The Downbeat #1208- The Grad School Can Be Hard Edition

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Big and exciting win last night. And let's not be sad. It's Thanksgiving time. It could be much worse.

That was quite a game last night.  It was indicative of what many of us probably expected to see this season:  exciting play with poor stretches and drama at the end of games with ongoing potential of blowing any lead.  We had it all last night: The villian (Carlos Boozer and Tyrone Corbin), the hero (Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert and Marvin WIlliams) a little romance (Gordon Hayward assist to Jeremy Evans) and the comic relief (John Lucas III).

Let's do that again 66 more times.

The fantastic finish last night aside, a large picture outlook at the Jazz's situation is certainly upsetting right now.  The Jazz are currently 2-14, which is pretty bad, but more disappointingly, the team has been completely non competitive.  The Jazz are losing by an average of 10.7 points right now, but they have played in 4 or 5 games that have been theoretically decided before the 4th quarter even begins.  The Jazz right now are down by an average of 10.3 points entering the 4th quarter and have only had 4 halftime leads on the season.  I could go on and on, but this isn't just losing, it's a bit humiliating.

However...

Wouldn't you agree that of all fan bases, Jazz fans don't even have the biggest reason to be upset?  At least we have an end goal in sight, and for the most part, we are on track to meet those goals.  I am, not big into Schadenfreude, so I will avoid naming names, but:

There are teams that don't own their 2014 first round picks, and put together expensive teams in order to make the playoffs who are a combined 12-28 right now.  That's sad.

There are teams whose playoff aspirations are basically over 15 games into the season, because of bad knees.

There are teams that have mortgaged their future by giving 40% of their cap space to one player with serious serious flaws that prevent the highest degree of winning.

There are teams whose owners and GMs are clearly not seeing eye to eye in terms of what direction to go.  We are really lucky, not to be in that boat.

So when things get really bleak, think about the fan bases of these 6 or 7 teams. It could be worse.

I know that a lot of us in Jazzland think that things would be a lot better if the Jazz would just fire their coach.  It does seem crazy that a team could be 2-14 and stick with their head coach, but I wondered this weekend, "what is the worst record a team has ever had without firing their coach?"  I found this info.  There are 20 other teams that have started a season in a similarly dismal fashion.  Of those 20 teams, only 11 fired their coaches either during the season or at the end of the season.  It should be noted that of the 9 coaches that retained their job, 8 of them were in their first year of coaching, which probably gave them a little longer leash.  But of those 9 coaches that retained their jobs, 5 of them were fired the following season.  And of the 4 coaches who were fired midseason, the teams records continued to be as bad or even worse afterward.

The bottom line is that there is historical precedent for keeping Coach Corbin around until the end of the season.  And even if they did fire him, things would almost assuredly remain the same performance-wise.  But I do think it would be really surprising if he was still around next season given this historically bad performance and given the time the Jazz have already had to evaluate him.

The reason I have had to take a smaller role at this blog lately, is due to the fact that I started graduate school in August.  I liked my job, but I had reached a bit of an economic and intellectual pinnacle in my profession.  It was all part of my plan to go back to school, but in August, I gave up my job, my paycheck and my free time.  For any of you who have done the same, you know how hard it can be.  I cut my budget by 50% and acquired a lot of debt.  I don't go out to eat or see movies anymore.  Sometimes I pull all-nighters to study for tests.  On top of that, I have to wake up at 3:45 AM three times a week in order to be in the Operating Room by 5 AM.  And on top of that, my studies require hands on learning, in a sink or swim fashion, that make me look completely novice and sometimes ridiculous in front of future peers.  It can be really upsetting and humiliating.

You can probably see where I am going with this, but the Jazz are in Graduate School right now.  There is no question that the basketball lifestyle was better the last two seasons.  But the Jazz had also reached a limit of production and advancement.  They didn't throw this season away.  They invested and took a risk, and it is a risk, in order to see future benefits.  The next two years will be really hard for me, but I will graduate into a better profession with better pay.  There was certainly a risk that I wouldn't like the profession or that I would flunk out, but that was a risk I took.  There is a risk that the Jazz will land the 6th pick and just a rotational player with this current plan.  There's a chance that Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker return to school for their sophomore years and make this draft very ordinary.  But the Jazz have calculated the risks and are sacrificing for future gains.  Maybe you don't agree with it, but it's a plan and it's normal in everyday life to purposefully make life harder on yourself in order to improve and "get better."

It's a tough season, but the Jazz are getting a little more healthy, and the good times are going to be more frequent and rewarding.  I'm pretty sure of that.  Happy Thanksgiving to all the slcdunk readers and Jazz fans.  Here's your moment of basketball clarity.


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