Sunday Syncopation #11

Sorry this is uber-late. Getting new carpet put in the house, and Office Christmas parties on Friday and Saturday night have put a serious cramp in my style. Also, snow.

  • With all the massive turn over of our roster from last season to this season, if you told me that we'd be winning nearly 7 out of every 10 games, and leading our division after 25 games I'd be really happy. I *am* happy with our team, but I am also not going to expect mediocrity. I don't think that makes me a terrible person.
  • A big difference so far this season has been, surprise surprise, defense. There are only four teams in the West who have a lower opponents point per game than what we have right now (97.4), they are the Portland Trailblazers, San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Mavericks, and New Orleans Hornets. Portland has the 2nd slowest pace in the NBA (at 91.5), New Orleans is 27th in the league (at 92.6). Dallas is tied for 23rd best with a pace of 92.9. Only the Spurs play at a higher pace than the Jazz right now, making them the only 'real' team out of that four that is better defensively.
  • Two of the major points in our favor this season happen to be interior defense and defense of the three point line. The last few games have reversed a trend so far this early season, and the opponents are FINALLY shooting above 30% from deep on us (right now 32.3%). The League median % for this season is at 36.5%. Our defense on three point shooters includes a more measured approach to closing out on an open shooter balanced with better floor spacing and rotation around screens. Our Zone defense early this season has been quite great in spurts. As a result, 27 teams shoot a higher percentage from deep than what the average opponent is held to against the Jazz. Only Sacramento, Milwaukee, and Oklahoma City shoot poorer than 32.3% from deep.
  • Still not convinced? Last season opponents connected on 35.4% of their deep ones. (Diana bullet point) Two seasons ago it was 36.1%. Three seasons ago it was 35.7%. Four seasons ago it was 35.5%. Five seasons ago it was 37.8%. You get the picture. This year's 32.3% (so far) is pretty awesome; however, not as awesome as early this season's startlingly low mark of 28% opponents three point shooting. This is marked improvement anyway you spell it.
  • Interior defense, on the other hand, is harder to quantify (without causing me a lot of distress searching for information). Two seasons ago, after 82 games the Jazz had 374 total blocks. That's 4.6 blocks a game (looks pretty high). Last season it went up to 400 blocks, 4.9 a game. This season? After 25 games the Jazz have blocked 136 shots -- 5.4 a game. Sure, not every blocked shot is blocking an inside shot -- but we're blocking more shots. And that's a good thing. A large part of it is the team effort. Everyone is getting in on the block party this year, not just Al Jefferson and Andrei Kirilenko. We're specifically getting something nice from our Swarm unit. C.J. Miles, Ronnie Price, Earl Watson, Francisco Elson, and Kyrylo Fesenko have 33 blocks so far this season. Without making this an even more stats heavy post, you can bet that this is something new for us as a team.
  • Offense is another story altogether. I'll leave that for another day.
  • Hayward finally played in his 20th game. It's not easy to fight past all the DNP-CD's any rookie gets. I'm happy with his attitude so far, and he's only going to continue to improve as he gets more experience. We're lucky in that we don't *need* anything from him this year. That said, he's still a Top 10 Lotto pick, and unless your name is Greg Oden, most observers expect something from you. After I finish crunching the numbers expect the Hayward post that looks into this a bit more.
  • It was already required to follow 'The Basketball Jones' blog at TheScore's website. Since guys like Trey Kerby, Holly MacKenzie and Megan Wilson have been added into the mix, it's absolutely necessary now. If you haven't already seen it, here's Andrei Kirilenko and his thoughts on nicknames for other NBA players.
  • Wow . . . Utah's favorite son, Tom Chambers on Arsenio Hall's show in 1991. Insanity.

 

  • That was pretty crazy though . . . but double insanity is Karl Malone on Arsenio . . . this is all around the time of the whole AC Green / Karl Malone All-Star starter thing.

 

  • There were a number of Jazz players in the crowd for the second video. If you are as crazy as me, you can actually name them like I did without having to look them up. Can you?
  • John Amaechi is one of the most maligned players in recent Utah Jazz history. He's a really amazing human being though, so you'd think that Jazz fans would embrace him for all of his qualities (this is the same fan base who adopted Ben Handlogten, who wasn't an all-star either) . Part of the problem with Amaechi, however, could be that the Jazz went1-4 when he scored in double digits. I guess some players are more 'lovable' than others? Who is the least loved Jazz player in Jazz history in your opinion?
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