...I mean, we have to, right? Last night against the Lakers, former Laker and current Jazz training-camp fodder Brian Cook made the second half his plaything, launching and making ill-advised threes and generally running amok. (Actually, he doesn't get up and down the floor all that quickly. Never mind.)
He finished with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in 20 minutes, and so the question must be asked: Did Brian Freaking Cook just shoot his way into a roster spot?
Short answer: No.
Long answer: The Jazz have 13 players under contract. Only two of those are nominally point guards: Trey Burke and John Lucas III. Two others have point-guard-esque abilities: Alec Burks and Ian Clark. That's probably not good enough for the Jazz, who traditionally have kept three point guards on the final roster. Of the players in Jazz camp, Scott Machado is the likeliest guard to stick. That puts the roster at 14.
The question then would be whether the Jazz want to keep a roster spot open or go into the season with a full 15 players. The injuries to Burke, Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams have left space on the active 12-man roster, and with Jeremy Evans and Rudy Gobert nursing (very) minor injuries, the fully-healthy bigs at the moment are Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Andris Biedrins. That's it.
Now, Gobert played last night, so he's on the mend, and so is Jeremy Evans, so this may be a temporary problem that solves itself. If Cook were to make the team, he'd probably slot dead last in that rotation, behind Favors, Kanter, Biedrins, Evans and Gobert.
(Well, maybe not behind Gobert. Corbin gonna Corb.)
Is that worth paying Cook the veteran minimum and sacrificing the flexibility of the open roster spot, especially after Marvin Williams returns? I don't think so.
Plus, consider this thought from our own Peter J. Novak:
(That's Brandon Davies, of BYU fame, bee tee dubs.)
So I'm calling last night an aberration and predicting that Brian Cook's days in a Jazz uniform are numbered. Best of luck and happy trails, #COLO.
Right. Now that that's settled.
I already wrote a more complete recap of last night's game, but one thing I didn't delve into too deeply was how the Jazz are setting up their offensive possessions without Trey Burke running the point. This has been a problem ever since his injury -- honestly, it was a problem when he was playing, too, but at least that problem has a solution -- and last night, it was evident that the Jazz offense is pretty stagnant, especially when the ball is in John Lucas III's hands.
The fact is that Gordon Hayward is the straw that stirs this team's drink. He was the one initiating pick-and-rolls with Kanter and Favors. He was the one running through back-screens to get open jumpers. He even brought the ball up the court at times, point-forward style.
When G-Time wasn't on the court, Alec Burks filled his role. And he showed some progress as a facilitator, passer and creator (six assists last night, an unusually high number for Alec). The difference between Burks and Hayward is that, while Hayward can work well off the ball to create offensive movement, Burks needs the ball in his hands, driving and dishing.
When either of those two players isn't running things, though, or when they're tired, the offense looks dismal. Favors and Kanter simply can't create their own offense consistently, and Lucas is a nightmare as an offensive engine. Jefferson is no more than a spot-up shooter and glass crasher. Gobert can barely hang on to the ball, and Biedrins isn't much better.
So the question remains: Who the crap is going to run this offense? My fear is that, without a reliable ball handler and distributor, more and more creative pressure will be heaped on Hayward and Burks, and they won't be able to keep it up long-term, night after night.
Maybe there is no solution until Trey Burke gets back. But until then, barring shooting outbursts of Cookian proportions, I fear the Jazz offense will continue to sputter.
What do you think? How does this problem get solved?
FanPosts! I'm so glad you guys are writing and commenting on these. All three of the posts I'm featuring today got 40 or more comments, which is fantastic. Keep it up, y'all.
First is this must-read piece from clint.johnson.bball on specific ways to evaluate Ty Corbin's performance:
I've long advocated giving Tyrone Corbin until the end of this season to prove, once and for all, whether he deserves to remain head coach of the Jazz. To be blunt, I'm skeptical. But I feel he is due a season with reasonable expectations given a set of very specific goals and outcomes that fit the roster he's been handed, and I don't feel any of his previous three years fit that description.
To my mind, this year does. Because of that, I plan on offering more criticism on Corbin's performance this season than previously, both positive and negative as the situation warrants. I suspect many in the SLC Dunk community will do the same, while others will continue to comment on his performance as they have in the past. There will be a lot of fervent talk about a guy in a very hot seat. It is my hope that we keep this avenue of discussion positive and respectful, and I think establishing clear criteria by which we're evaluating can help ensure this.
Next, Fesenko For President takes an early look at his top target for the Jazz in next year's draft:
I think I would like to see the Jazz select Jabari Parker. I think a long, smooth, multi-skilled small forward, who has a high basketball IQ--like Parker--would fit in perfectly with the current young Jazz roster. The acquisition of Parker would allowGordon Hayward to play his more natural position of shooting guard, where I think Hayward has an edge over most other players, because of his size and playmaking skills (combined with equal quickness to most shooting guards).
And finally, Dyl has a fun and super-challenging NBA-related geography quiz. I couldn't guess any of them correctly; can you?
One of my favorite things to do during a Jazz game is tweet about the commercials that drive me nuts. Since I don't go to many games, I end up watching the local broadcasts frequently, and the same TV ads tend to crop up repeatedly.
So this is a new periodic segment I'm calling Commercials You'll Learn To Hate, or CYLTH. In each edition of CYLTH, I will break down a commercial and give it a rating based on its premise, acting, script and music.
First up: The Cyprus Credit Union "Loan Spy."
Premise: A schlubby dude in a polo, apparently a Walter Mitty-style delusional who believes he is a secret agent whose mission in life is to infiltrate (read: walk into) Utah financial institutions and artlessly interrogate tellers using ill-fitting food metaphors, enters a Cyprus Credit Union branch and inquires as to the ease with which one might obtain a car loan. The schlubby dude, whom I shall henceforth call Schlubble-Oh-Seven, frequently turns his back to the teller and verbally records his observations while still in earshot. The teller, no doubt unnerved by Schlubble-Oh-Seven, matches his mixed metaphor with "piece of cake," an item not even mentioned on his undefined scale of ease.
Acting: Schlubble-Oh-Seven is committed, I'll give him that. He throws himself into the part with the admirable lack of self-awareness that befits his character. The teller is merely adequate in her portrayal of a customer service representative who likely faces a dozen such nutjobs every day, but I give her props for not punching Schlubble-Oh-Seven in the face. Because I want to. I want to so badly. (I mean, I can't guarantee she DIDN'T punch him off-set, but I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.)
Script: Mixed metaphors are bad. Loan spies don't exist. Your tagline makes no sense. Other than that, you're right there.
Music: Unmemorable. In this case, that's actually a good thing. Well played.
Rating: One cup of shredded coconut out of 10 chocolate cakes. Because coconut is awful, cake is good, and you don't understand comparisons.
You've probably already seen this, but I feel obligated to include it.
When presented with the possibility of a confrontation, one of these men will back down. It is not Metta World Peace.