Four weeks from tonight, the Utah Jazz will be back together playing organized basketball against the Golden State Warriors. The team will reconvene for training camp as soon as September is over. I'm not a fan of Green Day, but this video seems too perfect, to not post it.
The acting in this video is undeniable. Also, if you stop watching it after about 4 minutes, you can imagine that this young couple have a fight over the boyfriend becoming a Lakers fan after they traded for Dwight Howard. Enjoy.
You know how I feel about rankings. I think they are entertaining and I don't get too worked up about them. But I found some of them interesting. CBSSports NBA writers, Royce White, Matt Moore and Ben Golliver are teaming up to bring us the top 100 NBA basketball players in the league. That link will take you to the top 50 players and this week they will unveil the top 40. Al Jefferson comes in at #50 That lead to this question from David Locke on twitter:
To which Locke found this tweet by Matt Moore:
The interesting thing is that Matt Moore says the Jazz have more than one player in the top 50. I'm guessing that it includes Al Jefferson at 50 and another player (presumably Paul Millsap) in the top 40, because 49-40 have already been unveiled. It would be hard to fathom another player like Hayward or Favors jumping into the top 40, because they were not even in the top 100 last year. Al Jefferson moved up to 50 from 60 last year on the same rankings. Paul Millsap was 52 last year and will now be in the top 40. I'm not even going to ask if these improvements are warranted, because I don't want to inadvertently start a discussion about Jefferson and Millsap's relative value to the team. I think we all know how everyone individually feels about Jefferson and Millsap.
It is obvious that Jazz fans and slcdunkers are split on their assessments of Al Jefferson. But the national media are equally as split and perhaps NBA teams are as well. Look at these different evaluations of Al Jefferson over the last season.
"A good career, but never became the beast many thought he would in Boston. Still the best low-post player in clutch-time in the league, and a dependable rock offensively. The Jazz need him to step up defensively this season."
-CBSsports Elite top 100 Rankings
"After missing out on Deron Williams, the Mavs may wind up with more flexibility next offseason than this one. Either way, it won't keep the Mavericks from taking another big swing at a superstar-level player -- or perhaps two of them. [Al Jefferson is] one of the most under-the-radar centers in the league. Will he make it to free agency? Hard to predict. Utah knows how important he is on the floor. ... But has the Jefferson-Paul Millsap tandem gone as far as it can go? ... If you like him, he should be gettable. And he might come at slightly below maximum-level money, which could free up some cash to perhaps also get one of the other A-listers. The big "if" is whether he would pair well with a star point guard like [Chris Paul]."
-Dallas Morning News
Please let this happen. We have never seen what happens when Al Jefferson is paired with a star point guard.
"Question No. 1: What are they going to do with Al Jefferson? If they can find a way to send him to OKC (for James Harden and Kendrick Perkins), do they do it? They have Enes Kanter ready to step in at some point, and Al will be a max player on the free agent market next season. They are a good team, but they are still in a rebuilding process and can’t hang with the West’s top 4."
-Chris Sheridan via his blog sheridanhoops.com
So now Jefferson is a max player who the Thunder should consider trading James Harden and Kendrick Perkins for. If the Jazz could make that trade should they do it? *Scratching Head.*
"Utah has a lot of really nice, young pieces, but as the franchise continues to evolve, it remains to be seen how it’s all going to fit together. With so many efficient interior scorers and a growing collection of 3-point shooters, the offense projects to be top-five in the league. However, the defense lags, and it will as long as the Jazz count on Al Jefferson to anchor the middle."
"Jefferson is the worst interior defender in the league."
-Basketball Prospectus' Bradford Doolittle
These assessments sound eerily similar to some of the assessments that are posted by Jazz fans on this website. Maybe we are all right. Also, this is a comment on the difficulty of scouting, more than Al Jefferson's game itself.
One big question for this upcoming season is "how much will our offense improve with the addition of the better three point shooters to the team and how will they affect Al Jefferson's game?"
I think we can estimate the answer to this question through some simple statistical analysis. The Jazz have tended to shoot 5.8 3s a game off of spot ups out of dribble penetration or double teams. Devin Harris, CJ Miles, and Josh Howard have combined to shoot about 35% from those situations (95/268). Mo Williams, Randy Foye, and Marvin Williams have shot about 40% in similar situations over their careers. So instead of making 118 threes for 354 points like Harris, Miles and Howard would over an 82 game season, the new trio would have made 133 threes for 399 points. An extra 45 points a season is significant. It's probably good for an extra win or so a season. But it may not be as significant as some assume it will be.
The caveat to this is that the new trio also shoots more 3 pointers historically and since they shoot better, the offense would be improved as they shoot more. But also historically, the Jazz have not shot more three point shots per game just because they have better three point shooters. Hopefully that changes this season. The Jazz took 12.8 three pointers a game last season. It would be a welcome surprise to see that eclipse 14 this year.
You may have heard but Justin Timberlake, a native of Memphis, is in the works to become a minority owner of the Memphis Grizzlies this summer. This is the perfect time for the Jazz to launch a counter initiative and hire a cool, hip celebrity, who has Utah ties, to be a minority owner of the team. I have narrowed the list of potential candidates to the 3 best.
Ken Jennings- Jeopardy contestant extraordinaire. He can take the bullet for the other Jazz owners by answering all of the hard questions.