Salt City Hoops http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:41:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Who is Brock Motum? http://saltcityhoops.com/who-is-brock-motum/ http://saltcityhoops.com/who-is-brock-motum/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 22:41:28 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12395 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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Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac

Lintao Zhang/Getty Images AsiaPac

When the Utah Jazz summer league roster was made public, most people scanned right past Brock Motum’s name, focusing naturally on the returning players and recent draftees. A month later, people are much more familiar with the Australian forward.

Motum was very solid in Las Vegas, averaging 8.0 PPG (62.1 percent from the field), 4.6 RPG and 1.6 APG in 17.2 MPG (16.7, 9.6 and 3.3 per 36 minutes). Against the Milwaukee Bucks, he posted 16 points and six rebounds and two games later, he added 14 and 8. Motum hustled, functioned well within the system, made the right basketball plays and showed a penchant for making the extra pass–something that is clearly a focus for Utah Jazz basketball going forward. Motum showed solid athleticism and played with poise.

Motum’s efforts not only caught the eyes of the fanbase, but apparently the front office and coaching staff. Motum’s reportedly accepted the invitation to participate in Utah’s training camp this fall. This interview gives some insights into Motum’s experience at summer league.

So, who is Brock Motum? Hailing from Brisbane, the 6’10″, 245 lb forward’s life has been centered around basketball. He trained for two years at the Australian Institute of Sport, which has seen many other future NBA hoopsters grace its courts . Motum then went on to play four years for Washington State, displaying improvement each season. While his senior campaign was impressive (18.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg), his junior year was even better when glancing at the advanced stats (25.3 PER, .626 TS%, 4.7 WS).

Despite a solid collegiate career, Motum went unclaimed in the 2013 NBA Draft. After suiting up for the Philadelphia 76ers in summer league, he signed a two-year deal with Granarolo Bologna in Italy. Reports indicate he has an contractual out if an opportunity in the NBA arises. He also joins Dante Exum as a member of Airbnb Australian Boomers Team that will represent at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. His familiarity with Utah’s prized rookie would help should Motum make the Jazz roster.

With the recent trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers that jettisoned forwards Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy and guard John Lucas III back east, Motum’s chances improved a bit. While all three were non-guaranteed deals, Thomas and Murphy still signified front court competition for Motum. Utah is clearly stacked with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, Trevor Booker, Steve Novak and Jeremy Evans, so it will be tough. But Motum’s camp can take solace in the fact that Utah had seven bigs in tow for most of the season .

Besides Gordon Hayward and Exum, Jazz fans should keep an eye on Motum during this international tournament. Likewise, he’ll be one to also watch come October’s training camp.

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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Trevor Booker, Carrick Felix & More – Salt City Hoops Podcast http://saltcityhoops.com/trevor-booker-carrick-felix-more-salt-city-hoops-podcast/ http://saltcityhoops.com/trevor-booker-carrick-felix-more-salt-city-hoops-podcast/#comments Thu, 31 Jul 2014 17:29:37 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12400 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 of the same name every Saturday on 1280 AM.
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(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ben Dowsett returns to the Salt City Hoops Podcast after his Canadian excursion, allowing us to talk about the last two weeks of Jazz news. In that time, the Jazz have signed Trevor Booker and traded for Carrick Felix, we talk about what both of those players will add to the roster. How big of a difference will they really make? We also briefly discuss the LeBron signing, as LeBron’s biggest fan Ben shares his first reaction on the deal since coming back. Finally, we have yet another Crazy Trade Idea of the Week. Could Patrick Beverly come to Utah? If our Crazy Trade Idea came true! All that and more on this week’s edition of the Salt City Hoops Podcast.

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 of the same name every Saturday on 1280 AM.
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http://saltcityhoops.com/trevor-booker-carrick-felix-more-salt-city-hoops-podcast/feed/ 1 Ben Dowsett returns to the Salt City Hoops Podcast after his Canadian excursion, allowing us to talk about the last two weeks of Jazz news. In that time, the Jazz have signed Trevor Booker and traded for Carrick Felix, Ben Dowsett returns to the Salt City Hoops Podcast after his Canadian excursion, allowing us to talk about the last two weeks of Jazz news. In that time, the Jazz have signed Trevor Booker and traded for Carrick Felix, we talk about what both of those players will add to the roster. How big of a difference will they really make? We also briefly discuss the LeBron signing, as LeBron's biggest fan Ben shares his first reaction on the deal since coming back. Finally, we have yet another Crazy Trade Idea of the Week. Could Patrick Beverly come to Utah? If our Crazy Trade Idea came true! All that and more on this week's edition of the Salt City Hoops Podcast. Salt City Hoops no 46:05
Can the Utah Jazz Escape the Hamster Wheel of Losing? http://saltcityhoops.com/can-the-utah-jazz-escape-the-hamster-wheel-of-losing/ http://saltcityhoops.com/can-the-utah-jazz-escape-the-hamster-wheel-of-losing/#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:10:00 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12283 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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Wall's Wizards might be the most applicable example for Jazz to follow if they want a winning season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Wall’s Wizards might be the most applicable example for Jazz to follow if they want a winning season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

Eighty-two percent of recently bad teams have some tough news to share with Jazz fans: getting off the lottery hamster wheel is tough work.

It’s easy for teams to get stuck on the treadmill of multiple losing seasons. The experience other teams have had trying to get out of the NBA’s basement can certainly inform our expectations for a Jazz team that keeps adding young talent but ultimately wants to begin its ascent back to relevance.

The last 15 NBA seasons have included exactly 100 teams to win 30 or fewer games, which makes for tidy math. Here’s what we can learn from the previous 100 teams to traverse these waters.

The main lesson: winning doesn’t happen overnight. Here are some stark data points from those 100 teams and the seasons they had after dipping down to 30 levels (or .366 in a lockout year).

  • Only 18% of those teams had winning seasons the year after, meaning 82% were stuck to some degree in a cycle of losing.
  • More than half (53%) remained at or below 30.
  • A quarter of teams didn’t improve at all, and 19% actually got worse.
  • Having said that, the other side of that number is that 76% of teams to win 30 or fewer games did show some kind of record improvement the following year.

The next logical question is: did those 18 successful teams follow a template that is remotely applicable to the Jazz? As we analyze the Jazz’s chances in 2014-15, do the moves that rapidly rebuilt those teams seem congruous to what the Jazz are doing, or will Utah’s road be a longer one?

