Salt City Hoops » Karl Malone http://saltcityhoops.com The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Karl Malone http://saltcityhoops.com/wp-content/plugins/powerpress/rss_default.jpg http://saltcityhoops.com What if: Rony Seikaly had come to the Utah Jazz in 1998? http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-rony-seikaly-had-come-to-the-utah-jazz-in-1998/ http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-rony-seikaly-had-come-to-the-utah-jazz-in-1998/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 17:42:56 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=12719 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
AP Photo/John Bazemore

AP Photo/John Bazemore

Off the heels of an impressive 1996-97 season, which saw the team go 64-18 en route to its first-ever NBA Finals appearance, the Utah Jazz came back the following year more determined to not only get back to the big stage, but to win the whole thing. All the key free agents were brought back and while there were bumps along the way, the 1997-98 Jazz were a team on a mission. John Stockton suffered the first major injury of his career and a few players started the season slowly, but by midseason, things were falling into place.

While the team was playing extremely well, the front office approached the February 1998 trade deadline with an active desire to improve the roster in preparation for what was hopefully to be another historic postseason run. With this in mind, the Utah Jazz made a trade to bring in center Rony Seikaly from the Orlando Magic.

But he never came to Utah. And the Jazz moved on.

This could be one of the biggest “what ifs” in franchise history. Most are aware of the circumstances: On February 17th, Utah and Orlando consummated a deal that would send to the Magic center Greg Foster, swingman Chris Morris and the Jazz’s 1998 first-round draft pick to the Magic in exchange for Seikaly.

In fact, Foster and Morris were warming up before the start of a game that evening when they were told of the move. Morris seemed quite pleased about the opportunity, as he had established residency in Jerry Sloan’s doghouse. Foster, on the other hand, was visibly shaken. After a very nomadic career, he had become a very viable contributor and had established roots in the community.

For Seikaly, it seemed like a no-brainer. At least on paper. The talented, offensive-minded big man would have the chance to play alongside two Hall of Famers in Karl Malone and John Stockton. And for the first time, he would be part of a contender.

It never happened. Seikaly never reported to Salt Lake City. Some suggested that he was leery of coming to Utah, especially after playing mostly for teams in warm climates (Miami and Orlando). Other reports insinuated that Seikaly wanted his last two seasons guaranteed–something some said Utah was willing to do. If you ask Seikaly, it was the Jazz who nixed the trade, with concerns about his foot injury. It was a matter of he said, they said. Based on some of the comments coming from Magic officials. and players, though, it might have been Seikaly’s call.

Whatever the truth is–and the fans may never know what truly occurred–the pairing of Seikaly and the Jazz did not materialize. Despite reporting to Orlando and participating in a practice, Foster and Morris were brought back to Utah in a very awkward position. Utah’s front office, coaches and the fans did their best to welcome the pair back, but it must have been surreal for them.

What would Seikaly have brought to the team?

Up to that point in the season, Seikaly was averaging 15.0 PPG and 7.6 RPG. While his shooting was a career-low 44.1 percent, he would’ve added a much-needed offensive threat who could shoulder some of the scoring burdens placed on the NBA’s MVP, Karl Malone. Seikaly was a talented player who had a bevy of moves around the basket in his repertoire. For much of his career, he was his team’s focal point on offense, doing so mostly through iso plays. That would not have been in the case in Utah. He would’ve benefitted greatly from Sloan’s dynamic offense that worked efficiently and always made the extra pass (evidenced by the league-leading 49 percent shooting, along with 25.2 assists per outing). Malone had developed into one of the NBA’s best passing bigs and he would’ve done a fine job at setting up Seikaly for easy looks. And Stockton, Jeff Hornacek and Howard Eisley were not too shabby, either.

While his advanced stats were not gleaming, Seikaly was posting a 15.8 PER and 2.8 WS. Those would’ve easily placed him ahead of the troika of Foster (8.9 PER, 1.3 WS), Greg Ostertag (12.5, 2.2) and Antoine Carr (9.8, 1.5). Seikaly essentially would have assumed Foster’s starting role and his 18.5 MPG, along with some of Carr’s playing time. That would’ve obviously brought productivity and potential to the table.

Even though his TRB%, 14.1, was quite a bit below his career average, Seikaly was much better off the glass than Foster (11.7) or Carr (7.5).

He would’ve also smoothed out the rotations. A Seikaly/Ostertag tandem would provide a nice offensive-defensive contrast and could even play a bit together when the Mailman needed a spell. It would also allow Carr to be used more prudently, playing to his strengths as instant offense off the bench. The team would’ve had 30 games to acclimate him in and get everyone used to their refined roles.

Would Seikaly have made a difference in the Playoffs and the Finals? Foster, Ostertag and Carr averaged a combined 11.9 PPG and 10.0 RPG in 49.1 MPG in the postseason. In the Finals? They tallied a total of 44 points and 42 rebounds in 204 minutes. Seikaly would’ve most likely fared much better. At a minimum, he would’ve been someone the Chicago defense would have had to address.

Injuries decimated (and the ensuing controversy behind his not going to Utah) Seikaly’s career. Who knows if he would’ve done better in Utah on that front. Some vets seem to thrive when playing a complementary role for a team that’s winning. At just 32, Seikaly might’ve been a contributor for a few more years.

So, there you have it–one of the more painful “what ifs” in Jazz history.

