SAN ANTONIO, TX - MAY 02: Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs waits for the rebound with Josh Howard #8 and Paul Millsap #24 of the Utah Jazz in Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center on May 2, 2012 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
One could say that I take an absurdly analytic approach to the game of basketball. Part of it is based upon my training, not a reductionalist field for sure; however, a big emphasis seems to always regress backwards towards looking at the component parts and their relative efficiencies. After all, a bad system with good parts can still mask danger. I think that I take the same approach towards looking at this team. I think, sadly, that we may be a bad system with some good parts -- instead of a good system with some bad parts.
Before you write your local congressman hear me out. This isn't the same LHM -> Jerry Sloan -> Stockton and Malone team that had really amazing people at the top of their games. LHM was the best owner. Sloan the best coach. And all the hardware that Stockton and Malone earned should tell you a little something about where they stood
amongst above their peers.
Some of the things that the Utah Jazz have done since their departures (and all of them are gone now) has continued the tradition and spirit of that organization that was so successful when they were around. The results have been mixed. For example, a big part of our game on the line plays in the glory days was a side pick and roll with Karl Malone setting a screen for John Stockton. That was the harmony and synergy of two of the best basketball players ever just killing it. As a point of comparison, we don't run a lot of pick and rolls with our team (which may explain why we act like we've never seen them before when on defense), we don't have harmony and synergy with our best players -- and our crunch time offense is dropping it down to Big Al and holding our breath that something good happens. (BTW, you're not helping Big Al by doing this, you're only isolating for a guy who scores 41.3% of the time on Isos, and shoots 42.7 fg% in those situation -- efficiency)
I expect the team to improve a lot this off-season. But in order to truly do so the Jazz need to get more out of their veterans, especially if they wish to continue playing them the high minutes they got. It's one thing to point out your disapproval of playing the youth, inherently, because they have potential. The flip side is to also disapprove of playing the veterans, inherently, just because they have experience. You can be young and suck, and you can have bounced around a lot in the L and suck too. The only difference is that the younger guys can get better if you play them.
In the playoffs this last year Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Alec Burks (aka our future whether or not our front office wants to admit it and make it a reality now) all played under their ability. But they are only aged 20, 22, and 20 respectively. Our Top 5 most experienced players on the roster were Raja Bell, Earl Watson, Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, and Josh Howard. Super veteran Raja Bell used professionalism this season, and got him out of the playing time equation because of his antics. Earl Watson was injured. Al Jefferson was solid on offense, but an absolute no-show on defense. Devin Harris and Josh Howard -- two guys with over 100 playoff games experience before this year -- absolutely sucked.
Is experience not going as far as it used to? Is this a system issue? A personnel issue? A training issue? Or should I stop asking questions, else risk being sent to the Gulag?
Please let's have this debate in the comments section!