To begin to answer those questions, let’s look at the teams who went straight from 30-minus to contender. For the sake of argument, we’ll call “contender” the 50-win level. There were five teams in the last 15 years to do that just one year removed from the basement.

2007-08 Celtics: From 24 wins to 66. This team also won the championship.

From basement to banner. This story, though, has the least to do with the Jazz’s rebuild. The Celtics did the opposite of the Jazz, flipping all of their future assets to compile a  just-add-water contender. They didn’t build through the draft, actually trading their pick and some nice young players to land Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. They surrounded those two and Paul Pierce with filler free agents in support the win-now model, not with youth.

  • Did they quickly bounce back in a way Utah can emulate? No, unless the Jazz have plans to trade for two superstars in their prime.

2004-05 Suns: From 29 wins to 62. Went to the Western Conference Finals.

Like the Celtics, the Suns did the opposite of what the Jazz are doing… mostly. They traded their pick and otherwise dumped salary so they could pursue free agent Steve Nash, who would quickly become MVP material. Those cap-clearing moves cost them future pieces as well, including the pick that would later become Gordon Hayward. Also, Amar’e Stoudemire blew up that year. Probably largely due to the Nash signing, Stoudemire went from being a 4.4 WS player (role player levels) to an elite breakout year. He his a 26.2 PER and 14.6 WS, both elite levels.

  • Can Utah emulate? It would take adding a free agent on the cusp of a major improvement, and then having one of their own young stars explode to elite levels. The former is almost impossible at this point, the latter is unlikely.

2001-02 Nets: 26 wins to 52. Went to the NBA Finals.

This team’s boldest move en route to doubling the win total was trading its best player to land Jason Kidd. Kidd was a 9-10 WS player at that point, which is All-star level, and better than what they were getting from Stephon Marbury. They did add a draft pick, but it wasn’t exactly a tank-your-way-to-a-star approach. They actually traded backwards to land Richard Jefferson along with role players Brandon Armstrong and Jason Collins. Then they added more veteran role players.

  • Can Utah emulate?  If they trade for an All-star (not happening) and play in a weaker conference (definitely not happening).

2003-04 Grizzlies: 28 wins to 50. Went to the playoffs but lost in the first round.

Here’s another team that quickly retooled without the help of the draft. They actually traded both picks away that summer for bench help. Other than that, they really just added decent players via trades (Bo Outlaw, Jake Tsakalidis) and signings (James Posey). They also got Mike Miller back from injury, which helped modestly (3.9 WS). Even Pau Gasol didn’t have a breakout year, scoring, rebounding and playing slightly less than the year before. Honestly, Memphis’ 22-win turnaround is a bit of a head scratcher on paper. They made minor tweaks and were a well-coached, but really their biggest addition was Posey.

  • Can Utah emulate? The recipe here is a little unclear, but for the Jazz to follow the Grizz’s model, they’d have to have nailed their rotation pick-ups and they’d need COY-level coaching from Quin Snyder, a rookie himself.

2009-10 Thunder: 23 wins to 50. Also lost in the first round.

The Thunder’s improvement had something to do with the draft, but this was actually the end of a sustained, youth-focused rebuild, so it would be tough to say that drafting James Harden accounted for 27 wins. Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green also stayed at roughly the same level, and they added only supporting pieces. The story of this turn-around is all about a transcendental player cracking the code. Kevin Durant exploded from the fringe All-star level (7.9 WS in 2008-09) to an elite superstar (16.1 WS and ridiculous scoring efficiency).

  • Can Utah emulate? The Jazz would need somebody to explode to top-three superstardom. That’s not happening this year, and it will be a while before we know if they have anyone of that ilk.

These five teams’ roadmaps don’t offer much to the Jazz. Let’s assume, then, that 50 is out of the question. Let’s see, in shorter form, if the other 13 teams who went from 30-minus to 42-49 wins can proffer some models. In this group, we do see some teams who got instantly better at least in part because of an instant contribution from a high draft pick and/or a well-timed coaching change.

Four of these teams got back to winning records largely because of a marquee trade.

  • ’13 Nets (27 to 49): Traded for a secondary star (Johnson), added role players (Stack, Blatche), changed coach.
  • ’14 Suns (25 to 48): Traded for Bledsoe, breakout year by Dragic, drafted Len, changed coach.
  • ’05 Wiz (25 to 45): Trade pick (Harris) + players for Jamison, got healthy (Arenas).
  • ’11 Knicks (29 to 42): Traded for Stoudemire, added Felton + pieces, mid-season Melo trade.

For two, the main ingredient was getting good players back healthy (Curry, Wade).

  • ’09 Heat (15 to 43): Got Wade back, drafted Beasley & Chalmers, added Magloire, James Jones, etc., new coach.
  • ’13 Ws (29 to 47): Got an AS (Curry) and elite defender (Bogut) back from injury, added Landry, Jack, Barnes.

For one, it chiefly had to do with an impact free agent (and, importantly, a new system).

  • ’14 Bobcats (21 to 43): Added Jefferson, Neal, Ridnour, etc., drafted Zeller, new coach.

Those seven probably don’t have much to offer the Jazz in the way of applicable rebuilding advice, because the Jazz probably aren’t making marquee trades or adding impact free agents, and we don’t have a star-level player to bring off the injured list. The other six, though, might represent templates Utah could follow: they added more young talent to developing rosters, and signed the right veterans.

  • ’05 Bulls (23 to 47): Drafted Gordon and Deng, added role players (Nocioni, et al.), career year from Curry.
  • ’07 Raps (27 to 47): Drafted Bargnani, traded for Ford, added role players (Garbajosa, Anthony Parker, etc.).
  • ’14 Wiz (29 to 44): Drafted Porter, traded for Gortat, nice leaps by Wall (4.5 WS to 7.9, 1st AS).
  • ’03 Rox (28 to 43): Drafted Yao, traded for Posey, Francis healthy.
  • ’04 Nugs (17 to 43): Drafted Melo, signed Miller, Boykins, Barry, Lenard, etc.
  • ’04 Heat (25 to 42): Drafted Wade, signed Haslem, Odom, Alston, etc., new coach.

The teams of Wade, Melo, Yao, Bargs and Gordon/Deng got enough immediate juice from those guys, and added the right supporting pieces around them. There’s no telling yet if Exum can have that type of first-year impact, though.

