"Today is the end of an amazing era...Jerry you've become an institution as far as this franchise is concerned."
Those were, of course, the tear-filled words of Gail Miller on the day that Jerry Sloan told the NBA world that he was calling it quits. But if you replace Jerry with Basketball John and franchise with fanbase, it is still so true. I couldn't help but remember Sloan's resignation when I read the email from Basketball John stating that he was walking away from blogging to move onto to something better. I was stunned. I was sad and like Kevin O'Connor I wanted to try to convince him to stay. But what can you do? It is sort of silly that we are all touched/helped/lifted by an NBA blogger that most of us haven't met face to face, who uses an assumed name, but when reading everyone's comments on the downbeat yesterday, it was obvious that Kris has made our Jazz fanships and therefore our lives a little bit better. There are other quotes from Jerry Sloan's press conference that I will now take liberty with.
"While it's a great opportunity for me, Amar, Moni, Jon, and others, it's a bitter moment, because I will miss this guy a lot."
"Nobody pushed Basketball John out. Not Amar, not any aspiring blogger, and certainly not me."
"I loved and respected Kris for as long as I can remember ... I will miss him but benefit from the things he taught me for the rest of my life."
Just like Jerry, Basketball John will be missed.
I hope you will all allow me to use one more of the bullet points to share my feelings for this blog and what Basketball John has meant to the Jazz community. The thing that I love about BBJ is that he was the best of everything we love about the other Jazz writers we follow. And just like Ross Siler pointed out yesterday, BBJ has done the daily job of the Jazz reporters, but without pay.
Just like Jody Genessy, BBJ is inclusive and witty and willing to treat everyone like his peer, even if he is obviously in a more powerful position than they are. He is the best at making people feel welcome.
Like Ross Siler, BBJ is fair and even keeled and you're never sure where he stands on an issue, because he is just there to present the facts. It's rare when you can tell how BBJ really feels about something. I wish I could be more like that. But you all know my personal biases.
And like Brian T. Smith, BBJ has fantastic hair.
Onto Jazz basketball. One thing that has really impressed me about this year's Jazz team is their ability to defend. They aren't perfect, but the effort has been very good and the results have shown improvement. Last year the Jazz gave up 110.2 points per 100 possessions and this season that number is down to 102.7. That number looks super impressive until you realize that defensive improvements can be attributed to the fairly large decrease in offense in general. Offenses are affected by the shortened season and condensed schedule and other factors like Boris Diaw and Chris Paul's extended vacations. As of this morning the average NBA team scores 99.7 points per 100 possessions when at the same time last year, that number was 104 points. So teams are performing at 95% of the offensive level from last year. So when you adjust the Jazz's defensive number 102.7/.95 you get 108.1, or what I like to call the "Lockout adjusted defensive rating." But if you notice 108.1 is still better than 110.2, defensively speaking. Significantly better.
So does the condensed season tend to skew numbers and make teams and players appear better defensively? Yes. But are the Jazz better defensively this season so far? Absolutely. Let's hope this continues.
Some newspaper reporters who will go unnamed have made accusations about players' frustration over lack of playing time, specifically about the vereran players being upset. Yesterday Jody Genessy reported that such frustration doesn't exist and that the swings in playing time have more to do with the team's overall balance than the player's age or expectations. The article is certainly worth a read.
i want to highlight a quote from Paul Millsap from the article, because for one I think he gets labeled as a "me-first" guy sometimes unfairly and secondly, because I think it sort of epitomizes the feelings of many of the players.
"You realize you're not going to get the 30 or 40 minutes you think you want to get, so you just kind of make do," Millsap said. "I understand because I'm a team guy. I understand it's beneficial to our winning for my minutes to be limited throughout the course of this season. I just kind of understand that."
Speaking of playing time and veterans and rookies, etc, the website hoopism.com has a really cool feature that not only tells you how young or old a team is by their average age, but by how they distribute minutes. I'll let you take a look at the table and make your own conclusions, but I will say that the Jazz appear to be playing both their veterans and young guns equal minutes. Also notice the Thunder. They are one of the 5 or 6 contenders this year, but they are the 5th youngest team when weighted by minutes played. We will have to deal with them for a loooooong time.