Yep, it's time for that weird Utah holiday again. (For Jazz fans who live outside of Utah, July 24 is a statewide holiday commemorating the entry of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley. Google it or something.)
I get the day off myself as an employee at a state institution, so I'm keeping this short and writing it ahead of time. (I fervently hope to be sleeping in while you're reading this.)
This Pioneer Day is special, though, because it's Karl Malone's 50th birthday. (And it's extremely serendipitous -- or a sign of a higher power, take your pick -- that the Mailman was drafted by a team in a state where his birthday was already a holiday.)
Karl was and is a pioneer for the Utah Jazz in a lot of ways. He led the team to places it had never been. He established a legacy of hard work and determination that still defines the franchise. And now he's helping to show Derrick Favors and others the way.
This profile from Steve Luhm is an amazing reminder of the man Karl was, is, and always will be. A sampling:
"I always had a suspicion, at some point, I'd be back involved with some organization," Malone said. "When I stepped back on the floor, I wanted to look like a coach. I wanted to look like I belonged. I thought it might help the young guys listen to me."
Yes, Malone is the same guy who has always used the fear of failure as a motivational tool.
"I don't want to disappoint my family, my real fans or myself," he said. "... I've always wanted to prove something to Karl Malone and I still do."
If ever there were an NBA basketball player who could be called a pioneer, it's Karl Malone. Happy 50th, Mailman.
As the summer wears on, I keep fearing that there won't be enough news to fill these Downbeats. But we've been blessed -- just as Summer League ends, USA Basketball camp begins. And that means we get to see Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors compete with other young NBA stars in a different sort of setting.
I haven't gotten to watch any of the camp scrimmages yet, but fortunately, that's what Twitter is for:
Derrick Favors posted Kenneth Faried up and used some nice footwork to get free throws.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) July 23, 2013
Derrick Favors just had his most emphatic dunk of time we’ve seen— one handed in traffic.— Bill Oram (@tribjazz) July 23, 2013
Warms my heart, it does. I'm really looking forward to seeing the bond between our young players manifest itself on the court. Check out this story from Jody for more on that.
As usual on Wednesdays, the third item in the Downbeat is devoted to the SLC Dunk community. Here are a few FanPosts from the past week that are worth your time:
-- Mykroberts gives his take on the ever-popular issue of tanking:
I think it is clear that the Jazz FO is actively trying to be bad (how I define tanking) by looking at some of the available deals this offseason. There were lots of 2 year deals, which have no real impact on extending Jazz draft picks (even a couple 3 year days would probably be manageable). I really believe that if the Jazz had acquired Sap/DMC/Ridnour for similar deals (or even at a 20% premium) the young guys could be BETTER developed with some moderately functional lineups. Throwing a high quantity of garbage minutes at players does not guarantee development - lots of talent languishes on bad organizations (Sac).
-- mitchdowd24 crunches some numbers to see who might be taking the shots for the Jazz next season:
If we consider that Mo and Tinsley are gone, then in total from all players we are losing 4089 shots out of 6710 shots taken (League average of 6720 fga) . Remaining members shot a collective of 2621 fg attempts last year ( not including new players). 61 % of our shot taken last year is gone. On average teams take about 82 fg a game. That means we have 50 more shots a game that will be going to our new lineup. I REPEAT 50 SHOTS A GAME. Question is not who is going to score but who is going to shoot.
-- jazz_FM looks at the shot-creation issue from a different angle:
In conclusion, the Jazz really don't have any player that I see as being a great shot creator. So while I don't think Utah will have the league's worst offense, I am more than a little skeptical that they'll manage a league average offense with the personnel they have right now. In fact, the only positive I really see is that Utah still runs something of the flex offense, which is designed to create shots specifically without a top-of-the-line off-the-dribble player. But, hey, I've always been a pessimist, so hopefully I'll be pleasantly surprised at the end of next year (unless, of course, tanking).
I want to rant and rave at those who told me on twitter. I want to scream back at the excellent newspaper reporters we have covering the Jazz, that the right questions weren't asked, and nobody's final answer is really on the line here. I wanted to walk up to Dennis Lindsey and empty a spray bottle of cheese in his face, but none of that would get me to the acceptance I would have to swallow. (Yea I know, Pop Rocks) So, I decided to try to hide the ranting and raving I did at home and the smashed pillows, and try to rationalize it from a business perspective.
Go check 'em all out. And if you see a post worth spotlighting, hit me up on Twitter or email.
John Lucas III: The Lucasening (I'm going to keep making that joke until it becomes funny or Amar makes me stop) was officially introduced this week, and...well, despite myself and all statistical indications...I kinda liked his interviews. Moni, as usual, has the transcripts:
But nah, I don't feel like we're rebuilding. All the guys that's here now been in the league for a couple years. They know what it takes to win. We got a couple guys coming in that been in the league for years that knows how to get there, that played in big games or big situations. So I don't look at it as a rebuilding year. I just look at it as a new beginning.
Lucas also talked a lot about mentoring Trey Burke and passing on his knowledge to the rookie. I'm not exactly sure how much knowledge Lucas has or how that will translate on the court, but he IS the son of an NBA coach and really sounded like a smart dude in his interviews. So I'm a bit less skeptical of his presence on the team than I was.
I probably don't seem the type, but I'm something of a closet WWE fan. I was entertaining myself yesterday by trying to come up with names for wrestling moves that local athletes might use, and my Twitter timeline got in on the act. Given Karl Malone's connection with "wrasslin'," I feel like this is an appropriate venue:
@theshums The Haywardmaker— NWFP (@RblWithoutAClse) July 23, 2013
@theshums Gordon Heyward zerg rush— Steven Burt (@stevenburt) July 23, 2013
@theshums Gordon Heyward's Olive Én-Garde-n— Paul Alexander (@fender_splendor) July 23, 2013
@theshums with unlimited Salad and Deadsticks— Paul Alexander (@fender_splendor) July 23, 2013
Got any more good ones? Leave 'em in the comments.