Salt City Hoops http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:52:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com Jazz Media Training Camp – Salt City Hoops Podcast http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-media-training-camp-salt-city-hoops-podcast/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-media-training-camp-salt-city-hoops-podcast/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 17:52:12 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=13040 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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The Deseret News' Jody Genessy celebrates hitting a routine 18 footer during this week's media training camp. It was his only basket of the day.

The Deseret News’ Jody Genessy celebrates hitting a routine 18 footer during this week’s media training camp. It was his only basket of the day.

This week’s episode is all about the Jazz’s Media Training Camp. Invited by new coach Quin Snyder to participate in a practice and learn some of the offense, it seemed like all media had a blast at the event. We invite Nicole Hernandez of 1600 AM, the Jazz’s Spanish radio affiliate, on the show to chat about what we learned about Snyder’s offense, which media members had game, what it was like as the only female media member at the event, and more. As always, we also have a Crazy Trade Idea of the Week.

Author information

Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-media-training-camp-salt-city-hoops-podcast/feed/ 0 This week's episode is all about the Jazz's Media Training Camp. Invited by new coach Quin Snyder to participate in a practice and learn some of the offense, it seemed like all media had a blast at the event. We invite Nicole Hernandez of 1600 AM, This week's episode is all about the Jazz's Media Training Camp. Invited by new coach Quin Snyder to participate in a practice and learn some of the offense, it seemed like all media had a blast at the event. We invite Nicole Hernandez of 1600 AM, the Jazz's Spanish radio affiliate, on the show to chat about what we learned about Snyder's offense, which media members had game, what it was like as the only female media member at the event, and more. As always, we also have a Crazy Trade Idea of the Week. Salt City Hoops no 42:49
Why Dahntay Jones? http://saltcityhoops.com/why-dahntay-jones/ http://saltcityhoops.com/why-dahntay-jones/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 17:26:43 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=13023 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Utah Jazz training camp is just a few days away–let the rejoicing commence.  While Utah has added a number of players over the past few weeks, a team can carry 20 players into training camp and into preseason (though many teams will cut a few guys prior to preseason). In a surprising move on Monday, the Jazz signed longtime vet Dahntay Jones to assume one of the remaining vacancies.

Yes, Dahntay Jones. Confusing a bit, I know.

Many longtime NBA fans are somewhat familiar with Jones, but it never hurts to learn a bit more, so let’s take a look at the newest Jazzman.

At 33 years old, Jones has been around the basketball block a few times. The 6’6″ swingman hails from New Jersey and played his first two collegiate seasons at Rutgers University. He then become one of very few players who successfully have transferred to Duke and coach Mike Krzyzewski. In fact, the Jazz now have two of those players, Rodney Hood being the other. His defense and his fundamental play helped him become a valued player. Jones averaged 17.7 PPG (40% 3s) as a senior and turned enough heads to be tabbed as the 20th pick in the 2003 Draft by the Boston Celtics. He was promptly shipped to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for Kendrick Perkins.

Jones played his first four seasons in Memphis, improving gradually each season. His fourth season there was one of his best, as he posted 7.5 PPG and 2.0 RPG in 21.4 MPG. That said, after his rookie deal, the Grizzlies opted to go a different direction. He had a cup of coffee in Boston (waived after the preseason) and Sacramento in 2007-08. Jones then had a nice break, inking a deal with the Denver Nuggets. He became a starter alongside Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson and Chauncey Billups, playing the role of the defensive specialist on that high-scoring squad. He parlayed that season into a multi-year contract with the Indiana Pacers.

Jones enjoyed his best statistical season with the Pacers, averaging a career-high 10.2 PPG in 2010. He last played in the 2012-13 season, splitting time with the Dallas Mavericks and the Atlanta Hawks. Jones was brought in by the Chicago Bulls last season, but only lasted two weeks before being waived.

As is the case with most roster moves, there are pros and cons with Dahntay Jones. Let’s start with the latter, as they seem more obvious based on most people’s reactions to the signing. First, Jones did not play last year. At 33, how much does the 10-year NBA veteran have in the tank? He’ll undoubtedly have a lot of rust to shake off.

Second, he has never been the most effective player. Jones has a career 9.6 PER, with just a 6.4 mark his last NBA campaign. His play has been labeled dirty on occasion–just ask Deron Williams and Kobe Bryant.

Jones is a slightly below average shooter and will never be confused as a perimeter shooter– just 106 3FGs in the NBA on 33.4 percent shooting. He’s essentially a 3-and-D guy without the 3 and with declining D.

Lastly, should he make the roster, Utah will be his seventh team. He has been traded four times and waived thrice.

So why bring him to camp? Jones’ defensive intensity and effort cannot be questioned. He is fiery, hard-nosed and tireless on that end. With head coach Quin Snyder’s emphasis on improving the team’s defensive schemes, perhaps Jones was brought it to help with that cause.

With 15 of the 19 players 24 and younger, Snyder probably also wants to add a bit of a veteran presence to the mix.  Even if he does not make the regular season roster, having his experience around might be the main reason for his invite. There is also the Duke connection, and one always has to consider moves like this as being a favor to an agent.

So there you have it–probably more analysis than you wanted about Dahntay Jones. With a non-guaranteed deal and a lot of competition, the guess is he probably won’t last past October. But one never knows.

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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Utah Jazz Best Case & Worst Case for 2014-15 http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-best-case-worst-case-for-2014-15/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-best-case-worst-case-for-2014-15/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:08:10 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=13012 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

A franchise known for its continuity made a number of changes over the summer; it remains to be seen whether Utah’s active offseason translates into an improved on-court product. Several such scenarios are entirely plausible given the makeup of the team – youth everywhere on the roster and an incoming coaching staff expected to take a very different approach from the one being replaced. Conversely, these same elements and their many unknown qualities leave plenty of potential room for many of the same frustrations that plagued the team last season.

Let’s take a look at both ends of this spectrum. I’ve split relevant on-court elements into identifiable groups, and what follows are some best case/worst case scenarios for the upcoming season.

