Karl and John Ruined Basketball for All Jazz Fans- The Downbeat - #688

Al Jefferson arguably had his best offensive game as a Jazz man on Saturday night. He's had some great performances in his 110 games in Utah. Against Washington, Jefferson put up 34 points, 12 rebounds on essentially 70% shooting from the field. It turns out it is the 5th time that Big Al has scored more than 30 points, grabbed more than 10 rebounds and shot over 60% from the field as a Jazz man and his 11th time in his career. Here is a table of those performances in a Jazz uni via basketball-reference.com:

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I'll let you guys decide which game was the most dominant performance. I'm partial to the OKC performance on the road.

I honestly thought that Al's performance would rank among the greatest performances of Jazz history, but that got me looking at Karl Malone's performances. Karl Malone has eclipsed that 30 point, 10 rebound 60% shooting barrier only 137 times. It's also interesting to note that the Jazz were 109-28 in those 137 games.

We often talk about Devin Harris being unfairly compared to Deron Williams or John Stockton, but it's really every future scoring Jazz big man that is at an unfair advantage for the rest of time.

And if you care to know, Carlos Boozer has reached the same barrier 28 times in his career, 23 with the Jazz and Paul Millsap has done it 6 times in his career.

I know that we talk about it a lot and I just brought up how unfair it is to talk about Karl Malone all the time, but in my research, I was reminded how absolutely dominating Karl Malone was in his aptly titled "revenge game" against the poor Bucks. Again, via basketball-reference:

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61 points, 18 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 80.8% fg%, 19-23 from the line and the most incredible part of that line: all in only 33 minutes. I dare you to find a more impressive line from a big man not named Wilt or Mr. Russell. No, seriously. I don't want to research it, so find it for me, please.

Moni has already mentioned the Randy Rigby interview on KFAN last week and I'm not going to comment on it too much. Just wanted to update you on a development regarding this portion as cited by Moni in last Friday's downbeat.

Rigby also mentioned that the Jazz's research shows that the fan base is very happy with the talent of the team and say that the team is fun to watch.

I am now going to present you with an email I intercepted this weekend that brings the front offices "research" to a better light.

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If you follow David Locke on Twitter, you may have seen him post an interview he did with Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale, specifically on the development of big men. From that interview, since it is hard to link to that webpage:

Tonight before the game I took the opportunity to ask him (Kevin McHale) about developing big men like Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. The Hall of Famer didn’t paint a pretty picture.

"They are real raw but they are young. Honestly and to be truthful, they end up being causalities of coming out and not being able to develop. It is one thing to be developing against other 18 and 19 year old your development gets stunted when Dwight Howard is the one you are developing against."

McHale continued and explained why so many of the young bigs never completely get all out of their talent.

"You have to have success at some point. That is why too many guys come into our league and don’t have any success and they become rebounder and shot blockers and they become specialty guys. Where had they stayed somewhere for three or four years and got good tutelage and got bigger and stronger and got their offensive games going. You don’t get a lot of confidence going against Dwight Howard."

I appreciate this tidbit from Kevin McHale, because it correlates perfectly with some research I have been doing on developing young "future of the franchise" players. You may have read my piece I did on the history of developing great wing players. If you read that piece you may have noticed that it dealt solely with developing guards and small forwards. I wanted to be able to lump young wing players and big men together, but you simply can't. The truth is that while all the greatest wing players of the league had the ball and the minutes from the beginning of their careers, the same isn't said of all the most dominant big men. They all got a lot of playing time right off the bat, but not necessarily shot attempts. So while I advocate the ball being in young wings' hands, the same is not necessary for big men, but they do need on court experience. I will write more about the history of great big men and their developments in a post later this week, if you are interested, but I wanted to make a couple more points on what McHale said above.

-If you notice, Kevin McHale is essentially saying that when big men leave college early for the draft, they tend to struggle as 19 or 20 year olds playing against older, more developed men. He isn't really saying anything about how much or how little playing time these big men should get, but he implies that their all-around games are stunted because they have to play against better big men like Dwight Howard.

-While i think that is a valuable and probably accurate insight from McHale, what is he saying exactly? He is saying that guys need more time to learn against guys their own size and with their own skill level. So is McHale suggesting that the Jazz send Favors and Kanter back to college, or down to the d-league for a couple of years? I think he is implying that it would be necessary to get the most out of them eventually.

-Thirdly, would you consider Kanter and Favors as having some success so far in their careers or not? What do you imagine is their own assessment of their first year(s) in the league?

-And Lastly, McHale is painting this picture by saying how unfair it is to throw a 19 or 20 year old kid at a guy like Dwight Howard. Ironically, this is the same Dwight Howard who, as a 19 year old boy, was thrown to the wolves in the form of Shaquille O'neal or Tim Duncan, or Kevin Garnett 33 minutes a night and as a starter all 82 games his rookie season. Isn't that even a little bit ironic, Alanis? Dwight Howard was able to overcome that horrible path of development okay.

I was pondering the other night about how Jazz fans determine their favorite players on the team and I wondered what effect playing for another team had on a Jazz player's likeability. It's no secret that I like Paul Millsap more than I like Al Jefferson as a player. But why? They are both nice guys, both work hard, both have big strengths and big weaknesses, some common with each other. Part of it is their paychecks and effect on the financial flexibility of the team. But more than anything, Paul is a career Jazzman, and Al Jefferson is not. I know it's silly and biased, but I admit it. It's not fair to Al Jefferson, because he didn't choose his career path. With that said:

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