What a fantastic season we have had so far! After many long and painful seasons of mediocrity and lack of a long-term strategy, the Jazz have finally committed to a plan and are going all-in. Our brilliant strategist Dennis Lindsey has determined that the only viable option for the small-market Jazz to win a championship is to acquire superstar quality talent via the draft. He understands that the team must end the season with a near-bottom record to draft the type of player that we need to become a contender. The only obstacles that he faced in this losing plan were four talented young players that we commonly refer to as the "Core Four". To overcome that obstacle, Lindsey assembled one of the worst supporting casts of all time to complement our core players. He also had the benefit of a coach so terrible at winning games and distributing minutes that he would align perfectly to the strategy without even trying.
As we have all noticed, Lindsey’s strategy has been executed flawlessly so far. We started off with a few close calls, but have been getting better as the season progressed. I, for one, could not be happier about the results.
The Importance of Going All-In
Superstar players are generally drafted in the top three picks of the draft (i.e. Lebron, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard, James Harden). Some teams, through a combination of luck and skill, are able to draft superstar caliber players outside of the top three picks (i.e. Chris Paul, Stephen Curry, Paul George). While this is a possibility, a team is much more likely to draft a superstar quality player with a top 3 pick. In fact, there is even a significant drop off in superstar probability from pick 1 to 2 and pick 2 to 3.
Since 1990, the first three picks of the NBA draft have been assigned using a weighted lottery system. While the team with the worst record is not guaranteed the first pick in the draft, it does have the highest probability of receiving the pick as well as a guaranteed 4th pick as a worst-case scenario. The worst team has a 75% chance at a top 3 pick, the 2nd worst team has a 59% chance, the 3rd worst has a 47% chance, and so on. The added 16% probability from the worst team to the second worst is a significant jump that could potentially mean the difference between a Lebron James and a Darko Milicic on draft day.
If the Jazz are going to give up a season to draft a superstar, it makes the most sense to go all-in. The more games we lose, the better the chances of us scoring a high draft pick. The higher our draft pick, the better the chances of us scoring a superstar caliber player. The better our superstar player is, the better our chances of finally bringing a championship home to Utah. Note that this is not a sure-fire plan to championship glory because there is no such thing in the NBA. However, this is the plan, considering the Jazz’s circumstances, that has the highest likelihood of winning us the trophy.
Now that we understand Lindsey’s brilliant championship plan for the Jazz, it is about time that we support him. I am sick of reading all the frustration, anger, and hopelessness in the articles and comments of the blog this season. This year the Jazz are doing exactly what many fans have been asking for for years and for some reason "fans" start complaining as soon as they get what they asked for.
Let’s enjoy this season! Let’s appreciate the development opportunities that our young players are getting. Hayward, Kanter, Favors, and Burks, while all imperfect, have each shown moments of dominance this season that they never would have had the opportunity to show in previous seasons. Let’s appreciate that our rookies Burk and Gobert will actually get the chance to play minutes and develop this season. Bust most importantly, let’s appreciate every loss that we get. Not because we like losing, but because we have the foresight to understand and appreciate the potential implications of each loss. Every loss, especially the ones against fellow tankers (Boston, Denver, etc.), brings us one step closer to the day where we will have a superstar player that can lead us to our first championship.
In honor of our team’s goal for this season, I am beginning a series of fanposts to celebrate those players/coaches whose performance on the court best aligns with Dennis Lindsey’s vision and strategy. It is a hard and thankless job to be a terrible basketball player that gets more minutes than he deserves, but somebody has to step up to the plate and get the job done. So without any further ado, I present to you the All-Tank Team of the first two weeks.
Tank General: Ty Corbin
While there are a lot of people that we can thank for our team’s perfect record so far, I believe that no one deserves more recognition than Coach Corbin. Even though Lindsey basically Ty-proofed the roster for this season, Corbin has still found ways to make a negative impact on the team. His love for washed up veterans has never been more present as he has over doubled John Lucas’s minutes from his previous season from 13 to 28 minutes per game as well as Richard Jefferson who went from 10 to 25 minutes per game. Ty has a lot of tricks up his sleeves for tanking this year and I will save some of them for future editions of the All-Tank Team. I can only pray that he stays on our team long enough to continue to drive the Jazz Tank further down the season rankings.
Tank Colonel: John Lucas III
Of all players on the court, John Lucas has had the biggest impact on achieving our objectives this season. In Burk’s absence, Lucas is our starting PG and bears a lot of the burden of facilitating our offense and getting our young players involved. Stunningly, in eight games this season, Lucas is averaging 2.1 assists. For every 14 minutes of gameplay, Lucas is responsible for one of his teammates scoring the basketball. For a forward or a center, 2 assists is not a good number; for a starting point guard, two assists per game is horrific and inexcusable. Not to mention that instead of passing to his teammates, Lucas chooses to shoot the ball himself at the abysmal rate of 32.8 FG%.
Tank Lieutenant: Richard Jefferson
No list of early Jazz tankers would be complete without a mention of our past-his-prime veteran Richard Jefferson. Jefferson, despite being one of our season’s go-to scorers, has been extremely inefficient. He is shooting a horrendous 32% from the field and 18.8% from 3 PT range. He also turns the ball over twice per game without making a worthwhile contribution to rebounding, assisting, or playing defense.
For your exceptional tanking efforts these two weeks, Ty Corbin, John Lucas III, and Richard Jefferson, we salute you.