I also like the approach of this past year’s Wizards, something of a hybrid. Their best player made another step forward, they drafted a player who was solid-but-not-yet-great as a rookie, Beal continued to progress modestly, and the addition of Gortat gave them an identity inside along with Nene. If Gordon Hayward is ready for his next step, Exum produces something like 4(ish) WS, Favors provides the interior scoring and D, and the other youngs continue their forward progress at even a modest pace, the Jazz could start the climb just like the Wizards did.

But if this exercise shows us anything, it’s that even if the Jazz take steps forward, there’s a strong historical precedent suggesting they might not make it back above .500 next year.

 

The last 100 teams to win 30 games or fewer, and how they fared the following season.

The last 100 teams to win 30 games or fewer, and how they fared the following season.

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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Call for Contributors: Freelance Friday http://saltcityhoops.com/call-for-contributors-freelance-friday/ http://saltcityhoops.com/call-for-contributors-freelance-friday/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 21:47:05 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12386 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 of the same name every Saturday on 1280 AM.
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white-pen

Sometimes, an idea is just too good not to steal.

Last week, Hardwood Paroxysm’s Nylon Calculus blog debuted. As a gigantic basketball nerd, I immediately loved the statistical content of the site, managed by Ian Levy, who may well be the premier analytic basketball blogger out there. Then, this last Friday, they revealed one of their site’s signature recurring features, called Freelance Friday. I decided to borrow his idea. 

The idea behind Freelance Friday is simple: there are a lot of smart and interesting people who aren’t regular contributors to Salt City Hoops. What if they had the opportunity to get their best ideas out to a big audience? Freelance Friday allows us to share our platform with writers who aren’t usually our regular contributors. It also gives us a chance to build our community with newer, more diverse voices.

We know there are lots of Jazz fans out there, from all over the world. If you would like your writing to appear on Salt City Hoops, please send submissions to saltcityhoops@gmail.com. From there, we’ll run the submission through the same editing process as we would any other Salt City Hoops article. Once that’s complete, we’ll publish the best articles every Friday that we receive from the Jazz community, in the same feed as the rest of your favorite Salt City Hoops content.

I also plan on promoting the best Freelance Friday contributors up to Staff status, so if you’ve been looking for a way to join Salt City Hoops long-term, a few great Freelance Friday articles is an excellent way to make your case.

So what are we looking for? Anything, really. Player profiles, personal stories, statistical deep-dives, Xs and Os breakdowns, business of basketball pieces, Jazz anecdotes, historical lookbacks, trade ideas, whatever you want. This is a chance to put your stamp on the Jazz community, so put your best foot forward.

We’re looking forward to your contributions.

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 of the same name every Saturday on 1280 AM.
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Focusing on FTr: Alec Burks and Trey Burke http://saltcityhoops.com/focusing-on-ftr-alec-burks-and-trey-burke/ http://saltcityhoops.com/focusing-on-ftr-alec-burks-and-trey-burke/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 18:30:48 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12363 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Rocky Widner - NBAE via Getty Images

Rocky Widner – NBAE via Getty Images

I was looking at some stats for the team, and what stood out to me was the discrepancy between Trey Burke’s free-throw rate (.126) and Alec Burks’ (.449). Burks has a FTr better than 3.5x that of Burke’s. I don’t mean to harp on Burke entirely on this one, but I think noticing the discrepancy illustrates both what makes Alec Burks unique—and potentially elite in one area—and how improvement in this area could elevate a young-and-improving Trey Burke from a below-average starting point guard (according to Hollinger’s PER ratings, he’s 52 of 71) to what could be an average to above-average starting point guard.

 

Rk Player Age MP PER TS% eFG% FTr 3PAr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% TOV% USG%
1 Gordon Hayward 23 2800 16.2 .520 .454 .369 .271 2.5 14.0 8.0 24.1 2.1 15.0 23.1
2 Trey Burke 21 2262 12.6 .473 .442 .126 .375 1.8 9.0 5.3 29.4 1.0 12.2 21.8
3 Richard Jefferson 33 2213 11.8 .573 .544 .248 .460 0.9 10.8 5.7 9.6 1.3 11.5 16.9
4 Derrick Favors 22 2201 19.0 .556 .522 .380 .001 10.1 23.7 16.7 7.3 1.8 12.9 20.8
5 Alec Burks 22 2193 15.8 .547 .487 .449 .172 3.0 10.7 6.8 16.9 1.7 13.0 23.9
6 Enes Kanter 21 2138 15.6 .523 .491 .239 .001 11.6 20.9 16.1 6.4 0.7 13.3 23.3
7 Marvin Williams 27 1674 14.0 .540 .519 .139 .445 5.5 17.9 11.5 7.7 1.7 8.7 16.7
8 Jeremy Evans 26 1209 16.2 .549 .527 .226 .006 11.1 18.7 14.8 6.1 1.8 9.9 15.3
9 Diante Garrett 25 1048 7.1 .459 .449 .045 .362 1.2 9.8 5.3 17.6 2.1 21.7 15.1
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2014.

 

So let’s look at some numbers and comparisons and see where each player stands.

One of the things that was so tantalizing about Alec Burks’ game his rookie season was his ability to get to the line—a skill very few rookies have to that degree. His FTr in his first season was .401, which was third on the team that year behind Enes Kanter (.445) and Derrick Favors (.436).

 

Season Age Tm Lg Pos G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr
2011-12 20 UTA NBA SG 59 939 14.0 .506 .450 .401
2012-13 21 UTA NBA SG 64 1137 11.5 .507 .463 .332
2013-14 22 UTA NBA SG 78 2193 15.8 .547 .487 .449
Career NBA 201 4269 14.2 .528 .473 .409
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/29/2014.

 

How did that FTr compare to other rookies in previous years? I was curious what superstars had as their FTr their rookie seasons: Burks’ .401 FTr was higher than Carmelo Anthony, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James. Of the superstars I looked through, only Kevin Love had a higher FTr than Alec Burks in his rookie season.

