Salt City Hoops » Earl Watson The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Earl Watson The Utah Jazz Search for a Third Point Guard Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:43:28 +0000 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),, and previously for 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.
Photo: Anthony J. Causi

Photo: Anthony J. Causi, NY Post

The Utah Jazz always carry three point guards on the roster. That is one of the constant constants with this organization, going back to the dawn of time. With the team guaranteeing combo guard Ian Clark’s deal for the 2014-2015 season, the team now has 13 players under contract. Even with that move, it sounds like they hope to still add a third point guard. Now, if Clark can show he can fill that role, this becomes a moot point. But the jury’s still out on that front.

What point guards are out there? Here’s a quick rundown of some remaining free agents and guys who may be available in the trade market. As one can imagine, the names are anything but glamorous. Then again, neither is this role.

Pablo Prigioni: According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, Prigioni may be available. The New York Knicks have changed things up at the point guard position, adding Jose Calderon and Shane Larkin. Prigioni is a pure point guard, as evidenced by his assists to field goal attempt ratio (228 dimes to 191 FGAs). Ditto for his 25.6 AST% and 9.3 USG%. He is an excellent marksman when he does shoot, posting .642 TS% and .631 eFG%. He is a very good 3-point shooter who rarely gets to the free throw line. Prigioni is owed $1.66M this year and is partially guaranteed in 2015-2016 for $290,000. He might be obtainable for very little– a second-round pick. At last check, Utah has an abundance of those coming up. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Prigioni is 37-years old, given that he’s only played two seasons in the NBA. That would make him almost the same age as Trey Burke and Dante Exum combined.

Toure’ Murry: Murry was rumored to be someone Utah is considering. His body of work is meager, as he played just 7.3 MPG in 51 games for the New York Knicks as a rookie. He only attempted 12 3-pointers in 373 total minutes. This is where the Jazz scouting department probably plays a factor. Perhaps Murry impressed them over the past few years.

Ramon Sessions: Sessions had a nice season (12.3 PPG and 4.1 APG, including 15.8 and 4.8 with the Milwaukee Bucks) and it’s frankly a surprise that he has not been picked up yet. Given his productivity and age (hard to believe he is just 27 years old), he most likely would be looking for more minutes than he could get in Utah.

Jordan Crawford: Another unlikely Jazz target. Crawford has the reputation of a gunner–he’s never been shy at hoisting shots up. He did show he can dish the ball, registering 5.7 APG for the Boston Celtics in Rajon Rondo’s absence. Given his youth and the ability he’s shown to put points on the board, he’ll be looking for a team in need of bench production.

Toney Douglas: Douglas quickly became a journeyman, toiled for five different franchises the past three seasons (part of three trades during that span). He started his career with the reputation of a shooter, but he has been wildly inconsistent from long distance. Douglas hit just 27.9 percent with the Miami Heat, which is not good given the open looks he got there. He is decent defensively and as a playmaker.

Tyshawn Taylor: Taylor received spot minutes behind Deron Williams in Brooklyn the past two seasons. He is a solid facilitator (21.4% AST%), but is horrendous offensively otherwise (.427 TS% and .357 eFG%).

Chauncey Billups: The long-time veteran and former Finals MVP is winding down what could be a Hall of Fame career. He showed he did not have much in the tank last season in his return to Detroit. Sadly, he has only played 61 total games the past three years. At 37, if he decides to try for one more season, it will likely be with a contender.

Earl Watson: Watson too is finishing up a solid career and was a fan favorite during his three seasons with the Jazz. He inked with the Portland Trailblazers to play the mentor role and only appeared in 24 games. As a player who is familiar with the environs, is a consummate pro and would not chafe in this role, Watson might be a good fit.

Ronnie Price: Yet another popular former Jazz guard. Price also went the “veteran presence in the locker room” route, playing just 31 games.  He was never a shooter (career 37.8 percent from the field and just 29.2 percent beyond the arc). Price does work hard defensively and exudes hustle , but may have lost a bit of his quickness since his time in Utah.

Leandro Barbosa: A midyear signing by the Phoenix Suns, Barbosa showed he still had some game (7.5 PPG in 18.4 MPG). He still possesses some speed, but as a combo guard, has never been a true play maker.

