The little 2 game series with the Suns was interesting. On one hand, the blowout in SLC was, for me, one of the most disappointing performances of this season. The supposedly inferior Suns ran roughshod over the Jazz without much effort, and without much of a fight. Even when the Jazz managed to put together little runs, it didn't last long, and it wasn't really that encouraging. The 9 point deficit after a Jazz mini-run was easily extended back to 16+ several times in the 3rd and 4th quarters. The combination of being out-coached and out-played is not a good look for this team.
Fast forward to Saturday's game, and things looked much different. I missed the game because of a
unbelievable family function and DirectTv being terrible and not showing the rebroadcast, but from what I read, things were night and day from the home loss. I'm not sure as to how much of the win was due to adjustments made by the coaching staff, and how much was related to the Suns' failure to execute, but it was good to see them at least bounce back and get the first road win.
As much maligned as this current Jazz team is, it could be much, much worse. I feel like I've said this so many times in the past, but if you need to feel better, look at the Knicks and Nets. Both teams were supposed to be playoff contenders, and some predicted the Nets would challenge the Heat for reign over the grossly untalented Eastern Conference. The Nets sit at 5-12. The Knicks on the other hand were never expected to contend for a title, but when you look at their 3-12 record, being a Jazz fan becomes a little easier.
Not to throw muck into those collective fanbase's eyes (Knicks fans especially have suffered enough), but sometimes a little context helps put things in perspective.
If you were a GM for an NBA team, what is the one piece of advice you would give a young coach entering the league (like a Johnnie Bryant)? Mine would be to embrace analytics or risk being outdated before you even start. Look around the league at the GM's that are increasingly embracing advanced metrics to not only assemble teams, but also to make adjustments to game play throughout the season. Now look at what has happened to coaches that fight the use of this information. It never bodes well for the coach, especially if the GM and owner are fully bought in to the system. Lionel Hollins in Memphis. Soon to be Dwane Casey in Toronto (his reluctance to embrace the new SportVu system has been documented).
Trends change. Industries evolve. The ones that survive and dominate after the shakeup are the ones that embrace the change. The Jazz are a corporation in flux. The times of LHM, Stockton, and Malone, are gone and are never coming back. Fans have (for the most part) embraced it, but by the end of the season everyone will be on board or out of a job.
Speaking of SportsVu, I found some interesting data about the Jazz.:
Hayward ranks 2nd in the league, averaging 2.6 miles per game
Favors is the next Jazz man on the list at 28, covering 2.3 miles per game
Hayward ranks 15th in the league. He averages 72 touches per game, and just 1.1 touches within 12 feet of the basket.
Favors ranks 17th in total blocks this season. He allows opponents to shoot 51.3% at the rim. (Roy Hibbert allows 36.9%)
Check out the info, on http://stats.nba.com/playerTracking.html . Pretty interesting stuff.
***Editorial. Opinions are my own, and don't necessarily reflect the opinion of all the writers at SLC Dunk***
Now a word on criticizing players:
It is no secret that a large majority of Jazz fans don't approve of John Lukas III and Richard Jefferson getting large numbers of minutes in games. They both come from situations in which they haven't played big roles for their teams in the last several years. The reason? They aren't good. They are both nightmares when you look at their advanced metrics, but both are vets that have learned to do the things that coaches look for. When someone says that these two players shouldn't play and that they are terrible, this is not conjecture. This has been proven by their track record and the metrics back this up. This is NOT an indictment of their character. By all accounts John Lukas III is a great guy. As is Richard Jefferson. Most people that decry their playing time aren't disputing that fact. Those that are tossing personal insults lack character and should be ignored. Further, just because they are on the Jazz does not mean they are beyond reproach. All the players are open game to criticism, but unjustified criticism on all levels should be ignored.
Let me give an example. If you work with Joe and he is a great guy, but he is terrible at his job, should the company keep him in his position, where he constantly under-performs to the detriment of the company, just because he's a nice guy? Absolutely not. This is the same in basketball. When Joe gets laid off or relegated to a different position, this is not an attack on character, nor should it be taken that way by peers or Joe himself.
The Jazz play the Rockets tonight. As always: GO TO THE GAME.