On this week’s Saturday Show, Andy Larsen, Austin Horton and Dan Clayton talk about Derrick Favors newly signed extension with the Utah Jazz. Is 4 years, $49 million too much, a bargain, or just right for the young big man? We’ll talk about how his deal works out statistically, and compare it to the contracts of other big men around the league. Then, we break down Dennis Lindsey’s interview on The Big Show from Friday. In Lindsey’s opinion, does Alec Burks make more sense as a starter or off the bench? Do we agree? How is Trey Burke’s development affected by his injury, both now and in the future? And how will the Jazz perform in the 4th quarter with the young guys? All that and more on this week’s Saturday Show!
Archives For Dennis Lindsey
There was not that much excitement surrounding the 2012 NBA Draft for Utah Jazz fans. At one point in the season, there was the possibility that the Jazz would have two first-round draft picks: their own and Golden State’s. But due to an interesting series of events, they ended up with neither. On the heels of a torrid finish, the Jazz nabbed the final Playoff berth and forfeited their pick to Minnesota (to finish up the Al Jefferson trade). And Golden State’s 5-22 record to end the season (including starting five rookies in the season finale) kept Utah from a valuable lottery pick.
As a result, Utah was left with just the 47th pick. While they had had some remarkable success with the same pick (Mo Williams in 2003 and Paul Millsap in 2006), there was not the same optimism last year. While not expecting a game-changer, some fans–yours truly included–were clamoring for Utah to opt for Iona point guard Scott Machado. The Jazz ended up drafting shooting guard Kevin Murphy, who saw very little playing time and was underwhelming when he got on the court. He’s, of course, been traded and will spend this year overseas.
Machado, on the other hand, will spend training camp with the Jazz this season. And some are interested to see how he fares. Can he make the roster? While the odds are against him, he will have the chance to stick.
Here are the facts: the Jazz have 13 on roster, including Ian Clark’s partially guaranteed deal. Traditionally, Utah has started the season with 13 or 14, leaving some flexibility should something crop up during the season. That means there may be room for one addition. Then again, given the homework Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey has put into things, if guys impress, they could start with the maximum.
What does Machado bring to the table? For starters, he is a pass-first point guard, something that might be nice to have as an option off the bench. Beyond Trey Burke, the Jazz have a lot of guys who can play minutes there, but none who could be dubbed pure points. Machado let the NCAA in assists his senior campaign–9.9 apg. BYU fans also remember clearly how he led Iona in the first half of the first-round March Madness match-up. In fact, he was on track to breaking the tourney record for dimes in a game (18), as he registered nine with 5:30 left in the first half. He is a smart player who tries to understand and play to his teammates’ strengths. His AST% has been high in every setting, including his meager NBA minutes.
Machado’s shooting last season, when he split time in the NBA (Houston, Golden State) and the D-League, left a lot to be desired. He only shot 37.6 percent in the D-League and just 32.5 percent from three-point range. That said, he showed his senior year that he has some skills (50% FGs, 40% 3s, 81% FTs, contibuting to a 61% TS% and 56% eFG%). He’ll have to show he can consistently stick the jumper in camp and pre-season play.
While willing, Machado’s defense is pedestrian. He certainly has deficiencies, but perhaps his potentially elite skill of passing and play-making may outweigh those, especially as an end-of-the-bench guy.
Combo guard Jerel McNeal was waived Wednesday. He had worked out a good part of the season in Utah and played on the summer league team, so this was a surprise. He even made a Jazz appearance at a local high school football game last week. Perhaps it was McNeal’s camp who requested the move. Utah did turn around and invite point guard Brandon Fortenberry to camp. Either way, Machado has to be liking his odds should the Jazz want another point.
Given that he was the first invite to training camp after an expansive group of workouts this summer, it looks like Jazz brass may like what they see in Machado. He could have a chance to earn a spot come October.
A few weeks ago, we discussed whether or not the Utah Jazz roster was complete. Given reports floating around, it appears that Utah may look toward training camp to make any additions to the squad.
In another nice move (to close out a summer full of nice moves), Dennis Lindsey opened up the Jazz’s practice facilities this month for “open gym” time–an opportunity for current players and free agents to come to Salt Lake City, work out, scrimmage, and prepare for the upcoming season. It also seems to be serving as a mini tryout for many Utah Jazz camp hopefuls. Several players have been rumored, either through different reports or their own tweets, to have been in town to show their stuff. As always, it appears the Jazz are doing their due diligence in preparation for training camp.
Here’s a quick run-down of those guys who’ve been tied to the Jazz the past few weeks:
Alexis Ajinca, center, 7’0″, 220 lbs, France, 25-yrs old, three NBA seasons
Last weekend, there were several reports that listed the Jazz and the Thunder as two teams interested in the Ajinca. He was a Charlotte first-round draft pick who has yet to blossom in the NBA. He spent two seasons for the Bobcats and then spent time with both Dallas and Toronto. Since 2011, he’s been playing in France but may now have a desire to return to the NBA. He is long and has a wingspan that rivals fellow Frenchman Rudy Gobert–7’8.75″. He is still young and has potential as a shotblocker.
