The Downbeat #1046 - Who Would the Jazz Take With the #1 Pick Edition

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The combine, lottery luck, Favors' peers, and a little incentive. It's all right here.

As anyone who reads this blog knows by now, slcdunk has had the privilege of being at the NBA combine and conducting interviews. It's important (and fun) for us to see these interviews with the prospects, because really, breaking down the numbers isn't enough anymore. The personalities and the psyches of these guys matter a lot. As fans, we won't be keen on the interview process, but we can break down the stats and measurements and what not. But what do we learn as fans?

Personally, I don't think the combine teaches us very much about the prospects. A player's height or wingspan are important, but looking through the verticals and lane agility scores for current and past prospects, there really isn't a pattern. Let's take Shane Larkin for example:

Screen_shot_2013-05-20_at_7

Looking at his numbers and measurements, is there any reason to believe he will be any better than say..Nate Robinson? Similar size and quickness and leaping ability with similar shooting stats in college. At the same time, it's conceivable to think that he could be no better than Ronnie Price, right?

There are obviously big warning signs about prospects and big positives that help scouts, but I wonder how much of the middle stuff is just guess work? How does a scout know that Michael Carter Williams will be better than Shane Larkin? Or how does a scout figure out who is better between Tim Hardaway Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope?

After tomorrow night, we will be able to talk about the draft much more specifically, knowing the exact order. Tomorrow night is the NBA draft lottery, which is usually during halftime of the playoff game. While I don't expect the Jazz to luck out and jump into the top 3, I do wonder, "who would the Jazz draft if they had one of the top 3 picks?"

I haven't had enough luck with ESPN's Draft Lottery, so maybe you guys can help me out, but from what I gather, ESPN has the Jazz draft board as:

Nerlens Noel

Ben McLemore

and... I'm not sure. Never got that far. I'd guess Otto Porter or Trey Burke


For my money, based on fit and everything we know, I'm really not sure what my big board would look like. I wouldn't be stoked about drafting Nerlens Noel, because I'm not sure he's significantly better than Favors. He has similar strengths and weaknesses. Ben McLemore has a lot of the things we might need moving forward. But of course, Trey Burke would fill a need. But can you draft him with a top 3 pick if you are the Jazz?

At least, we will know what we do or do not have to consider or worry about after tomorrow. Thank heavens.

A lot has been discussed for the past two seasons about the playing time of Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, etc, etc, etc. Obviously most of you have read Amar's passionate post and probably have strong opinions yourself on the topic. I'm not here to light any fires, or put any out, but I'd like to add some thoughts and discuss. I think in life, with sports or politics, or science, or whatever, we can look at evidence and make hypotheses and discuss our own ideas and add to the ideas of others without getting upset or accusing, or generally being jerks.

I'll just say it this way. I disagreed with a lot of what Amar wrote in that post. And that's okay. I disagreed with David Locke's methods in trying to make a point that Derrick Favors' minutes have been fine, by cutting off a portion of the comparisons to fit his findings. Personally, I wish Favors had played more up to this point. But I also believe that he is still capable of having a fine career despite his playing time limitations. Look at guys like Marc Gasol and Kevin Love and Larry Sanders. You can bring big men up slowly and not hurt their development. I do not believe the same is true for wings and point guards. They need the ball in their hands to develop, in my opinion. But bigs are a little different.

Up to this point, I don't think there is much of an argument that more playing time or less playing time for a young, inexperienced big man is either beneficial or detrimental to development. I will explain in a moment. But right now, I think the only gripe you can have about Derrick Favors' playing time at this point, is that you just wish you could have seen him play more. You like him and wanted to see him play. It's okay to feel that way. But I don't think you can prove right now, that his development is stunted. And to me, we know enough about Derrick Favors to evaluate how valuable he is and probably will be. At least a ball park figure to make a fair offer this summer. But let's try to look at some data and try our best to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.

Here is a list of all of the big men in the last 15 years, who played one year of NCAA ball and then entered the NBA. To me that is the best way to level the playing field in comparison. We could also limit it to top 5 picks, or guys that had a talented player ahead of them, but it's almost impossible to do both:

Derrick Favors

Chris Bosh

Kevin Love

Anthony Davis

Andre Drummond

Lamar Odom

Anthony Randolph

DeAndre Jordan

Kosta Koufos

DeMarcus Cousins

Spencer Hawes

BJ Mullens

Donte Green

These are the guys that I think we should be comparing Derrick Favors to. They were in the most comparable situations coming into the NBA to a degree. And guess what? Some of these guys are good and some suck. Some of them got tons of minutes right off the bat, some didn't. Some were gradually worked in. Some got better. Some got worse. Some we don't know enough about yet. I don't think there is really any definitive evidence that one way works and another doesn't. Let's be honest with ourselves. We are mad that we didn't see Derrick Favors over Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson more, because it would have been more entertaining. It may have helped the team. But the only thing we can be sure of, is that it would have been more entertaining.

But just to ensure that this is the longest bullet point, I have ever written in the history of downbeats, how about this comparison that I don't know ever gets made, but works so well:

Chris Bosh's College Stats

Screen_shot_2013-05-20_at_8

Derrick Favors' College Stats

Screen_shot_2013-05-20_at_8

Chris Bosh first 3 NBA years

Screen_shot_2013-05-20_at_8

Derrick Favors' First 3 NBA Years

Screen_shot_2013-05-20_at_8

They both played almost the same minutes for the same collegiate team, putting up really similar numbers. Bosh came into the league with more offensive potential, Favors defensive. But the fun thing about it is that Bosh played a lot of minutes right off the bat, and he steadily got better. I think there is reason to hope and believe that Derrick could have a similar path in his career, even if his strengths might be very different from Bosh's. But the bottom line, no matter how you feel about how things have unfolded thus far, Derrick Favors has to improve next season, and has no excuse not to.

regardless of what direction the team decides to go this off season, I believe the main theme will be not overpaying for anybody. If that is the case, I think there is a real chance that the team enters next season with a roster that looks something like this (salaries not exact):

Marvin Williams $7,500,000

Derrick Favors $6,000,000

Free Agent Big Man $6,000,000

Free Agent PG $5,000,000

Enes Kanter $4,500,000

Gordon Hayward $3,500,000

Randy Foye $2,500,000

Alec Burks $2,200,000

Jeremy Evans $1,700,000

14th Pick $2,000,000

21st pick $1,400,000

Washed Up Vet $2,000,000

Declining Vet $1,500,000

Total Team Salary: $48,800,000

As you've heard me and others say, this would technically be against league rules which state the Jazz must spend 90% of the salary cap on team salary which will be around $54 million this upcoming season. But what hasn't been emphasized enough, and give credit, to yuccaman, because he has been on top of this, the penalty isn't that huge of a deal. From the CBA:

If a team doesn't meet its minimum payroll it is surcharged at the end of the season for the shortfall. That money is distributed among the players on that team

So if the Jazz don't spend $54,000,000, they will be forced to divvy up whatever amount of money is left to get to $54 million among the players. Now normally, I would never advise a team to pay $54,000,000 for $48,000,000 of talent, but this is a special situation with many players being underpaid due to rookie scales. In fact, this might be a way to add otherwise illegal incentives to the players' contracts. In a way, the Jazz would not only be saying to guys like Hayward, Favors, and Kanter, "we believe in you" but also "here is an extra $500,000 because we don't feel the need to spend money, unless the right free agent is there. We trust you that much." Maybe it would be more of a bonus for sticking around and being patient.

Just a thought.

Time to put your money where your GM mouth is:

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