Guard/Wing Rotation:

Grouped together both by convenience and Quin Snyder’s stated desire to play a more positionless brand of basketball, Utah’s contingent of rotation wings and guards offers a wide range of possibilities. Just look at the ages of the projected rotation: Trey Burke (21), Gordon Hayward (24), Alec Burks (23), Dante Exum (19), Rodney Hood (21) and even complimentary pieces Carrick Felix (24) and Ian Clark (23) are all under 25, and of them only Hayward has finished his rookie contract.

Shooting will be under the microscope for a team that struggled badly here last year. The team was 26th league-wide in three-point percentage, 24th between eight and 16 feet and 25th between 16 and 24 feet, per NBA.com. The guards (including Hayward, who is listed as such on NBA.com) shot just 32.5 percent from beyond the arc, the third-worst mark for a guard rotation in the league. Systemic issues as well as simple lack of shot-making contributed here; per shot distribution data compiled by Ian Levy, the Jazz were 22nd in XPPS (Expected Points Per Shot, a rough measure of shot attempt quality) and 23rd in Actual PPS, meaning both their shot selection and ability to beat league averages from these locations were subpar. Slightly more condemning was their 29th-ranked 40.7 percent mark on all uncontested shots, per SportVU data.

There are plenty of signs that suggest a turnaround is possible, however. Both Hayward and Burke had uncharacteristically bad shooting years given what was known about them previously, and another year of development for both plus expected schematic changes could change their fortunes around quickly. Each has certainly proven more capable in the past – Hayward has two 40-percent-plus seasons from three, and Burke shot over 38 percent on high volume as the first option in his 2012-13 year at Michigan. Further, the addition of Hood (and Steve Novak, though he’s technically part of the big rotation) should help loosen things up somewhat.

Best Case: Burke and Hayward thrive in a system designed to take the pressure off them individually, and Burks builds on a quietly excellent year as a spot-up shooter last season (46 percent overall and 43.2 percent from deep, per Synergy). Hood establishes himself as a bona fide sharpshooter with the ability to bend defenses, and Exum’s form and legs are solid enough to approach average as a jump-shooter. Even bigs like Novak, Trevor Booker and Enes Kanter get in on the fun with expanding ranges, and the Jazz turn a bottom-10 shooting team into a borderline top-10 unit.

Worst Case: Burke’s shot selection woes continue to hurt him, Hayward can’t rediscover his stroke from seasons past, and Burks returns to the sort of inconsistency that had been present before last year’s breakout campaign. Hood is too weak defensively to get on the floor much, and Exum has all sorts of trouble adjusting to the NBA game. The bigs aren’t able to generate consistency or spacing, and Utah is again among the league’s worst shooting teams.

Big Rotation:

Favors, Kanter and Gobert form an intriguing three-man rotation fit-wise, and how each develops will play a big role in future plans. Booker and Novak, the former in particular, may eat chunks of minutes in certain scenarios, especially if the above-discussed shooting again suffers and neither Favors nor Gobert shows any real improvement there.

There are questions on both sides of the ball; can Kanter, Booker and Novak offer enough defensively to warrant significant playing time? And on the other side of the coin, can Favors and Gobert progress enough on the offensive end to stay on the court and impose their rim protecting will against helpless opponents? Can Jeremy Evans build on a career high in minutes from last season and carve a place for himself on this or another NBA roster once his contract expires next summer? The answers should start to become clearer before long.

Best Case: Gobert’s summer high lingers into the NBA season, where he shows enough as a pick-and-roll dunker to give the Jazz 30 minutes a night of elite rim protection without sacrificing the entire offense. Favors continues last year’s brutally efficient numbers as a roll man in P&R sets while further developing his post game and jumper, and Kanter is revitalized defensively under Snyder with a range extending out to the corner 3. Booker and Novak stretch defenses while on the floor while doing enough to get by on defense, and the frontcourt is quietly a huge improvement on last season.

Worst Case: None of that happens; Gobert can barely crack the rotation without breaking the offense, Kanter is awful again on defense, and the Jazz enter next summer with more questions at the big positions than answers.

Defense:

There’s seemingly nowhere to go but up here; a league-worst defense last season can hopefully only improve. It’s likely Snyder will employ fewer lineups with just a single big man on the floor, something Ty Corbin leaned on heavily last season that contributed to the defensive issues. As discussed above and in many other places, a Favors-Gobert pairing down low that can function offensively would be a huge boon to the overall team defense.

Real question marks remain as far as the guards and wings go, however. Both Utah’s picks, Exum and Hood, project as minuses, and Burke had a bevy of issues he’s unlikely to have fully solved over the offseason. Hayward certainly has room to return to the above-average defensive form he had shown in the past, especially if Snyder’s system takes some of the load off him on both ends of the floor, but there will be lots of pressure on him and Burks to contain top opponents on the wings. And if Hayward is again subpar, there could be real trouble; I’m higher than most on Burks’ defense, but he’d have to take yet another leap into the league’s truly elite wing defenders to support all the other holes.

Best Case: Favors and Gobert see a lot of the court, including plenty of time together. Hayward is energized in his new role and thrives in a switch-able two-man wing unit with Burks, who has improved on his off-ball defense to the point where it functions on the same level as his on-ball prowess. Burke, Exum and Hood leverage a more effective team scheme into acceptable showings for their position, and the team approaches league average defensively.

Worst Case: Hayward is again forced into too large a role, tiring him out and limiting him defensively. Burks gets the tougher wing assignments as a result, but also wears out with an increased role and fails to develop away from the ball. The rest of the young wings struggle, Favors and Gobert are unplayable together offensively, and Kanter, Booker and Novak are all liabilities. The team again finishes dead last in defensive efficiency.

Coaching:

A relatively straightforward theme here – the people determining the lineups, teaching the youth, and calling the plays are mostly different from last year. Incoming head man Snyder is among the league’s new guard of younger coaches, and brings with him the promise of more creativity along with lauded player development. He and his staff with have their work cut out for them right away with one of the youngest rosters in the league, and while no one expects an immediate turnaround into playoff contention, how they fill the previous year’s holes while building on its positives should be a sign of things to come.