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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/what-if-rony-seikaly-had-come-to-the-utah-jazz-in-1998/feed/ 5
52 John Stockton Memories http://saltcityhoops.com/52-john-stockton-memories/ http://saltcityhoops.com/52-john-stockton-memories/#comments Wed, 26 Mar 2014 22:03:42 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=10846 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

Glenn James/NBAE/Getty Images

In the midst of a rough Utah Jazz season, sometimes it’s good to take a minute to reflect on some better times. In that same spirit, today is the one and only John Stockton’s 52nd birthday. Without further ado, here are 52 memories of and thoughts about #12:

1- One has to start with the absolutely magical relationship Stockton had with Karl Malone. Do Utah Jazz fans realize how lucky they were to have two Hall of Famers giving their all, night in and night out, for nearly two decades? The debates of who was more important or who benefited more from the other are moot. The symbiotic nature of this tandem’s on and off-court unity may never be replicated. They also shared a love for milk, even before they became the dynamic duo.

2- Few were better at the pull-up 3-pointer, quite often when managing a two-for-one situation at the end of a quarter.

3- The absolute respect Jerry Sloan and John Stockton had for each other. Stockton was an extension of Sloan on the court, with the latter calling most of the plays. John never quibbled–he did what was asked and excelled. The mutual love they had for each other was evident on the night the franchise honored him after his retirement, when Sloan teared up, saying “We thought you’d play forever, John.”

4- Stockton’s professionalism. For 19 seasons, he came to work. By all accounts, he reveled in practices just as much as the games. His preparation was unparalleled.

5- At every opportunity, Stockton was quick to acknowledge his teammates contributions, often deflecting attention toward his own accomplishments. On the night he broke Magic Johnson’s all-time assist mark, he said “The guys were making some incredible shots–ones I won’t soon forget.” The epitome of an unselfish leader.

6- Stockton did not exhibit much flashiness. That’s not to say that he never dribbled between his legs or made the occasional behind the back dish–he did. But he was effective and efficient–even when playing in 10 All-Star games.

7- 15,806 assists, seven times surpassing the 1,000 dime mark (with one season with 987). Imagine what that total would have been had he started more frequently his first three seasons. Even as is, it will always be one of sports most unbreakable records.

8- The absolute durability. In 17 of his 19 seasons, Stockton played every game. When he had that injury in 1997, he worked tirelessly to get back, missing on 18 games when others would’ve been sidelined much longer.

9- In the 1987-88 season, Stockton shot 57.4 percent from the floor. He was better than 50 percent for 12 seasons, and never shot worse than his rookie year’s 47.1 percent mark. But, according to Mark Jackson, he was a “good to very good shooter…not to be considered a great shooter.” Okay.

10- Of course, the short shorts. The ladies on Friends loved them.

11- John had a great sense of humor.

12- Stockton donned Nike’s Air Maestro’s in the 1990s. Like many out there, that instantly became my shoe of choice. Here’s John’s Foot Locker ad for said sneaker.

13- Perhaps everyone’s favorite Stockton moment was naturally “the Shot.” What was even more amazing was the complete way he took over the last few minutes of that game. He either scored or assisted on every basket down the stretch.  It was as clutch a performance as there has been.

14- Also from that fateful game in Houston was the image indelibly etched in Jazz fans’ hearts forever–Stockton, Malone and Jeff Hornacek embracing for a brief moment before being surrounded by their teammates.

15- Stockton’s amazing acting abilities, as evidenced here. His singing prowess was also something to hear…

16- 28 assists against the San Antonio Spurs. Oh, and he added 20 points and eight steals that evening.

17- Shocking the whole world, John Stockton penned his autobiography, Assisted. Even the most devout Jazz fans can glean so much by reading this book. It was also enjoyable to see Stockton go about the media circuit, granting more interviews in a few weeks’ time than he seemingly did during several seasons.

18- Not being recognized by anyone in Barcelona, as part of the 1992 Dream Team. Not one of my favorite memories: Stockton going down with a broken leg, thus preventing him from playing much with the greatest team in basketball history.

19- For the analytics junkies, Stockton led the NBA three times in True Shooting Percentage, including a .651 mark in 1994-95. He paced the league in eFG% at .596 the following season.

20- Larry H. Miller loved Stockton–that was very evident. When asked what John was like, Miller’s reply was “He’s everything you think he is.”

21- He was tops in the league in Assist Percentage 15 seasons–including his final year at age 40.

22- A few more advanced stats: 207.7 Win Shares; 121 Offensive Rating and 104 Defensive Rating…for his entire career.

23- Stockton was fiercely loyal to the Utah Jazz. The stories of his contact talks, where Miller and Stockton would each write on a paper what they each thought was a fair number. And that was it. No agents. No posturing. Just two men in a room who respected each other.

24- Stockton’s Hall of Fame speech. To go into the Hall the same time as Jerry Sloan was priceless.

25- 3,265 steals by the NBA’s most prolific thief. He lead the league twice and tallied over 100 each season, minus the lockout year and the season of his injury.

26- Naturally, we have to mention the screens he set. It did not matter if you were Shaquille O’Neal or Hakeem Olajuwon, Stockton was not afraid to go inside. It earned him the “dirty” label, but it seemed like it was just good, tough basketball.

27- Gary Payton saying Stockton was harder to guard than Michael Jordan. Repeatedly, much to many media members’ and fans’ chagrin.

28- The pick & roll. To perfection.

29- Stockton leading the Jazz to victory over the Chicago Bulls despite being down 107-100 with 40 seconds left. One of my favorite Hot Rod Hundley calls of all-time.

30- Back in the late 1980s, Wilt Chamberlain said that if he was starting a team from scratch, Stockton would be the first player he’d choose.

31- The Dean John Wooden saying Stockton was the only guy he’d pay money to watch. “He’s just my favorite player to watch in the pros.”

32- Doling out 24 assists against the Lakers in the 1988 Playoffs to tie Magic’s single-game postseason record.

33- Stockton remained a family man, one who was devoted to his wife and kids.

34- Together with Hornacek, Stockton helped form a truly remarkable back court. These were two guys who could shoot, pass and defend with the best of them, even though they joined forces toward the end of their careers.

35- “The Pass” against the Bulls in the Finals.

