So the Jazz finish off their road trip going 1-2 and tied with both Houston and Denver for 7th place in the Western Conference. Although the road trip is somewhat disappointing, it's not unexpected. Really it falls right in line with how the Jazz have played all season—if you include both the good times and the bad.
Although we were feeling all chipper about being so close to 4th place in the conference, the reality is that climbs in the standings were always going to be an uphill battle. The teams ahead of our guys had better records because they had played better this season, to date.
This is where the tie-breakers really matter. The Jazz win the tie-breaker against Denver—the Jazz won two of the three games. The tie-breaker with Houston will be determined on April 11—that's when the Jazz play the Rockets for the third and final time this year. Each team has won once so far, so that game will determine it all.
It's in Houston, so here's hoping the Jazz bring their best to Texas.
Although it's tempting, I'm not going to re-post Hayward's two blocks again. It's worth noting, though, that not only was it the Block of the Night at NBA.com, it was also #1 in the Top 10 Plays.
But really his overall play (including, but not limited to the blocks) was definitely the best part of the Boston game. I decided to do some quick searching to see where Hayward ranks among the league's wings in various categories. All rankings are based on per-48 minute stats as listed on ESPN:
Compared to other shooting guards, Hayward ranks:
- 4th in blocks
- 26th in steals
- 9th in assists
- 16th in rebounding
- 9th in FG%*
If you want to compare him to other SF's (since that's where he's actually played more minutes), here you go:
- 7th in blocks
- 26th in steals
- 5th in assists
- 29th in rebounding
- 9th in FG%
And remember, this is a) compared to ALL SF's and SG's, and b) looking at per-48 minute stats. This means there are some 10 min/game heroes who pop up a lot in these stat rankings.
So really, while Hayward may not be dominating in any one area, he's pretty damn good at everything (though I may give him a dominating rating for his defense). If his three-point shooting can stay up consistently (a realistic possibility, I'd say)—that would give us a wing who scores, rebounds, passes, blocks, defends, and shoots well (regular FG%, FT%, and 3P%).
I'm going to write a whole lot more about this tomorrow, but let's just say that this bodes quite well for our favorite team.
I have been frustrated, at times, with how Kevin O'Connor runs the Jazz. I have definite opinions about what kind of a roster makes most sense, both for right now and for the future—and there are times that my opinion is very different from KOC's. And while it's true there's a reason he's a GM and I'm just a bloggisist, I can also say I at least research advanced stats and stuff.
But at the same time, I am glad KOC's our GM. This TrueHoops article introducing the group's dream of ending tanking shows us exactly why. Actual quote from the article:
In researching this story, I was told about a GM of a struggling team who, as described to me by a source well-positioned to know, showed up for work "less than part time." As in, a few hours a week.
Even after all the stories I've heard through the years, this surprised me.
A little while later I was on the phone with a front-office employee for another team. Without using any names, I told him what I had heard.
Could it be true?
His response: "Was your source somebody at our team?"
Wow. His GM was the same way.
I have since talked to people with two other teams who say their GMs just don't work very much -- that's four such current GMs I've been told about so far this week. None of those teams is likely to make the playoffs either, which means all four of those teams are due to get a sweet player in June for being lousy at their jobs.
I've mocked KOC for his "we can't establish a losing culture" BS. But that he really does care about winning and losing cultures is very reassuring. That he obviously works hard is very reassuring.
There is a reason the Jazz have been a good team—with only occasional and short bouts of crumminess—for almost 30 straight years now.
A mini Twitter tussle came about last night when Jason ForTheLove said that Malone and Stockton were kind of disliked by other fans similar to how Kevin Garnett is disliked for being a total prick. But I actually loved his real point (which wasn't trash talk and go after guys 10" shorter than you):
@YuccaManHoops Really all i said is I wish Favors had the nasty side that KG has. Bumping guys, getting in their heads, laughing, fire.— Jay Eh Ess Oh En (@JasonForTheLove) March 29, 2012
I want to be SLC punks. I want teams to leave ESA bruised, bloddied, defeated, and confidence rattled.— Jay Eh Ess Oh En (@JasonForTheLove) March 29, 2012
Watching KG get physical with Al, and then watching Al stop fighting last night ... well, I'm totally on board with what Jason's really talking about. Hopefully our guys can get some more fight.
And as Jason mentioned, Kanter already has some nasty to him. And Hayward definitely fights defensively (I love it when opponents think they can take him 1-on-1 or push him around—so funny).
So let's all raise a glass to Stockton's screening elbows in the kidney, and may that spirit find its way to our guys today.
It's totally not fair, but it's just too awesome. A gif by Moni, entitled: Mike Sanders caught on camera talking to his junk, and Jamaal Tinsley wishing he were anywhere else, and Devin Harris studiously pretending he’s not listening.
This reminds me so much of my students when a math lesson isn't going particularly well.
So ... open poll. What's your caption for this bout of Gif'ed awesomeness?
* Hayward isn't actually listed in ESPN's rankings of FG%. Somehow he's not included in the "qualified players" in this section. I couldn't figure out precise qualifications, so I just posted where his FG% would be ranked compared to those "qualified" players.