Earl Barron, center, 7’0″, 245 lbs, University of Memphis, 32-yrs old, seven NBA seasons
Several sources indicate that Barron was in town this week. He is an interesting name, given his experience and age. He has good length and solid athleticism. He is the epitome of a journeyman. While he has played seven NBA seasons, he’s only seen action in 124 career games for seven different teams (MIA, NYK, PHO, MIL, POR, GSW, WAS), sporting career averages of 4.9 ppg and 3.7 rpg (just 37.5% FGs–a very low mark for a 7’0″). He’s also spent time in Turkey, Italy, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and the D-League. Think about the frequent flyer miles. Last year he split time between the Wizards and Knicks, averaging 3.3 ppg and 5.1 rpg. Just to get you excited a touch, he did have 11 pts and 18 rbds in the final game of the season for New York.
Justin Holiday, swingman, 6’6″, 185 lbs, University of Washington, 24-yrs old, one NBA season
The older brother of NBA All-Star Jrue, Holiday has been popular amongst teams looking to fill out their roster. He latched on to team up with his brother late last season in Philadelphia and spent the summer with them before being waived in August. He was able to use the end of the season to get some experience, averaging 4.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, and 1.7 apg in 15.8 mpg. He has also spent time overseas in Belgium (Okapi Aastar) and in the D-League (Idaho Stampede; 17.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.5 apg, 2.4 spg, 41% 3FG). He is a nice outside shooter who can play multiple positions.
James Johnson, forward, 6’9″, 245 lbs, Wake Forest University, 26-yrs old, four NBA seasons
Perhaps the most intriguing guy on this list, Johnson has surprisingly not been picked up by anyone. A former first-round pick who has seen some solid playing time in the NBA usually would have at least an invite by now. Johnson can play both forward positions and is quite athletic. He even made a game-winner against the Jazz a few years back. His best season was 2011-12 with Toronto, where he started 40 games for the Raptors and averaged 9.1 ppg and 4.7 rpg. He also added 1.1 spg and 1.4 bpg, which shows he can be active. Johnson can hit the jump shot, but is woeful beyond the arc. He spent last year with Sacramento. Besides the Jazz, the Spurs were reported to be interested. That should be enough to alert Dennis Lindsey.
Kevin Jones, forward, 6’8″, 251 lbs, West Virginia University, 24-yrs old, one NBA season
An undrafted rookie who spent most of the season with Cleveland last year. While he tore it up with the Cavs’ D-League affiliate (22.4 ppg, 11.2 rpg), his rookie campaign was nothing to write home about (3.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg in 10.4 mpg). With Cleveland adding Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett, and Earl Clark, Jones was expendable for the Cavs. He’s a big body who can bang around. He has already had a workout with the Jazz.
Dallas Lauderdale, forward, 6’8″, 260 lbs, Ohio State University, 25-yrs old, rookie
Lauderdale’s is another physical guy. He signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland last season, but did not make the roster. He played for their summer league entry this summer. Lauderdale’s claim to fame may be playing college ball with former Jazz center Kosta Koufos. He came to SLC at the same time as Flip Murray did.
Flip Murray, combo guard, 6’4″,190 lbs, Shaw University, 34-years old, 8 NBA seasons
A complete blast from the past. In a recent interview, Murray mentioned that he came out to Utah for a workout. Given the youth movement, this news was a bit of surprise, given his age and the fact that he has not logged an NBA minute since 2010. Pehaps the Jazz view him as another veteran mentor type player. A 2002 second-round pick, Murray has enjoyed a long, sometimes successful career. In his second year, he emerged from no where. Taking advantage of some injuries, he showed an ability to put points on the board as a scorer off the bench for the Sonics. He has played 487 games for eight teams (MIL, SEA, CLE, DET, IND, ATL, CHA, CHI), with career stats of 9.9 ppg (41.4% FGs, 30.4% 3s), 2.3 apg, and 2.1 rpg.
James Nunnally, swingman, 6’7″, 205 lbs, UC Santa Barbara, 23-yrs old, rookie
Nunnally has been working out for a number of teams, including the Jazz. He was a four-year player at UCSB and spent last year in Greece and with the Bakersfield Jam, the new Utah D-League affiliate. He is a shooter who has shown the ability to knock down the three-point shot wherever he’s gone (40% for Bakersfield). He also was a nice rebounder in college.
D.J. Richardson, guard, 6’3″, 195 lbs, Illinois, 22-yrs old, rookie
Richardson was a four-year player at Illinois who went undrafted. He tallied 12.3 ppg and 3.9 rpg last year, but shot just 36% from the field. It sounds like he will be in Utah this week.
Xavier Silas, guard, 6’5″, 205 lbs, Northern Illinois, 25-yrs old, one NBA season
Silas went undrafted in 2011, but after spending that year in France and in the D-League, was signed by Philadelphia the final week of the season (5.5 ppg in two games). Last season, he averaged 12.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, and 3.0 apg for the Maine Red Claws. He shot just 38% from the field and 30% from beyond the arc.
