Strength of body
Strength of character
These are the things I think of most when I define what Jazz basketball has come to mean to me.
It’s no secret that I’m not pleased by the direction of the franchise this season and after last nights loss to the Bucks, I like many others on the game thread felt like something had come to a head with that game.
In the eruption of spewed anger, an idea blossomed that what happened wasn’t Jazz basketball.
This morning things didn’t look as bad, but they certainly couldn’t be said to look better. What remained was that what may be the underlying frustration with this Jazz team is that it doesn’t seem like Jazz basketball.
I’m going to try to be as objective as possible (I admit, it may not be possible for me to be truly or even remotely objective, but I am trying) in evaluating the team on the above traits to see if we are playing Jazz basketball. I have, as of right now no idea what I will conclude, I am going in with only a vague theory.
Strength of body
I think it’s clear that Karl Malone sets the standard pretty dang high for this. At 50, he looks like he could still push around most of the best PF/C in the league. When it comes down to it, I think strength of body better translates to work ethic; as every player on the Jazz from 1-15 is an elite athlete or they wouldn’t be in the NBA.
Still, Kanter’s abs deserve a mention here.
So, what kind of work ethic does our team have? We know Paul Millsap, DMC, Kanter, Hayward and Favors all worked hard in the off season. That’s a good start.
Jefferson struggled when he first got to Utah, with his conditioning in training camp. He didn’t pass, he didn’t play defense, he was not as good as he is now. Seems to me he works pretty hard.
Organization: It’s hard to say much good about Corbin as I can not be objective. What I will say is that it seems like the Jazz had an awful lot of days off in January/February and didn’t practice a lot. Stories about Burks not being offered shooting practice with Hayward and Horny until after he asked about it and about how Favors fouling issues have not been addressed with him make me question the organization to some degree. Maybe having individuals who work hard rubs off, maybe they have a fewer practices because they go hard, all I can say is my impression is that the team’s work ethic as a whole seems a bit suspect.
Strength of character
This one is easy. Top to bottom there is no question that this Jazz team are the type of men that our community wants. The only (unjustified in my mind) question mark is Burks and that’s based on him having some swagger more than anything.
In this category, there is no question that Al Jefferson shines. He is exactly the type of man any franchise would love to have.
I actually believe the team as it is today is of higher character than any other since John/Karl left.
This is surprisingly difficult for me to guage. I want to call out a bunch of players for lack of effort. The only thing is, with the possible exception of Marvin, I think the effort to succeed is there from all of our players. The only reason I single Marvin out is that he increasingly seems to have no impact on games at all.
While I have some questions about the coaching staffs methods, I don’t think they lack in the effort department.
This is a big one.
Jerry had John and Karl run that Pick and Roll play of theirs probably more than 15,000 times in their career. I’m pretty sure that by time 500 or so, teams knew it was coming; game planned for it, and by and large just couldn’t stop it. It was efficiency on a whole other level. The Jazz got quite a bit of play out of journeymen who rarely were as efficient after they left.
Efficiency on that level is not easily matched. The closest thing to that go to play right now is the Al Jefferson left block ISO. Teams know it’s coming, they can and do game plan for it, and they’ve started to find ways to stop it. With Jamaal and Earl, teams can pack the paint and double up Al without fear. With Burks, an active defender can flat stop the entry pass and get a few steals in the process. When it works, it’s great, when it doesn’t, it’s ugly. And that, I think, is one of those things about THIS Jazz team that does not reflect the Jazz basketball I love. This team has other weapons, other ways to be effective that could work with Al’s post ISO, they just don’t use them, or don’t use them efficiently enough.
At this point, I arbitrarily decided to give letter grades to each area and went back and retroactively graded everything before.
John always seemed to me to be the most cerebral guy on the court. I picture him breaking down a play real time like Robert Downey Junior’s Sherlock Holmes.
While I think there are intelligent guys on the team right now, I don’t see that cerebral leader. Watson and Tinsley seem to know what to do more often than not, but for varying reasons aren’t able to execute.
Hayward and Burks have that potential, but have a long way to go.
Kanter seems like a sponge and could be a pretty high IQ guy in the future; but again, he isn’t there yet.
There may be others on the team, I’m just pointing out the ones I recognize as having the most potential. I in no way mean to suggest that Millsap, Favors, Foye, Al or anybody lack basketball IQ.
As to coaching: Corbin’s lack of ability in adjusting, managing rotations, allocating playing time, calling end of…well, I’m not going to go into that rant. I’ll just say he doesn’t rate highly for me in this category. To clarify, this is ONLY intelligence as it pertains to his job as head coach and not his overall intelligence.
Overall Jazz Basketball grade: C
It’s not a complete failure of what I think Jazz basketball is and should be, but it certainly has a lot of room for improvement. But this is just my opinion.