Best Case: Snyder is the protégé Jazz fans were hoping for, both with his on-court systems and his player development. The team identifies with a younger, more relatable staff, and several of the core pieces make leaps amid an infinitely improved team culture.

Worst Case: The Jazz struggle with a tough early season schedule and several new rotation pieces, and some of Snyder’s lack of NBA head coaching experience is exposed. He isn’t quickly able to build a camaraderie with his players, and the same sort of disjointed culture as the last couple of campaigns again creeps to the forefront. His systems are well-intentioned, but a combination of these factors and a simple lack of developed NBA talent leads to a rough first year behind the bench for Snyder.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Jimbo’s Mailbag – Jazz Player Sightings and NBA Halftime Ideas http://saltcityhoops.com/jimbos-mailbag-jazz-player-sightings-and-nba-halftime-ideas/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jimbos-mailbag-jazz-player-sightings-and-nba-halftime-ideas/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:42:08 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=13003 Author information
Jimbo Rudding
Jimbo Rudding
I am a typical Jazz fan. I think Jordan pushed off, Derek Fisher lied, Bavetta cost us at least one game in the Finals, we should have drafted Tony Parker instead of Raul Lopez, and there will never be anything better than the Stockton to Malone days. I, along with Spencer Campbell @SCampbellSBN, started the first and longest-running Utah Jazz podcast on earth. I enjoy the in-of-doors and telling people a better way of doing whatever it is they're currently doing.
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Here's Andris Biedrins playing on his cell phone. What else has he been up to? (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Here’s Andris Biedrins playing on his cell phone. What else has he been up to? (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Welcome to the next edition of Jimbo’s Mailbag! At Salt City Hoops, we know that covering a losing team without any humor can be dreary. As such, we decided to add a little bit more levity to our site via Jimbo’s unique outlook on the world of Jazz basketball; the veracity of what follows is in question. Interested in submitting a question to Jimbo’s mailbag? Email it to Jimbo at mailbag@saltcityhoops.com or tweet @JimboRudding to appear. 

Q:  Have you seen any Jazz players around town lately?

– @Mikeyvp

Mikey, it’s funny you ask that, because I have seen Andris Biedrins numerous times within the past four months or so. For some reason, every time I see him, it’s always in an awkward situation or a place I would NEVER expect to run into him. I get the feeling sometimes that he is following me.

Here are a few of the places I’ve seen him:

  • I ran into him inside a Jo-Ann Fabrics. I was there waiting for my wife and he had an apron on and looked like he was helping an elderly lady pick out some yarn.
  • I spotted him at the VF Factory Outlet. He was there rollerblading through the hallways by himself. He had earbuds in and it looked like he was eating a bag of granola.
  • I saw him wandering around 53rd. When I asked what he was doing, he said he was looking for the 49th Street Galleria.
  • I noticed on my way to Wendover that he was sitting in one of the broken balls that had fallen from the Tree of Utah sculpture in the salt flats.
  • I saw him one time at Wal-Mart in Layton. He was dragging two shopping carts full of L.A. Looks hair gel.
  • Lastly, I saw him at the Festival of Color in Spanish Fork. He wasn’t throwing any colored chalk around though. It looked like he was bartering with a foreign man trying to purchase some goats.

From the looks of it, he is exploring every part of this great state. Hopefully I’ll see him around some more in the future.

 

Q:  What would it take to get an all beat writer + Jimbo halftime show?

– @gothedistance49

I have actually been working hard on ideas for future halftime shows. I figure if a middle-aged chubby guy can jump on a trampoline with a snowboard attached to his feet, then any ideas I have aren’t going to be too “out there.” Also, I would never compete with the beat writers, but I would GLADLY join with them to put on a great halftime show whenever they want.

Here is a list of a few ideas for an NBA halftime show I’ve been trying to get Greg Miller to approve:

  • Have my aunt Sharon enter the arena from outside, have everyone scream “SURPRISE!” and see if we can all get her to believe it was a surprise party for her.
  • Spin a ruler on a pencil VERY fast. (This one is mostly for the kids.)
  • Tie up a CrossFit instructor and force-feed him gluten straight from a can. A couple of lucky fans will be chosen to scream, “DIG DOWN DEEP!” over and over again while he eats.
  • Bring three guys in prison jumpsuits out onto the court and have a season ticket holder try to guess which one is Kirk Snyder.
  • Choose two fans to participate in a contest where they guess how many of my exotic birds it will take to lift me off the ground. The closest to the correct number will get to keep one of the birds while the loser will have to mop up the mess.

 

Q:  Where do you think you’ll end up on the other side of the wormhole that gets created from the day The Jimmer finally retweets you?

– @Clintonite33

I think you’re right on with that wormhole idea. If that retweet ever happened it could quite possibly disrupt the space-time continuum and cause multiple wormholes to appear. The moon would be in the seventh house, Jupiter would align with Mars, and love would steer the stars.

Deep down, I have this crippling fear that I’m going to run into Jimmer at the mall one day and he’s going find out that I’m Jimbo. Then, straight-faced, he’s going to look me in the eyes and say, “Why, man?” And I’m not going to be able to say anything except something dumb like, “I don’t know…things have been slow at work and…I haven’t been sleeping well lately and…no one nominated me for the ice bucket challenge…and the whole ISIS thing too, you know?”

He won’t be satisfied with any of that and he’ll just keep staring at me and waiting for a good answer. Then, I’ll continue to dig my hole deeper by saying, “The one about the fountain of youth was funny though, wasn’t it?…Oh, and there was the one about MacGyver handing out samples in Costco…ha ha…remember that one?”

Jimmer’s straight face would continue until he couldn’t take it anymore and he’d just burst out laughing. Then he’d say, “I’m just kidding, man! How could I forget the MacGyver one! That was my favorite! My entire family loved that one at the reunion. In fact, you made my uncle Dave wet himself.”

Then he’d hold his hand out towards me. I’d take it in mine and we’d jump back through the wormhole and there would be harmony and understanding and mystic crystal revelation…or something like that.

 

Q:  Can you rank these Boozer moments for greatness: painting his hair, getting paid regardless, “AND ONE!”, his duffle bag?

