Let's be frank, I like John Amaechi. After all, he has a PhD in Psychology and is a smart guy. Call me biased in favor of people who go out and get an education. I was disappointed in his performance on the court as a member of the Utah Jazz though. The Jazz signed him to a pretty nice deal, getting him nearly $8.4 million dollars over the rest of his NBA playing career of four seasons. (It appears that it could have been worth more, but perhaps he took a buyout from the New York Knicks after he was traded there from the Houston Rockets. All in all he was traded for a number of players on his way out of Utah and Houston). The Jazz picked him up from the Orlando Magic, where he was a pretty sensible scorer (7.9 ppg and 10.5 ppg) as a mostly off the bench support role. In Utah he did not play much, and did not contribute much. And as a result, I think it is fair to say that as both a fan of the Jazz -- and a fan of Amaechi -- I was disappointed in his performance on the court as a member of this team. I don't know why things did not work out; but they did not work out.
I think we need to come to terms with one thing, though. Back during the glory days under Larry H. Miller, it appears as though some of our bigmen targets were players who ended up having solid (or better) games as a member of the road team playing in Utah, under the direct observation of LHM. After all, Amaechi had his best games in his career against the Jazz, including a 24 point outing back in 2000. A number of other players had very solid games in front of LHM in their pre-Jazz days, the biggest example would be the Carlos Boozer career game where he scored over 30. I think there is a relationship that DOES exist from that era where a guy who would have a big game against our Jazz, on the Jazz home court (and hence, under close direct inspection of our owner - who wouldn't really scout guys on other teams during the course of the season) and the players we ended up targeting as Free Agents. Instead of looking at all the guys who had big games against the Jazz I worked in the opposite direction - to see if the reverse was true; that guys we targeted as free agents had big games against our team the season before?
Well, here are the averages from a few of the guys in the LHM era of free agency.
There could be something to this:
- Danny Manning did not kill the Jazz the season before, but he still had something left in the tank, and was a former All-Star. You kind of have to take that guy on your team (basically . . . the Josh Howard theorem)
- Donyell Marshall did not shoot well, but nearly averaged a double double in less than half the game, and got to the line 6 times
- John Amaechi had better games vs. the Jazz in '99-00, but was still hard for us to defend in '00-01. He went to the line a whopping 9.5 times a game off the bench.
- Carlos Boozer ran all over us, and never played better.
- Mehmet Okur did not score a lot, but was super efficient as a 'non-main scorer'. He also still managed to go to the line 6 times a game, and made all of his free throws.
Al Jefferson (who, over the course of his career looks more Amaechi-like vs. the Jazz) showed up against Utah the season before we did a sign and trade for Boozer for an exception to then use to get Big Al. Near 20-10 mark, 2 blocks per game, and way better efficiency (in terms of PPS) than what he has delivered here in a Jazz uniform (IIRC).
For the most part all six of these forwards/centers were interesting to our team, and we got them all. They all played pretty well against us the season before, and in almost every case, they all had remarkable games against Utah -- in Utah in recent memory prior to their free agency. Which leads us to believe that if dear LHM was still around, we may have gone for Boris Diaw this off-season. And hey, John, if you get a chance to read this -- say hi to me on twitter. I miss our convos!