The Jazz could also bring in some undrafted rookies to compete in training camp, as David Locke has mentioned. There may be others who have been playing overseas or in the D-League that have Utah’s eye.

While NBA and Jazz fans certainly find themselves mired in the doldrums of the NBA offseason, this is something to watch over the next several weeks.

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),, and previously for 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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How are Former Jazzmen Doing? Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:33:13 +0000 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),, and previously for 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.
Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Jesse Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

At Jerry Sloan night, one of the exciting things for many fans was seeing many familiar faces – guys who once donned the Utah Jazz uniform. They helped bring back many fond memories. There are many former Jazz players playing for other teams, many of whom help us hearken to good times. Here’s a run-down of how they are doing. Some are thriving, some are struggling.

Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks

One of Jazz fans’ most beloved players, Millsap is getting his turn in the sun. When front court stalwart Al Horford went down with a season-ending injury, he rose to the occasion and has kept Atlanta in contention for home court advantage in the playoffs. Recently named an Eastern Conference All-Star, he is finally getting at least a portion of the recognition he has long-deserved.  Millsap’s numbers are very close to his Utah ones–and the argument could be made that he should’ve earned those honors in the West. He certainly deserves this.

Millsap is posting career-highs in pts (17.5), assists (2.9) and steals (1.9). Always the analytics community’s darling, some of his advanced stats have actually decreased (career-lows with .542 TS%, .494 eFG% and 4.4 WS). His usage has increased to 25.3, which is a definite factor. The main difference has been his ability to hit the 3-pointer. He is shooting 35%, making nearly one per outing. He showed that ability on occasion in Utah (including the great Miracle in Miami game). He could become an All-Star regular out East.

Kyle Korver, Atlanta Hawks

In his 11th season, Korver is playing a career-high 34.3 MPG, but that extra PT is not affecting his sweet shooting stroke at all. His jump shot is improving with age and his contract is looking great for the Hawks. He leads the NBA with a .661 TS%, while also producing a stellar .638 eFG%. His 46.3% 3FG% would constitute the second best mark of his career. The rest of Korver’s game has always been a bit underrated.  While he doesn’t wow the world, he has always been a willing defender, rebounder and passer. Korver is adding 4.3 RPG and 3.1 APG, while registering a 4.0 WS.

DeMarre Carroll, Atlanta Hawks

The last of the former Jazzmen in Atlanta, Carroll is having a banner year. Like Millsap and Korver, he is part of the Hawks starting line-up. He is tallying 10.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 1.5 SPG in 30.7 MPG. His per/36 minutes stats are actually right in line with what he did in 2012-2013. His hustle and defensive effort have been integral to Atlanta’s solid season.

Kris Humphries, Boston Celtics

Yes, he’s still playing. While his numbers will never be balanced compared to his contact, Humphries is scoring 7.8 PPG and 6.0 RPG in a bench role for a team that is Utah’s competition for ping pong balls. Hard to believe he is just 28 years old–seems like he’s been around for ages.

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

It has been a season to forget for DWill. Williams was to be the engine of a team boasting former All-Stars and strong depth.  That has not quite materialized, although things are starting to pick-up. Thanks to seemingly endless injury issues, he has never scored (13.5 PPG) or assisted less (6.9 APG) since his rookie campaign. His WS is just 2.1. Williams is in the midst of a five-year, $98 million deal. While the Nets owner is beyond wealthy, the Nets brain trust has to hope he can regain his health and rejoin the ranks of the elite point guards.

Andrei Kirilenko, Brooklyn Nets

AK-47 is still a utility guy…he just does things on a much smaller scale these days. He too has been plagued with injuries that have not allowed him to truly thrive. Essentially every one of Kirilenko’s statistics are career-lows. He still makes good things happen, as he’s been a cog in Brooklyn’s solid January. But it’s hard to see him playing many more seasons after this one.

Al Jefferson, Charlotte Bobcats

Once again, Big Al was on the outside looking in when the All-Star reserves were named. Jefferson is posting a nightly double-double (19.9 PPG, 10.6 RPG) while providing the best post presence the Bobcats have ever enjoyed. He is scoring more than he has since 2009 and is working hard to help Charlotte get back to the postseason. And he still never turns the ball over (6.7 TOV%).

