Jazz Summer League Game: Kanter, Michael Stockton, and More - The Downbeat - #791

Apr 29, 2012; San Antonio, TX, USA; Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter (0) reacts during the first half of game one in the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-US PRESSWIRE

So the Jazz lost yesterday afternoon's Orlando Summer League game, 73-76. The story, though, is the play of the big name players: it was non-ideal. Subpar would be another word you could use. Let's investigate further:

Summerleaguegame1

There's the list of players who have had significant NBA experience (besides Simmons and Weaver, who didn't play). They all played extremely poorly, except for Ahearn, who knocked down his 2 three point shots and went 3-4 overall. On the other hand, you'd expect better than 1 assist from a team's starting PG who played 18 minutes.

Each of the other players on this list, though, shot at or below 33%. Combined, they were 7-27. That's worse than Kobe's 6-24 in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals, the classic standard of a terrible game performance. Addressing them individually:

  • DeMarre Carroll had the best game of the 4, by only making 2 of his 6 shots, and picking up 3 assists, 1 rebound, and 1 steal in his time on the floor. Unfortunately, he got his shot blocked twice, missed his two threes, and didn't have an especially good defensive game either (check out the stats of the Detroit starting forwards). It wasn't a terrible performance, but let's just say you would hope for more.
  • Enes Kanter should probably be doing better against this level of competition. In almost 30 minutes, he only got 3 points on 1-7 shooting, only got 5 rebounds (all defensive), had his shot blocked twice, and turned the ball over 4 times. That's just not good enough from a #3 pick with NBA experience. Yes, he's young. Yes, it's only the first game of summer league. Yes, he had much better games at the NBA level last year. Still, it's worrying.
  • Alec Burks, sadly, wasn't much better. While he got to the free throw line some, he managed 4 turnovers and only 1 assist. His shots weren't always in the flow of the offense either, which is somewhat worrying for someone who should probably know the system pretty well by now. His saving grace is the scoring, though, 10 points in 20 minutes isn't Kanterian (I hope and pray that "Kanterian isn't an adjective that sticks).
  • Stephen Graham wasn't good, but his NBA M.O. was being not good, and so his not good performance here isn't a surprise. You can make an argument that he's the worst NBA starter of all time. Here's a list of players who started more than 25 games with a PER under 5:
Totals Shooting Advanced
Player Season Age Tm G GS MP FG% 3P% FT% PER WS
Jason Collins 2006-07 28 NJN 80 78 1844 .364 .000 .465 3.0 0.6
Jason Collins 2007-08 29 TOT 74 26 1172 .469 .000 .459 3.4 0.1
Stephen Graham 2010-11 28 NJN 59 28 959 .405 .238 .816 4.4 -0.3
DeShawn Stevenson 2011-12 30 NJN 51 30 960 .285 .283 .563 4.3 -0.3
Uwe Blab 1989-90 27 TOT 47 33 531 .398 .541 3.3 -0.4
Rafael Araujo 2005-06 25 TOR 52 34 601 .366 .000 .536 4.5 -0.8

So, let's just not sign Steven Graham. Cool.

Interestingly, though, the second team unit played well, taking the team on a huge run at the end of the first quarter through much of the second. This effort was primarily guided by one Michael Stockton, which is pretty neat.

Listen, all of the odds are against Michael. He's probably not NBA-good at basketball. (Evidence: He averaged 11 PPG, 3.6 APG in 28 MPG in the German 2nd league. He didn't start for Westminster until his senior year. He's already 23. I sort of guarded him once.) That all being said... it was really fun to have him leading the charge with and against real NBA players. It will be exciting to see how he plays over the next few days.

At some point, I'll write about the cognitive dissonance that came from watching Stockton play, but I told myself that this Downbeat would stay reasonably short.

Now, the second summer league game comes for the Jazz, as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers at 9 AM. This should be a better opportunity for Kanter and Burks to shine, if Philadelphia keeps the same starting lineup, because they will be matched up against Devin Searcy and Xavier Silas. I regret to inform the readers of this blog that I know next to nothing about those players. Silas is a pretty famous basketball name, and Searcy is a town in Arkansas with this motto:

Searcy2_medium

I'll admit, I was surprised that millions wished to live like Searcians do in the middle of Arkansas, but you learn something new every day. If you really want to learn about the Sixers summer league team, Sixers.com put up this article.

Seriously, though, Kanter and Burks will have heard the criticism, and this is an excellent opportunity to respond with a better performance.

I have a semi-weekly series win which I ask you, the Jazz fan, to contribute suggestions with the goal of improving some part of Jazz fandom off the court. This week, we look at the intro videos shown at the beginning of each Jazz home game, made by @brownboy1473. There were two, I never figured out the pattern in which they were shown:

Let's start with things I like about this one:

  • The first is pretty professionally done. The text, the cuts, the action is all sharp, quick, and high quality. Cool.
  • Splicing cool game moments: standard, but still a good idea. I also like having good calls of moments spliced in.

Okay, and things I don't like:

  • Boler yelling "WHAT A SHOT!" after Devin Harris' extremely average layup.
  • The pacing. Look, this is a intro video. We don't have time for the weird drum intermission with Ty clapping and the dancers dancing and Millsap getting the ball stolen from him. It's the opposite of exciting. And then you don't transition back into dramatic time very well. I also don't have time for you to splash every player's name on the board. My excitement for Bell is limited.
  • Favors in what looks to be a Knicks jersey at 0:57. What?
  • The end: cool Jazz explosion. Would have been nice if anything else had been leading up to that. Basically, at only limited points is excitement generated.

My problem with this one is mostly conceptual. "We are Utah Jazz", while terrible grammatically, is at least a copy of another cool and famous slogan ("We Are Marshall"). That doesn't mean it's a good idea to make it personal. When the video says "I am unity", WTF does that even mean? Who is the I speaking here? Is it you, the maker of this video? And how does a single person become unified? It's not as if the Jazz players were out there reading Walt Whitman during games: "I am large. I contain multitudes." And then to follow that up with a nice big Al assist to Hayward means the subject of this sentence is totally confused.

"I am team" suffers from the same conceptual flaws, but is especially broken due to the existence of the phrase "there is no I in team". Next, cut to "I am tenacity", showing Millsap making a wide-open dunk. Confused with the imagery, now.

Finally, the video gets to "I am fearless", which has the incredible positive that it is an actual adjective. And then Jeremy Evans dunking, which is always awesome and fun. Unfortunately, this is followed up by a Memo three and the phrase "I am intensity", which is just a mean joke to play post-injury.

The music and finale montage is pretty good, leading up to the final shot at 0:39 when a boy is so excited about the upcoming game that he and his neighbor are on their cell phones as he holds up the sign. At least we're being realistic.

I just think that we can do better. Grammar is not a particularly high bar, nor is making sense. If we could get that as well as excitement building, we might really have something.

The big topic of conversation in Jazzland before this morning's game is the performance of Kanter. Thus, I wanted to get your take on his game yesterday: was it indicative of big problems in his game, or should it be ignored (after all, it was only preseason)? Poll time!

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