First post, so I apologize for the length and roughness of it.
Winning. Victory. We all seek it. In our careers, our hobbies, our lives. We all want to be top dog. It gives us feelings of elation and satisfaction that can’t be matched. If we examine human history, one could argue that winning guarantees our survival, as we fought over food and other resources necessary for the continuation of our existence. Sadly, most of us live life at slightly higher than .500 level, winning just enough to keep on going. Our lives aren’t the best, but they sure aren’t the worst. Most of us won’t realize our full potential in this lifetime, and that’s a big reason why we are fans. Our teams compete not only for personal victory, but for us, to give us those feelings that are so hard to obtain in our lives. Victory gives us a reprieve from the trials and tribulations of reality. Nothing is better than ultimate victory, and in regards to the Utah Jazz, that means winning a championship.
While winning is a necessity of life, most people don’t realize that it’s also a skill that can be developed by a careful and precise sharpening of our innate desire to succeed. Most people get the general idea, but miss on some of the finer points, leading to a rough edge that catches on the fine fabric of existence. That’s why it’s important to have proven winners show us how to hone our technique and bring our success to new levels, and it’s also why we need Millsap and Memo on this team.
Millsap and Memo are the last real contributors to our winning days of the past. Memo has shown time and time again his ability to hit shots in the clutch. Millsap has come back every season better than before, and that’s because of hard work, and his burning desire to win. These two bigs are used to winning, and they will want to get back into contention as quickly as possible. Memo might not be the contributor he once was, but he will bring a winning attitude into the locker room, which will in turn rub off on our other players who maybe aren’t used to winning. Guys only have to look at Millsap and what he has accomplished in his career to see where hard work and drive will get you. We need them on our team as we go forward.
Let’s take a quick look at our roster and how they relate to winning. First, our starters:
Harris, a former all star is definitely a winner, but his time in New Jersey seems to have broken his spirit, and he needs a lamp to follow back up the stairs.
Hayward led his Butler team to the NCAA Championship game, and a few inches away from victory, definitely a winner, and he really showed that he brought this with him towards the end of the season.
Miles, on the other hand, is the definition of a rough blade. Sometimes he’s sharp, and others mind numbingly dull. And he comes to training camp out of shape. Not a winner, and not sure if he really wants it.
Millsap, as I already said, improves his game every year, and led the NCAA in rebounding for 3 years, something no one else has accomplished.
Big Al wants to win, has the skills to help a team win, but none of his teams have ever really won. Big Al got a taste of consistent winning at the beginning of the season , and I am confident he will improve a lot over this offseason, because not only did he improve all season long, but he was shown the way by Dwill and Millsap and the winning atmosphere of the Utah Jazz organization.
Next our bench (I am going to include Watson because he was an integral part of our bench this year, and I really hope we bring him back):
Watson has a great all around game, but not a winning attitude. The thing that stuck out most to me during his post game interviews, was how he was always saying that losing brings a team together. It does, but he said it as a man used to losing entirely too much. A good player to learn technique from, but not a winner
Bell did not have a good season as a player, but he has a winning attitude, and will help nurture that in our young guys.
Evans has the desire, and I think he will make the transition to the three next year. Not quite a winner, but well on his way.
Favors has unlimited potential. There is no doubt that he has all the tools to become a dominant player in the league, but it seems as if he has a small campfire of desire, relying primarily on athletic ability before. Mentoring from Millsap will turn that into a blazing bonfire.
Memo, while he didn’t play, is a winner, and will bring that mentality back next year.
I skipped AK because I feel he is off to play for his Russian friend.
Now that brings us to the most crucial decision of the offseason: who do we draft. Jazz fans seem divided primarily into two camps in regards to the 3rd pick, the Kanter camp, and the Knight camp. As players, they have been debated ad nauseam, but I’d like to examine them as winners (or not). Kanter had a fantastic dominant showing at the Hoop Summit last year against high schoolers, and then the NCAA ruled him ineligible to play at Kentucky. He did stay in great shape over that year, which would indicate him being a hard worker, a key element of winning. He then measured great at the combine, and made cones and chairs look like he was dominating the best NBA defenders.
Then there is Knight. Two time Gatorade NPOY coming into college. He struggled early on, changing his game from that of being the team, to playing on a team. He improved throughout the year. He made numerous clutch shots all year. He’s a super hard worker, and then he led his Kentucky Wildcats to the NCAA Final Four, something Kentucky’s Uber Squad from last year failed to do. While they did lose to eventual champs UConn, Knight has shown he is a hard worker and a winner.
So why risk getting rid of proven winners in Millsap and Memo for Kanter, when we can draft another great player and winner in Knight?
Comments and criticisms appreciated.