36-  Stockton was one of the few players who placed his heart on his chest and sang the national anthem prior to games. .

37- Sharing the 1993 All-Star Game MVP honors with the “Mailman.” Stock finished with nine points, 15 assists and six rebounds, but it was his clutch play down the stretch that helped him earn part of that trophy. That was a great respite in an otherwise difficult season.

38- Making the All-Defensive team five times. Toward the end of his career, Stockton did struggle against speedy counterparts, but in his heyday, he was a tough defender. Mark Eaton and Greg Ostertag did allow him to roam a bit and play the passing lanes, but Stockton was gritty when going one-on-one.

39- Being selected 11 times to the All-NBA team.

40- Being a torch bearer during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

41- At the press conference two months ago, seeing Jerry Sloan in the middle, with Stockton on one side and Malone on the other took Jazz fans back to glory days.

42- Seeing the Stockton statue be unveiled outside of the arena. Likewise, driving through the intersection of John Stockton Drive and Karl Malone Drive just next to EnergySolutions Arena.

43- Stockton being one of the 1996 Olympic team captains.

44- Making the Playoffs each of his 19 seasons.

45- The absolutely classy gesture by the Sacramento Kings fans in giving Stockton and Malone a standing ovation in what would be their final game together. Watching the scene brings chills.

46- Stockton’s retirement ceremony. It was a great opportunity for Jazz fans to deservedly shower #12 with love.

47- Hearing Hot Rod call every  Stockton “leapin’ leaner,”yo-yo,” “belt-high dribble,” and “hippity-hop.” There’s also “With a gentle push, and a mild arc, the old cowhide globe hits home” and, of course, “Stockton-to-Malone.” There was only one Hot Rod. “You gotta love it baby!”

48- Seeing him a few times each season at Jazz games.

49- I grew up not caring much for sports. Then in 1987, my father took me to a Jazz game in the old Salt Palace. There was this speedy, short guard making some incredible passes. I was hooked to basketball, becoming a lifelong Jazz fan thanks to John Stockton.

50- Stockton could have undoubtedly be a 20-22 PPG scorer in the NBA. He was that great of a shooter. Many people’s biggest gripe was his passing up shots at times. Still, his selflessness was incredible to watch.

51-  His taking the time to tutor first Deron Williams and then Trey Burke and Alec Burks this past offseason.

52- John Stockton is truly the greatest point guard to ever play the game.

Thank you for indulging me. Feel free to share some of your favorite John Stockton memories and thoughts below. And Happy Birthday John!

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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/52-john-stockton-memories/feed/ 5
“Utah Jazz Basketball”: A Look At Assisted Field Goal % http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-basketball-a-look-at-assisted-field-goal/ http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-basketball-a-look-at-assisted-field-goal/#comments Wed, 16 Oct 2013 21:45:36 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=8022 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/utah-jazz-basketball-a-look-at-assisted-field-goal/feed/ 0
The Greatness of Jeff Hornacek http://saltcityhoops.com/the-greatness-of-jeff-hornacek/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-greatness-of-jeff-hornacek/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 16:44:25 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=7336 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
While some of the different articles out there have varying opinions on how the Jazz off-season has fared (NBA.com’s David Aldridge, for instance, listed Utah 29th of 30), in many ways, I think the Jazz are having a very nice summer.

The combination of their roster moves (the Draft, trades, free agency), as well as their front office efforts (bringing Jerry Sloan and Karl Malone back into the fold, along with the the major upgrades at EnergySolutions Arena), have many Jazz fans optimistic about the direction of the franchise. And rightfully so.

For me, however, there has been one negative this off-season: Jeff Hornacek is no longer on the bench. Like most, I am genuinely happy that Hornacek has been given the chance at a head coaching gig–especially this early on in this part of his career. It is still bittersweet, though, to see him not with the Utah Jazz.

Hornacek was one of the heroes of my childhood. I grew up during the glory days of John Stockton, Karl Malone, Sloan, and Hornacek. I remember fondly the day Utah made the best deadline deal in team history: acquiring Jeff from the Philadelphia Sixers. He automatically teamed up with #12 and #32 to form a truly great trio.

That said, I think we sometimes underestimate how great and underrated Jeff Hornacek truly was. Fortunately he has been given some well-deserved accolades lately in the media.

ESPN Insider’s Tom Haberstroh ranked the Best Big Threes in modern NBA history, using Kevin Pelton’s wins above replacement value metric (WARP). The Jazz troika finished fourth (behind the threesomes for the Celtics (Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale), Bulls (Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant), and the Spurs (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili). Haberstroh emphasized Hornacek’s contributions to that big three:

A former All-Star and one of the premier shooters of his time, Hornacek probably doesn’t garner the recognition that he deserves. The guy was a beacon of efficiency and nearly joined the 50-40-90 club in field goal percentage, free throw percentage and 3-point percentage, respectively, during his entire run with the Jazz. Easily the best Big Three to never win the title.

My Twitter friend, Curtis Harris of ProHoopsHistory.com, also recently focused on Hornacek with an excellent analysis.