Carlos Boozer, Chicago Bulls

It seems like everywhere Boozer has gone, he has produced. But everywhere he’s gone, he’s also become a source of frustration for fan bases. He is still an offensive threat, but the 14.8 PPG and $15.3 million price tag do not quite jive. His scoring is the lowest since his sophomore season and he’s never shot more poorly (45.2%), although Derrick Rose’s absence is a big factor. Thus, the amnesty provision still hovers over his head.

C.J. Miles, Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland’s situation is messy. Simply put, the Cavaliers are among the league’s biggest disappointments. Despite the issues, Miles has seen a decrease in playing time–his 19.7 MPG is the lowest in six seasons. There are minutes to be had, but for whatever reason, he is not claiming them. In typical C.J. fashion, he still has flashes of greatness, as seen in his recent 10-trey evening.

Devin Harris, Dallas Mavericks

Injuries kept Harris out for two months, but now that he’s back, he’s proven to be a great bench addition for the Mavericks. He’s played just eight games, but with 9.5 PPG and 3.5 APG in just 18.4 MPG, he’s become a stabilizing force off the pine. Harris has reverted back to his driving game and is subsequently getting to the free throw line 6.6 times/36 minutes–an aspect of his game that was noticeably missing in Utah.

Randy Foye, Denver Nuggets

He’s not shooting the 3-pointer as well as he did with the Jazz, but Foye has increased his productivity. In slightly less playing time this season, he’s averaging more points (11.3), rebounds (2.6, up from a lowly 1.5 RPG mark) and assists (2.8). With Ty Lawson and Nate Robinson suffering injuries and Andre Miller on the outs, Foye is being relied upon more to help facilitate the offense.

Ronnie Brewer, Houston Rockets

Things have never been the same for Brewer since the Jazz traded him. He had some excellent years for Utah, including a career-best 13.7 PPG  in 2008-09. With a bevy of swingmen available, Ronnie B is at the end of the bench. He is averaging 0.3 PPG and shooting just 20% from the field. He still shows defensive prowess, but simply does not have a role with the Rockets. He too is only 28, but it is appearing more and more likely that he may not regain the production level he displayed in Utah.

Kosta Koufos, Memphis Grizzlies

This was one of my favorite off-season moves, mostly because it provided a capable starter to play behind a great center in Marc Gasol. With the latter’s injuries, Koufos was thrust into starting again and his advanced stats dropped a bit. Things have picked back up now that Gasol is back. Still, he’s shooting about 10% less from the field than last season. Koufos is still doing great things–7.0 PPG and 6.1 RPG (18.7 TRB%) and will help Memphis in their quest to earn one of the playoff spots.

Derek Fisher, Oklahoma City Thunder

He will never stop playing. Yes, he’s announced that he’s bidding adieu after this season, but we’ll see. At 39 years old and in his 18th season, his contributions are marginal. He is averaging just 4.7 PPG and 1.3 APG, but still gets consistent burn. While his shots inside the arc are often errant, those from downtown are still going down at a 37.2% clip. Fisher still takes a lot of charges.

Ronnie Price, Orlando Magic

One of the genuine good guys in the NBA, Price’s main contribution to the rebuilding Magic is to be a veteran influence and consummate professional. His stats are scary: 1.9 PPG (32.6% FGs, 28.6% 3s, 60% FTs) and 1.3 APG. Given the way he is respected by all the teams he’s played for, it would not surprise to see Price continue to find work in similar roles for a few more seasons.

Wesley Matthews, Portland Trailblazers

This may be one of the guys that Jazz fans will never stop missing; this year has not changed that. Matthews is having the best season of his career and was a fringe All-Star candidate. His play has been integral to the Blazers’ surprising first half. He is averaging career-highs in points (16.7), rebounds (4.1), 3-pointers made (2.6) and 3P% (41.9%). His TS% has skyrocketed to .621 (up from .574) and his WS is 5.6 (4.7 OWS). His past two seasons were somewhat inconsistent, but his play this season has been a big catalyst for Portland’s success.

Earl Watson, Portland Trailblazers

Like Price, Watson is in Portland to serve as a veteran voice and locker room presence. He’s only appeared in 12 games, playing 4.6 MPG. The end of his career is probably nigh.