– @davidsmith1232

This is a great question David! I would have to add “heard a pop” and maybe “GET IT MEMO!” to that list.

On one hand, every time I want to bash Boozer, I always go back to Game 7 of the first round of the 2007 playoffs. He had 35 points and 14 rebounds. Think about that; 35 and 14. I realize his defense was horrid and his attitude less than ideal, but what more do we want from our starting power forward in the biggest game of the year?

On the other hand, I’m not in the defending-Boozer business when he does/says all of the things you’ve listed in your question. Besides the whole not-being-good-at-basketball thing, the dude is straight-up crazy sometimes. He’s like that kid in school who is very friendly with you, but who sometimes steals your lunch money or tells Jessica Stoltz that you have a huge crush on her just because he broke into your locker and found love poems inside addressed to her, but you keep telling him that those were to your aunt Jessica and they weren’t love poems, they were just thank you poems for being such a nice aunt.

The truth is, I’m at peace with Boozer. I don’t want to retire his number or anything, but I sure as heck wouldn’t mind having him come rollerblading at the VF Factory Outlet with me and Andris Biedrins.

Thanks for the questions everybody!

Author information

Jimbo Rudding
Jimbo Rudding
I am a typical Jazz fan. I think Jordan pushed off, Derek Fisher lied, Bavetta cost us at least one game in the Finals, we should have drafted Tony Parker instead of Raul Lopez, and there will never be anything better than the Stockton to Malone days. I, along with Spencer Campbell @SCampbellSBN, started the first and longest-running Utah Jazz podcast on earth. I enjoy the in-of-doors and telling people a better way of doing whatever it is they're currently doing.
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Stat Projections by Layne Vashro – Salt City Hoops Podcast http://saltcityhoops.com/stat-projections-by-layne-vashro-salt-city-hoops-podcast/ http://saltcityhoops.com/stat-projections-by-layne-vashro-salt-city-hoops-podcast/#comments Fri, 19 Sep 2014 18:06:26 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=13005 Author information
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen
Andy Larsen is the Managing Editor of Salt City Hoops, the ESPN TrueHoop affiliate for the Utah Jazz. He also hosts a radio show and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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Jazz draft picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood don't grade out very well by Layne Vashro's projections. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jazz draft picks Dante Exum and Rodney Hood don’t grade out very well by Layne Vashro’s projections. (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

On this week’s episode of the Salt City Hoops Podcast, our guest is Layne Vashro. Layne specializes in projecting the performance of national and international prospects, and his models actually outperform the draft order of the real NBA general managers! We talk about the process of projecting international prospects, why Dante Exum and Rodney Hood don’t fare very well in his models, and how young Dragon Bender could the next big thing in the NBA. All that, plus a Crazy Trade Idea of the Week, on this week’s 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 and podcast every week on ESPN700 AM in Salt Lake City.
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http://saltcityhoops.com/stat-projections-by-layne-vashro-salt-city-hoops-podcast/feed/ 1 On this week's episode of the Salt City Hoops Podcast, our guest is Layne Vashro. Layne specializes in projecting the performance of national and international prospects, and his models actually outperform the draft order of the real NBA general manage... On this week's episode of the Salt City Hoops Podcast, our guest is Layne Vashro. Layne specializes in projecting the performance of national and international prospects, and his models actually outperform the draft order of the real NBA general managers! We talk about the process of projecting international prospects, why Dante Exum and Rodney Hood don't fare very well in his models, and how young Dragon Bender could the next big thing in the NBA. All that, plus a Crazy Trade Idea of the Week, on this week's podcast! Salt City Hoops no 46:08
An Open Letter to Utah Jazz Management http://saltcityhoops.com/an-open-letter-to-utah-jazz-management/ http://saltcityhoops.com/an-open-letter-to-utah-jazz-management/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:52:29 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12988 Author information
Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Press Conference

(Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dear Jazz brass,

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

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

So again, thank you.

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

So to the Millers especially, thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For this and for many other things, thank you.

 

Sincerely,

Jazz fans

Author information

Scott Stevens
A voice of the everyday Jazz fan. Scott works as a creative writer at an advertising agency in Los Angeles. Sticking it to Laker fans every chance he gets. A former "Jazz Rowdy" and avid interneter with production and writing experience on global sports brands. He has lived everywhere from Texas to DC, and all the way to Thailand. He now happens to live on a boat.
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Who is Toure’ Murry? http://saltcityhoops.com/who-is-toure-murry/ http://saltcityhoops.com/who-is-toure-murry/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12983 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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Toure Murry ponders "What is life?" during a Knicks game last season. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Toure Murry ponders “What is life?” during a Knicks game last season. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

After a smattering of rumors, the Utah Jazz went ahead and signed point guard Toure’ Murry a few weeks ago. Who is Murry and what are his chances of making the team, and beyond that, making an impact?

Murry is a 6’5″ point guard who played his collegiate career at Wichita State. He was a four-year starter who was consistent through his time there, averaging between 9.4 and 12.1 PPG.  While he showed improvement, Murry was a below average shooter, never hitting beyond 42.4 percent of his shots. Moreover, his 3-point shooting regressed. Defense was one of his calling cards, as he was a two-time All-Missouri Valley Defensive Team honoree. Murry helped propel his team towards some postseason success, helping the Shockers win the NIT championship in 2011 and then pushing Wichita State to the second round in the 2012 NCAA tourney.

Despite his solid career, Murry went undrafted. After playing for the Los Angeles Lakers’ summer league team, he opted for the D-League route, playing the 2012-2013 campaign with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. He posted modest numbers: 9.0 PPG, 3.0 APG, 1.8 SPG.

The next summer saw him toiling for both the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks in the summer league. He did enough with the latter to earn an NBA contract. Thanks to New York’s rocky season, complete with an assortment of injuries, Murry spent most of the season with the Knicks, playing just one D-League game last year. Murry was decent, averaging 2.7 PPG in 7.3 MPG during 51 games. 43.4 % shooting is not bad for a rookie guard earning sporadic minutes.