In addition to what these two have written, if you’ll indulge me, here are some reasons why I feel Jeff was great:

  • For the longest time, Stockton had to do the bulk of the ball handling and facilitating. That’s natural, you say, since he was the epitome of a point guard. That said, he needed help, so as to help lighten the load. Before Jeff arrived, John’s backcourt partners were Darrell Griffith, Bobby Hansen, Jeff Malone, and even Andy Toolson. They were all good fits, but none could offer the playmaking expertise Hornacek did. This enabled John to occasionally play off the ball, while Jeff would take turns at the helm. Likewise, Jeff was able to play back-up point guard minutes (before Howard Eisley was acquired). In my opinion, all this helped lengthen Stockton’s career.
  • We could go on and on about his shooting. Perhaps because of his all-around game and unassuming personality, Hornacek is unfairly not included in discussions about the game’s best shooters. One thing I loved: Hornacek’s shooting was especially vital in the fourth quarters. He not only helped spread the floor, but his free throw shooting in the clutch was essential in icing games.
  • He shot between 48-51% each season from the floor, connected on 40%+ from three-point range in each season except one, and never shot lower than 88.2% from the line with the Jazz. Oh, and he led the NBA in free throw percentage with an insane 95.0% clip his final season. That’s 19 of every 20 shots made.
  • Jeff and John were one of the best shooting back courts in NBA history. Remarkably underrated.
  • Hornacek’s defense was steady. He simply could not match his opponents physically, but he played heady position defense, using crafty moves to stick between his man and the basket. He effectively was able to get into others’ heads. Just ask Jerry Stackhouse. Hornacek also effectively played the passing lanes.
  • It was not until Hornacek came to town that the Jazz became an above average road team. That was a thorn in the side of many of those late 80s/early 90s Utah squads. With Jeff, the Jazz became a more potent, more cerebral team. He brought mental toughness that contributed to a big turnaround away from the Delta Center.
  • In six and a half seasons, Jeff missed 10 games. An iron man, just like Karl and John.
  • Utah’s record with Jeff Hornacek: 350-137 (.719), including the three 60-win seasons in franchise history, four visits to the conference finals, and of course, the two series versus the Bulls.
  • The 8-8 three-point night versus Seattle was electric.

Well, there you have it: more reasons why Jeff Hornacek was great. These are just some of the reasons why #14 is hanging in the ESA rafters.

What are your favorite Hornacek moments? Feel free to share in the comments.

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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/the-greatness-of-jeff-hornacek/feed/ 6
Could Karl Malone Play in the NBA at Age 49? http://saltcityhoops.com/could-karl-malone-play-in-the-nba-at-age-49/ http://saltcityhoops.com/could-karl-malone-play-in-the-nba-at-age-49/#comments Sun, 23 Jun 2013 16:43:45 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6716 Author information
Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt is an avid sports fan who follows college and pro basketball extremely close. He is a regular college basketball contributor for the Deseret News and runs his own sports blog in his spare time. During the day Kyle works as a digital marketing analyst, improving the credibility and web presence of more than 25 high-spend clients.
]]>
What would it be like if Karl Malone suddenly uttered, in the third person language he so often uses, “Karl Malone is coming back to basketball”?

As all Jazz fans know by now, Karl Malone was recently hired as a part-time player development coach for the Utah Jazz—being given the specific responsibility to mentor the young and veteran post players in the organization. It’s true his return has created a stir among Jazz nation, with many critics of Malone’s free spirit personality claiming the decision to hire him was a poor one, especially considering his history of unfulfilled commitments since retiring from professional basketball in 2004. Even Jeff Hornacek, Karl’s former teammate with the Jazz, took time to make light of hiring Malone as a coach. Immediately after Hornacek accepted the head coaching job with the Phoenix Suns, he said he’d contact Malone about serving as an assistant, but claimed he had doubts about receiving a commitment because Karl would want to go fishing after a couple of weeks.

Not everyone is concerned about Malone’s commitment to his new part-time coaching gig, but some do wonder what fueled him to make a return to basketball. Most former NBA stars of Malone’s caliber (other than Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Isiah Thomas), choose to remain far away from the sidelines after they finish their careers. Of course, there may be varying reasons why many former greats practice intentional avoidance when it comes to basketball, but some undoubtedly do it because it’s painful to be so close to the action without putting on a uniform. Other retirees do it because they can’t handle watching other players fail to do things they did easily during their own playing careers. It seems this would be especially difficult for Karl Malone, one of the best power forwards to ever set foot on an NBA court. But it’s possible Karl Malone accepted this coaching job to see how he measures up against the young NBA talent of today.

Ever since the Jazz announced Karl Malone’s return as part-time coach, I can’t stop myself from imagining him in a Jazz uniform again. There’s a chance I’m consumed by illogical thinking, but is it silly of me to think that Karl Malone (age 49), could realistically make a return to the NBA? Is it also unrealistic of me to think that deep down, some part of Karl Malone has always wanted to return as a player? I would venture to say neither one of those notions are completely impossible or entirely out of the question. Remember, this is Karl Malone we’re talking about: the man who still exercises and trains the way he did when he played for the Jazz. The man who still has biceps larger than a human head. The man of many words, who never shies away from a challenge or showmanship, nor cowers from any opponent. The 14-time All-star, two-time league MVP, all-time leader in defensive rebounds, and second leading scorer of all-time. The Hall of Famer who, with the help of a man named John Stockton, kept the small-market Jazz on the map for nearly two decades. If there is any doubt about what Karl Malone has done for the NBA or the Jazz organization, just take a look at his statue outside of Energy Solutions Arena.

It is admirable that Karl Malone accepted the invitation to help the Jazz bigs develop and hone their skills, but you wonder if assisting these young bigs (who are nowhere near his talent level), will bring all the competitive memories flooding back. Maybe Karl Malone believes (with some help), he could elevate the Jazz to championship status as a player even at age 49. Maybe he’ll get fed up with coaching and decide he can still wreak some havoc on the court. Maybe he hasn’t forgotten the two NBA titles that Michael Jordan and the Bulls stole away from him in 1997 and 1998, or the one the Pistons stole in 2004—and maybe he wants another shot. Maybe he wants to prove that he can still average double digits in scoring and rebounding. Maybe he hears everybody telling him it’s foolish to think about, and maybe he doesn’t care. As Jazz fans, we may never know.