Mo Williams, Portland Trailblazers

Williams has embraced the sixth man role in Portland and is thriving. He is providing energy and strong play behind and occasionally alongside Damian Lillard.  He shooting is still shaky (39.5%), but he’s adding 9.1 PPG and 4.6 APG as a reserve. Given that the Trailblazers bench was awful the year before, his addition has been very welcomed. It’d be interesting to learn if Williams would have accepted such a role in Utah behind Trey Burke.

Eric Maynor, Washington Wizards

It has been a rough go for Maynor in the nation’s capital. He has scarcely played behind John Wall (who is averaging 37 MPG) and when he’s played, he’s struggled mightily. He’s shooting a horrendous 29.2% from the field and is chipping in just 2.3 PPG and 1.7 APG in 9.3 MPG. He showed promise early on in his career, but has plateaued–or perhaps even regressed.

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),, and previously for 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 Basketball”: A Look At Assisted Field Goal % Wed, 16 Oct 2013 21:45:36 +0000 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),, and previously for 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.
We often hear, when the Jazz win, that the team won by playing “Utah Jazz basketball.” For me, that has always connoted heart, hustle, tough defense, smart offense, and above all, teamwork.

When you think about the best teams in franchise history, they often exuded teamwork – an altruistic mindset. These Jazz squads were the ones who seemed to take joy in making the extra pass and in doing so, everyone got involved. The teamwork and passing was simply contagious. The result were some very successful years and many deep playoff runs. Moreover, they were a complete delight to watch, especially for basketball purists.

They were rosters comprised of many capable and, more importantly, willing passers. While John Stockton and Deron Williams were naturally the catalysts behind these stellar passing teams, the Jazz have had a bevy of excellent passers in Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek, Andrei Kirilenko, Howard Eisley, and so forth.

One of my favorite statistics to watch: the percentage of the team’s total field goals which were assisted. Let’s call this the Assisted Field Goal Percentage, or AFG%. The team that has the higher percentage often places themselves in a good position to win on a given night. For instance, when the Los Angeles Clippers demolished the Jazz Saturday evening, they did a masterful job executing (especially in a preseason outing). Led by Chris Paul and Darren Collison, they assisted on 29 of their 43 field goals–a 67.4 percent clip. Furthermore, it was much higher through the first three quarters, prior to letting the end of the bench finish the evening out. The Clippers did a lot of other great things that night and the Jazz had a rough go at it, but the high AFG% definitely contributed to LA’s victory.

Here is a historical look at how the Jazz have done on AFG%. Let’s start with the 1987-88 campaign, when Stockton and Malone took the NBA by storm (side note: many people cite this as the first year Stockton started. He did start 38 games his second season.). Besides AFG%, the overall field goal percentage and record are also included.

Season FGs Asts AFG % Overall FG% Record
1987-88 3,484 2,407 .691 .491 47-35
1988-89 3,182 2,108 .662 .482 51-31
1989-90 3,330 2,212 .664 .505 55-27
1990-91 3,214 2,217 .690 .492 54-28
1991-92 3,379 2,188 .647 .492 55-27
1992-93 3,336 2,177 .653 .489 47-35
1993-94 3,207 2,179 .679 .477 53-29
1994-95 3,243 2,256 .696 .512 60-22
1995-96 3,129 2,139 .684 .488 55-27
1996-97 3,131 2,199 .702 .504 64-18
1997-98 2,993 2,070 .692 .490 62-20
1998-99 1,684 1,204 .715 .465 37-13*
1999-00 2,962 2,041 .689 .464 55-27
2000-01 2,960 2,110 .713 .471 53-29
2001-02 2,869 1,999 .697 .450 44-38
2002-03 2,894 2,103 .727 .468 47-35
2003-04 2,690 1,671 .621 .436 42-40
2004-05 2,828 1,826 .646 .449 26-56
2005-06 2,744 1,772 .645 .442 41-41
2006-07 3,069 2,024 .659 .474 51-31
2007-08 3,279 2,165 .660 .497 54-28
2008-09 3,143 2,024 .644 .475 48-34
2009-10 3,227 2,187 .678 .491 53-29
2010-11 3,064 1,921 .627 .465 39-43
2011-12 2,523 1,439 .570 .456 36-30*
2012-13 3,046 1,859 .610 .454 43-39

(*-Lockout seasons)

While pace and scoring have fluctuated greatly in the NBA the past few decades, the Utah Jazz has been consistently high in AFG%. From 1987 to 2009–much of which came under Jerry Sloan’s tenure–the team had an AFG% of 64.4 percent or higher 22 of 23 seasons. During the 15 seasons where the team eclipsed the 50-win mark (including the 1998-99 lockout season where they would have), Utah sat between 66 and 71.5 percent 14 of those years. The high mark in 2002-03 happened to be the final season before #12 and #32 rode off into the sunset. 72.7 percent is simply stellar.