The Jazz have had their eyes on him for while and likewise, he seems to have had eyes on them, as well. He had a pre-draft workout in Salt Lake City in 2012. According to rep0rts, Murry had his fair share of suitors in the Los Angeles Lakers, the Miami Heat and the Knicks.  New York wanted him back, as he fits the mold of guards that do well in the Triangle Offense. It sounds like he grew weary of waiting for them and chose Utah.

Utah signed Murry to a two-year, $2 million contract; like Brock Motum, Dee Bost, Jack Cooley and Kevin Murphy, his deal is partially guaranteed. Unlike the other four, however, his guarantee is much higher: $250,000. That figure, along with the fact that the Jazz need a third point guard, makes Murry’s chances of making the roster pretty good.

What does he bring to the Jazz? His size naturally sticks out. Like Dante Exum, he brings length to the back court, especially if playing point guard. His ability to play multiple positions is probably enticing to Utah.  He has solid court vision and is a willing passer (21.5 AST%, which would’ve been third on last year’s Jazz squad), with a penchant for alley oop dishes. With a 6’9″ wingspan, Murry has defensive potential. His 2.7 STL% is excellent–that would’ve paced Utah last year. Given head coach Quin’s Snyder’s emphasis on passing and defense, this bodes well for Murry. At 24, he is young, has upside and can grow with the young core.

He certainly has weaknesses. Murry has been a below average 3-point shooter at every level. He only attempted 12 treys in 373 minutes for the Knicks. Snyder and the coaching staff will undoubtedly work with him, as the desire to play with more pace will give Utah guards a lot of opportunities from the perimeter (and the corner three will undoubtedly be more of a weapon than in the past).

Murry will certainly be someone to watch in training camp and preseason. He seems to be a hungry player; a low-risk, potentially solid-reward pick-up by Utah.

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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Utah Jazz Frontcourt: Three-Headed Monster? http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-frontcourt-three-headed-monster/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-frontcourt-three-headed-monster/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 18:25:20 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12848 Author information
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

Between FIBA and summer league play, August pieces written by local and national media alike, and even gushing podcast segments, it’s been a Gobert love-fest this offseason. Shoot, there hasn’t been this much ado about Rudy since 1993. But with international play all wrapped up and September flying by, the hype factor slowly beings to taper off into reality – the next on-court action we’ll see from the towering Frenchman, along with the rest of his Jazz teammates, will be at training camp and, before you know it, the start of the preseason.

The questions as he once again steps onto an NBA court will be twofold, and one will be dependent on the other:

1. Can Gobert develop his offensive game to a point where lineups featuring him can hold their own on that end, particularly while next to Derrick Favors?

2. If so, what does this mean for the future of Enes Kanter – and/or how might Kanter fit in the picture?

As far as the first question goes, they’ll be hoping for short memories, as Charles would say. With the necessary caveats surrounding small sample size, Gobert’s time on the court saw an already bland offense crater spectacularly. A squad that was already just outside the league’s bottom five in per-possession scoring posted an ugly 95.3 points-per-100, over a full point lower than Philadelphia’s league-worst mark, per NBA.com. These figures were even worse (though on an even smaller sample) when he was paired with either Favors (82.0) or Kanter (88.4).

There’s cause for optimism, however. For one, all this Gobert gushing is happening for a reason – he appears to have improved, perhaps somewhat drastically. Favors and Kanter are both at a point on their developmental curve where they’ll be expected to have done the same to some degree. And my writing it ad nauseam doesn’t make it any less true: the new coaching staff will be expected to leave their own imprint on personnel across the board.

Speaking more generally, precedent exists for a successful frontcourt even if development stalls for one or more of the potential pieces involved, including the spatially-challenged Favors-Gobert unit.

Compare them, for instance, with one of the league’s top offenses in San Antonio. Gobert, like typical Spurs starter Tiago Splitter, is mostly ignored by opposing defenders outside the paint. The two combined attempted just 15 shots from beyond 10 feet all last season – 14 by Splitter, who also played about triple Gobert’s minutes. Meanwhile, Tim Duncan is a better midrange shooter than Favors both in perception and reality, but perhaps the latter gap isn’t quite as large as the former would indicate. The two shot nearly identical percentages between eight and 16 feet from the hoop (37.7 percent for Duncan, 37.6 percent for Favors) last year. Duncan had a big advantage from beyond 16 feet, but team context plays a role here; where Favors drew assists on 66.7 percent of his makes from this distance, Duncan did so 95.5 percent of the time. We see that San Antonio’s vastly superior talent and comfort within their system led to Duncan almost never being forced to create these shots for himself, with Favors far more often required to do so. This jives with SportVU data tabulated by my Nylon Calculus colleagues Darryl Blackport and Krishna Narsu, which shows that Duncan took 37.5 percent of his total shots while “uncontested” (no defender within four feet) while Favors took just 24.5 percent of his under the same circumstances. The spacing and team construct was just so different, and this certainly played some role.

Obviously, the Spurs are on a whole other planet, one this Jazz core may never even get within eyesight of. Numerous advantages in nearly every other aspect of NBA basketball of course play a large part in their ability to keep a Duncan-Splitter frontcourt viable offensively where Utah failed to do so with their own. But like several other aspects of the Jazz franchise moving forward, San Antonio has laid out the blueprint. Common sets like Horns, detailed in the video below on a team-by-team basis by Coach Nick of bballbreakdown.com, and the specific variations used by Gregg Popovich are among the simplest starting points:

If we’re being fair, some of this may end up being a bit thin. Favors and Gobert are likely to struggle offensively as a pairing, perhaps mightily so, unless one or the other undergoes a shooting renaissance that seems highly unlikely. Heck, the Duncan-Splitter duo, while far more effective than Utah’s frontcourt to be sure, was still among the least productive of San Antonio’s high-volume two-man units, and Pop wasn’t shy about mixing things up to inject more spacing when necessary.

This is where Kanter remains an intriguing piece of the puzzle. Should the change of coaching scenery and another offseason of work be enough to propel him from awful to simply below-average defensively, his abilities as a midrange shooter and low post operator could be surprisingly complementary while Favors or Gobert run more pick-and-roll action.