Most critics believe at some point down the road, whether it’s this season or next, Karl Malone will step away from the Jazz. The way he’ll make his exit is still up for debate. Some say he’ll ride off into the sunset on a horse, go back to meticulously cleaning his rifles, and take a few extra fishing trips with his buddy and fellow outdoor enthusiast John Stockton. Those critics might say that Malone is walking away because he doesn’t know how to keep a commitment, but I believe the reason could be quite different. If he does leave sooner than later, maybe it’s because he too realizes that returning to basketball is out of the question, and that truth alone becomes more than he can take. Or maybe he listened to Clyde Drexler’s response to a reporter when asked if he could still lace up his shoes for another NBA game: Drexler replied that he could play for the full 48 minutes, and then he’d be forced to sit in an ice bath the rest of the week.

Basketball fans (especially Jazz fans), love making predictions, even if it’s clear the opinions we express are sorely misguided. It’s obviously difficult to predict a future that isn’t yet realized, but for now we do know—“Karl Malone is coming back to basketball”, just as an assistant coach. The rest is partly imaginative speculation, and mostly wishful thinking.

Author information

Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt is an avid sports fan who follows college and pro basketball extremely close. He is a regular college basketball contributor for the Deseret News and runs his own sports blog in his spare time. During the day Kyle works as a digital marketing analyst, improving the credibility and web presence of more than 25 high-spend clients.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/could-karl-malone-play-in-the-nba-at-age-49/feed/ 1
Jazz Quietly Winning the Off-season http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-quietly-winning-the-off-season/ http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-quietly-winning-the-off-season/#comments Thu, 20 Jun 2013 18:58:12 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6663 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
BNN95oUCcAItob6

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.

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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/jazz-quietly-winning-the-off-season/feed/ 2
Comparing the Finals performances of Karl Malone and LeBron James (and some guy named Michael Jordan) http://saltcityhoops.com/comparing-karl-malones-and-lebron-jamess-finals-performances-with-some-guy-named-jordan-2/ http://saltcityhoops.com/comparing-karl-malones-and-lebron-jamess-finals-performances-with-some-guy-named-jordan-2/#comments Fri, 14 Jun 2013 15:35:59 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6567 Author information
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
]]>
LeBron James is having a rough go of the 2013 Finals thus far, game four withstanding—so much so that in post-game coverage, Magic Johnson said James “disappointed” him in his game three performance. It’s a sentiment Miami fans share, and it isn’t new to fans of James and the teams on which he plays.

To date, James is 8-13 in the NBA Finals, a .380 winning percentage. Not what one expects of a four-time League MVP; certainly not what one expects of a player who, at only 28 years old, increasingly gets mention in the possible greatest-player-of-all-time discussion.

Karl Malone would certainly love to be in James’s place, though. Two finals coming up short (and a third on the way, I suspect) must be easier to stomach with one ring already on the finger. That ring is the single biggest difference between the legacy of Malone and James, though Malone must also content himself with heading the best-at-his-position debate rather than the best-player-ever discussion.

James is a better player than Malone ever was. I think that point is unarguable. What may be much more debatable is that James has clearly proven himself better on the greatest of stages. But looking at their Finals numbers, that simply isn’t true.  (Statistics are accurate as of game 3 from this year’s series.)

  G MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT%
LeBron James 18 43:00 8.2 19.0 .430 1.1 4.3 .247 4.2 5.6 .743
Karl Malone 12 41:30 9.5 20.1 .443 0 2 .000 5.4 8 .677
Michael Jordan 35 43:00 12.5 26.0 .481 1.2 3.3 .368 7.4 9.1 .806
  ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS    
LeBron James 1.6 7.3 8.9 6.9 1.5 0.6 4.0 2.2 21.0
Karl Malone 3.3 7.1 10.4 3.4 2.2 0.8 3.1 2.8 24.4
Michael Jordan 1.6 4.4 6.0 6.0 1.8 0.7 2.4 2.9 33.6

In his two Finals appearances against the Bulls (arguably a better team than any James has ever faced), Malone averaged more points and rebounds per game on a superior field goal percentage than James. James has posted the better percentage from the line, but he compromises that efficiency by chucking more than four threes a game while making only one. Both have admirable assist totals for their positions, but Malone’s defensive stats are better across the board.

Which player would you rather lead you into the championship round, assuming they continued to produce exactly the above statistics?  It’s largely a wash. All things considered, the numbers probably show Malone in a slightly better light given the defensive statistics. Even his winning percentage of .333 projects as practically identical to LeBron’s .380: each suggest your guy will only get you two wins in the series before you watch the confetti fall on your opponent.

Contrast both players to Michael Jordan (the guy who really does deserve to head the list in that greatest-of-all-time discussion).  Ten points or more better than these alternatives on superior shooting from all areas of the floor while chipping in six rebounds and six assists a game as well. Yeah, I’ll take that guy.

It’s sad, but Karl Malone’s Finals legacy is one of disappointment, if only because of the supreme standard he set as to his own performance, throughout his career and those seasons in particular. He wasn’t as good as we thought he could be and needed to be to earn that ring.  But how much of that legacy is due to his playing slightly less than his best against arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled? How different would that legacy be if, instead of Jordan’s Bulls, Malone put up 24, 10, and 3 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, an extremely young team that folded under the pressure of the championship round against Miami and who might have done the same against Utah?

What if Malone had that ring without playing any better than he did?

Who knows. What I do know is that LeBron James has not been a better player than Karl Malone in the NBA Finals. So perhaps we should revisit our perception of a few legacies here. Karl Malone may not have shrunk under championship strain as much as some believe, while LeBron James is showing himself far, far from nearing a coronation as Greatest Ever, not as judged by the crucible of the NBA Finals.