 

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr
1 Carmelo Anthony 2003-04 19 82 2995 17.6 .509 .449 .358
2 Alec Burks 2011-12 20 59 939 14.0 .506 .450 .401
3 Anthony Davis 2012-13 19 64 1846 21.7 .559 .516 .333
4 Kevin Durant 2007-08 19 80 2768 15.8 .519 .451 .328
5 LeBron James 2003-04 19 79 3122 18.3 .488 .438 .308
6 Kevin Love 2008-09 20 81 2048 18.3 .538 .461 .488
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/27/2014.

 

Interestingly, Burks’ FTr dipped to a mere-mortal .332 in his sophomore season, possibly because opposing teams knew more what to expect, and also possibly because he was sometimes tasked at the PG position.  But that doesn’t explain how he was able to increase his FTr in his third season to an incredible .449. Given the improvement he made in his game last season, I’m intrigued to see what his FTr will be in 2014. With a new-and-improved offensive system and better spacing, will Burks be given the green line to attack the rim with reckless abandon? Burks has an elite skill in his ability to get to the line; what if he became the best in league in that area?

So what about Trey Burke? He had a very solid season for a rookie point guard, especially considering he broke his index finger in the preseason. We saw how much better the team was with him running the show instead of JLIII or Tinsley. We saw how careful he was with the ball (very low turnover rate). We saw how clutch he could be. But looking at his stats, his FTr is incredibly low. If he were a poor free-throw shooter, that might be a more understandable statistic, but given that he shot 90.3% from the line last year, why not attack the basket a bit more and make the opposing team pay for it by sinking the free throws?

 

Rk Player Season Age G MP PER TS% eFG% FTr 3PAr
1 Trey Burke 2013-14 21 70 2262 12.6 .473 .442 .126 .375
2 Stephen Curry 2013-14 25 78 2846 24.1 .610 .566 .252 .445
3 Goran Dragic 2013-14 27 76 2668 21.4 .604 .561 .381 .274
4 Tony Parker 2013-14 31 68 1997 18.9 .555 .513 .266 .073
5 Chris Paul 2013-14 28 62 2171 25.9 .580 .511 .397 .244
6 Russell Westbrook 2013-14 25 46 1412 24.7 .545 .480 .370 .271
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/29/2014.

 

Admittedly, the numbers above compare Trey’s rookie season numbers to star point guard’s numbers. But I think it’s instructive to show how much an increase in FTr and TS% (which will be bumped up by an increased FTr assuming his FT% stays stellar) could go a long way in helping Trey become a much better point guard. Chris Paul, someone to whom Trey was (unfairly) compared before entering the league, has a similar build and speed to Trey, but has learned how to use his body, how to use angles, and how to use his craftiness in order to get to the line, at more than three times the rate as Burke. Steph Curry has a FTr exactly twice that of Burke, while shooting almost nearly as well from the line (88.5%). What’s impressive about that is Curry takes nearly eight three pointers a game; he spends a lot of his time outside the arc, yet still gets to the line a decent amount. Dragic also went to the line at a rate three times that of Burke, which also helped contribute to his excellent TS% (60.4%). Of the star point guards here, Tony Parker had the lowest FTr at .266, which is still more than twice that of Trey’s. Russell Westbrook, considered a top point guard by Hollinger’s PER, had a FTr nearly three times that of Burke.

This is one area in which Trey could improve pretty quickly and fairly easily. He has the handle, he has enough speed and a quick-enough first step; I’ll be interested if he can develop a craftiness and some hesitation moves, a la Chris Paul, that enable to him to throw defenders off just a split second, enough to get them to foul him. Even though it’s nitpicking one stat, I think it’s one stat which, if improved, can dramatically improve other areas of his game. And with a new coach and a new offensive system, I think it’s very possible.

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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A Dissenting Opinion on Gordon Hayward’s Max Contract http://saltcityhoops.com/advice-for-dealing-with-a-max-contract/ http://saltcityhoops.com/advice-for-dealing-with-a-max-contract/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 16:48:23 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12219 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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(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Everything is awesome!  Everything is cool when you’re part of the team, especially when they pay you $63 million dollars!

That is pretty much the sentiment in Jazz land.  Following the Jazz formally matching Charlotte’s $63 million offer sheet to Gordon Hayward last week, general manager Dennis Lindsey stated,  “We have always seen Gordon Hayward as a significant part of the future… [and] are pleased [he] will remain a member of the Jazz for many years to come.”  Hayward’s agent, Mark Bartelstein, spoke on behalf of his young client, saying, “It’s always a wonderful thing when your own organization values you so much that they’d match a contract like this. I think it makes a great statement to Gordon about how they feel about him and value him.”

To wrap up the love-fest, USA Basketball invited Hayward to their summer camp, where 19 of the best players in the NBA will compete for 12 slots on the US National Team.

It is a good time for Gordon Hayward, the Utah Jazz, and Jazz fans as well.  Such is the majority belief.

Even given my appreciation of Hayward, I feel differently.

Consider the competitive landscape of the modern NBA.  It’s recent dominating forces, the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, illustrate the paramount importance of maximizing talent on limited expenditure.

Over the past four seasons, Miami has invested practically all its salary cap space in three players: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh.  The return on their investment?  Three players who each earned four consecutive All-Star appearances, one of whom won two MVP awards.  That production far exceeds the player production for other teams that have made similar investments to employ the three star model, such as the Thunder (Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka) and Knicks (Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler).

The Spurs demonstrate how to make the math work without employing the best player on the planet, a more realistic model for the small-market Jazz.

Tony Parker, All-NBA player and fringe MVP candidate, has a career high season earning of $13.5 million in 2010-11.  That ate 23% of the team’s salary cap.  The Jazz will pay Hayward $14.8 million in 2014-15, slightly more than 23% of the cap.  Then recall Parker was less expensive than this every other season while Hayward will make more in successive years of his deal.

Percentage wise, this Hayward contract will prove as great a hit to cap space as Tony Parker has ever cost the Spurs, and more than the reining champs typically devote to their best current player.  Manu Ginobili has never cost the Spurs more than 24% of the cap either.  The Spurs have executed contracts similar to Hayward’s for two sure-fire Hall of Fame players.  In contrast, most people would say Hayward will do well to make one All-Star game.

Post David Robinson, the Spurs have paid only one of their players proportionally more than the Jazz will pay Hayward the next four years.  Tim Duncan has made $18 million or more five times in his career, totaling 31%+ of the Spurs’ cap space in those seasons.

Spurs titles in those years: Zero.

