FanPost

Are This Year's Jazz a Darwinian Experiment?

Does anyone else get the sense that the conflicts with minutes and roles that are pancaking atop each other this season might be deliberate? I'm starting to suspect so and that KOC is more devious than I believed (maybe in a good way, maybe not). Follow me through some assumptions about the Jazz FO philosophy and let me know what you think.

1) They believe competition in practice as well as on the court builds the best players.
2) They believe buying into one's role--whatever it may be--is an essential attribute of a Jazz player, as is willingness to accept the responsibility that comes with the role. (AK never really fit the latter part of this, as KOC has all but stated.)
3) They believe that veterans deserve minutes as the incumbent until youth simply demand that time.
4) They believe success is primarily a result of work, discipline, and physical and mental toughness.

I think we have good reason to believe these assumptions. If we do, then adding one more--that the Jazz know perfectly well that the fate of the franchise rests on the shoulders of the C4 in some combination--sheds somewhat disturbing light on what is unfolding this season. Metaphorically speaking, the FO wants Jazz players eating each other.

Think about it. The Jazz have zero superstars, but they've got two near All-Stars (Millsap and Jefferson), one former All-Star (Mo Williams), and a former #2 pick in his prime (Marvin Williams) all in the starting lineup, while Randy Foye is a specialist the Jazz have been coveting for years: a true dead eye from deep. Every single one of these players is on a contract that finishes up this year except for Marvin, who has one more season beyond this on his deal (unless he wants out). The Jazz know that some will almost certainly be back while others certainly will not. So the task is to keep the best and let the rest leave. How to do that? Insert our assertions:

#3: Okay, you guys, you're all starters.

#1: With the exception of Mo Williams (who I think KOC has been sold on the whole time, so no need for survival of the fittest), all of you get a frighteningly good prospect nipping at your heels. Al and Paul, you guys hold off two number three picks in Favors and Kanter. Not just one of them, BOTH of them. Marvin and Randy, you guys hold off Alec Burks, the guy half the fan base is rabid about seeing on court in many of your minutes.

#2: We're expecting you not only to be better than the bench, we're expecting you to be better than you've been previously. Al, you better be every bit the scorer you've been before even with our new offensive philosophy, and add pick and roll defense on top, if you want to stave off Derrick Favors stealing your spot. Paul, you're going to have to be even better if you want to be Mr. Everything now that you've got two younger, bigger blue chippers behind you. Marvin, better not be too passive, or Foye, better not miss too many of those shots, because the ultra-aggressive rim assaulter is right behind you.

#4: You don't like all this? Good. Deal with it better than the others and prove you're a guy we need with us long term.

As for the C4, they'll all be around another year or three on affordable rookie contracts. But then? Either they form such a potent combination that the franchise invests in them as almost literally the whole team or one or more will find himself elsewhere, either via trade or as a free agent. Now to force the issue of getting them into one form or the other so they can be assessed how?

#3: Okay, you guys, you're all good and we really like you, but you've got to be better to crack the starting lineup over proven vets.

#1: Derrick and Enes, you guys want more time? Over the center with arguably the best offensive post game in the league--or over Mr. Jazz himself who has given it all from day one and gotten better every single year? Sure. Start doing what they do if you want that role. Or Alec, you want to see the court? How are you going to outstrip the balanced versatility and dependability of Marvin, or how can we put you in for Foye if you can't prove you can hit that jumper to spread the floor?

#2: You guys want those starter roles? Well, take down the guy in front of you. He's only guaranteed to be here a year. You beat him out, he's gone and we're cool with that. You don't, we'll commit to the player who won his time.

#4: You don't like all this? Good. Deal with it better than the others and prove you're a guy we need with us long term.

It makes sense in a vicious, eat-your-young kind of way. (And the system does, I think, put younger players at a disadvantage.) But assuming the Jazz philosophy is correct (I don't, in some ways), the results would make perfect sense. One season where every player at every position fights for his life on the court and future with the team (with the possible exception of Mo Williams, but even he isn't safe as a young PG is obviously the piece most desperately needed on this team).

The results at best: a strong core of young studs who have proven, not only their talent, but also willingness and ability to battle through adverse conditions, keep focused, and submit to the will of their coaching staff, with a few like-minded vets thrown in.

The results at worst: at least you winnowed out the weak, leaving whatever pieces remain proven quantities.

Not that I love it, but as I said, it does make a clinical, survivalist kind of sense.

All comments are the opinion of the commenter and not necessarily that of SLC Dunk or SB Nation.

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