The past few seasons have been much lower, particularly the most recent lockout season. The offense focused on Al Jefferson’s low post abilities, which had some definite positives. It also took away from the more open, free passing offense that has been a stable of Utah Jazz basketball for decades. Likewise, the changing of the point guards–Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley, and Mo Williams–definitely contributed. Without consistency at the helm, it is difficult to set the tone.

While this season will be a season of some growing pains, along with the defensive foundation that Tyrone Corbin and the front office has been fittingly espousing as a goal for this year, the Jazz would do well to help reestablish Utah’s longstanding focus on smart and effective passing, while boosting the team’s AFG%. Trey Burke’s injury certainly hurts, but with able passers like Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and some big guys who can dish, there are some very good pieces in place. As the team rebuilds, if it is to return to the ranks of contenders, keep an eye on the AFG%–it’s a true part of “Utah Jazz basketball.”

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),, and previously for 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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If you can coach, you can coach: Natalie Nakase and Earl Watson Mon, 03 Dec 2012 22:38:31 +0000 Author information
Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at
Natalie Nakase

Natalie Nakase is an assistant film coordinator for the Los Angeles Clippers and former head coach of the Saitama Broncos, a men’s professional basketball team in Japan. You’d be forgiven for thinking that her résumé sounds a little backwards chronologically. The film coordinator intern isn’t usually a former professional head coach. But Nakase is a firm believer in putting in the work and paying her dues. She might be at the bottom of the org chart now, but she has her sights set on coaching in the NBA and was recently profiled in a great ESPN Outside The Lines piece by Kate Fagan and Shelley Smith.

Read that entire story, if you haven’t already, and then come back and join us.

As mentioned in the OTL story, Nakase is a close friend of Jazz point guard Earl Watson from their UCLA days. The two remain close and both share a similar mental approach to the game and to life. A conversation with either will often include references to books like Outliers, The Power of Now, and The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success.

Her other primary NBA mentor is former Knicks, Pacers, Spurs, and Sonics coach Bob Hill, who took Nakase under his wing as the coach of the Tokyo Apache:

Hill’s mentorship continued after Nakase moved on to Saitama, with the two talking regularly. When Nakase returned to Los Angeles this past spring, she knew what she wanted to do next, and Hill encouraged her. If you want the NBA, he told her, don’t take your eyes off that goal. Never turn down an invitation to step foot inside an NBA facility.

Connections matter in the NBA, just like they do anywhere else. And with his lengthy résumé, 64-year-old Hill is just one degree removed from every decision-maker in the league. A quick phone call or email from Hill on Nakase’s behalf can go a long way toward making people pay attention. Just having him in her corner gives her huge confidence.

“He’s the reason I’m chasing this dream,” Nakase says of Hill. “I was so fascinated by his experiences. With him, basketball was 24/7, and I wanted to be a part of that. He opened my eyes to what basketball can be.”

The main hurdle for Nakase on her way to a spot on an NBA bench is simply the fact that it hasn’t happened before:

The NBA possesses more of a herdlike mentality than it cares to admit. Just look at the analytics revolution that is sweeping the league. A few teams — the Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder — had success making decisions based on new statistical formulas, and the rest are now scurrying to catch up, hiring their own numbers guys. Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey says all NBA teams want to be ahead of the curve, but few can afford the risk. “It’s always easier when you have one example to point to, so when you take that idea to your owner, you can say, ‘See, it worked here.’ Nobody wants to be the first.”

This mentality is one reason women aren’t being hired as NBA coaches — because no team has done it yet. The league loves to recycle, with teams routinely installing coaches and general managers who’ve been hired and fired multiple times. But, as Morey puts it, “I find it hard to believe that all of the best and smartest thinkers in basketball just happen to share the same chromosome.”

