 418 fg’s attempted, fouled on 58, 13.9% foul drawn Paul Millsap: 466 fga, fouled on 77, 16.5% foul drawn Derrick Favors: 279 fga, fouled on 55, 19.7% foul drawn Randy Foye: 332 fga, fouled on 15, 4.5% foul drawn Mo Williams: 280 fga, fouled on 10, 3.6% foul drawn
On that list are two players who have shot at least 250 field goals and currently carry a lower foul drawn rate than Jefferson. Both of those players put up a heavy majority of their field goals as jumpshots (92% jump shots for Foye, 84% for Williams).
Al Jefferson, at least among forwards, has one of the game’s best pump fakes. He’s no Dwyane Wade, but who is? Jefferson needs to use that skill to get easier shots close to the rim. Meanwhile, Wade makes a living on his particularly tempting pump fake. Wade has been fouled on 85 of his 497 shots, drawing a whistle on 17.1% of his shots.
When a legitimate NBA talent like Jefferson has a pump fake this good, he should take the Dwyane Wade approach and repeatedly punish defenders for their involuntary jitters.
Kirilenko sort of got an ovation on his first visit back to SLC with his new team, but mostly no one in the crowd was paying attention and it was just a smattering of cheers.
The Jazz locker room is a lot more fun after a win than after a loss. The highlight of the post-game was a faux argument between Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap about some dirty socks that neither wanted to claim. After we finally moved in to ask questions, Al Jefferson joined the scrum with a rolled up stat sheet as a microphone and asked Millsap a question:
Al Jefferson: That steal that Al Jefferson got and then he looked up and gave you a great pass and you finished it?
Paul Millsap: Um, I believe anybody that’s put in that same situation they would have gave me that pass. It was actually a terrible pass.
Points in the Paint: Timberwolves 36, Jazz 56
Second Chance Points: Timberwolves 16, Jazz 17
Fastbreak Points: Timberwolves 8, Jazz 25
Biggest Lead: Timberwolves 4, Jazz 23
Lead Changes: 6
Times Tied: 3
On Tuesday night, in part because we were hungry and in part because muted televisions relieve us of the experience of listening to Matt Harpring’s color commentary, Jackson and I went to JCW’s, a Provo burger joint, to watch the Jazz-Nets game. While I will spare those of you who did not watch the game my rendering of its minutiae, I will say that the game was in Brooklyn, and the Jazz won. Yes, it was a road game, and yes, the Jazz won. We were shocked, as I’m sure you were, and frankly, as I’m sure you were not, we were a little disappointed. This is my turmoil.
Though as a fan, I typically spend most of my mental capital on considering my team and its place in the figurative world of basketball, I’ve recently encountered a new internal conflict that occupies at least as much if not more of my mental space reserved for sports. I find myself thinking more about how I am a fan of the Jazz than I do about how the Jazz are as a basketball team. This is not to say that I don’t also think about the Jazz as a basketball team–I only turn inward as a response to the confusion I find on the actual basketball court–but to say that for much of my experience as a fan of the Jazz (and more recently, as someone who writes about them), the Jazz as a real entity are the end of my thought train, rather than a launchpad into new depths of philosophical introspection, which is what they have become.
This is because it’s always the wins that leave me the most emotionally conflicted. Obviously, this doesn’t make any sense, because any consideration of sports fandom begins and ends with one quintessential law of response: wins make you happy and losses make you sad, or angry, or bitter, or withdrawn or any amalgamation of negative feelings. Not for me, not now. Now, wins leave me in a swirling mixture of bewilderment, self-loathing, and disappointment. Now might be the time where I should say something about the innate pessimism of human nature as an explanation for my atypical fan-behavior, but I think that’s too meta even for me. So my simpler explanation is that the losses vindicate me–after all, my frustration with the current Jazz is that I genuinely believe I know which factors on the court cause the losing, and that a failure by the team to rectify those factors will inevitably cause me emotional distress off the court. On the other hand, wins contradict my worldview, because as much as I know the reasons for the Jazz’s losing, when the Jazz win, it’s rarely because I see a correction of that which causes the losses. This makes me uncomfortable. So in other words, I feel that my perspective on the Jazz is justified when the Jazz lose, because they lose for all the reasons I thought they would, and I feel emotionally conflicted when they win, because they win for reasons I can’t quite understand, but that have very little logical connection with the reasons that they lose. That’s my simpler explanation, and simpler though it is, it disingenuously ignores the real explanation, which is that in a way, I kind of want the Jazz to lose.
