The Jazz continued to roll last night, picking up their first five-game winning streak of the season and handling the visiting Portland Trail Blazers in fine fashion [recap]. There was a lot to like, including 24 points and 10 rebounds from Al Jefferson, the newly-named Western Conference Player of the Week. The rejuvenated Mo Williams followed up Randy Foye’s team record 8 threes on Saturday night with 6-of-7 shooting from three and 20 points.
The thing everybody wanted to talk about though was the ridiculous no-look lob from Jamaal Tinsley to Jeremy Evans in the fourth quarter. As was pointed out by Matt Harpring on the broadcast, Evans is somehow three feet behind the three-point line when the ball is lobbed by Tinsley. That’s a lot of ground to cover.
Shoutout to SB Nation’s Mike Prada for the upload and the Salt Lob City moniker.
If there was only one thing that endeared Jamaal Tinsley’s game to me (and I assure you that there are many more than one), it would be the fact that his jump shot looks exactly like the jump shot in Double Dribble on the NES- or “Bubble Bibble,” as it introduces itself. Well, except for the crazy changing-directions-in-the-air thing. I was probably about five years old when I reached my Double Dribble prime, but the effect that all of those strange, straight-armed jumpers had on my psyche were far longer lasting.
Anyway, Jamaal Tinsley.
Tinsley’s first season with the Jazz was basically a case study in diminishing returns. After spending the entire first month of the season on the bench, in his first game of heavy action he put up 9 points, 13 assists, and 6 rebounds- his 13 assists even marked a season high for the Jazz. Then he went straight back to the bench. In March, when he started getting reps as the 2nd-string point guard, his numbers were really solid- 6 points and 4 assists in 15 minutes a game while shooting 45% from the field. As time wore on, however, and he kept getting minutes, his shot selection became less sterling and his numbers just couldn’t hold up. By the time the playoffs came around, he was pretty much out of gas. It’s hard to say how much of that we can blame on a condensed season, but the bottom line is that Jamaal Tinsley isn’t a great option to put up 15 minutes a game, every game, for a full season. He’s just a little too old.
Still, if I were to ask you which Jazz player’s YouTube highlight inspired the comment section to evolve into a Hunger Games conversation and from there become a reflection on the long-standing oppression of the North Korean regime, you’d guess Tinsley, right? Right? Well, you’d be correct. At this point, Tinsley is also the only player with a D-League highlight reel on YouTube (miss you, Blake Ahearn). You throw the Malice in the Palace in there and Tinsley is suddenly a dark horse candidate for Utah’s YouTube MVP.
Offseason Accomplishments: The Jazz picked up the second year option on his contract and so he bought a Jeep.
Stat to Watch: I’m going to go old school and say Field Goal Percentage. As previously noted, if he’s not getting worn too thin, his shots will fall more. It seems like we’ll be able to tell how well he is being used by how well he is shooting from the floor. Unless, of course, he just regresses and shoots 35% all season… though I guess you’ll still know how well he’s being used in that case too.
Three Potential Outcomes of the Season:
1. Through a combination of Earl Watson’s health and Randy Foye’s failure to raise his assist rate to a reasonable level, Tinsley gets the primary backup minutes, also filling in at starting point guard whenever Mo Williams gets hurt. The results are a few great highlights, some solid transition offense, and a bunch of opposing point guards scoring at will on the Jazz. His sheer entertainment value still outweighs his flaws and he continues to be a valuable contributor for the Jazz all season long. His cagey play buys him two more years in the NBA before riding off into the sunset.
2. He rides off into the sunset now. Foye plays within the system, taking on a bulk of backup point guard minutes, and the Burks-at-PG experiment doesn’t completely fail, leaving no time for Tinsley or Watson. They have a good time cheering for the team and playing in the event of injuries, foul trouble, or blowouts. Otherwise, he starts a bunch of bench games with Earl Watson like who gets the most high fives after every big play or who can walk out closest to halfcourt during a timeout without looking weird. He retires next summer and opens a Jeep car dealership.
3. Situation #2 starts playing out, but Jamaal Tinsley can’t deal. He sneaks back to Brooklyn and signs with the Harlem Globetrotters under his old street name, “Mel Mel the Abuser.” He tears it up and quickly becomes a fan favorite. Since nobody actually pays attention, including Ty Corbin, to the Harlem Globetrotters, no one notices that one of their players is currently under an NBA contract. Sometime in February or so, when the Jazz are up on the Kings by 30 midway through the fourth quarter, Ty Corbin squints as he looks down the end of the bench.
Corbin: ”Jamaal! You’re in!”
Earl Watson, suddenly perking up: ”Coach, I don’t know where he is. But he owes me fifty bucks because I walked all the way out to the center circle last timeout.”
Al Jefferson: ”I haven’t seen him in like a week.”
Gordon Hayward: ”It has actually been 48 days since he has participated with our team. I corresponded with him briefly and he told me that he re-aggravated his left knee from an injury he sustained several years ago. He said to call him if we actually need him.”
After Wednesday’s emotionally-draining loss to the Clippers at home, the Jazz simply ran out of gas the next night in Oakland. The loss to the seven-win Warriors came with the Jazz missing point guards Devin Harris (some body part) and Earl Watson (another body part). In their place, third string PG Jamaal Tinsley got the start, his first since 2009. The man’s contract isn’t even guaranteed until after February 10, so hopefully his strong performance will buy him a spot with the team for the rest of the season.
His stat line was tremendous, especially considering he’d only played 45 minutes all season. 13 assists (a team season high) to go along with 6 rebounds, 9 points, and 2 steals. It was fun to watch his brand of pass-first play mixed with a slice of New York playground spice. He couldn’t resist a little razzle. @monilogue at SLCDunk grabbed the perfect gif of the moment:
Our friends at Shaky Ankles sent a clip of Jamaal Tinsley’s ridiculous wraparound tomfoolery from the Jazz-Clippers game. An even better clip of the same play comes from the incomparable memoismoney, which gives you a nice view of the whole thing. I was sitting on the other side and I think the trickery looked a little more devious from that that point of view, but it’s still a great move from any angle.
The Jazz have an underrated luxury with Tinsley as the third point guard. It isn’t often the case that a team can confidently play the third string guy and expect a solid contribution. Here’s to more blowouts and more breakaways.