Today's article by Zach Lowe in Grantland is maybe the best national piece I've read on the Jazz, as a current team and a historic franchise, in years. You need to read it. Really.
Here are some of the many areas that stood out to me, as well as quick responses:
- "This is the most interesting franchise in the league right now, with dozens of different possibilities in front of it and a few franchise-defining mysteries to solve."
That's a really cool way of characterizing the current state of the Jazz: "most interesting franchise in the league right now."
- "Winning matters in Utah, more than it does in most places."
I think it's fascinating that he states this so assuredly. He references this in regard to the drive to make the playoffs this year almost regardless of self-interest, but as a simple statement of a philosophy, I think this recommends the Jazz very highly.
- "The Jazz probably weren't aggressive enough shopping Jefferson and (especially) Millsap ahead of last spring's draft, when multiple league sources insist they could have easily snagged a high first-round pick in that draft for Millsap."
I think my very first comment on SLC Dunk was advocating a Millsap trade prior to the 2012 draft. I've since believed that was an unreasonable expectation. This statement, however, has me a little more steamed at the front office. Maybe more than a little.
- "Utah is betting it can sign and trade one of the Jefferson-Millsap duo, even though the new CBA, plus the sheer number of teams with lots of cap space, will cool that market a bit."
This makes me nervous. I don't think sign and trades are very viable under the new CBA, and if the Jazz are really betting on one, I'm not sure the odds are great.
- "Multiple league sources who dealt with Utah ahead of the deadline insist the Jazz presented themselves as willing to take a step back next season and snag a solid pick in a loaded 2014 draft."
Well, well, well, isn't that interesting. To me, this says the franchise is anticipating a fairly major change next year, which doesn't suggest a roster and approach very similar to this season. Al and Paul, you may not have as much leverage with this team as you expect.
- "The free-agent market for point guards both this summer and in the summer of 2014 is ugly."
Sad, but true. Fingers crossed for Myck Kabongo, Trey Burke, or Michael Carter-Williams to be there at pick 14 or 15 when we're on the clock.
- "The point guard [the team] finds, even more than the choice between Jefferson and Millsap, will say a lot about those defining franchise questions: What style does Utah want to play on offense? Are they really still committed to Jerry Sloan's flex-style system? And is Tyrone Corbin the right coach for that style - or any style?"
Franchise defining questions indeed. And that "any style" bit is only the opening volley at Tyrone Corbin.
- "This is another one of those foundational questions: Is Favors a 'real center'? And should Utah care?"
One loud vote for "Who cares!" Lowe basically agrees.
- "We have almost a decade of evidence now that Jefferson's failings on defense outweigh his very real value on offense."
Well stated. "Very real value on offense" gives Al his due, but the conclusion of his defensive"failings" tipping the scales agrees with many of us.
- "Only two of the 80 teams that have qualified for the playoffs in the last five years have done so with their top five lineups being outscored [like the 2012-13 Jazz]: the 2008-09 Bulls, and... last year's Jazz. This is very strong evidence that Corbin is basically just playing the wrong guys and wrong combinations in the wrong minutes distribution."
Ouch for Ty! I think that last line pretty much sums up 50,000 words worth of complaint on this blog.
- "There's also the fact that Utah's defense plays with a weird lack of discipline and unclear, unproductive rules."
I love that word "weird" being in there. I think all of us have had that sense when watching the Looney Toons impersonation that sometimes is the defense of the Jazz. You know, where Al threatens the opposing point guard with a rifle and the guard sticks his finger in the barrel. You know what happens next.
- "There are no clear, consistent rules to Utah's defense."
I mention that lack of rules twice because I think it's really, really important and is one of the most glaring weaknesses Ty has.
- "The Jazz have a weird tendency to rotate off shooters in the corners nearest the ball handler - a huge no-no on smarter teams."
Yup, the shot with the most bang for your buck in the game. Another really big deal defensively. And another "weird."
- "The team is fine sending help to the post, but its recovery is putrid, with multiple defenders rotating toward the same shooter, guys leaving the player 'one pass away' wide-open, and a general tendency toward total breakdowns..."
Not a total tendency toward general breakdowns, no. Total breakdowns. Clearly, Mr. Lowe has been watching the same games I have.
- "... the Jazz's general lack of coherence is alarming and raises questions about Corbin's future after next season, when his contract is up."
I've defended Ty quite a bit in the past and sometimes still do, but I have arrived at this same conclusion. Either the Jazz will have to much more "coherently" execute Ty's competitive vision, or everyone, including the front office, is going to conclude he doesn't have one.
Really great take on the Jazz, and well worth reading. Overall, it has me: excited about our future; even a little more concerned about Ty; keeping my seat on the Lindsey bandwagon; and still a little steamed that Paul Millsap didn't magically turn into a top 10 or 12 pick in last year's draft.