Without going into the details about the ways I express myself when watching games–which I’m sure would make all of you hate me even more than you do after reading the preceding paragraph, and which would distract from the ideas I’m trying to explore–I will say that I do, occasionally, find myself hoping the Jazz will lose. This, of course, violates the Code of Ethics of Fandom, which I metaphorically signed the moment I told someone I rooted for the Jazz. By rooting against my own team, my very sports morality is called into question, and if in the moment you read that I wanted the Jazz to lose, you felt some sort of ethical revulsion toward me and my hedonistic sports ideologies, you are entirely justified. I deserve whatever righteous indignation you now harbor against me, and if that indignation takes the form of a few vociferously worded hate-comments at the end of this article, I can’t say that I blame you. But this does raise some more interesting questions.
After the Memphis loss–which, terrible though it was, was not quite as terrible as the fact that it brought me, a lifelong Jazz fan, some degree of happiness–Diana Allen and Andy Larsen had a thought-provoking exchange on Twitter, the gist of which was this: if your being a fan in a particular way makes me feel bad, don’t you have some interpersonal obligation to consider that fact before reacting to a win or a loss or a trade, especially in a public forum like Twitter, or a fansite, or the comment section of a blog post? This is an interesting debate and while I have an opinion on it, what actually impacted me was not the debate itself, but the conclusion it forced me to draw about fandom. There are some rules, and there is a prescribed behavior for fans, and though it is relative, debatable, and messy, it does exist, on some level, for every fan. But there’s something else: not only do fans function on an understanding of a governing Fan Code of Ethics, and not only does the understanding of that code differ for every fan, but we seem to accept that though sports are themselves manufactured by our perceptions of them and though sports are only artificially attached to the reality of our lives, our obedience to that Fan Code of Ethics does say something real about our moral character. This is why fans on Twitter feel obligated to point out the faulty responses of other fans. This is why my boss at Salt City published a well-written, persuasive piece on booing. And this is why I feel guilty for rooting against the Jazz.
Now I’m not rooting against my favorite professional sports team just because I’m a sadist, or just because I was searching for a sensationalist angle on the Jazz to break through my writer’s block. I’m rooting against them because, I genuinely believe that losing now is in the team’s best interests. My reasons for this are complicated and any explanation of them would likely turn out long-winded, but basically it boils down to draft picks, young player development, and a necessary reconsideration of the team’s identity from the front office. My reasons for rooting against my favorite team, however, are far less important to this discussion than that I’m doing it at all. After all, I was as appalled as anyone at Golden State’s seemingly shameless indulgence in tanking last season, and I’m just as appalled that it seems to be working out for them this season. They violated my Sports Code of Ethics, and now I expect some sort of retribution. It’s not coming, just like the karmic retribution someone might wish for my anti-Jazz-fandom is also not coming, but it does force me to address the hypocrisy of my own position. Here’s how I do that:
At some point, every fan of a small-market NBA team has to come to terms with the rules of the NBA game: players only come to a team through drafts, trades, and free agency. Salt Lake City will never be a hot destination for free agents and you can only trade for good players if you have good players (I am choosing to ignore, for the sake of my argument, that there are enough incompetent executives with NBA teams that sometimes, you can trade for good players even if all you have to give in return is bad players), which means, new talent can only come through drafts. Drafts are a crap shoot, so in order to be successful in them, small-market teams need to acquire tons of draft picks. Then they need to develop these drafted players, hope for more than a few lucky breaks in roster chemistry, player health, and league competition, and maybe, have a chance at winning a title. That’s the reality. Harsh as that reality is, and it is mercilessly harsh, that’s the situation for small-market NBA teams. Consequently, as a fan, I have a choice: either I forsake my hopes in the extremely slim possibility of my team winning a championship and I focus on enjoying the playoff chase with whatever good players my team might have and then maybe see a few playoff wins, or I say screw it, all I want is a championship, and I end up cheering for my team to trade away or refuse to re-sign its quality veteran players and draft and develop its young players. I believe that unless the Jazz miss the playoffs, the front office will re-sign the team’s veterans and the Jazz will miss out on another draft pick, and unless the front office lets those veterans go and/or gets that draft pick, this team will continue to labor in first-round playoff hell. That’s what I believe, and the beauty of the Fan Code of Ethics is that regardless of the accuracy of my perspective, it says a lot more about me than it does about the Jazz.