Lindsey has shown a desire to leave no stone unturned. With the mini camp the Jazz ran earlier in the summer, along with summer league and this “open gym” time, Utah is doing its best to discover talent, both for now and perhaps for the future. There may be other names that crop up over the next week. With Utah Jazz media day slated for September 30, the season is fast-approaching. Perhaps some of these guys will be given their chance come training camp.
When the Utah Jazz completed their last two signings, inking guards John Lucas III and Ian Clark, some thought that this finalized the roster. For all intents and purposes, this could be the case. My guess is that the Jazz have at least one more move up their sleeves, even if it is a minor one.
While they have the minimum 13 on roster, it would not be surprising to see them add one more player. Traditionally the team has tried to keep one roster vacancy for flexibility’s sake, but as we’ve discovered, Dennis Lindsey is helping enact a lot of changes in philosophies.
First, let’s take a look at the current roster:
PF: Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans
SF: Gordon Hayward, Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams
C: Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, Andris Biedrins
PG: Trey Burke, John Lucas III, Ian Clark
SG: Alec Burks, Brandon Rush
What kind of needs does the team have? Here are some, as I see it:
- Back-up power forward: Favors will get the lion’s share of the minutes, but given his propensity to foul, having solid back-ups behind is important. Kanter could move over, perhaps playing the four alongside Gobert or Biedrins. Jeremy Evans could get his first shot as rotational minutes. They could also go small with Jefferson or Williams playing spot power forward minutes. All this said, it might be very beneficial to have another big body around.
- Back-up small forward: With Williams out to start the season and uncertainty as to how much Jefferson has left in the tank, the Jazz could look at adding a small forward. Hayward will be the man here, but if Williams’ return is delayed and Jefferson is not a fit, it might behoove Utah to add someone.
- Back-up point guard: Burke and Lucas are the two true point guards on the roster and Burks can also get burn at the one. Clark may be up to challenge, too. They might be set here, but then again, Utah has almost always had three true PGs on their roster. Could they add another?
How could they go about addressing one of these possible needs?
Trade: According to ShamSports.com, the Jazz have $55.87 million in committed salaries (not including Jerel McNeal, who is not guaranteed until October 31). With the salary cap at $58.68 million, Utah has room to sign a nearly $3 million dollar pe ryear player. As they did with the Golden State trade, the Jazz could absorb a player from a team that wants to shed some salary, perhaps picking up another asset along the way. Teams like Miami, Chicago, or the Lakers may want to broker such a deal, thus helping defray a portion of their luxury tax bill. Doing so would give the Jazz short-term help, while adding another pick to Lindsey’s ever-growing stash. You also never know what guys might become available.
Retain McNeal: By all accounts, Utah likes the young guard a lot. He has been working out in Salt Lake City much of the off-season and was with the Jazz contingency at P3 last week. He could be the one who claims a final roster spot, giving Utah another ball-handler.
Free Agency: According to Real GM, the Jazz will be one of a few teams working out James Johnson. At 6’9″, 248 lbs, the 26-year old former draft pick could be a decent find as a back-up big. He has had his moments and has four years of experience. He may even have some upside to his game.
There are some other interesting names still out there: Ivan Johnson, Mickael Pietrus, Sam Young, Marquis Daniels, former Jazzman Lou Amundson, Damien Wilkins, Sebastian Telfair, A.J. Price, and Jamaal Tinsley, for instance. None of these guys will wow you, but for an end-of-the-bench guy, you don’t tend to expect a lot of wow.
Training Camp Battle: The Jazz will be very selective on who they invite to training camp. They may bring some guys in that they liked at the free agent camp or from summer league (two of the better players, Rasid Mahalbasic and Chris Roberts, have already earned contracts overseas) and let them duke it out for a roster spot.
It will be fun to see what the front office does to round out the roster. Some may feel it moot to be discussing a potential 14th man, but as we’ve seen in the past, that 14th man could turn out to be a Wesley Matthews, Bryon Russell, or David Benoit.
This is the time of the year that most Utah Jazz fans dread. The part of the year that bridges the draft and free agency with training camp can be downright rough. The one saving grace is that each passing day brings us closer to having the Jazz back in our lives more fully.
If anything, it is a fun time for predictions. I mean, everyone’s doing it. Many out there are using the summer doldrums as a time to share a broad range of predictions. For example, ESPN thinks the Jazz will finish 13th in the West, while Trey Burke will come in second for the Rookie of Year award (Chad Ford actually has Burke finishing seventh). It does make for some interesting reading. It is enjoyable to consider what might be.
So, in the same vein, here are a few of my Utah Jazz predictions. Some will be bold, some will be the opposite. Heavens, some will even be fun. Let’s get started:
Gordon Hayward will lead the team in assists: But just barely. I think Trey Burke will be able to come in and help direct this young team very well. That said, I think Hayward will have the ball in his hands a lot, especially as a (if not “the”) focal point of the offense, and as a result, will compile some strong assist totals from the wing positions. Hayward’s abilities to see the court and deliver the ball are perhaps his biggest strengths. In past seasons, it was evident how much smoother the offense flowed when Hayward was in the game.
