As my frustration with the starting lineup continues to build, I (as all of us wanna-be GM/coaches) have been giving lots of thought into how this team could be better. Thinking about trades is too unknown, so I try to avoid thinking about it. Therefor, I spend a lot of time thinking about lineups and rotations. I feel that many of us actually have a fair amount of experience in managing teams and getting the most out of them. No, no, no, I don't mean like real life teams or anything that could be remotely useful in the real world, I'm referring to video games. I enjoy myself a good video game. One of my all time favorites is the original Final Fantasy. I will draw some parallels between it and the Jazz.
In FF1, you create a team of 4 characters. You can choose between 6 unique characters, each with specific traits and abilities. A little about the options (note, it has been quite a while so my descriptions might be slightly off, but the general idea is what I'm after):
Fighter. Just like it sounds. Above average offensive and defensive ability. Depending on how you play, may not be your heaviest hitter but will always be solid. Very limited magic ability.
Blackbelt. Similar to a fighter, but starts off weaker and can develop into a much stronger fighter and even gain some magic abilities. Weaker defense
Thief. I never really played through the game with a thief but I believe they are very fast, with some magic capabilities, and average fighting and defensive ability.
White Mage. Extremely weak fighter, will have some offensive magic but thrives on making the team better by healing them and strengthening abilities.
Black Mage. Extremely weak defense but extremely powerful with offensive magic.
Red Mage. Combo of both white and black mages. Not as powerful, but will have the ability to cast most of what both the other Mage types can cast.
Yeah ok, now how it relates to the Jazz.
It's believed that a combo of fighter, white Mage, black Mage, and a character of your choice is the best group for FF1. That group will get you to a "championship" easiest, as long as those pieces are all at a high level. The same could be said for a basketball team, specifically a starting lineup. It is very clear that our starting unit blows. Locke has pointed out many times that this current starting lineup is being out scored at the first time out in something like all but one of their games as a unit. It is a lesser known fact that they have been out scored by a billion in that same timeframe.
This could be due to the fact that we just have a ton of mediocre players and no great or awful players (which is true), but I believe it also has a lot to do with the mix of the players we put on the court together. With a group of Mo, Fo, Marv, Sap, and Al, you have a group players that are each very focused on getting their own shots or are used to being a key offensive cog in a different system and now are not expected to be as much of a scorer. This is like putting an FF1 group of red Mage, fighter, fighter, black belt. Lots of offensive ability, but very little of anything else. This group desperately needs more defense and a mix of "intangibles." It needs hustle, grit, toughness, distribution, more athletic ability, and passion. Paul Millsap doesn't provide enough of those things anymore.
I like Ty's idea of sending a starter to the bench to become the main guy for the second unit, but I think he chose the wrong guy. I think Hayward compliments the rest of the starting lineup better than he can lead the second unit. Marv should be the main threat off the bench. He has so much skill but stuck in this starting lineup he doesn't get the looks he should. Demarre replaces him in the starting lineup and Foye also comes off the bench with GH starting at the 2. This accomplishes so much with such a small change. It's closer to the ideal mix of fighter, white Mage, black Mage, (thief?). This also gives the second unit a bit more firepower. You are taking away skill, or a character of higher level, but the benefit of diversifying your available skills is more important.
It all comes down to being tactical about who you play with who. This needs to be addressed. It seems so obvious. Anyone who really wanted to beat FF1 as easy as they possibly could would never choose a group that was all firepower and nothing else.
food for thought with the +\- stat courtesy of nba.com (full season)
Our top 5 three man groups don't contain Millsap or Jefferson
Only two of our top 13 three man groups contain either Millsap or Jefferson
our top 8 players for the season are not current starters
Our top player is Demarre
Our bottom 6 are the starters and watson
Jefferson and Foye are the two worst on the team
Open poll: name your ideal Jazz starters