I asked Earl for his response to the feature on Natalie and her path to coaching in the NBA:

Earl Watson: I think it’s disappointing to even talk about gender. I think it’s just stupid. If you have the skills, you have the skills. It’s very ignorant to even bring up her gender. It’s amazing what she does. She’s dedicated to what she does. It’s not a fad and it’s not a trend for her; she’s been focused on trying to achieve her goals since I met her when she was 17 or 18 years old at UCLA. So it’s not like she’s trendy or all of a sudden trying to create a movement–she’s been about it. She gets a lot of criticism–even from her own gender–for not wanting to coach women, so I guess it’s like reverse stereotypes. So her goal is to continue to push forward, to get better, to grow–and she’s good at what she does. She’s good.

She’ll continue to work hard. The league is evolving so quickly–beyond borders, beyond color, beyond gender now. But it’s going to happen soon and she doesn’t want it any other way–she wants to work for it.

Like any coach, you have to have success. Like any coach you have to put in the work, pay your dues, you have to learn the game, be a student of the game. More than anything, you have to be addicted. Addictions are good if they’re positive. For Natalie, basketball is her addiction. She’s growing. She’s a student of the game. She puts in the work. She can go out there and show you the drill. There are a lot of male coaches who can’t show you the drill. So it’s amazing how she brings a lot to the table–a lot more than what people see because she’s a female.

SRH: I think there’s a perception sometimes that they players aren’t open–that there’s a jock culture. My perception is that the players in this league don’t get as much credit as they deserve for being open-minded and accepting of different kinds of people. Where do you think the league stands?

EW: I think those are very old views. I think a lot of times we get so… put in a box as people; we observe and we view and we analyze, whatever, the situation is in life, and we go off what we heard or what we grew up watching. Life is constantly evolving. Evolution is constant. If you want a players attention? You have to really know the game. You have to really be a student of the game and really understand what you’re talking about–and communicate. Communication is key in anything you do–especially in this league. If you communicate and you teach things the right way, players immediately respect you. If you don’t know what you’re talking about? Players can sniff it out immediately.

Not mentioned in the OTL story is the success of Nancy Lieberman. One of the greatest players of all time, Lieberman recently coached the Texas Legends, the D-League team for the Dallas Mavericks. As a side note, Lieberman was a good friend of Frank Layden and once played for the Jazz on a summer league team. In an interview in 2011 for Yago Colas’ spectacular Cultures of Basketball class at the University of Michigan, I asked Lieberman to reflect on her experience coaching men:

Spencer Ryan Hall: I like the way you’ve responded to the questions about coaching in the D-League, saying that men are used to having women in their lives and it’s nothing new for a young man to receive advice from a woman.

Nancy Lieberman: Exactly. It’s no different than being the youngest coach in the NBA, for example. Coach Spoelstra with the Heat is up against some of the same challenges. The bottom line is whether you can do your job. It’s the same thing.

Imagine someone starting a new job or getting a new boss and saying ‘I can’t work for a women, she’s too emotional.’ Or ‘I can’t work for an African-American.’ It sounds ridiculous because it is. People have to be judged on whether they can do the job or not, and I’m glad we live in a world where people have opportunities to chase their dreams.

I’ve actually played in the minor leagues, I’ve coached and played in the WNBA, I’ve been a commentator with ESPN. I actually know a lot about the things these guys are going through.

If I were to give up on my dreams simply because people said I couldn’t do something, I would have quit a long time ago. We have a rule on the team that says “No excuses, no explanations, no deflections.” And that goes for me, too. I can’t make excuses for myself or ask for special treatment because I’m a woman. I have to get the job done.

While receiving an award from Niagara University recently, Lieberman noted that most of her biggest advocates have always been men:

“Every important job I’ve had in my life I’ve been championed by men,” Lieberman said. “I get grilled by people asking me, ‘Who did what to you? When you played how did they treat you in the locker room? They had to do something mean to you.’ … The men were so supportive of me ecause I was so supportive of them. There’s this trust and now I’m trying to bring that to women.

“My generation, the pie was so small that Cheryl Miller, Ann Meyers, myself all had such a big piece of the pie that there was a lot of envy or as I call it haterade,” Lieberman said. “Now there’s so much. We think we’ve come a long way. And we have. But we’re still in the baby stage.”