Hayward will also lead the team in scoring: While all four returning young guys will see a big jump in production (I suppose that’s a prediction right there), Hayward is the heir apparent as the leading scorer. Not only does he have the better body of evidence, but he also has the most varied offensive repertoire. He can shoot the three-pointer, can take it to the hole, frequently gets to the line, and is working on his mid-range game. Alec Burks, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will finish second.
Utah will be represented well at All-Star Weekend: Summer league struggles are summer league struggles. It would take a lot for Trey Burke to not play in the Rising Stars Challenge no-defense game. In fact, I do feel he will be the second Jazz player to win the Rookie of the Year award (Darrell Griffith being the first). Burke, due to his huge collegiate popularity, will also participate in the Skills Challenge. I think Jeremy Evans will return to the dunk contest. Hayward will be an All-Star game snub, since the Jazz’s record will be a factor.
The Jazz will honor Jerry Sloan this year: Now that Coach Sloan is back in the fold in an official capacity, this will be the year where a jersey honoring the Dean of Coaching will be hoisted to the ESA rafters. And Jerry will get emotional.
The Jazz will be a top three shot-blocking team: Utah ranked fifth last year (6.3 bpg), so a slight uptick is very feasible. While losing Al Jefferson’s 1.14 and Paul Millsap’s 1.03 averages will hurt, they have the personnel to do the job. Derrick Favors playing a more prominent role will automatically help. He averaged 1.69 in just 23.2 mpg last season, which translated over to 2.62 per 36 minutes. (Another quick prediction here: Favors will earn some All-Defensive team mentions, but won’t make it this season.)
Beyond Favors, the Jazz have many others who will help the cause. And no matter how the minutes fall, they could each contribute. Rudy Gobert may have some struggles offensively, but he has the abilities to be an immediate defensive presence. Andris Biedrins was able to swat 0.79 shots in a mere 9.3 mpg (let’s not dwell on the fact he had 42 blocked shots compared to a mere 24 points last season…). Based on last year’s rates, Jeremy Evans could get a block per 15 minutes of PT. Kanter should be able to get one or two. And don’t underestimate Hayward and Brandon Rush adding to the mix (0.9 bpg during Rush’s last full season).
A lot of teams will be beating themselves over not drafting or signing Ian Clark: One of the reasons Clark chose the Jazz was because he knew he’d be given an opportunity to not only make an NBA roster, but to contribute. Given his ability to shoot the ball, I can see Clark becoming a rotation player. It may not be right away, but by December, Clark will be playing some valuable minutes.
Dennis Lindsey will orchestrate at least one notable mid-season trade: Utah has a litany of assets at their disposal: a bevy of draft picks, $31 million+ in expirings, and young guys with lots of upside. While the Jazz have not made many deals involving expiring contracts (last February being a prime example), there is a new sheriff in town who may be willing to swing such a transaction if it brought back an impactful player or perhaps even more future assets. For example, I can easily see Marvin Williams playing a bigger role this year. He might be someone who could be attractive to a contender needing SF help come trade deadline time.
Despite the growing pains, this will be an exciting team for Jazz fans to rally around: Optimism is very high, despite the fact that expectations are the opposite. At a minimum, Utah will be able to determine what they have in each of the young guys, and even the expiring veterans. We all remember that overachieving squad the year after #12 and #32 left. I’m not saying that this team will finish .500 like that team did, but in similar fashion, their hustle, effort, and personalities will win over Jazz fans. The Jazz will go 30-52 and the season will be viewed as a success.
Now some quick ones:
- To help with the whole Burke and Burks thing, Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring will be electrically shocked every time they use the wrong name.
- Favors will average a double-double. Kanter will not. But watch out the following year, world.
- Gobert will win the rookie dance-off in December, performing the Snake. The video will go viral that night.
- Biedrins will show he can still be a serviceable back-up big man.
- Hayward will enlighten us with another full slate of Fresh Market ads that will dazzle and entertain. There will be immense rejoicing in the land.
- Jeremy Evans will prove to be more than a highlight dunker. With an improved jump shot, Evans will show he belongs in the league.
- Tyrone Corbin will finish the season as the head coach.
- Gobert’s wingspan and/or standing reach will be mentioned 7,653 times, most of them by the Jazz broadcasters.
- For the third straight season, Utah fanatics will watch the Golden State situation with eagerness. An injury will curtail the Warriors’ season a bit, but not enough to bring the Jazz a second lottery pick. Late teens would be my guess.
- Hayward, Favors, Kanter, and Burks will all receive Most Improved Player votes, but none will win it.
- Kevin O’Connor will sign an extension, but will continue to take a gradually smaller role.
- We will see a sharp increase in Jazz fan Twitter etiquette.
Feel free to share your own predictions, whether big or small, serious or humorous, in the comments. Share them with the Jazz world!
And if it took you five minutes to read this, congrats. You’re now five minutes closer to the 2013-14 season.