Author information

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/comparing-karl-malones-and-lebron-jamess-finals-performances-with-some-guy-named-jordan-2/feed/ 0
John Stockton Was Really, Really Good http://saltcityhoops.com/john-stockton-was-really-really-good/ http://saltcityhoops.com/john-stockton-was-really-really-good/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 20:13:31 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6447 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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
th-5

Within a matter of days, the NBA saw two all-time greats ride off into the sunset. After tremendous careers spanning parts of three decades, Grant Hill and Jason Kidd announced their retirements. The praise for their distinguished achievements that has since ensued is very fitting and deserving. The news has spawned debate as to where this pair fits in the annals of NBA lore.

Specifically, in the case of Kidd, it has lead to discussion of the best point guards in NBA history and where he fits in the pecking order. Seeing the barrage of tweets and articles that highlight Kidd’s career was enjoyable, but the Jazz devotee in me naturally gravitated to one Mr. John Stockton and his greatness.

Several have asked who had the better career: Kidd or Stockton? I won’t go too in-depth on this, as that is a topic for another day. Suffice it to say, that while Kidd has the edge in some areas (better rebounder, stronger defender, earned a championship with Dallas), Stockton has my vote due to his own advantage in others (all-time leader in two major statistical categories, durability, better shooter).

Even the most die-hard of Jazz fans can sometimes underestimate just how good Stockton was. If you will indulge me, I would like add another perspective on his place amongst his fellow elite point guards.

First, we know most of the following statistics and accolades by heart:

  • The all-time leader with 15,806 dimes. Led the league in assists nine consecutive seasons. Tallied 1,000+ assist seasons.
  • With 3,265 steals, also the all-time leader in thefts.
  • 10-time All-Star. Co-All-Star MVP in 1993.
  • 11-time All-NBA selection. Five-time All-Defensive team member.
  • Two-time Olympic gold medal winner.
  • Led the Utah Jazz to the playoffs each of his 19 seasons, including two Finals appearances in 1997 and 1998.
  • Played every game in 17 of his 19 campaigns. Including 182 postseason outings, #12 played in 1,686 of 1,708 possible games (98.7%).
  • Apparently one autobiography.
  • And so on and so on.

Well, here is one more statistic that illustrates Stockton’s mastery: points accounted for. I remember fondly many instances where John Stockton would orchestrate a brilliant quarter where he either scored or assisted nearly every basket for the Jazz. He essentially accounted for almost every point for his squad. This was a rather common occurrence, and one way in which he could quietly dominate.

The formula is simple: (assists x 2) + points scored. Obviously, we cannot accurately ascertain how many of a player’s assists resulted in three-pointers by teammates, but we can figure out the minimum points an individual accounted for during his career.

Along with the 15,806 assists, Stockton scored 19,711 points (which might be a surprising total: he was a very underrated shooter and scorer). While we cannot gauge how many three-pointers John assisted via the likes of Jeff Hornacek, Bryon Russell, and Darrell Griffith, we know that Stockton accounted for at least 51,323 points. Astounding.

Let’s compare him against some of the game’s best playmakers:

 

Name Games played Assists Points Scored Pts Accounted For
John Stockton 1,504 15,806 19,711 51,323
Oscar Robertson 1,040 9,887 26,710 46,484
Jason Kidd 1,391 12,091 17,529 41,711
Gary Payton 1,335 8,966 21,813 39,745
Magic Johnson 906 10,141 17,707 37,989
Steve Nash 1,202 10,249 17,285 37,783
Isiah Thomas 979 9,061 18,822 36,944
Andre Miller 1,126 7,956 15,496 31,348
Bob Cousy 924 6,955 16,960 30,950

These are some impressive numbers by some very impressive players, but Stockton’s total is remarkable. Obviously, his longevity and lack of missed games contributes greatly, as some counterparts accounted for more points per game played. In future posts, I will delve deeper into points accounted for, but for now, this gives you a feel for the impact Stockton had on the game. While Karl Malone and his prolific scoring earned most of the headlines, Stockton’s contributions were amazing.

 

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), WeAreUtahJazz.com, UtahJazz360.com and previously for Hoopsworld.com. 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.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/john-stockton-was-really-really-good/feed/ 14
The 7 Ways Karl Malone Could Change Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors For The Better http://saltcityhoops.com/the-7-ways-karl-malone-could-change-enes-kanter-and-derrick-favors-for-the-better/ http://saltcityhoops.com/the-7-ways-karl-malone-could-change-enes-kanter-and-derrick-favors-for-the-better/#comments Wed, 05 Jun 2013 15:44:02 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=6430 Author information
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
]]>
Welcome Coach Karl!  Or maybe it’s Periodic Expat Demi-coach of a Largely Undesignated Nature and Frequency Charged with Development of Players 6’8” and Taller (preferably far, far away from the press) Karl, but hey, potato, potahto, our boy’s come home!

Whatever else comes of this adventure, it is good to know Greg Miller and Karl Malone have gotten past the difficulties of the last few years.  The Mailman’s estrangement from the Miller family, and consequently the much wider Jazz family, could never be acceptable to any party.  He is too much a part of our team, and that team will always be a significant part of who Karl is as well. That he’s back “on the team” is good news.

The implications for the development of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and possibly other Jazz players are far less simple to sum up.  I love Karl Malone and always have, though that love has sometimes carried a legitimate component of frustration, resentment, and bitterness.  In this, I think my feelings about Malone are shared by a large number of Jazz fans, and for good reason.

Karl Malone was a great, great player, one of the best ever.  He was also sometimes erratic in attitude and speech, confrontational (including with people within his own organization), and, at times, selfish.  I think Malone would readily admit to these negative marks in his past.  While his glorious playing days are past, there is real question whether the same can be said of the distracting idiosyncrasies and vagaries of his personality. In turn, that forces one to wonder just what caliber of coach he can be.