What a great week to be a Jazz fan! In the last addition of Lindsanity, the Jazz were an even 10-10, but since then they’ve ripped off three more strong wins and are currently sitting at 6th in the west with a 13-10 record. Anytime the Jazz beat the Lakers and Spurs in one week, you know the world may truly end, but if it does Jazz nation will go out with a smile on our collective face.
Anyway, Without further ado, here are this week’s Jazz Twitter Power Rankings:
10: @davidjsmith1232 - Sometimes the national media writes ridiculous articles that seem to imply that small market teams are always ready to toss chemistry aside, and bend over backward to accommodate crummy trades from league heavyweights. Well, we’ve been going to this high school for seven and a half years. We’re no dummies.
We all know the other 27 teams exist solely to benefit the Lakers, Knicks, and Heat, right? @tomhaberstroh
9:@shedeletes – It was a late game for local fans, but for those of us living in more easternly time zones, it was really late. Today we all pay the price (I feel like I’ve been walking around in a fog of giddy Mo Williams hallucinations). Glad I take a bus to work, and don’t have to operate heavy machinery. #wortheverysecond
today’s lack of sleep is brought to you by mo williams winning shot. #UtahJazz
8: @Lockedonsports - I asked this question (via twitter) last night: “If you were gonna buy one Jazz jersey today… Which player would you get?” I got a lot of responses (most of them were terrible… I’m looking at you, @itschappy), but the one I liked the most was from @jazzhype. Why? because it was for DeMarre Carroll… who is a total boss. Preach Locke!
Take a moment and digest this — When DeMarre Carroll is on the floor the Jazz get 40% of the potential offensive rebounds
7: @_alexisholt - Being a dedicated Jazz fan is a unique familial experience, so when you labor nearly 5 hours to add a member to our Isle of Misfit Toys, you get a place on the Power Rankings! Congratulations to Alexis and the newest member of our Jazz-clan, Felix. Have I mentioned that it’s a great week to be a Jazz fan?
hi friends! my little baby is here! Felix Gray Holt. he was born at 8:15p after 4:45 of labor & he’s perfect. twitter.com/_alexisholt/st…
6: @5kl - There was a minute there where I thought a shotclock operator was going to get choked out. It was a surly crowd in ESA last night, and people looked ready to grab their pitchforks. Luckily, Kris has a solution to the clock guy’s problem:
Everyone just needs to keep time in their own heads for the rest of the game.
3: @DJJazzyJody - My favorite non-game storyline this week was the one where Jody outed a John Stockton Twitter fake because of his hollow non-Stockton-like swagger. Not on our watch, @johnstocktonpg. Not on John Stockton day (12/12/12)!!!! The world’s a safer place today than it was yesterday.
FYI, @johnstocktonpg deleted his first tweet after I pointed out how unStocktonlike it was to refer to 98 Finals and write “enough said.”
1: @Doug_Cartwright – …but this is no normal week. This is the week that the Jazz emerged as a serious threat to teams in the Western Conference, the week that the Jazz slayed some dragons, and the week where some dude (I assume Doug Cartwright) strings several words & names together into a sentence that may or may not actually mean something!
