The sequence of nine games since the start of January demonstrates the uncertainties that surround this team. They won at home against Milwaukee, no surprise. Then they lost to the Lakers, one of the few teams playing consistently worse than the Jazz. Oklahoma City comes to town a few days later and the Jazz win. Who saw that coming? But then they laid an egg against Cleveland just a few days later, still on their home floor. Next was a win against Denver, followed by a loss in San Antonio; two games that seemed to fit the mold. Then just last week, they played one of their best games against Detroit, and decided to not even show up for consecutive games against Minnesota.
Notice the pattern here? Me neither.
The entire season has gone this way. One night, they’ll show flashes of hope for the future. The next, they’ll make fans fear for consistent lottery picks. At least during the first 15 games, fans knew what to expect, even if the result was slightly unpleasant. That didn’t last long however. The Jazz have since shown that they’re so bad this year, they can’t even tank properly.
Maybe the Jazz continue to hover around the .500 mark for the rest of the season. But being a middle of the road team is what they’ve been struggling with for the last 3-4 years. Something drastic needs to change.
Management must know that too. I won’t suggest they’re playing their hand already, but the recent string of phantom injuries is all too suspect. Granted, I’m no doctor, (sorry, Mom) but a hip flexor injury the day after going for a career high? C’mon. Although Gordon Hayward looks like he’s going to break every bone in his leg when he attacks the basket, he’s proven to be fairly injury-free thus far into his career. So G-time, next time you decide to drop 37 and go toe-to-toe with Kevin Durant, leave it all on the court like you did, because you’re going to get a few days off afterwards.
But at that point, I was only suspicious. My suspicion only turned to skepticism, however, when Derrick Favors came up with a hip injury just as Hayward was getting better. How convenient. Both of those guys have played a lot of minutes this year, Hayward especially, so wear and tear isn’t totally unexpected. It’s simply the timing of it all.
Dennis Lindsey has already demonstrated his commitment to the youth movement/rebuild. There’s not a doubt in my mind he understands how crucial this offseason is, probably more so than each and every one of us can imagine. He knows drafting anywhere from 6-10 is not nearly as impactful as 1-5. I also don’t doubt his ability to make something happen when he needs to, as he proved last summer. But certain things can be done now, rather than waiting for the bounce of the lottery balls, and he is making that happen.
Ty Corbin made things a little easier for Lindsey early on, with all those minutes to players like Lucas, Biedrins and Jefferson. But no one can play that lineup in the face of such negative results. All except for Jefferson, that is. And if Ty won’t keep this ship going down on his own, Lindsey might do everything he can to help out. Trey Burke might want to watch those fingers again, because we’re going to see more injuries the rest of the way. Phantom or not.