In truth, a Favors-Kanter-Gobert three-headed monster frontcourt may be nothing more than a pipe dream. Any major tangible improvement from Kanter before his expected RFA summer could easily push his perceived value around the league even further beyond what the Jazz would be comfortable paying him, and Gobert comes in at a far cheaper tag and in a situation they control for longer (he’s also just as large of an offensive question mark as Kanter is a defensive one, if not more so). And don’t forget, Utah is widely expected to score another solid lottery pick in the 2015 Draft – one that, at least for now, appears to contain at least three or four highly-touted prospects at the big positions. For all of Dan’s talk (and my repetition) of consolidating assets, the opportunity to pick a name like Jahlil Okafor or Karl Towns might be too good to pass up, particularly if one of the three incumbents isn’t pulling their weight.

Author information

Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett
Ben Dowsett is a life-long Jazz fan and general sports fanatic based in Salt Lake City. He also writes for Nylon Calculus (Hardwood Paroxysm/Fansided Network), and can be heard on the airwaves for the SCH podcast and appearances with ESPN AM 700. With a strong background in both statistics and on-court fundemantals, he writes primarily as an in-depth strategic analyst. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.
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Where Are They Now? Former Utah Jazz Players http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/ http://saltcityhoops.com/where-are-they-now-former-utah-jazz-players/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 13:41:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12782 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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Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

It’s always interesting for fans to keep an eye on those who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. After another busy offseason around the league, here is the full list of where former Jazzmen are playing, and some thoughts about their upcoming seasons.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks: Last season, the gritty forward enjoyed a career-year. After toiling for four teams in four seasons, Carroll may have found a home with the Hawks. He posted 11.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.8 APG and 1.5 SPG, complete with some great defense (2.6 DWS) and shooting (.575 TS%). Carroll still just had a 13.9 PER and is probably better suited playing just a touch less than the 32.1 MPG he played. He has been effusive in his praise of new Jazz coach Quin Snyder, citing his efforts as a big catalyst for his improvement.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks: The sharp-shooting forward had another solid season, putting up 12.0 PPG, 2.9 APG and 4.0 RPG for the Hawks. Korver’s stellar marksmanship (47.5 percent field goals, 47.2 percent on 3s and 92.6 percent from the line) paced the NBA with a .653 True Shooting Percentage. Add in a 5.9 WS, and you can see Korver’s importance for Atlanta. Look for him to do much of the same this year. While he fell short of making the USA FIBA team, Korver’s value has managed to increase as his career progresses.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks: When Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, Paul Millsap stepped up in a major way. Sporting a nice 3-point touch, his 17.9 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.7 SPG and 1.1 BPG were enough to earn his first-ever All-Star appearance. Many of his advanced numbers mirrored his remarkable consistency during his Jazz days, so it was refreshing to see him earn that accolade at last. Even so, there still is a feeling that Millsap is underrated. He’s even been mentioned on some “Most Likely to be Traded” lists out there, perhaps due in part to his expiring $9.5 million  contract. If Atlanta is smart, they will hold on to the do-it-all forward.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets: Injuries plagued AK-47, but he still added value to a Brooklyn bench that struggled at times. Kirilenko has definitely lost some of the zip that made his one of the NBA’s most unique players for years. He averaged just 5.0 PPG last year, but showed he can still facilitate. At just $3.3 million, he is a solid guy for the Nets to have.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets: It certainly was a down year for Deron Williams. Across the board, his numbers were his worst since his first season. He’s dropped from 21.0 PPG to 18.9 to 14.3 the past three years (8.7 APG to 7.7 to 6.1). Given the additions of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Kirilenko, optimism was high that DWill would be the quarterback of a veteran-laden team that would compete with the Heat and Pacers. Instead, injuries really hurt his game. At just 29, Williams can bounce back. Given the Brooklyn market, and the fact that he’s in line to earn $63 million over the next three years, the pressure is on. By many accounts, new coach Lionel Hollins plans to funnel most of the offense through Williams.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats: Like Millsap, it was wonderful to see Jefferson earn the praise that he’s deserved for many years. He was the key to the Bobcats’ resurgence, as he provided a bonafide scoring threat inside– 21.8 PPG and 10.8 RPG. Head coach Steve Clifford used him well on both ends, helping him be a big part of their defensive identity. Evidence: Big Al’s career-high 4.7 DWS. Strangely enough, he did not make the All-Star team, but garnered All-NBA Third Team honors. With an excellent offseason, Charlotte is poised to make another jump in the Eastern Conference with Jefferson as the focal point. While his three-year, $41 million contract opened some eyes, most view it as a bargain for his production and leadership.

Marvin Williams, Charlotte Bobcats: Always a terrific locker room presence and solid on-court performer, it was difficult to see Marvin Williams depart Salt Lake City. He did everything that was asked of him, even developing into a good stretch four for the Jazz. Williams inked a two-year, $14 million deal with Charlotte to reunite with Jefferson and return to his collegiate home. With his combination of stout defense, improved rebounding and outside shooting, he will add a lot to the Bobcats. He will compete for a starting position.

John Lucas III, Cleveland Cavaliers: Lucas struggled with Utah. With Trey Burke’s early injury, he was thrust into the ill-suited role of starter and he never really recovered from that poor start. Diante Garrett quickly usurped him in the Jazz’s pecking order. Whether or not he makes the Cleveland roster remains to be determined. It sounds like he will be given the chance, with only Kyrie Irving and Matthew Dellavedova being the only other point guards in the fold.

Erik Murphy, Cleveland Cavaliers: Murphy, too, is facing an uphill battle. The Cavs seemingly dealt for Lucas, Murphy and Malcolm Thomas to use as trade filler in any Kevin Love deal,  then ended up holding on to all three of them. Along the way, Murphy’s contract was guaranteed.

Malcolm Thomas, Cleveland Cavaliers: By some accounts, Thomas seems like a player Cleveland is genuinely interested in keeping and using. With his blend of athleticism and length, he seems like a low-cost, potentially decent-reward guy to have at the end of the bench for the Cavs.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks: Harris returned to his original NBA team and while injuries affected his season, he seemed to thrive in the third guard role for Dallas. Harris chipped in 7.9 PPG and 4.5 APG off the pine, with his 31.0 AST% being his best since his New Jersey days. He re-signed for a modest contract and will be a valuable cog for a Mavericks team that could surprise, thanks to a very good offseason that also saw Tyson Chandler, Chandler Parsons and Jameer Nelson join its ranks.