Did you ever make a list of preferred gifts that you’d make at Christmastime for the gift-giving power brokers? Remember waking up as a kid on Christmas morning wondering how many of those things on your list you would be able to cross off? As a kid, I can remember opening gifts that could only be described by saying, ‘it’s exactly what I wanted.’ While I no longer keep lists for Christmas gifts (I’ve thankfully outgrown that), I know that as a sports fan, I have those types of lists for my favorite teams. Those lists are usually comprised of players I hope come to play in my city for my team, or for a particular player to stay on board, not leaving for what might seem to be greener pastures via free agency. These last few weeks have provided for some of those magical moments for Jazz fans that can only be described as ‘exactly what I wanted,’ and there have been some moments that serve as a reminder that ‘what I want’ may be more painful than originally envisioned.
The Draft: Like so many Jazz fans, the words that I would use to describe this year’s draft was, ‘Surprised, Success, and simply, YES!’ Over the course of the weeks leading up to the draft, the conversation that fans and Jazz insiders had centered on was whether or not the point guard that would be available at 14 or 21 would really be the kind of player that could have a long-term career as a starter in the league. The elephant in the room was that even though everyone (including mock draft guys) knew the Jazz had a glaring weakness at that position, the kind of PG they coveted would be long gone by 14. The Jazz’s next starting point guard would not be coming from the draft. If anything, the Jazz would draft their next solid backup PG, who’d steady the ship for the next year or two while the search the franchise’s next floor general continued.
In addition, Rudy Gobert adds an interesting piece to the Jazz’s front line. If indeed, league trends in officiating continue and ‘verticality’ continues to favor the defensive player’s efforts on that end of the floor, then this pick actually does have the potential to be the diamond-in-the-rough that most of us envisioned at the point guard position. Getting even better, Rudy Gobert tweeted that he was looking forward to working with The Mailman to improve his game. What’s not to love about a guy with a 7’9″ wingspan with sharp elbows and a decisive outlet pass? What’s more, GM Dennis Lindsey accomplished all of this without compromising any future assets. (More on this in a moment). Of all the things Dennis Lindsey gave Jazz fans this night, the one that proved to be most cherished: optimism.
Free Agency: WIth free agency negotiations hitting full throttle, the fan base’s long history of being jilted by players surfaced once again. Why won’t player A and/or B come to Utah with all of its available cap space? With all of the drama surrounding Dwight Howard, day after day, Jazz fans lived on a diet of speculation and rumors. To no one’s surprise, Big Al signed with another team. As the opening days of free agency came and went, the excitement of draft night began to ebb.
Then the trade broke that had most Jazz fans scratching their heads. What started out as an interest in Andrew Bogut (and hopefully Harrison Barnes or Klay Thompson) quickly turned into the duo of Andris Biedrins and Richard Jefferson. Huh? My initial reaction was that there was no way the Jazz just enabled a Western Conference opponent to better themselves at their expense. Then the details that filled out the trade began to trickle in. The Jazz received two unprotected first round picks and multiple 2nd round picks. They also added an additional player (Brandon Rush) that may fill a substantial team need, but whose health is still to be determined.
This move allows the Jazz to accomplish a few other things:
- It allows the team meet the minimum salary requirements without overspending for a player whose contract may handcuff them in the years to come.
- It will maximize the amount of time the young players will get if they can keep themselves on the court. Ty won’t have the game management considerations that he admittedly had to take into consideration last year.
- This move allowed the Jazz to acquire multiple draft picks, which is still the most viable way for this franchise to continue to acquire talent.
- Lindsey’s ability to get Golden State to give up what they did is a reminder that a long term vision is needed to be successful. I think in the end, Golden State will regret conceding so much in this trade.
- Without the presence of a dominant veteran figure, the desire for leadership to emerge from the young core is not only expected, it will be necessary (I’m convinced this will end up being a hybrid of Burke/Hayward next season).
- Most importantly, the financial flexibility reinforces a commitment to the youth movement in that it gives the Jazz an opportunity to keep guys like Burke, Favors, Kanter and Hayward around for as long as possible. There is no one on the market who is available now that I’d rather have long term than any of the four players I just mentioned.
Conclusion: So far, Dennis Lindsey has indicated that the Jazz wanted to be aggressive on draft day. They were. He indicated there were no skipping steps in the rebuilding process, and the trade with the Golden State Warriors is evidence that this process is well under way. Jazz fans should be excited about the youth movement, even if it means more L’s than W’s in 2013-2014. Lindsey has spoken about ‘financial flexibility’ to anyone who asks him about the teams’ long term success. It’s an asset that, once invested, can take years to show returns. There are no guarantees, but if this means that for the next 10+ years Jazz fans are treated to the finished product that is often imagined with the young guys, that will truly be the gift that every Jazz fan wants.
It’s been almost a week since Dennis Lindsey, Kevin O’Connor, and the Miller family injected some amazing energy into the Utah Jazz faithful. In many ways, Hope is Renewed, or, at the minimum, greatly increased.
The Utah Jazz started out with the #14, #21, and #46 picks and through a series of maneuvers, finishing the evening with the #9, #27, and #47 pick. and as a result, Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, and heartthrob Raul Neto. The Jazz clearly had a plan entering Thursday’s affairs and executed it.