Duncan’s average salary in the five seasons he earned a ring: about $11.5 million.  He placed in the top four in MVP voting four times these seasons, winning the award once.

The Spurs have ridden three Hall of Famers to five titles by investing roughly the same cap space in each star that Hayward will absorb from the Jazz these next four years.

Maybe five rings in these specific seasons are mere coincidence.  But I think not.

Don’t mistake what I am saying.  Giving Hayward a max deal coming off his rookie contract will not, in and of itself, restrain the Jazz’s championship ambitions via their budget.  However, if the Hayward deal, both the final product and the process by which it came about, becomes a precedent that certainly will.

Consider the Jazz’s financial position prior to this contract.

First, they extended Derrick Favors for four years at an estimated $12 million a year plus unlikely incentives.  That is, by most assessments, a fair market deal with ample potential to become a bargain.  In addition, the team stands in good position to extend Alec Burks for a similar fair market to bargain contract.  Somewhere in the $6 – $8 million range seems likely.

That potential $18 – $20 million for those two players represents 29% – 32% of next season’s cap.  That’s excellent budgeting, especially given their production in relation to Hayward.

Derrick Favors is the Jazz’s best player.  He was last season and projects to continue to be so going forward.  There are loads of metrics more reliable than dollars that bear this out.

Hayward’s career best PER is 16.8, and he earned it playing off of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap.  Last season, Derrick Favors posted a PER of 19.

According to Basketball-Reference’s Win Shares, Hayward won the struggling Jazz 3.6 precious games last season.  Favors, 5.1.  And numbers don’t hold up the narrative of Favors’ offensive limitations, at least not in comparison to Hayward.  Last season the big man earned more Offensive Win Shares than Hayward (2.9 to 2.2), was the more efficient offensive option (a true shooting percentage of .556 to Hayward’s .520), and posted a near-identical points per 100 possessions (Favors’ 23.2 to Hayward’s 23.4).

Favors is also a year younger and has over 1,200 fewer minutes of NBA experience.  That’s star potential in excess of Hayward’s own substantial talent.  So, the Jazz locked up their best player for $12 million a season.

Alec Burks doesn’t have the same ceiling as Favors, but there is ample evidence he may match Hayward’s overall ability as a player, or even surpass it.

Burks created 26.1 points per 100 possessions last season with greater efficiency (.547 TS%) than Hayward.  More importantly, Burks is a year younger and has only half the in-game experience of his fellow wing, which suggests he likely possesses substantially more as-yet untapped potential.

Most of all though, Alec Burks’ ability and production comes at a likely bargain price.

Combine the rookie contracts of Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, and Rudy Gobert to that potential Favors / Burks tandem and the Jazz look to spend only about $27 million next season, or about 43% of the cap, on an impressive pool of young talent.  That percentage of the cap would not substantially increase for several seasons, and depending on how much the cap grows, may even stay static.

By locking up Favors and Burks without overpaying, they could have established a culture of investing more equally in a greater number of players as well as staked precedent for future contract negotiations.

Assuming the team matured into a contender, which is reasonable given that amount of young talent and cap flexibility, the franchise would have created an environment where reasonable contracts are proven to lead to success on the court.  Simultaneously, multiple young players would have developed together, reinforcing relationships and a collective investment in winning.  Such are the conditions in San Antonio, and they form the foundation upon which they have managed to retain star players on less money than they could make by moving elsewhere in free agency.

There would be no guarantee of course, and the decision as to Enes Kanter’s future would substantially affect the equation, but at least the main ingredients of the Spurs’ financial formula would be in place.

Now add the Hayward contract and watch the potential ripple effect.

First, I have no doubt that the agents for both Alec Burks and Enes Kanter will use Hayward’s deal as ammunition in negotiations to extend their contracts.  They will reference $15.8 million per year as a standard for relative comparison and dare the Jazz to risk more situations where they have to either overpay to match an offer sheet or lose a valuable player as a free agent.  The team has lost leverage in their attempt to keep these players without compromising their checkbook.

What if Favors does prove a more productive player than Hayward?  Suddenly the $47 million guaranteed the Jazz gave him transforms from an act of good faith to an obvious discount.  The team expected no such discount from Hayward; in fact, they paid above his production value to really show the love.  Favors would have every right to expect similarly excessive compensation on his next contract as proof that the Jazz prioritize him at least to the extent they do Hayward.

The same scenario may play out several times over the course of a few seasons.  The Jazz have a handful of players who could realistically develop to the point of claiming production value roughly equivalent to Hayward’s by the end of their current contracts.  Which of them is likely to take kindly to lower compensation in such a case?  Why should they?

The danger of this contract is that the Jazz have proven themselves willing to overpay on a major contract. Justifying refusal to do so again in the future has become harder.

If the Jazz are serious about maximizing the talent on their roster within the salary cap, Gordon Hayward’s max contract is a step in the wrong direction.

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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Examining Utah Jazz Shot Charts http://saltcityhoops.com/examining-jazz-shot-charts/ http://saltcityhoops.com/examining-jazz-shot-charts/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 18:18:32 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12350 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 contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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In today’s media-savvy basketball world, there are a number of methods available to analysts like myself to evaluate players, teams, lineups and everything in between. As part of our natural human tendency, in many cases we gravitate toward more comprehensive measures, particularly in terms of individual player analysis; metrics like PER or Win Shares were created in this vein, an attempt to quantify an all-encompassing view of a player’s statistical contributions within a single number.

Frequently, though, we require more context.

With this in mind, let’s take a small bite from the proverbial Jazz analytics pie. Last week, the recently-launched Nylon Calculus (the new analytics arm of Hardwood Paroxysm under the Sports Illustrated banner, for which I am also a contributor) debuted a remarkable advancement in shot chart data from my colleague Austin Clemens. Those who enjoy pieces from Kirk Goldsberry on Grantland are in heaven, as NC now hosts the capability for anyone and everyone to create very similarly-styled shot charts for any player in the league, dating all the way back to the 1996-97 season. Let’s look at Gordon Hayward’s chart from last season as an example:

As the legend at the bottom explains, colors by area reflect the player’s field-goal percentage from that area compared to league average for the given year – red is better, blue is worse. The size of the cubes reflect the frequency of shots from each location, and printed numbers inside certain cubes reflect actual field-goal percentage from that area rather than percentage compared to league average.

