The Downbeat #1234 - The Greg Ostertag, 50-foot shot specialist Edition

This has become a very good thing to see - Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know about all of you, but I have a hard time functioning with long breaks between games. Thank goodness there was Christmas and holiday stuff to fill in some of that empty time.

And in great news, the Jazz play again tonight. The Lakers are in town, and Kobe is out.

I am glad the Jazz didn't play on Christmas, though. Not only would I have to miss the game, but we would have also had to see the Jazz in those horrible T-shirt uniforms. Here's what Mark Cuban had to say about them:

"Hated them," Cuban said before the Mavs hosted the San Antonio Spurs on Thursday night. "I just thought it made our guys look more like a high school wrestling team or a college wrestling team."

If you like how they look, I pity your soul.

ESPN released their latest Tank Rank. The Jazz come in at #3. They do say that the play of Trey Burke is "concerning" for the team's tanking.

On one hand, the Jazz are pining to get their hands on Duke's Jabari Parker. On the other hand, rookie Trey Burke is starting to play well and the Jazz are actually 4-4 over the past two weeks. Not sure whether the team should be thrilled or concerned.

Burke starting to look like a legit NBA point guard is a great thing but the Jazz currently have zero percent chance of making the playoffs in the West, according to the latest Playoff Odds. So if the Jazz keep piling up these wins, they'll slide down these rankings and decrease their chances of landing Parker.

Zach Lowe, at Grantland, has a few things to say about the Jazz (he ranks them #15 in the Western Conference). He mentions Kanter's problems, and questions the wisdom of never playing Kanter and Favors together: "This may be an instance in which the priorities of the coach and the front office are not perfectly aligned."

But Lowe summarizes the Jazz this way:

Oh well. None of this really matters. The Jazz are designed to be terrible this season, and they're terrible.

This will shock you, but I have a few things to say about these points:

  • Playing in the west is going to make the Jazz's W-L record artificially worse. If Memphis is the third worst team in the conference, the conference is absurdly stacked, which means the Jazz are going to play more tough teams than Philly and Orlando. So if you're pro-tank, you can feel good about that.
  • It's also okay to want the team to win. Of the five top teams in the league right now, two of them became this good without ever bottoming out and getting a top pick. Portland, after losing Brandon Roy, were on pace for 35 wins (lockout year), then won 33 games, and then made the jump to top record in the league right now. Their best pick was #6 (via trade). Indiana hired Vogel about the same time Jazz got Ty. The Pacers won 37, then 42, then 49 games and are now the top team in the East. Their best pick over that time was #15 (which they traded). Basically, all is not lost if the Jazz don't end up with Jabari this off-season.

To become a great team, of course, the team needs to have guys playing at elite levels. They need stars. And it's common to hear that the team doesn't have one right now. And maybe it's true. But I also think it's kinda silly to shrug off all our young players so quickly. For example:

Derrick Favors. With his promotion he had a few early struggles, but here's what he's done over the past 22 games (per-36 minute stats):

16 ppg, 10.2 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 2 blocks, 3 fouls, 2 turnovers

55% FG, 69% FT, 58% True Shooting

For the kids at home, that's fantastic production.

Basically, we have not seen our current young players at their best yet. They are still getting there. This is probably the most exciting part of this season ... seeing what our guys are going to become.

My son got NBA 2K13 for Christmas. He just took four straight three point shots with Greg Ostertag. I think our Wii is going to self-destruct in protest.

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