The reaction from Jazz fans, whether sitting at EnergySolutions Arena or on Twitter, was overwhelmingly positive. Well, what does the national media think about Utah’s efforts? As you’ve seen, I’ve been posted a weekly compilation of the ever-evolving mock drafts. So it would only be apropos for me to do one last compilation: the various Draft Grades given by the different sites.
Sports Illustrated Team Grades, by Chris Mannix: A-
Chris Mannix liked what the Jazz did, saying the got “arguably the best [point guard] in the draft in Trey Burke,” also saying he is “ready to play right away.” He wasn’t as enamored with Gobert’s pick-up, but suggests it was worth the risk at the end of the Draft.
USA Today Western Conference Grades, by Adi Joseph: A-
Adi Joseph said what a lot of us were thinking: Burke should not have been available at #9. Honestly, it was a near-perfect sequence of events: Anthony Bennett being the surprise top pick, Cody Zeller heading to Charlotte at #4, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope going to Detroit at #8. KCP was rumored to be Minnesota’s top choice and when we was nabbed, it set up the transaction like John Stockton set up Karl Malone. As Joseph points out, the Jazz “acted quickly” with the trade working for both parties. He suggests that “Burke will start right away and give the Jazz a creative tour de force.” He liked the Gobert move, as he could potentially develop slowly.
Yahoo Sports NBA Draft Grades, by Kelly Dwyer: B+
Dwyer: “This is such a Utah Jazz-sort of pick, but in the “everyone’s tied for first!”-glow of summer, I love it.” Like many out there, he believed McCollum was a Jazz target, but Utah ended up favoring Burke due to his leadership qualities. He does say this: “At worst, he’ll be the trusted backup to That Guy if the Jazz pull a deal for a prominent point guard.” I think that the Jazz feel like Burke has all the tools to be a prominent point guard. Regarding Gobert, Dwyer thinks he could become a “rim protector nonpareil for years to come.”
ESPN Insider Draft Grades, by Chad Ford: B+
Ford was a fan of the Jazz’s wheeling and dealing. He said “With Burke they get a floor general who can excel equally at scoring and getting others involved. He’s a little small for his position and lacks elite athleticism, but he plays with a lot of moxie and has the winning credentials that scouts tend to love.” It looks like the reason he went with a B+ is that Ford preferred McCollum for Utah. He said the hope with Gobert is that “he can turn into a Roy Hibbert-type rim protector.”
As for me, I too give the Utah Jazz an A- for an excellent Draft. The way Lindsey and friends carried out the swaps was deliberate and intentional, a trend that I think we’ll see carried out moving forward with free agency and other trades. They knew who their targets were and when the aforementioned surprises occurred, they moved swiftly. Trey Burke was their main target, that is clear. In Rudy Gobert, they see a defensive presence – a giant with mobility who, at #27, could be a low-risk/high-reward guy. Raul Neto may not come over this year, but he’s someone the Jazz’s international scouting staff and Lindsey, through his interactions with Spurs center Tiago Splitter, are familiar with. He could be a stellar find with Utah’s ever-favorite #47 pick.
All in all, it was a brilliant evening, truly one of the most euphoric in recent Jazz history. While we don’t know how everything will unfold with these three players, we know that the Utah Jazz have a plan and this was just the beginning.
This is the story of how a GQ model, a towering Frenchman and flashy yet soft-spoken Brazilian gave throngs of Jazz fans hope, and how a soft-spoken southern gentleman with an endearing Texas twang brought them together.
Prior to the night that was filled with the awkward Simmons-Rivers brouhaha, David Stern reveling in the crowd’s booing as if he were some sort of senior Jewish superhero who drew strength from audible discontent and a half-dozen surprising draft choices, Utah’s future was as uncertain as ever. An abundance of cap space and a slew of free agents pointed towards marked cosmetic changes to the Jazz roster, but did not give any hints if the alterations would be in an effort to continue the playoff push immediately or to go through the painful rebuilding process. Simply put, we had no idea what to expect for next season.
When things were at their most uncertain, Dennis Lindsey swooped in and emphatically stamped his name on the team, putting his moxie and chutzpah on full display by acquiring Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert and Raul Neto in three separate draft night trades. Oh, did I mention Lindsey pulled all this off without giving up any current players or future assets, aside from a 2015 2nd-round pick acquired from New Jersey? The man deserves a medal (or at least an unlimited gift card to Red Iguana)!
For the first time since Gordon Hayward rejected Deron Williams’ shot on March 30th, the Jazz twittersphere was united in assessing the situation. The reactions ranged from surprised to excited to 14-year-old-girl-front-row-at-a-Justin-Bieber-concert-level giddy. If there was a negative reaction to the Utah Jazz draft, it was certainly nowhere to be found on my timeline. By showing the fortitude to wheel and deal more than an over-caffeinated Wall Street professional as well as the savvy to give as little up as he did, Lindsey caused an enormous contingent of Jazz fans to do a complete 180 on their opinion of the team’s direction.