Here’s hoping we see Nakase on the sidelines sometime soon.

Author information

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at
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JazzRank 12: Earl Watson Tue, 23 Oct 2012 18:34:24 +0000 Author information
Evan Hall

It’s a testament to the Jazz’s depth this year that the team’s back-up point guard has been knocked down to #12 (perhaps unfairly) by the voting bloggers. Still, no one would deny Watson’s emotional impact on the team. Earl Watson has had a quiet offseason, and with the addition of Randy Foye as a possibility at backup point guard, his on-court presence with the Jazz will almost certainly be more limited this year than last. That said, don’t confuse on-court presence with on-court influence, because if you can guarantee anything with Earl Watson, it’s that his voice will be heard by both his teammates, the referees, and the opponents. “Intangibles” may be a useless word to describe basketball skills, but in terms of non-basketball skills that still affect basketball games, Earl Watson has all the intangibles. So here are my top 3 favorite Earl Watson non-basketball plays:

3. One time, he said this: “I hate losing more than I like making money.” Then, there was this whole interview. In that two minute clip, Earl Watson demonstrates his whole arsenal of non-basketball intangibles: he never deigns to “media speak,” he makes no excuses, he takes losses on the chin and he lets the anger motivate him.

2. The Three-Salute. This is the combination of one of my favorite basketball Earl moments with one of my favorite non-basketball Earl moments. After drilling a back-breaking three against the Lakers, Earl turned to the crowd, and saluted them with three fingers. There was much debate last year over who had the best three-point celebration (the Russell Westbrook guns-in-the-holster, and Derek Fisher’s three-hatchet), but this one didn’t get nearly enough run.

1. The ball-slap. Against the Mavericks last year, Dirk Nowitzki, upset with a call, slapped the ball out of Derrick Favors hands, and an intimidated Derrick Favors (may I never have to utter that phrase again) did nothing to retaliate. Earl Watson (listed at 6’1”) angrily stepped forward and got in the face of Dirk Nowitzki (listed at 7′ and a German to boot). He slapped the ball out of Dirk’s hands, delivered some choice words, and subsequently got T’d up. Watch the whole thing yourself, but do so with the warning that Favors’ timidity might distress you more than a little.

Offseason Accomplishments: Led the team in Retweets; became Enes Kanter’s quasi-Public Relations representative; appeared on Better Kansas City working a classy jacket and an edgy shirt-tie combo.

Patronus: Raccoon. Not a bulldog.

Stat to watch: Defensive Win Shares. The only definitive advantage Watson has over Tinsley is on defense. Watson, a veteran, is younger than Tinsley and holds up better over long stretches, but with the addition of Foye, neither Tinsley nor Watson is going to be playing for that long, which means that the only thing Watson can bring that Tinsley can’t is tough perimeter defense. If Foye is injured, or if Corbin wants to play him at the 2 (admittedly, a stretch), Watson can act as a temporary solution for what is one of the Jazz’s biggest weaknesses: defending athletic point guards.

Three Potential Outcomes of the Season

1. Because of injuries, because of his defense, or because he fits the system better than Tinsley, Watson becomes the go-to back-up point guard. While I would certainly have complaints about this turn of events, it would probably mean that the Jazz were moving to an uptempo offensive system, and Watson is a perfect point guard to lead the Jazz’s bench in a revamped, fast break offense.

2. Because of an injury to him or because of Corbin’s rotation decisions, Watson plays out the season primarily as a garbage time reliever for Tinsley and Foye. The possibility of this scenario hinges on whether Corbin believes Foye can play at the two. If he doesn’t, Watson may be aced out of playing time.

3. The Jazz trade him. This is highly unlikely, but with an overload at the point guard position and Watson’s contract expiring at the end of the season, it’s at least a possibility. A sad possibility though to be sure, because even if he’s not playing consistently, Jazz fans are collectively happier with Watson on the roster, and if the team is ever locked in a dicey, slugfest with the Lakers, I think we can all agree that Watson has earned the right to be there.