Richard Jefferson, Dallas Mavericks: Like Marvin Williams, Jefferson too put forth a resurgent effort. After languishing in Golden State, he started for Utah and showed that he still had some gas in the tank. With Vince Carter’s departure to Memphis, Jefferson could fill the role of a shooter off the bench. Signing him for the veteran’s minimum was another solid move for Dallas.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets: Foye had a nice lone season in Utah and did even better in his first with Denver. With other guards being hit with injuries, the Nuggets relied on him more than expected. With 13.2 PPG and 3.5 APG, Foye did his best to help Denver remain in the playoff picture for a good part of the season. With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson coming back and Arron Afflalo’s return to the Mile High City, Foye may be back in a super sub role – one in which he does quite well.

Brandon Rush, Golden State Warriors: One year after being traded to Utah by the Warriors, Rush made his way back to the Bay Area. Given his lackluster play and poor body language in Utah, his heart was probably always in Golden State. If he can recapture some of his former self, he can be a solid perimeter addition to the Warriors bench.

C.J.Miles, Indiana Pacers: Despite playing nine NBA seasons, Miles is shockingly just 27. He had his best 3-point shooting seasons with the Cavaliers, which is the likely reason Indiana added him. He was to be a much-needed shooter for the Pacers, but with Paul George’s devastating injury, Miles may be asked to assume a bigger role – perhaps even starting. It will be interesting to see if Miles can seize this opportunity.

Carlos Boozer, Los Angeles Lakers: Carlos Boozer’s 2013-14 season was quite forgettable. His 13.7 PPG and 8.3 RPG were the lowest of his career since his rookie campaign. His 14.4 PER was by far the worst of his 12 seasons. The biggest stat for the Chicago Bulls was the $13.5 million he was set to make during the upcoming season. With the continued improvement of Taj Gibson and the additions of Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic, Boozer was an amnesty casualty.

Enter the Los Angeles Lakers. It is hard to determine what this franchise’s direction is. They added a slew of players to join the returning-from-injury Kobe Bryant, seemingly in hopes to provide enough firepower to compete in the Western Conference. Boozer will be looked on for some much-needed scoring. That said, with the glut of power forwards on the roster, it remains to be seen how much playing time the two-time All-Star will see. Especially when his age (32) and defense are taken into consideration.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies: After several underrated good years for Denver, Koufos brought some solid play to the Memphis front court. With 6.4 PPG and 5.2 RPG in 16.9 MPG, he provided depth behind Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. His shooting took a dip last season, but a 16.5 PER for your back-up is still very good; ditto the 3.5 WS and 18.4 TRB% (22.7 DRB%). He will continue to provide quality minutes and can step in to start, when needed.

Kyrylo Fesenko, Minnesota Timberwolves: Big Fes was a fan favorite during his four seasons. He had his moments and showed defensive potential. His immaturity, though, was an issue. After appearing in just three NBA the past three seasons, Fesenko is embarking on a comeback with the Minnesota Timberwolves. He impressed enough in summer league to earn a training camp invite. Given the rebuilding roster, the 7’1″, 288 lb gargantuan center might have a chance to stick.

Othyus Jeffers, Minnesota Timberwolves: The energetic Jeffers has made the rounds since finishing up the 2010 season with Utah. He hooked on with Minnesota right before the end of the last year and is still listed on its roster.

Mo Williams, Minnesota Timberwolves: After seeing success in a back-up role with the surprising Portland Trailblazers, Williams opted out of his contract and found the market wasn’t too kind. When things settled down, he inked a deal with Minnesota. It was a perplexing signing, with Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and, until they ship him out, J.J. Barea in tow. Given the dramatically changed roster, perhaps Mo will be looked on for veteran leadership.

Diante Garrett, Portland Trailblazers: After being a pleasant addition to the Jazz last year, he was unfortunately traded to Toronto in the Steve Novak transaction. After being waived by the Raptors, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland in hopes of sticking. With his size and improved outside shooting, he would be a nice player to have on the bench, even with the guards the Blazers already have.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers: After three solid seasons, Matthews made a little jump last season, enjoying his best year as a professional. His first half of the season was especially torrid, as he was shooting lights out. There was even talk of him making the Western Conference All-Star team. He finished the year averaging 16.4 PPG, while making 2.5 3s per outing. He leapt from 4.7 WS to 8.2 last year (going from 3.6 to 6.3 on OWS). Working with Damian Lillard, Matthews is part of a very potent back court that is among the best in the league.

Kris Humphries, Washington Wizards: While the Boston Celtics had a rebuilding year, Humphries had a quietly solid bounce-back season. He chipped in 8.4 PPG and 5.9 RPG in just 19.9 MPG, along with .552 TS% and 4.1 WS. Washington is a team on the rise and Humphries adds another capable back-up to their front court.

There are several others who are still out there without NBA contracts: Ronnie Brewer, Earl Watson, Ronnie Price, Eric Maynor, Andris Biedrins, Jamaal Tinsley, Mike Harris, Josh Howard, Lou Amundson. With the exception of Howard, all spent time on NBA rosters last season.

And just for fun, here are some former Jazzmen in the NBA’s coaching ranks:

Jarron Collins, Los Angeles Clippers: Collins will get his first chance as an NBA assistant coach. Always respected for his attitude and demeanor, it is nice to see him getting this opportunity with Doc Rivers and one of the league’s contending teams.

Howard Eisley, Los Angeles Clippers: Eisley continues in his role with the Clippers. He seems to be a valued part of the staff; no surprise, given his basketball knowledge.

Derek Fisher, New York Knicks: After 18 seasons and five championships, Derek Fisher was not unemployed for long. Phil Jackson plucked him up quickly, signing him to a five-year, $25 million pact. That’s a lot of scratch for someone who’s never coached at any level (though the same applies to Golden State’s deal with Steve Kerr). It will be very interesting to see what Fisher does in the Big Apple and the inherent scrutiny that exists therein. The Knicks roster does not do much to inspire.