Ironically, Utah’s front office hasn’t definitively shown what course they will be taking next year. The drafting of such a high profile and mature point guard like Trey Burke certainly seems to point in the direction of a full-fledged youth movement, as do Lindsey’s comments that mentioned Rudy Gobert will be playing for the Jazz next season. It’s certainly an opportune time for Utah to give the young’uns a heaping helping of experience, even if it all but guarantees significant growing pains and considerably more losses than wins. The 2014 draft could possibly be the most talent-laden draft since the 2003 draft that netted LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a slew of other quality players. Canadian and future Kansas Jayhawk Andrew Wiggins, who appears to be the frontrunner for the number one pick, has the potential to be a perennial All-Star and would immediately elevate any team lucky enough to land him. While Utah would obviously not turn Wiggins down, soon-to-be-Blue Devil Jabari Parker could be an even better fit and would instantly become a cult hero in Salt Lake City, as he is a member of the LDS church.
All the good reasons for rebuilding aside, there is the small matter of the cap room the Jazz have, as well as the fact that there is now a minimum they are required to spend. With both enough cash to overpay for a coveted free agent as well as enough financial flexibility to absorb large contracts for the price of picking up quality players, would it really be shocking to see the Jazz attempt to simultaneously develop their young players and make a playoff push?
Regardless of the direction Utah chooses to go, Dennis Lindsey has already achieved resounding success. If this is a sign of things to come, we’d better start passing around the shades now, because the future is exceedingly bright.
A few weeks ago, assistant coach and Utah Jazz legend Jeff Hornacek left the team for the Phoenix Suns coaching gig. That was a bittersweet day for most fans, as few are as adored as Horny was/is. We were sad to see a beloved player and bright assistant coach leave, but were also happy for him to get a head coaching opportunity, especially this early in this new phase of his career. He’ll do great in Phoenix.
Since then, however, the Utah Jazz have quietly been winning the off-season.
While the Draft, free agency, summer league, and potential trades are the main components of the off-season, what the Jazz have accomplished the past few weeks is setting the foundation for a very memorable and successful summer.
First, Karl Malone was brought back into the fold as a special coach working with the big guys. Naturally the thought of the Mailman spending time with Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, and whoever else is drafted or signed is exciting in itself. If the Hall of Fame power forward can share even a glimpse of his work ethic, professionalism, and absolute knowledge of the game, the young guys will be much better for it. While it is a part-time gig and it remains unknown how much time will be expended or the exact levels of involvement for Malone, it is refreshing to see Karl back where he belongs: with the Utah Jazz.
Moreover, it signifies a burying of the hatchet between Malone and Greg Miller. Over the years, some inflammatory comments, blog posts, and tweets were exchanged. By having this agreement, it shows that both are ready to move forward, together. After all, every time Karl and Larry H. Miller has a disagreement, they made up and had a stronger relationship afterwards. This just makes me happy
Second, the Jazz announced the improvements to EnergySolutions Arena. The enormous video board, the scoreboards, and the improved sound system will give the fans an even better experience. For years, a replacement for the outdated Jumbotron was amongst fans’ biggest requests and complaints. What the Jazz are doing to ESA could exceed anyone’s expectations and hopes.
Third, Jerry Sloan too has returned in an official capacity: senior basketball adviser. A few years removed from those fateful two weeks that saw the Dean of Coaches and an All-NBA point guard in Deron Williams leave Salt Lake City, the former is back. His job description is interesting, as it focuses on scouting, but allows for ample opportunities to consult Tyrone Corbin and the coaching staff, as well as Dennis Lindsey and Kevin O’Connor on basketball matters.
Lastly, the way Lindsey, O’Connor and company have gone about the Draft process has been refreshing. The sheer amount of workouts has been remarkable, and I venture to guess that getting so many players in town is more complicated than it appears. Furthermore the 24-player free agent camp has Dennis Lindsey written all over it.
Now, some of these developments may not excite some, and the next two months will constitute the heart of the off-season. But what is happening is encouraging. The Jazz are being deliberate and intentional in what they are doing, drawing upon and connecting to the past, while ushering in a new mindset and era.
All eyes will be watching the way the roster unfolds (the question for most: are the Jazz going to fully embrace turning the team over to the young guys), but the last few weeks have reminded me: it is a great time to be a Utah Jazz fan.
The time of year when the internet goes from reasonably inundated to super saturated with NBA mock drafts. From the most reputable sports news sources to every parent’s-basement-created blog, any website with a remote connection to Dr. Naismith’s creation churns out their best guess at which hoop prospects will be where when the 2013 NBA Draft smoke clears. After reading through the bulk of these predictions made by those who each fancy themselves as a roundball Nostradamus, one thing is crystal clear.
Prognostication is a fool’s errand.
With seemingly limitless variables and constantly changing conditions, making a correct prediction past the first handful of picks seems to be pure luck as often as not.
With this in mind, I did some digging into Utah’s draft history in an attempt to discern any possible patterns and/or tendencies not already apparent that could shed some light on who Kevin, Dennis and the gang may be leaning towards taking, and who may frighten them away.
Before we dive in, there are a few key points to keep in mind.
- This article is by no means an effort to correctly predict who the Jazz will draft at picks 14 and 21. Rather, it should be viewed as a very general guide to provide insight on any non-obvious patterns or predispositions the Utah front office may have.
