Alright everybody. I know it feels like our fandom as Jazz fans is circling the drain but let's take a step back and take an optimistic point of view. I am definitely not a Ty apologist or a front office apologist. I have even written entire fanposts on why we should fire Ty. But as the season has progressed, my anger has transitioned to apathy which has strangely led to what I feel like is clarity. Here are a few points of optimism:
1. Our young guys are pulling it together - I know we have all been worried about our young guys not developing. We can argue for years the hypothetical of if they would develop more/faster with more playing time. But that is nothing but a guess. What I do know is this:
- Kanter looks way way better than I expected/hoped out of him this year. I always believed he had it in him to be the number 1 option on a contender and this season has just reinforced that thought. He has range, he has a soft touch, he is learning to pass out of the post, he is a good defender, he seems genuinely excited to be on this team. Like it or not, Big Al has played a major part in some of those things happening. Yay for Kanter and bonus points for Big Al. Also Kanter said in an interview his #1 goal this offseason is to extend his range to the 3 point line. If he can truly do that he'll be a devastating force in the league. I believe he can.
- Hayward looks awesome. He has shown all-star level production and he is doing the things that lead to consistency and winning. He rebounds, his defense is above average, he passes well, he can handle the ball. He gets to the line a lot. The best players have solid impact on the game by always getting to the line. Gordon can have an off shooting night and still contribute to the success of the team on any given night. Also, I think he has what it takes to be a leader on the team.
- Favors is on his way to being a defensive force. His offense leaves a little to be desired but I think we can safely assume that he is probably never going to be an offensive force. You know what, that's fine. We don't need him to be. He can chip in 12-15 points a game and be a defensive player of the year candidate for us. He is a game changer and I'm happy with that.
- Burks. I am very optimistic that Burks can be the point guard of the future. He has shown major progress during this season and Ty has shown a willingness to play him at that position.
2. I predict the keys to the team will be handed over to the young guys next year - What indications have we received that this isn't the case? The team has said repeatedly that they will only re-sign guys who are willing to sign at a discount. That is really just code for we aren't re-signing Big Al or Millsap or Mo unless they come super cheap. Well guess what, they aren't coming super cheap. What are they supposed to say? We aren't going to re-sign you guys next year but please put your heart on soul on the court for us this year. No, that's just stupid. Every once in awhile we've heard a slip from the FO that indicates they fully plan to roll out the young guys. Greg Miller himself reportedly said it to his court side guests last week. Also the no trade at the trade deadline could be interpreted that the front office is happy with the young guys and wants to preserve the flexibility to sign them to long term deals when the time comes. OKC made the mistake of trading for and signing Kendrick Perkins which basically was the reason they lost Harden. I'm guessing the Jazz don't want to make that same mistake. They weren't willing to take on bad contracts to get draft picks either. All signs point to the young guys being here next year with big roles.
3. Win now mentality - Arguments can be made in every different direction of the best way to go about this but you can't completely throw people under the bus here for what has happened. Is it logical to think that Mo, Foye, Marvin, Sap, and Big Al give us the best chance to win? I think that argument was sound at the beginning of the year. Has time shown that it may not be true... yes. Not to get all Locke on you, but arguments can be made in every different direction about the right mix of playing time in order to win now. But the underlying theme is that we are an organization that does not accept a losing mentality. That is huge and should be 100% applauded. I love it.
4. Ty Corbin as a coach - Ok, we can't sit and argue about how the bench plays so awesome and not give any credit to the coach for that. He calls the plays, sets up the systems, and has helped with their development just the same as the starters. He deserves credit for our bench play. This gets me really excited because our bench will be our starters next year. How many times have we said the offense and defense looks so much better with the bench... Well yay, that is our team and coach going forward. It is hard to make choices in real time and know the outcome in the future. Is it defensible to think that the vets on our current team give us the best chance to win? Yes. Does Ty really have some secret hatred for our young guys? I honestly doubt it. That sounds a bit too conspiracy theory to me. I have come to the conclusion that we should give Ty next year with our new roster and see how it goes. I like the organizations commitment to stability and backing their coach. I can get on board with one more year and see what happens.
5. Our assets/roster going forward - As of next year we will have Burks, Hayward, Favors, Kanter, Marvin, Evans, a lottery pick, another first rounder, and mounds of cap space to work with. Hell ya! I would love to roll out a lineup of Burks, Hayward, Marvin, Favors, Kanter. I'm pretty sure the other team would score about 5 points a quarter. Some potential cheap filler guys we could get would be - Foye, Demarre, Kyle Korver, etc. One of the dumber points of the new collective bargaining agreement is that we have to spend at least 80% (? or something like that) of the cap space available. So is the FO going to sign a couple of vets to short bloated contracts..? probably just so we can hit the number we need to. Don't freak out about it when it happens. The future is bright.
Ok, hopefully I've talked some of you off the ledge. Is it disappointing that we've slipped out of the playoffs..? yes. Did anybody expect much more than a quick first round exit anyway..? no. Not really a huge deal in the big picture. I'm willing to give the franchise this offseason to show us what they are really thinking and where the team is headed before I hit the panic button. Overall, I'm very excited about the future. What do you guys think?