Jacque Vaughn, Orlando Magic: Entering his third season in charge, the expectations are again low for Vaughn’s team to produce Ws. What they are looking for is continued player and talent development. That sounds familiar.

Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: Hornacek and his upstart Suns were among the NBA’s best stories last season. In his first year as head coach, Hornacek defied the most optimistic of expectations out there by producing an entertaining brand of basketball that got them within a breath of the postseason. Almost to a man, each Phoenix player had career-years–from established veterans like Goran Dragic and Channing Frye, to guys who were seemingly discarded in Miles Plumlee, P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green. The bar was set high. Can Hornacek build upon the momentum there in Phoenix? It would be tough to bet against him.

Tyrone Corbin, Sacramento Kings: Much has been said about Tyrone Corbin’s tenure as Utah’s head coach. There were ups and downs. Corbin gave his all and dedicated the past 12 years to the franchise. While he had struggles at the helm, he was largely considered one of the NBA’s best assistant coaches prior to replacing Jerry Sloan. Corbin should succeed in Sacramento as the lead assistant there, bringing professionalism to a talented Kings roster.

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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Gordon Hayward Video Scouting Report http://saltcityhoops.com/gordon-hayward-video-scouting-report/ http://saltcityhoops.com/gordon-hayward-video-scouting-report/#comments Sat, 13 Sep 2014 15:53:46 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12829 Author information
Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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NBA: Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns
As we near the start of the 2014-15 season, the current iteration of the Jazz franchise that’s centered around youth and potential will be looked at to move their way out of their current spot in the Western Conference cellar. While the additions of potential stars Rodney Hood and Dante Exum will be key facets to the future of the organization, the fate of one of the organization’s most popular players stood as perhaps the most important aspect of Utah’s off-season.

Of course, the player in question would be Gordon Hayward, who faced restricted free agency after spending the first four seasons of his career under the Utah Jazz microscope. While there was a bevy of interest in Hayward from other NBA organizations, it was the  Charlotte Hornets who gave Hayward a mighty four-year, $63 million dollar offer sheet, which was quickly matched by the Jazz.

By entering the upcoming season with that massive new contract in his possession, the pressure that surrounds Hayward has been elevated. While he’s always been looked at as one of the bigger keys behind Utah’s rebuilding process, Hayward transition to being the team’s highest-paid player will make him the  focal point of Utah’s rebuilding process.

While his newly elevated contract will put a lot more pressure on his shoulders, Hayward has actually held the  role of the team’s main offensive weapon since the departure of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap during the 2013 off-season. Transitioning to that new role appeared to be an extremely difficult task for Hayward, as he struggled to maintain any real consistency on the offensive end.

When you examine his offensive downfall during the previous season, the largest factor is his regression as a perimeter shooter. Prior to his time as the team’s main scoring option, when he was able to work alongside the likes of Jefferson and Millsap, Hayward was looked at as an elite perimeter shooter. During his first three seasons with the Jazz, Hayward was able to shoot 40% from beyond the arc, which eclipsed the likes of Ryan Anderson, Trevor Ariza and Joe Johnson.

In the 2013-14 season, that consistency wore off as Hayward’s three-point shooting percentage deteriorated to an extremely pedestrian 30%. Perhaps the biggest reason for that drastic drop in consistency pertains to the fact that Hayward rarely got an opportunity to get an open shot. As the team’s main offensive weapon, defenses were able to regularly zone-in on Hayward without having to worry about the consequences of leaving Millsap and Jefferson.

With the majority of defensive pressure now focused directly on him, Hayward had  moments where he seemed tense, which ultimately lead to some rough looking perimeter jumpers. While he’s a pretty athletic player that can penetrate his way towards the paint, Hayward still tends to struggle when it comes to being able to get separation from the opposition, mainly because of his less than stellar abilities as a ball-handler.

Those issues should be diminished as Hayward will have the opportunity to play alongside recent draftees Rodney Hood and Dante Exum, which would take away some of the offensive pressure that has rested on his shoulders. When he’s able to get an opportunity to work off-ball, Hayward definitely has had an ample amount of success when it comes to cutting to the paint. During the prior season, Hayward shot 58% from the restricted area, which would be the best percentage of his young career.

On the defensive end, Hayward was consistently able to showcase a veteran focus, which allowed him to become a pretty solid perimeter defender. While he does struggle to create separation of the offensive end, Hayward has enough lateral quickness to stick close to the vast majority of wing players, whether they would be penetrating to the rim or moving around the perimeter.

In pick-and-roll situations, Hayward is still able to remain effective because of his ability to quickly determine whether to go over or under the on-ball screener. While he does occasionally have mental lapses which ultimately allow the opposition to get an open look at the basket, he generally does a great job when it comes to quickly recovering from those instances.

With Hayward making the transition from a rookie deal to being one of the higher-paid players in the league, the pressure will definitely be elevated. While he probably won’t be looked at to immediately push the Jazz into the playoff hunt, Hayward will still be the veteran leader to the slew of Jazz youngsters. Even though he displays that certain level of confidence that you look for in a veteran leader, the inconsistency that he showcased during last season is still a cause for concern.

However,  the additions of Hood and Exum combined with the potential improvements of Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Alec Burks should help take away some of the pressure that Hayward had during the previous season. With that in mind, Hayward will still be looked at as the undeniable “go-to guy” in the Jazz offense, putting him into some high-pressure situations during the upcoming season. It’ll definitely be intriguing to see if he’ll be able to work under that heightened pressure and help lead the Jazz organization into the future.

Author information

Dakota Schmidt
A Wisconsinite who spends way too much time watching mediocre basketball. Started to love the game as I watched the "Big 3" era of the Bucks in the early 2000's but was eventually raised on the teams lead by the likes of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason and Andrew Bogut. Those mediocre teams helped me grow an appreciation for the less than spectacular style of basketball which has lead me to different gigs with Queen City Hoops (Bobcats), Ridiculous Upside (D-League) and now Salt City Hoops.
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