Got it? Good. Now let’s apply it to our Jazz. What follows is a look at several of Utah’s more important pieces through the lens of Austin’s charts, with bits of relevant context to further paint the picture. Because I already took a detailed look at Hayward for NC last week, he’ll be left out.

Trey Burke:

This particular set of glasses isn’t too rosy as far as Trey was concerned in his rookie season. Of particular worry to me isn’t necessarily the amount of blue in his chart, but rather how spread out it all is. Burke was chucking from everywhere, despite being efficient compared with his peers in only a few areas of the court – as he develops, Jazz fans will hope he identifies his strongest areas and works to generate higher volume from them while eliminating some of the fluff from his selection. His work from midrange was scattered, though he was solid from both the left and right elbow, a promising sign going forward for his off-the-bounce game coming out of the pick-and-roll. His strange side-to-side disparity, particularly from the baseline midrange and corner 3’s, is likely a result of variance within a small sample – he attempted just 24 corner 3’s from the left and 15 from the right, per NBA.com, so just a few makes or misses would swing his percentages here in a large way.

Most worrying were his percentages from the high-emphasis areas in today’s NBA, at the rim and from deep. Trey hoisted 293 non-corner 3’s last year, shooting just 32.8 percent on them, and apart from a couple small clusters had virtually no reliable areas as a distance threat. Utah’s generally poor spacing certainly contributed to a degree, but it’s also not as though he was forced to take high-volume stepbacks or off-the-bounce triples – over 82 percent of his non-corner makes were assisted. Things were equally grim at the basket, where Burke simply wasn’t efficient finishing against NBA length. This isn’t uncommon for young guards, but given his general lack of explosiveness it may be a concern for Trey throughout his career, and he’ll surely be spending time this offseason working on angles and shielding the ball more effectively. As he moves forward with his career, much like many of his young teammates, expect his selectivity and accuracy to improve as he becomes more comfortable with the pro game in all aspects.

Alec Burks:

Like his similarly-named backcourt counterpart, Burks needs to improve his selection a bit, though not to nearly the same degree. Part of this is his time in the league already, as he’s developed in this area significantly from his first couple years. I wrote back in February about, among other things, his divisive splits from the left and right sides, and Austin’s chart only reinforces this idea – he’s significantly better going to his right than his left. This is an exploitable tendency for smart defenses until he can smooth it out somewhat, but credit to Alec for emphasizing his right more often, as shown by the larger clusters there.

The reversal of this trend around the basket is likely representative of his strong athleticism and cutting, as well as an ability to finish through contact even on his weaker side:

He’ll want to improve on his stronger hand here, but on the surface this seems far easier for a player with his kind of physical ability than rapidly improving his weaker side. But overall, especially given Utah’s numerous offensive issues last year, fans should be quite encouraged with Burks’ chart, particularly if he continues to improve from deep.

Derrick Favors:

Favors has the easiest chart to dissect, by a decent amount. Like Burks, he reined in some of his lesser efficiency shots from the previous year, in particular basically eliminating shots outside 16 feet (he took just 57 all year). I’ve discussed his jump-shooting in this space before, and while it continues to make small strides over previous years, it’s likely Derrick’s largest obstacle as a player going forward. He’s a strong finisher around the rim and will continue to be given his athleticism, but a leap in his midrange efficiency, and particularly an evening out of both his attempts and accuracy from each side of the block, could be the element that really pushes him into borderline star territory at his position. The upcoming couple years will be huge in this regard for Favors, who can well exceed the value of his recent contract extension and put himself in position for a big raise down the line if he can reach average or above average.

Enes Kanter:

Kanter’s eye test is reflected almost exactly in his jump-shooting clusters on the chart – lethal from the left baseline and slightly closer in on the right baseline, mostly lukewarm from “floater”-type range. His selection is likely the best of Utah’s young core; his highest efficiency areas, for the most part, are his highest volume as well. He shot nearly 39 percent from all midrange shots, and was Utah’s most consistent threat from here all year long. He could do to improve from those little in-between areas outside the restricted area, but to my eye much of this is mental – he rushes shots in these areas, particularly after offensive rebounds, and doesn’t collect his balance enough, areas he can easily improve with age.

Slightly surprising when compared with the eye test are his figures around the hoop. Stuck in my mind are frequent examples of Kanter hesitating on close looks and making life around the basket more difficult for himself, but the numbers bear him out as closer to average than I’d have guessed. Of 67 centers attempting at least 100 shots in the restricted area last season, Kanter’s 62.4 percent puts him 41st, nowhere close to elite but certainly higher than I’d have pegged him on a raw guess. As he improves his confidence and strength while retaining his superb footwork and post game, expect these numbers to continue to rise.

Jeremy Evans:

Despite being a fan favorite and by all accounts one of the nicest guys in the game, Evans’ chart goes a long way toward showing why he’s been unable to find a consistent place in Utah’s rotation. He just hasn’t fully figured out who he is as an NBA player yet, as evidenced by his largely spread out shot locations and his only real clustering taking place around the basket. He expanded his range extensively last year in a more untethered role for the first time in his career, but just didn’t prove effective enough in any of these new areas to warrant real attention from defenses. He remains a beast around the hoop given his ridiculous hops, but his lack of another reliable shot and inability to hold his own down low against bulkier bigs may see the upcoming year as his last in a Jazz uniform.

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 contributes at all-things-basketball site Not Your Father's Water Cooler (nyfwc.com), and has made appearances on local talk radio. With a strong background in statistics, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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How Important is Passing? http://saltcityhoops.com/how-important-is-passing/ http://saltcityhoops.com/how-important-is-passing/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 01:08:49 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12314 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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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Being that most of you are all supporters of the former team of the NBA all-time assists leader and one of the greatest passers in history, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you know a thing or two about passing.

Passing, unselfishness and ball movement are some of the first aspects of the game youth league coaches make every effort to hammer home; a mantra that is repeated ad nauseum at every level of competitive basketball.  With the natural inclination to ballhog that seemingly exists within each and every one of us early on, it certainly makes sense.

In high school and college basketball, crisp passing and quick ball movement can go a long way to even the odds against teams with superior athleticism or talent, but in the NBA where the cream of the crop has been plucked from college and international play, does it still matter?

Of course it does.  But to what extent?

