Random Jazz Thoughts

March 14th, 2016 | by Lucas Falk
Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The following is a collection of thoughts I’ve had over the past few weeks, but was unable to expand each into it’s own separate post so they are all getting bunched in together.

Shelvin Mack: Not the solution or the problem

When the Jazz acquired Shelvin Mack for a future second round pick not much was made of it. After all, Mack was just a third string point guard for the Hawks and Utah has a bevy of second round picks in its war chest.

But since his arrival, there has been a lot of talk on Twitter about if Mack has been detrimental to the team. The Jazz began to drop game after game, which happened soon after Mack joined the team. So simple logic would suggest that Mack’s arrival is the cause of Utah’s poor play as of late. But it’s not that simple. The Jazz were able to knock off weaker teams during their seven game win streak and now face tougher opponents. Furthermore, Utah’s current starting lineup of Mack, Hood, Hayward, Favors and Gobert has a positive 3.7 plus-minus.

The issue with this team has never been the starters, but the bench. Adding a third string point guard to the fold was not going to fix that. So while Mack may not be the solution for Utah, he isn’t the problem either.

Devin Booker or Trey Lyles

Last draft, the Jazz had an opportunity to pick shooting guard Devin Booker, but opted instead to take the potentially play-making four, Trey Lyles. These two players will be forever linked in my mind, not only because they were college teammates, but because the Jazz needed shooting then and continue to need it now. So would the Jazz be better off having selected Booker over Lyles? Of course, this question cannot be answered because it’s still far too early in both players’ careers. However, I will say that with the direction that the NBA is heading, a player like Lyles will have a special place. His size, shooting stroke, fluidity on the court and his ball handling will make Utah’s offense far more dynamic than it could have been with the shooting of Booker.

It’s OK if the Jazz don’t make the playoffs this year.

I know it’s a very unpopular thought, but hear me out. Yes, it’s important to get playoff experience. Yes, this upcoming draft class is viewed as very weak and having a lottery pick outside the top two might not yield a tremendous talent. Yes, the Jazz need to prove to their core that they are making progress. But with all that said, every single player that is important to the future of the franchise will be back next year, which gives the organization one last chance to prove what it needs to prove to Hayward and company. So while it is OK to be disappointed if the Jazz fail to crack the post season, and as cliche as this may be, there is always next year, at least for one more year.

Lucas Falk
Lucas Falk is a basketball junkie from Salt Lake City. Lucas is an alumnus of both Olympus High School and the University of Utah, where he earned a degree in Economics. Lucas is also a proponent of doing a reboot to the film "White Men Can't Jump." He can be found on Twitter @Lucaswfalk.
Lucas Falk
Lucas Falk

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  1. Diggin' It says:

    Missing the play-offs would mean they failed to meet their goal. That doesn’t mean the entire season for everybody is defined as a failure.

    After all, Hayward and Favors have played just great. Both would’ve been all-stars if circumstances (beyond their control) were different.

    I am in awe of the coaching job Snyder did during those injury-plagued times. He said the right things to the public, and never got down on any of his players. He never made excuses for losing, it didn’t matter if Joe Ingles, Chris Johnson, Jeff Withey, or Raul Neto were playing more than they should’ve. They stayed competitive despite having THREE key players inactive.

    To be honest, I am glad that Utah’s season has gone through this scenario. Every championship team has to fight through adversity to prove what they’re made of. Better to get tested in a year like this rather than a competitive year. *Plus, the players have had a LOT of meaningful games. Getting experience playing in crunch time, or in playoff-level atmospheres are healthy for development.

    • Laura says:

      “meet their goal”? The FO has been very clear that the playoffs are not the goal this year. They were hopeful, but they were very careful in how they answered that question at the beginning of the year. Given that interpretation, I don’t think missing the playoffs is a failure.

      I also don’t believe that playoff experience is as necessary as some folks make it out to be. How helpful was it when our guys got creamed in the first round when Al and Paul were here? The other side of that same coin is how folks said the losing culture around Golden State when they tanked to keep their pick (which turned into Harrison Barnes) would cripple them. That clearly hasn’t happened.

      If we have the right talent (we’re getting there, but still a couple pieces away), the right coach (I think we’ve got him), and health (fingers crossed!), we could have something special. But it takes time.

      Great job, Lucas!

  2. LKA says:

    Mack has been very good the last couple of games. I think he wil settle down as the third guard next year. The Lyles choice wil be proven over and over again. Having injuries he has got playing time and is proving his worth. Team can say thank you and let Booker go after the season.I think Trey Burke will be used as a trade chip for someone new or during the draft.Jazz have now won three in a row.

  3. Spencer says:

    The Cleveland Game magnified all of your points.

    Mack is actually part of the solution at PG after all. What Snyder was looking for was a long, strong, pg who was an above average defender who could switch on picks so that he can play his defensive philosophy. Mack is very good in this area, likely better than most starters in the league. If you have Exum starting next year, with Alec and Mack as backcourt backups, you can switch every pick and roll on the entire floor and have a chance. That cannot be said for any other lineup in the league for their top 9 players. GS is probably the team most able to do this.

    Lyles is player 7-8 in the rotation in this scenario. His 10 pt outburst against Cleveland was actually shocking to me. He was very aggressive and smooth in a high-pressure environment. I love that he is being held accountable defensively and he has improved dramatically. If he can improve his strength and his body in general, then continue incremental skill improvement across the board, I see a very likely scenario where the Jazz pick up their pace and get around the top ten in offensive metrics as well as defensive.

    Lyles, Hood, Hayward, Exum, Burk, Neto, Mack, all have the ability to hit multiple threes in a game with some regularity and make 35% or better from there. Booker has the ability to hit a wide open three at a 30-35% clip. Favors may hit a corner three with regularity before he reaches 27 yrs old. Gobert has no chance. But that is the only guy who has no ability to stretch the defense AND defend at an average or better level. Cool. Plus his defense more than makes up for that obvious weakness.

    So I think that the Jazz have the perfect defensive philosophy and personnel to give GS some problems. Just look at how they have played them. The Cleveland game sort of gave us another look at it as they really stymied what had been a prolific 3 point attack recently. If the Jazz can win one or two games vs GS and/or be competitive in half or more or them, that will go a long way. The Spurs always make the Jazz look silly. OKC or the Clippers would be good matchups for the Jazz as well. No playoffs is not the end of the world, but playoffs would mean:
    1-They Jazz played a lot of meaningful games at the end of the year and essentially won a month-long playoff series.
    2-They experience another level of intensity and preparation.
    That would make them playoff contenders next year instead of just happy to be there like this year will be and next year would be. I like that.

  4. Robin Rodd says:

    Nice three Jazz thoughts. Hubie Brown was drooling over Lyles’s IQ and flow during the Cavs game, and loved the way he stood his ground after Frye’s silly acting job. Nicely put about Mack neither being the problem nor the solution. And I agree about the playoffs. I also like Timthe Luwawu at the 12th spot in the draft where Draftexpress has him… An athletic, defending long French wing. It will be great to see the Jazz play hard and let the chips fall.

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