The Reverse James Bond - The Downbeat #700

Mar 5, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Utah Jazz small forward Josh Howard (8) drives to the basket while defended by Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE

The original title for this DB was: "Aahh, Geek Out! Le Geek, C'est Chic", so you're welcome for changing it. The reason behind it is the recently completed Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. For those of you that may not have heard of SSAC, its the annual hajj for Advanced Stats geeks of all flavors.

For some really good insight into the various presentations, head over to TrueHoop where Henry Abbott, Kevin Arnovitz and the gang have done a good job covering the event.

There are a couple items of interest to Jazz fans there. The first is a presentation entitled: Deconstructing the Rebound with Optical Tracking Data, in which relationships are established between shot location, rebound location, and offensive rebounding. To show the difference between a good shooter and a player with a good FG%, they compare the shot locations of Ray Allen and Al Jefferson by dividing the court into 1284 cells. When this is done, you see how many shots Big Al gets from areas very close to the basket compared to Jesus Shuttlesworth, who takes most his shots from spots that are very difficult to make. Its not really earth shattering news, but it does the important job of quantifying what we already see.

Further, it provides interesting findings as to where a rebound is grabbed compared to where the shot is taken from and gives data to show where the highest percentage of offensive rebounds come.

The event is a roundtable discussion with executives from the offices of teams from all the major sports, including GM of the Rockets Daryl Morey. There is a video of the conference you can watch, but in it they talk about the trap that many franchises fall into, in which they stay competitive, but never really put together a roster capable of being contenders. Daryl Morey admits that his Rockets are in this position currently, and that it is his job to make sure that they are making meaningful moves to get them over the hump.

Most of the execs agree that drafting and developing is the best way to go about this, but I couldn't help but scratch my head as Mr. Morey agrees with this, yet it is in direct conflict with his trade with the Lakers and Hornets that would have landed some veterans on the tail end of their careers

I know we don't have much reason to look at them this season, but I thought it would be interesting to see where the Jazz stack up in the various power rankings:

SI.com- Columnist Britt Robson has them at #18, up from 19 last week

NBA.com- John Schuhman puts the Jazz at #20, down from 19 last week

CBSsports.com- Matt Moore has them at #21, again down from 19 last week

ESPN.com- John Hollinger's Excel program puts them at #17, up from 18 and Marc Stein has them at #17, up from 20

Average all these and that puts the Jazz at about 19.

We have all had much dialogue about the direction of the team and whether it is being handled the in the best way. I will say one thing, the Jazz, as usual, are doing things their own way. The grand plan to mix vets and young prospects could be the new model to stay competitive enough to put butts in seats while developing for the future, or it could backfire and extend the reemergence of the franchise for several more years.

I think we will know a little more about their plan after the trade deadline, and know for sure by the beginning of training camp next year.

A few days ago, the SL Trib had some good articles about Josh Howard and how he has taken the opportunity with the Jazz to really show that he has matured past the guy who sat out a game due to a night of partying induced injury. Personally, I think its great when someone is able to prove that people evolve and that it is not fair to pigeonhole a guy that made mistakes in his mid-20's. Lord knows I have. I also think it is highly admirable of the Jazz to give a chance to guys that have a bad rep like Howard and Tinsley. Say what you want about their play, but you can't deny that they are great teammates and have been willing to do whatever it takes to support the team.

The articles are here: Article Blog 1 Blog 2

Having bore witness to the last 3 games, what are your predictions for the rest of the road trip? Win tonight? Win at Philly? Lose out?

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