Heading North by Northwest - The Downbeat - #800

Why is Jerry Sloan mad? He's been linked to the coaching position of teams that are the worst in their respective divisions. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)


There is obviously a lot of off season yet to be played, but from the looks of things, I am going to declare the Northwest Division the best division in the NBA. Oklahoma City will be the best team in the West next year and will vie for the best record in the NBA. Denver and Utah are probably 45-50 win teams with Minnesota not far behind them, if not ahead. Portland is probably the worst team in the division and I could see them playing .500 ball. Let's put it this way: the Thunder might be the best best team in the NBA and Portland looks like the best worst team in the league.

The funnier thing about our division was the head to head free agency battles between Portland and Minnesota. Funny because Portland was so hurt by Minnesota offering Portland's restricted free agent Nicolas Batum and expatriate Brandon Roy offers. Besides the hypocrisy in that, the funniest story is the fabled trade rumor of Portland turning down an offer of Derrick Williams and two future 1st round picks in a sign and trade for Nic Batum. If that was offered, Portland was crazy not to take that offer and laugh all the way to the bank. In short, David Kahn and Neil Olshey appeared to be in a bit of a cat fight. And the other Northwest Division teams were the winners. With that said, I think Minnesota got pretty good. They could make the playoffs this season.

Here is some footage of a fight David Kahn and Neil Olshey had:


I feel like as a fan base, we have become somewhat preoccupied with length and height. Admit it, you are intrigued by a lineup of Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson. Why is that? I think it is due to an effect I call the Laker effect. The Jazz got killed by the Lakers and their incredible size and length for 3 years and we became preoccupied with counter attacking that length and height, with length and height. We almost became obsessed with it.

However, I think that is a somewhat reactive viewpoint, when the Jazz should be interesting in being proactive with their lineups and style of play. I found this interesting from Kevin Arnovitz on ESPN's daily dime.

Most professional organizations have a diversity of opinion on a given issue or philosophy. Many of those inside front offices who have espoused a broader interpretation of what it means to be an NBA power forward, shooting guard or center feel vindicated by the way in which the Miami Heat won the title.

"The NBA is a pick-and-roll game, not a post game, so you need guys who have defined skills regardless of their size," one scout said. "The league has been that way for a long time, but we ignored it because the Lakers and Celtics were winning, so size seemed like it matter. We told ourselves that you needed to be big and long to win.

It's not that rebounding and height aren't valuable commodities. Watching your 6-foot-2 shooting guard rotate to close on a 6-foot-10 sharpshooter is as painful as ever, but coaches, execs and scouts uniformly maintain that valuing -- or devaluing -- a player strictly because of his size is an antiquated exercise.

In short, the game is changing. The best power forwards in the playoffs weren't Pau Gasol and Kevin Garnett, but Kevin Durant and Lebron James. The best centers were Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh. It is increasingly becoming better to be mobile and smart, than big and tall. Obviously it would be best to be long, tall and fast. Derrick Favors has a real chance to be a perfect big man in the future climate of the NBA.

Are you tired of the argument of trading Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap in order to get minutes for the young guys and see what we have? It's not a unique position. Apparently bloggers on SBNation think similarly. Read this and replace Iguodala with Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap and Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner with Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter.

Click this.

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to be our foil in the NBA. They are in a similar situaiton, stuck in the 6th-8th seed, with a plethora of intriguing players that all play the same position. The Jazz and the Sixers are at a crossroads.

I think it is pretty obvious that the Jazz have improved this summer. But will the Jazz improve their playoff positioning? I think the Wolves are much better than they were a year ago. The Lakers are better. I like some of the moves the Clippers made. San Antonio has reloaded. Oklahoma City is Oklahoma City. Those last 4 teams will probably be better than the Jazz this season. Anyone else? Minnesota could challenge for a better record. So could Denver. Memphis is always around. And poor, poor Dallas. Can we start the season yet?

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