I don’t think anyone can confidently answer that question—not the team CEO and Owner Greg Miller; not Jazz Head Coach, and former teammate of Malone, Tyrone Corbin (who apparently played a role in instigating the current arrangement); perhaps not even the Mailman himself.  The demands on a coach are very different from those of an elite player, including in comportment and ability to communicate.  How Karl Malone the player will transition to Karl Malone the coach/consultant is something I expect all Jazz fans will monitor with interest.

But with some questioning what virtues the Mailman brings to the table as a coach and already predicting a scandalous end to this experiment, I decided to share a few areas where I feel Malone really may produce tangible results in his work with the team’s young bigs.

1. Fitness and Conditioning

Malone changed the way NBA players approach fitness and conditioning, perhaps more than any other single player.  He logged 53,479 minutes of regular season game play, or 891.3 hours, or  37.1 days, or roughly a month and one week straight of full court basketball against the greatest athletes in the world, full out, at all times.  People still marvel at what his body was capable of enduring.  That body was a product of work, and his game a product of that body.  Thus, for Malone there was no separating in-game performance from training, both in-season and off-season.

In an interview with Muscle and Fitness, Malone said, “I will tell… anyone who cares to know that my conditioning in the off-season was what allowed me to play so many games, because I didn’t let my body get out of shape. It was harder than my in-season training. I knew once the season started, all I had to do was maintain. If I didn’t lift weights, I don’t think I would’ve had the career I had. Matter of fact, I know it.” But it wasn’t just about the weights.  Add in running up hills with a parachute attached to your back and the other insane exercises in Malone’s repertoire, and the result is a program of self-inflicted agony greater than any basketball game could possibly match.

In his work with players, on court exercises and drills will rarely, if ever, be completely separate from fitness level.  Malone will push for greater strength and speed and balance constantly, because that is the only way he knows how to approach the game.  Stephen Jackson, who went on a New York hip-hop station and declared he never worked out in the off-season his whole career, would be killed by Coach Malone.  Really, dead.

Assuming Favors and Kanter want to remain alive, working with Malone will provide them a constant, blunt, loud reminder that everything they do is dependent upon their bodies.  Both young players have elite physical attributes, and may well be tempted to coast on those natural gifts.  Not when they work with the Mailman.  Physically, both Favors and Kanter are more likely to squeeze every ounce of superiority they have out of their bodies with Malone there periodically demanding that of them.

2. Playing Hurt

In his 18 seasons with the Jazz, Malone missed only 5 games for health reasons.  To do that, you live the old adage “you can play hurt but you can’t play injured”—except you find ways to play injured as well.

Professional athletes are neurotically competitive, as often as not, and any slight to one’s manliness or toughness simply will not stand.  Being around Malone is as likely to encourage rugged, play-no-matter-what mentality in young players as anything—especially because he is unlikely to appeal to his status as an “authorized consultant” or whatever to motivate hurting players.  He’ll just call them sissies to their faces (or likely terms less suitable for family sites such as this one).

Malone will be the crazy older brother, and that guy can get away with insulting your manhood where the authority figure that is the head coach can’t.  Being around Malone will toughen up players in a roughhouse, fraternal way likely to work well for men as young as Favors and Kanter.

3. Running the Floor

In the announcement on 1280 The Zone that broke the news about Malone’s hiring as an official consultant, Greg Miller shared a story about the Mailman’s first session with Derrick Favors.  Miller relayed that Malone told Favors his goal was to grab a defensive rebound and get to it John Stockton, then to beat Stockton up the floor to the hoop on the offensive end.

The story reminded me of a similar sentiment shared by Chuck Daly after he coached the Dream Team.  Daly commented that Malone and David Robinson amazed him because they might have been the fastest guys on the team as they got up and down the length of the court, just as fast or faster than the guards.

Whether beating every other player up the court or filling the lane as the trailer on break, Malone always ran hard trying to establish an advantage.  It’s certain he will expect the same from the players he works with.  This expectation, combined with the fitness level Malone will demand, could result in Favors and Kanter transitioning from the defensive to offensive ends of the court as quickly as any big tandem in the game.

4. Setting Screens and Running the Pick and Roll

Honestly, the best potential teacher of how to set screens would be John Stockton.  He had the tenacity of a congenital disease when picking off a man.  But as second options go, Malone is a fantastic one.  How many times did Malone anticipate Stockton’s motion, set himself in just the right spot at just the right angle, anchor and let Stockton run the defender into him, and stop any player in the league as if netted, trapped between those massive shoulders?

Malone knows both the technique of setting a quality pick and, perhaps even more important, the essential nature of the pick in basketball.  He’s more likely to have Favors and Kanter setting hundreds of screens than taking hundreds of jump shots, which will only set them apart as players more in this era of finesse, stretch bigs.  Nerlens Noel won’t be much of a defensive stopper when Kanter hits him with a Malone-grade screen.

Additionally, Malone is half of the pair universally acknowledged as the Masters of the Pick and Roll.  He knows both the theory and technique behind just about every option available to the screen setter in the pick and roll: slipping the screen in a dive to the basket; when and how to roll to the hoop after the pick; leaking out for a prime jump shot; resetting for a second pick in a different direction or with a change of angle; spacing the floor to help a player with a scoring advantage as a defense shifts in anticipation of the pick and roll.

If you wanted to give an NBA big man a PhD advisor on the pick and roll, it would be Karl Malone.

5. Offensive Post Positioning

Fans hoping Malone will help Derrick Favors develop a lethal go-to post move will be disappointed; the NBA’s second all-time leading scorer didn’t really have one himself.  What he did have was the ability to get and hold post position superior to just about anyone who ever played the game.  You don’t need the sky hook when you have your defender so out of position that his only choices are give up on the play or foul you.

Defenders in such positions ended up fouling the Mailman.  A lot.  7 times Malone led the league in free throws attempted; 8 times he did the same in free throws made.  He is the NBA career leader in both categories.  His 9,787 free throws made are 700 more than second place, Moses Malone, and nearly 2,000 more than third, Kobe Bryant.  His career 13,188 free throw attempts are 1,300 more than his nearest competitors, Moses Malone, Wilt Chamberlain, and Shaquille O’Neal, all in the 11,000s.