Author information

Evan Hall
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The Earl of Watson Sun, 08 Jan 2012 19:20:39 +0000 Author information
Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at

Earl holds court. Photo credit: and

By Matthew Coles

Whenever I cover Jazz games for the Associated Press, I hear fans loudly yelling for the young guys to play. “Free Alec Burks,” they’ll shout. Or, “C’mon Corbin, you know you want to put Derrick Favors in there.” I hear people chanting for Enes Kanter. Yes, it seems Jazz fans are ready for the Youth Movement. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!

But the guy who often changes the nature of the game more than any of those rising talents is the shortest dude on the team who has rarely been a full-time starter in his 11 years of pro experience. Reserve point Earl Watson admittedly can’t shoot the long ball well, isn’t a great dribble penetrator in the set offense, and is a poor free throw shooter for a guard.

What he can do is get under the skin of opponents, throw the best 30-foot alley-oops in the business and change the fortunes of his team before you have time to ask, “Where did Devin Harris go?”

Against Memphis Friday night, the Jazz outscored the Grizzlies by 21 points when he was on the floor. When Harris played, Memphis had eight more points than the Jazz. Often, the plus-minus stats (which are by no means bulletproof) are reversed as Watson has the tendency to turn the ball over and his 3-point attempts are apt to lead to fast breaks the other way. But what he does do is make something happen.

“Every night is going to be different. Some nights I’m going to score and other nights I won’t shoot and get assists. The whole point is to win the game and I’ll do whatever it takes,” Watson said after he tallied 11 points and five assists in the 94-85 win over Memphis.

He puts ball pressure on opposing guards and makes entry passes tough. When the ball does get inside he digs down and harasses the big fellas in the paint.

“That’s my style of play. That’s how I thrive. If I don’t do all that, I think I’m worthless. So I try and find a way to get creative like that,” Watson said.

The Grizzlies’ Marc Gasol got so fed up he tried to swat Watson away like he was a little mosquito but missed. Rudy Gay had seen too much of Watson in his grill, so he somewhat playfully punched Watson in the chest during a break in the action. Watson merely smirked and walked away.

“Sometimes I’m fighting the bigs and sometimes I’m bothering the guards —whatever I have to do that will bring energy and change the tempo,” Watson said.

Watson, who has career averages of 7.0 points and 4.5 assist, says he’s been around long enough that he knows what teams are going to do and which teams he can really affect. “I pick my spots,” Watson said.

The UCLA product was a hero against Memphis but one night later in Oakland, Watson had just two points and three assists and his second unit was outdueled by the Warriors. Harris was definitely more effective Saturday, but Watson maintains that’s the beauty of the situation.

“I think [Devin and I] complement each other and, at any given time, either of us can change the game. I think that puts a lot of pressure on a lot of teams. I play enough minutes that we can both stay fresh and continue to attack,” Watson said.

The Jazz fans who were around in the late ’80s and ’90s surely recall the uneasy feeling they got every time John Stockton went out of the game for a rest. Some backups, like Howard Eisley, were better than others but you could almost sense the Delta Center patrons collectively hold their breath until Stockton ran back to the scorer’s table to re-enter the game.

With Watson, it’s different. Harris is no Stockton of course, but many expect elevated play when Watson spells the starter. And, no matter what, they expect a change of style and tempo.

Watson was a free agent after last season and didn’t sign a new contract until a few hours before training camp began last month. The Hawks made a play for the spunky guard but the Jazz were his first choice. He says he has a special relationship with GM Kevin O’Connor and feels a strong loyalty to him. His two-year deal is guaranteed and worth $1.4 million a year — a bargain for the Jazz.

“I came back here because of the young guys. I am really excited about Favors and Gordon and Jeremy, all of them. The team and the chemistry and coaching staff brought me back,” Watson said.

While most pundits peg this abbreviated season as one of rebuilding for Utah, Watson senses better results.

“Everything is going the right direction,” Watson said. “I feel like we haven’t even scratched the surface. Everyone is so positive and the energy of the team is just amazing. And I feed off of energy.”

The experienced anchor of the second unit also creates that energy. He has the young guys that run with him believing that anything is possible and they have the playoffs as a goal.

“We feel like our five off the bench could start in this league,” he said. “We five off the bench believe we can dominate and change the game. We really believe it — and sometimes believing is bigger than reality.”

That kind of abundant faith is probably why a 6-foot, 30-something who can’t shoot straight is often Utah’s designated game-changer.

Author information

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at
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