- I’m fully aware the sample size used is quite small, and thus insufficient to draw any strong, definitive conclusions from. I felt it better to limit the picks analyzed to the 2000 NBA Draft to current, as that sample size better represented the draft decisions of the current front office structure.
With that said, here is the list of players who were analyzed for this article.
- 2000: DeShawn Stevenson – SG, pick 23, Washington Union HS
- 2001: Raul Lopez – PG pick 24, Real Madrid (Spain)
- 2002: Curtis Borchardt – C, pick 18 (trade w/Orlando), Stanford Jr.
- 2003: Sasha Pavlovic – G/F, pick 19, Buducnost Podgorica (Serbia)
- 2004: Kris Humhpries – PF, pick 14, Minnesota Fr.
- 2004: Kirk Snyder – SG, pick 16, Nevada Jr.
- 2005: Deron Williams – PG, pick 3, Illinois Jr.
- 2006: Ronnie Brewer – G, pick 14, Arkansas Jr.
- 2007: Morris Almond – SG, pick 25, Rice Sr.
- 2008: Kosta Koufos – C, pick 23, Ohio St. Fr.
- 2009: Eric Maynor- PG, pick 20, VCU Sr.
- 2010: Gordon Hayward – SF, pick 9, Butler So.
- 2011: Enes Kanter: – C, pick 3 Kentucky Fr.
- 2011: Alec Burks: – SG, pick 12 Colorado So.
- 2012: no 1st round pick
Excluding 2012, when the Jazz had no 1st round pick, the Jazz had an average draft position of 17.4. With the exception of 2005 and 2011, the Jazz were selecting players from the second and third tiers of draft prospects. Does draft pick position affect the type of player Utah is likely to draft? It appears so.
Since 2000, Utah has only selected two players who weren’t juniors or older with their eight picks outside the lottery: DeShawn Stevenson in 2000, who came straight out of high school and Kosta Koufos in 2008. On the other hand, four of the six lottery picks since 2000 have been used to select a freshman (Kris Humphries 2004, Enes Kanter 2011) or sophomores (Gordon Hayward 2009, Alec Burks 2011.) While this is a far from an ironclad correlation, it hints at a very interesting draft strategy.
With the heavy dose of upperclassmen selected outside the lottery by the Jazz, it suggests they tend to value consistency and immediate production over upside and long-term potential when selecting in the late teens or lower, a diametric opposition to the “taking a flier” approach on a raw, undeveloped prospect late in the first to which many teams subscribe. Picks within the lottery were split 4-2 between underclassmen and upperclassmen, perhaps indicating some preference towards younger prospects in the early stages of the draft.
Another interesting but more obvious draft trend is Utah’s aversion to drafting players with character issues, a hallmark of the Jerry Sloan regime if there ever was one. Aside from Deron Williams, who is a pretty unique case, the one first-round pick that turned out to be any kind of a malcontent, Kirk Snyder, was jettisoned to New Orleans after a single year with the Jazz. The merits of seemingly automatically excluding anyone with widely known personality red flags can be debated, but Utah’s hardline stance on avoiding these players helps to thin the field of potential Utah Jazz draftees in 2013.
If we combine all of the apparent trends observed from the previous 12 drafts (excluding 2012), we can make some educated guesses of what direction the Jazz will go at pick 14 and pick 21 in the upcoming draft.
Clearly, Utah’s biggest need is at the point guard position, so it stands to reason point guard is where the Jazz will look to go with pick 14. Michigan product Trey Burke is all but certain to be off the board by then, which leaves Michael Carter-Williams (sophomore) and Dennis Schroeder (19 year old German) as the likely candidates to be chosen. Shane Larkin (sophomore) is also a possibility here, but a remote one due to concerns about his size and length.
If either Carter-Williams or Schroeder are on the board for the Jazz’s lottery pick, but not both, I think the Jazz happily scoop up whichever player remains. In the unlikely event Utah has the choice between the two, I would give the slight edge to Schroeder due to his nearly-unparalleled quickness, great length and age (Schroeder is 2 years younger than Carter-Williams).
At 21, Utah should be comfortable selecting Larkin if they didn’t come away with a point guard at 14. If they nab a point guard with their first pick, a big man seems to make the most sense. Mason Plumlee or Kelly Olynyk would fit Utah’s history at picking older players after the lottery, but most mocks have those players being drafted before the 21st selection. In that case, the Jazz may have to go for an unproven longshot such as Rudy Gobert, the 20 year old Frenchman with the 9’7” standing reach. It’s possible the Jazz could kick the tires on Shabazz Muhammad at #21 if he falls that far, but the aforementioned character flaw aversion makes Muhammad being drafted by the Jazz a remote possibility.
If I was forced to make a prediction, I would say the Jazz come away from the draft with Schroeder and Gobert. I would also feel about 3.7% confident in that prediction, as it would only take one of many variables to change for the entire draft order to go up in smoke, taking my feeble prediction with it. This was an interesting exercise in pattern recognition, not an attempt accurately predict the future.
After all, prognostication is a fool’s errand.