If Favors with his length and athleticism, and Kanter with his power and broad shoulders (very much like Malone), learn to apply anything of the advantage Malone created by grabbing and holding prime scoring position, their offensive games will benefit immensely.  Plus, there is a good chance some of Malone’s speed getting up shots in the deep post will rub off as well.  I don’t think it is unrealistic to believe that, if both young bigs learn well from the Mailman’s tutelage, they might average a combined 16-20 trips to the free throw line per game, should they stay together.

To put that in perspective, in the Lakers’s 2001-2002 championship year, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant combined for 18.1 free throw attempts (and 12 makes) per game.  If Favors and Kanter learn to establish and use post position at all like Malone, I think they might do as well or better, and it looks like neither of the two will be the substantial liability at the line that O’Neal was.  Imagine the Jazz getting between 12 and 14 points on average from the free throw line from these two players every game, because it’s plausible.

6. Defensive Positioning, Rebounding, and Anticipation

Malone made the All-Defensive 1st Team three times in three consecutive years (1996 – 1999), as well as the 2nd team once.  It’s revealing that his peak defensive years came at age 32-34, in which time he put up 1.4 steals and a mere 0.7 blocks.  Clearly, his defensive prowess did not stem from his athletic ability to protect the rim, and while he always had fast hands, his steals per game over his three All-Defensive 1st Team years were lower than Paul Millsap’s these past three seasons.

So where was his elite defensive prowess?  Defensive positioning ending with a defensive rebound.

Malone kept between his man and the basket whether the offensive player juked, used a burst of speed, or tried bullish power.  He was particularly apt at maintaining defensive position in the post, holding his spot while being backed down while keeping balance enough to react to sudden movement or a shot.

Like Dennis Rodman, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year with lower career tallies of steals and blocks per game than Malone, the Mailman kept himself in just about every play defensively with a good base, solid technique, and defending through to the rebound.  And the importance of his defensive rebounding can’t be overlooked: Malone posted a top ten defensive rebounding percentage in 7 seasons and established a strong career mark of 23.5%.

Finally, add anticipation to Malone’s defensive attributes.  Innumerable times he anchored himself on his wide defensive stance, squared his arm against a player trying to back him down, and timed the offensive player just as he moved into his shot, swatting the ball away.  His technique and position made this possible, but only because of his great ability to read a player’s action and anticipate, much the way great perimeter defenders watch the hips and core rather than feet or shoulders and so avoid getting juked out.

If Favors and Kanter add some of Malone’s solid positioning and anticipation to their natural skills, and if they defend to the rebound as he did, they should make a frightening defensive combo.

7. Post Passing

Malone was always a solid passer, but by the second half of his career he’d become elite at his position. In 7 years he dished out 4 or more assists a game, and 11 seasons he averaged 3.5 or better.  The only NBA forwards since 1980 with more seasons at that rate are Larry Bird (13) and Charles Barkley (12).

To put in perspective just how fine a passer Malone was, he had 8 seasons with an Assist Percentage higher than 20%, which is well above Gordon Hayward’s best season.  The guy could pass, particularly to cutters darting to the basket.  He knows where and when players make themselves available to a pass from the post, particularly in a system derived largely from that of Jerry Sloan.

Don’t be surprised if the coming years find Favors and Kanter rocking their shoulders in a face up and then hurling periodic darts to cutting teammates, a la the Mailman.

Conclusion

Whatever one calls it, will Malone’s “consulting” be the difference maker in Favors and Kanter reaching All-Star status?  Almost certainly not.  Will the young players pick up technique, values, and tricks in all of the above areas where Malone so excelled?  Probably not.  They are their own people and their own players, and very young in addition.  There will be a lot said and demonstrated that doesn’t stick—and, as has always been true of the Mailman, fiasco is always possible.

But some things probably will transfer, and those things will make Favors and Kanter better players.  Maybe Favors will learn to keep better defensive position and anticipate a defender, enhancing his ability to block shots without fouling, and pair that with uncommonly crisp passing on the offensive end.  Maybe Kanter will learn to sprint the floor like a madman, anchor a foot in front of the hoop, and not move until the ball or the defender is in the hoop.  Maybe they both earn reputations throughout the league for screening hard and often and on the border of legality; maybe they’ll even rack up some seasons of 82 games started.

Whatever they pick up, it will mostly be good, because Karl Malone still has the knowledge and passion of a truly legendary NBA star, and he’s one of the few that, without question, loves the Jazz and this state.  If his young students adopt some characteristics of the Mailman, it will be excellent news for every Jazz fan.

*Correction has been made to Karl Malone’s minutes played.

Author information

Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson
Clint Johnson is a professional author, writing educator, and editor. In addition to his writing center work at Salt Lake Community College, he designed, coordinates, and teaches in an experimental author residency program for a West Valley City public charter school. A frequent presenter at both writing and educational conferences, he writes about the Jazz as a break from his other writing work.
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/the-7-ways-karl-malone-could-change-enes-kanter-and-derrick-favors-for-the-better/feed/ 14
Stockton and Malone enter the Utah Sports Hall of Fame http://saltcityhoops.com/stockton-and-malone-enter-the-utah-sports-hall-of-fame/ http://saltcityhoops.com/stockton-and-malone-enter-the-utah-sports-hall-of-fame/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2012 15:26:35 +0000 http://saltcityhoops.com/?p=5653 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 KSL.com
]]>

via KSL / @jjsportsbeat

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 KSL.com
]]>
http://saltcityhoops.com/stockton-and-malone-enter-the-utah-sports-hall-of-fame/feed/ 1