Prior to beginning research on this post, I hypothesized that there was a distinct correlation between team passing proficiency (measured by total number of assists in a season) and playoff appearances.  While an analysis of the past five seasons didn’t bear out as strong of a link as I would’ve guessed, it did point out a number of interesting things.  Over the past five years, an average of about 10 of the 16 playoff teams have been in the top half of the league in assists.  More interesting was a quick perusal of the playoff teams during that span who were well below league average in assists yet still made the playoffs.  Among teams that made the finals in the past five years, six have been top ten in assists.   Almost without exception, the teams closer to the bottom of the league in assists had either excellent defensive numbers (Memphis), one or more players who were very good to great in isolation and able to create their own shot with ease (Oklahoma City), or some combination of the two (Indiana).  While not being a better-than-average team in the league assist-wise certainly wasn’t a death knell to a team’s playoff chances, it certainly had to be made up for in spades in other areas.  The lower a playoff team ranked in assists, the demonstrably better they were in other areas.  Conversely, for any team devoid of a Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook that also didn’t have the defensive prowess of Tony Allen and Marc Gasol on which they could rely, good to great assist numbers were almost always present when such a team overachieved and snagged a playoff spot.

Passing proficiency and importance cannot be measured by assist numbers alone.  Even on plays which will almost certainly not add another assist to the box score, passing can be critical.  For example, let us hearken back to the days of the Jazz offense running through Big Al in the low post.  Good ball movement prior to the entry pass made it significantly harder for defenses to cheat over towards Jefferson in preparation for a troublesome double team.  After Jefferson got position on his defender, delivering an on-target entry pass was crucial.  An errant pass could knocked away or cause Big Al to lose his position, which subsequently could result in a much lower-percentage shot being taken if not a totally busted play.

The new Quin Snyder-led Jazz regime understands how crucial being an excellent passing team is, a fact clearly indicated by the immediate emphasis placed on passing and ball movement.  Deseret News beat writer Jody Genessy eloquently detailed this new emphasis in an article posted July 19.  Snyder’s quote from this article regarding passing eloquently yet succinctly sums up his “play with a pass” philosophy.

Just the idea of the ball movement. If you run 100 feet and I pass 100 feet, I’m going to win. The ball moves faster than people’s feet,” Snyder explained. “When you play with a pass, hopefully it keeps the defense guessing and on the move.”  This emphasis on passing can potentially add a tremendous amount of synergy when combined with the lack of a bona fide number one scoring option, as well as the ability to play Dante Exum and Trey Burke together  in the back court.

A laser-like focus on precise and quick ball movement, while smart for any NBA team, certainly seems like the best way to go with a young and balanced team like the Jazz.

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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What Jazz Story Intrigues You This Year? 2014 Edition http://saltcityhoops.com/what-jazz-story-intrigues-you-this-year-2014-edition/ http://saltcityhoops.com/what-jazz-story-intrigues-you-this-year-2014-edition/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:13:58 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12343 Author information
Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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AP Photo-Rick Bowmer

AP Photo-Rick Bowmer

A year ago, I posited a couple of potential storylines from the season that were very intriguing for me: The (hopeful) redemption of Marvin Williams and the (hopeful) emergence of Ian Clark. It’s a good thing I’m not a psychic by training, because clearly neither of those happened to the extent that I was hoping. But they were still storylines that were intriguing to me. And maybe Marvin’s 2-year, $14 million deal with the Charlotte Horcats could be considered a redemption of some sort, even though it’s slightly less per year than his previous contract (which was considered a poor contract for his production by many). And while Ian Clark didn’t emerge during the season in any fashion similar to how he did at last year’s Summer League, he wasn’t included in the trade with the Cavs, so he still has some chance of emerging this year with this Jazz team.

So, what are some of the storylines that are intriguing for this coming season? I’ve got a few that are highest on my list:

Quin Snyder – Any storyline here (pick a one, any one)

The hiring of Quin Snyder is exciting and intriguing for a multitude of reasons: we have promises of ball movement, player movement (play the pass), defense, a plethora of pick-and-roll variations, innovative sets and screens and cuts, and the list can keep going.

Considering what so many Jazz fans gritted through the last few years—stagnant offenses, lethargic defenses, clichéd quotes after the game, and losses piling up one after the other—what we’re hearing so far is a breath of fresh air. It remains to be seen whether or not all this talk—play the pass—will actually happen, but we saw enough glimpses of a new-and-improved offense at summer league (even with younger players and lesser talent) to get what may be an unhealthy expectation for this season. Considering the offensive efficiency of recent years, we’ll take any improvement we can get.

Another Snyder storyline that intrigues me is this: will he own the position and be the undisputed coach/teacher/motivational guru for this squad? Jerry Sloan was always the top dog, that was crystal clear. The players seemed to give him an incredible amount of respect. Snyder seems to have enough intelligence mixed with confidence and presence to own this coaching position, and it’ll be interesting to see how that presence and his sheer force of will creates and molds an identity for this team—something that has been sorely lacking for the last few years.

Gordon Hayward: Max Man

We were all curious how Hayward was going to respond last year under the weight of a contract year and the weight of being the number one option without other consistent options around him. We saw that both the pressure and the circumstance were too much for periods of time, and we saw that he’s not a great #1 option. Now, the weight of the contract issue may be shifted: from the weight of not having a contract to the weight of having a max contract, with all of the expectations that come along with it.

With a new coach and a style of play that will appeal to and enhance Hayward’s strengths, will he be able to repeat his 16/5/5 averages for the year? This is going to be one of the most fascinating stories for me this year: will we see a higher ceiling on Hayward, because Snyder will be able to utilize Hayward and his skills better?

Alec Burks: Who is he?

This is the year where we get to see what Alec Burks can do and who he can really be as a player. The last couple of years, he was being shuffled either between the 1 and the 2, with varying degrees of success, or shuffled between being a starter or a sixth man. Flexibility is a great thing—and variety can be fun—but the Jazz need to figure out where he’s going to fit, and what he can do within that role, whether it’s as a starter or a sixth man (whether or not he’ll be happy in that role is another issue to look at if he’s in the team’s long-term plans).

He’s incredibly talented with unique skills and a high FTr (the highest on the team if you take out Rudy Gobert, and I think it makes sense to), and can make defenses collapse more than anyone else on the team can. Given that the corner three looks to be utilized more as part of the Jazz’s offense this coming year, Alec’s talents will be very valuable. If the Jazz can extend Alec Burks, I hope they do it. He, like Hayward, could also command a significant raise as an RFA, so hopefully it doesn’t get to that.

