Life Off, Season On- The Downbeat #851

Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

We've officially made it through the offseason and now we get to the training camp and preseason that we all hope will be the difference in figuring out playing time and playing roles for the members of this team. Although, it will be much longer than last preseason, it is still a whirlwind of events now. Here is the quick rundown of the upcoming schedule:

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I'm guessing that is 1 PM Mountain Standard Time. Don't expect any groundbreaking interviews, just lots of politician answers. Apparently locker clean out is the place for the good stuff.

"Jazz training camp, which begins one day following the team’s annual Media Day, will begin with two-a-day practice sessions on both Tuesday, October 2 and Wednesday, October 3, with a single practice held the morning of Thursday, October 4, and two more practices on Friday, October 5."

-Official Jazz Press Release that can be found on utahjazz.com

Seven practices really isn't that many. Hopefully the coaching staff already know what they need to learn during that week.

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If you live in the area, you should be there. The Utes play on Thursday and the Cougars play on Friday night.

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The first of 8 preseason games, with 5 of them on the road. The full preseason schedule can be found here.


As you may have heard, Raja Bell will not be attending camp. We've covered it enough here on the website, but what hasn't been said, that needs to be, is that the Jazz are handling this absolutely perfectly. Since Raja Bell's party and the Jazz cannot agree on a buyout, the only options they have is to waive him and pay him his full salary, or else keep him on the team and pay his full salary while he sits at home.

The ONLY positive to waiving Raja Bell, is to get rid of the issue. That's it. But the Jazz have arguably accomplished that by just keeping him away from the team. If the Jazz keep him "on the team," then they can use his contract later in a trade to make salaries match. Or they can agree to a buyout and save money later, when a team wants to hypothetically sign Raja due to an injury that hasn't happened yet. Or the Jazz can put pressure on Raja to accept a buyout, if he gets tired of the whole issue. If they waive him now, they save no money AND miss out on the ability to trade him as a money filler. It's a no brainer and the Jazz are handling it perfectly. Raja can't negatively affect the team from his couch.

In case you hadn't heard, ESPN's John Hollinger wrote player profile projections for each Jazz player this last week. John Hollinger is simply one of the best analysts around and I think his projections and observations of the Utah Jazz are spot on. You have to have an ESPN Insider account to read the whole thing, but in case you don't, I will hit some highlights for you:

On Mo WIlliams:

The midrange J was his bread-and-butter again, as he hit 41.5 percent of his long 2s on five tries a game, but he also shot 38.9 percent on 3s. The main concern is that he stopped getting to the rim. Williams' free throw rate was nearly halved from the previous season -- unfortunate given that he rarely misses once he gets there -- and he had only 73 shots at the rim all season.

Defensively, Williams was a liability. He often cross-matched with Eric Bledsoe, which provided some relief, but he's not much better at guarding 1s than he is at checking 2s. Moreover, any pairing with Chris Paul was pretty much flammable because Williams had to defend much bigger shooting guards. The Clippers gave up 5.1 points per 100 possessions more with Williams on the court, and his Synergy rating was subpar as well. This will be less of a concern as a full-time point guard, but Williams is a minus at either guard spot.

Gordon Hayward:

Hayward is just passable as a ball handler and still has a maddening habit of picking up his dribble after not going anyplace in particular. When he plays more aggressively he's very good, especially going to the basket -- he ranked fifth among shooting guards in free throw rate and made 83.2 percent, plus he shot 64.9 percent at the rim. From outside, however, he's barely adequate, making 39.4 percent of his long 2s and 34.6 percent of his 3s. Since he's only 22 and his form is solid, one suspects these numbers will improve.

Paul Millsap:

Millsap might be the most underrated player in the league. I love this guy. He's not a prototype 4 because he's undersized, but he's athletic, skilled and just knows how to play. He beats smaller players on post-ups, takes bigger ones off the dribble and confounds both with his midrange jump shot.

Last season was his best yet -- he averaged better than a point every two minutes, ranked sixth among power forwards in player efficiency rating, and had he been in the Eastern Conference certainly would have made the All-Star Game. The key is how broad-based his skills are: Millsap was in the top half of power forwards in every category I track except fouls per minute. All of them.

Al Jefferson:

His ability to create shots without turning the ball over is truly phenomenal. Jefferson had miscues on only 4.7 percent of his possessions last season. Nobody in the history of the NBA has had a usage rate this high and turnover ratio this low. Nobody.

As for defensive value, we'll get back to you on that. Jefferson blocks shots and is a good rebounder, but primarily he seems concerned with avoiding fouls that might take him off the court. Only seven centers fouled less, and it wasn't because Jefferson was in such exquisite defensive position that he didn't need to gamble. The Jazz gave up 1.9 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court last season, and that was his best mark in the past three years;

In my opinion his analysis is spot on. You should pay the fee to be able to read his full report, because it is worth it alone. I can't wait to see how these numbers compare with Basketball Prospectus' preseason projections that should drop sometime in the next two weeks.

I propose that we place a moratorium on any trade talk until after the new year. No team is going into training camp looking to make a major trade. All teams, including the Jazz, have the team they are going to roll with for the first 3 months of the season. Things may change around the trade deadline, but for right now, Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, no matter what you think or feel about them, are here to stay and play for the Jazz right now. They aren't getting traded in the next 2-3 months. I'm in the middle of an entire write up of the ins and outs of the Jefferson/Millsap/Favors situation for a later time, but for now, they are both here to stay. So my suggestion is to not even waste your time on their strengths and weaknesses and why one should start and the other not and trades, etc, etc, etc. Just take a couple months off. Speculation will pick up all over the league by about December 31st.

As if you needed any more reason to be excited for the season:


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