Paul Millsap, PF36 MIN | 10-15 FG | 4-6 FT | 12 REB | 5 AST | 24 PTS | +11
A vintage Paul Millsap game. On the offensive side, his twisting, contorting layups, jumpers, and floaters answered every run the Spurs made. He also picked up the key rebound at the end of the game, leading to the final shot. Stay forever, Paul.
Al Jefferson, C35 MIN | 10-18 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 21 PTS | -1
Jefferson had his hands full guarding Tim Duncan and when he gave up three quick baskets in the first quarter, it looked like it was going to be a long night. Credit to Al for making things difficult for Duncan for the rest of the game.
Mo Williams, PG32 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 8 PTS | +7
Randy Foye, PG32 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS | -1
In the moments when it seemed like the Spurs were going to run away with things in the first quarter, Foye’s threes kept the Jazz within distance.
Gordon Hayward, SG29 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 6 AST | 19 PTS | +13
Gordon stepped up in fourth quarter and hit two crucial threes (and 4-6 overall). He also had 5 rebounds in the fourth. It was fun to watch him battle with Manu Ginobili–the reason he chose to wear #20.
Five Things We Saw
This is the kind of game the Spurs seem to ALWAYS win. No team is better in the fourth quarter on the road. After the game, Mo Williams commented on how proud he was that the Jazz didn’t panic every time the Spurs made a big play down the stretch. So many options for San Antonio–and the Jazz forced them to to take tough shots all quarter. Huge, huge win for the Jazz.
“After draining the shot, Williams looked up to make sure there was no time left, then took off running toward the other end of the court only to be mobbed by teammates.
“It was amazing,” said Millsap, who grabbed the key offensive rebound after Williams’ first miss. ‘It was a big win for us, a big win for our fans, a big win for our whole organization.’” [link]
Chasedown Blocks™ by Gordon Hayward.
The atmosphere and finish was very reminiscent of the famous Sundiata game, which also featured Mo Williams prominently (as a member of the Cavs). Both nationally-televised games against the top team in the league. Both games seemed to be out of hand late and the Jazz found a way to win. Both games featured unbelievable shots and pandemonium in the crowd. Too good.
Had a nice visit with John Stockton on this 12-12-12. Thanked him for all he’s done for our family, organization and community.
It’s a late start for the national TV audience, so here’s a bit of an interview with Manu Ginobili at shootaround, featuring a question each from me and a RootSports producer:
RootSports: You met the Jazz four times in the Playoffs last year; how have the Jazz changed this year? Seems like they’ve added a lot of shooters.
Manu: Yeah, that was their biggest deficiency last year–they didn’t have anyone who could hit the big three. And now they added both Mo [Williams] and Randy Foye, that’re good shooters. So they did change. Always when you have good post players, you need three-point shooters–because otherwise everybody will just collapse in the paint and it makes everything hard for them. So now they added shooters–you know Mo had a terrific game against us. So they’ve become a little more solid overall.
SRH: Gordon Hayward wears #20 because he says he followed you growing up. What’s your assessment of his game?
Manu: I didn’t know that; that makes me feel good. He’s a very good, active, athletic wing player. He, of course, has a knack for scoring and getting things done both offensively and defensively. I don’t know what he’s shooting this year–we haven’t talked about it–but last year he didn’t make a lot of shots from deep–and for every slasher, that’s huge. Because when they start to more respect your shot, you have more room to use your explosiveness and to get to the rim. I’m talking about last year, not this year. That’s what he needs to improve. But yeah, he’s very active, gets his hands on a lot of balls, he’s very athletic. He’s a good player–and he’s going to get even better as he matures and gets used to the league.
Manu: Amazing. I’m very happy for him and I think it’s very fair–after the terrific career he had in Europe for so many years, being one of the best for seven seasons consecutively. So it’s a great recognition for him–and I really wanted to him to try it, at least. We know it’s not going to be a seven-year career–he’s 35. But, I think every player should at least taste the NBA and compare himself with the best players in the world. I’m very glad for him.