So, Jazz fans, what are your top three stories for the season? Enes Kanter? Trey Burke and Dante Exum?

Author information

Laura Thompson
Laura Thompson
I grew up in California, but have been a Jazz fan pretty much since I was in diapers; I went to Karl Malone's basketball camp when I was 11 and I flew up to Utah in 1997 to go to Game 3 of the Finals. After graduating from BYU in 2008, I moved back to California to work in Marketing and have been doing that for the last five years. My favorite things in life are the Utah Jazz, basketball, food (whether cooking or consumption of), reading, church, black Labs, and the beach (though hopefully not in that order).
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Jazz Trade John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas, and Erik Murphy for Carrick Felix, 2nd-Round Pick, and $1 Million http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-trade-john-lucas-iii-malcolm-thomas-and-erik-murphy-for-carrick-felix-2nd-round-pick-and-1-million/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-trade-john-lucas-iii-malcolm-thomas-and-erik-murphy-for-carrick-felix-2nd-round-pick-and-1-million/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 01:04:30 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12332 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 of the same name every Saturday on 1280 AM.
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(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Utah Jazz have acquired Carrick Felix, a 2nd round pick, and $1 million in return for the non-guaranteed contracts of John Lucas III, Malcolm Thomas and Erik Murphy. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports was the first to report the trade.

From the Jazz’s perspective, there’s little-to-no cost in this trade. The best asset traded away here is Malcolm Thomas, who has impressed enough at the D-League and Summer League levels to show that he deserves NBA minutes at this point in his career. That being said, those minutes were going to be hard to find on the Jazz’s PF-heavy roster: Favors, Kanter, Novak, Booker, and Evans can all play the position, and all would presumably be ahead of Thomas on the preliminary depth chart. Thomas can help an NBA team, and could even help a contender, but unfortunately, he doesn’t look like a great fit in Cleveland, given this:

Hopefully Thomas does find his way with an NBA team.

John Lucas III is the biggest name in the trade, after he played 591 minutes for the Jazz last season. Lucas had actually played far more effectively (and in more minutes) in his time with Toronto and Chicago in his previous two seasons, with a PER of 16.3 and 12.8 respectively, but disappointed with Utah to the tune of a 5.2 PER. Lucas was a beloved presence in the locker room, but clearly couldn’t be counted on to contribute during his minutes played. In fact, his early season performance was so disappointing that the team first re-signed an old Jamaal Tinsley to offset many of his minutes, then when that didn’t work out, found Diante Garrett in the season’s first D-League call-up. Lucas’s contract is unguaranteed, and at $1.6 million, it would be surprising to see him not cut by one team or another before January. That being said, it’s probably somewhat worthwhile for some team to find out whether his true current talent level is closer to his 2011-13 showing or his 2013-14 performance.

Erik Murphy was supposed to be a prototypical stretch 4, but both his shot release and his defensive movement have been slow enough at the NBA level to really disqualify him from NBA minutes. He’s disappointed once again at this year’s Las Vegas Summer League, and has $100,000 coming to him coming to him if he isn’t cut by August 1st. In my opinion, the only way he makes it past that deadline is if Cleveland is on the verge of a trade that would necessitate his contract.

The Jazz would have likely released all three of these guys anyway, due to either high competition (Thomas) or simply to save money and roster spots (Murphy, Lucas). That doesn’t mean they aren’t assets, but Utah probably used those assets to the best of their ability by sending them to a team that’s desperately seeking those non-guaranteed deals to use in a superstar-level trade.

It’s instructive that Ian Clark wasn’t included: while the Cavaliers could have used his contract, it appears that the Jazz would like to keep it, despite that his contract will become fully guaranteed by August 1st. While this might make him less valuable to the Cavs, Clark is also attending the Jazz’s state-of-Utah Junior Jazz tour after that date (August 11-14). It would seem cruel to cut Clark, then expect him to tour rural Utah for a week, though DeMarre Carroll traveled Utah last summer without a contract. The Jazz are thin on the wings, and Clark currently stands as only 4th SG/SF on the roster.

Carrick Felix would be the 5th wing, and there are significant indications that the Jazz like him. Perhaps the biggest public sign is Jazz radio play-by-play man David Locke’s article about Felix and the trade:

Felix is going to [be] a part of the Utah Jazz…. The Jazz scouts have had an eye on Felix and like his defensive mindset, his ability to rebound and believe he can shoot the three.  He is not an offensive playmaker with the ball in his hands.  This is an opportunity for the Jazz to add a player they like and believe has a chance to develop into a rotational piece.

With his role with the team, Locke often has insider-type knowledge on the thinking of the Jazz; on this issue, this is even further evidenced by that Locke’s 836-word article was posted just 12 minutes after Wojnarowski broke the news. Expect Carrick to stay on the team, for all of the reasons Locke mentioned.

At the NBA level, Carrick Felix is probably most likely to make it as a defensive specialist who’s capable of not embarrassing himself offensively. Personally, I think of him as most similar to Quinton Ross, another 6’6” guard who could defend extremely well and rebound really well, but was extremely poor with the ball in his hands. Ross couldn’t ever do enough offensively to stay on the floor or remain in the league, so it will be up to Felix to show more on that side of the ball than Ross did.

The 2015 2nd round pick the Jazz receive is likely Cleveland’s own. This is just a guess, but an educated one, as Cleveland only has rights to one other 2015 2nd round pick, Boston’s, and it is top-55 protected. While they could trade that pick instead, it would be meaningless to do so. Given that Cleveland recently signed a really good player, and will likely use these assets to acquire another really good one, the 2nd round pick isn’t likely to be excellent. The $1 million the Jazz receive is nice enough, and gives the Jazz free reign to repeat this process by taking a glance at another cheap prospect.

Overall, the Jazz spent roughly $2.2 million on Lucas, Thomas, and Murphy’s contracts over the last season, and got a goodish prospect and a bad 2nd round pick in return. Given the rapidly approaching decision date on two of the non-guaranteed prospects, it was a small chance for the Jazz to get something long-term for an immediately expiring asset. It’s not very impressive value, but it does continue the Jazz’s plan of using their cap space and money now to receive assets for the future.

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 of the same name every Saturday on 1280 AM.
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