The Downbeat #1315: H to Izzo, Z to Utahz

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Where I defend David Locke, pray Jay-Z comes to Utah, and find optimism for next season.

Could Jay-Z make regular appearances in the state of Utah?  If the Utah Jazz draft Andrew Wiggins this could be a very real possibility.  Chris Haynes of CSNNW reports:

According to league sources, Wiggins is in the process of choosing between Hip Hop mogul Jay-Z's Roc Nation and one other unknown agency for player representation. Rich Paul, LeBron James' agent, was rumored to be in the mix but we were informed Paul never recruited the forward.

I have not made my allegiance unknown when it comes to Wiggins.  I would love the Jazz to select him.  I think his defense and superior athleticism is going to make him a star.  Hopefully, I have not fallen too far in Kabongo with him.

The Utah Jazz have now lost all but two games in the month of March.  It looks like just about everyone is looking forward to their cruise in April.  But that hasn't stopped a few Jazzmen from giving it their all.  Enes Kanter and Richard Jefferson had played their hearts out this month.  Gordon Hayward has looked better in what has been a theme park ride of a season for him.

  • Enes Kanter is averaging a double double this month even though his shooting percentage has dropped below 50%.
  • Richard Jefferson isn't quitting on this team.  He's giving it his all.  That's admirable.  It will teach these young guys a good lesson, too.  That you don't give up on your team.  I like that.  It helps that he's playing to earn his next contract but that just teaches these young guys more about earning your keep in the league through your effort.  Good on you, Jefferson.
  • Gordon Hayward.  His shooting has been erratic but he still puts up the hustle stats. But he has begun to tail off.  He had less rebounds in 17 games this month than he did in 12 in February.  Keep hustling out there, Gordon.
There have been some other good moments, but, just that, moments.  But it's always encouraging to see the guys play with heart when that heart has been beaten to a pulp.  It must be painful to know when you're part of a terrible show.  Any effort given in these last few games will not go unnoticed by Jazz fans.  Good on you guys for showing up.

The revolving door Power Forward continued last night with Enes Kanter being subbed out for Marvin Williams.  It was understandable.  Derrick Favors would have had to guard Carmelo Anthony and run all over the court guarding the offensive beast.  Personally, I would have liked to see it.

Not because it would have necessarily given the Jazz a chance to win, but because it would have given Derrick Favors experience guarding one of the more mobile 4s in the league.  The Jazz have a high chance of ending up with Joel Embiid.  If he ends up in Utah, Derrick Favors will be asked to guard Carmelo and LeBron on some nights.  Why not get that experience in a forgotten season?

But I understand the decision, especially from a coach who might be coaching for 29 teams as well as his own.  Now those were just my personal thoughts I kept to myself when I saw the decision.  Because I could support the decision.  I think we all know where this is going, right?  The David Locke rant.

Marvin started for Enes Kanter. It was fun because it separated the fans that are foolish and want to just bitch and those that have a clue about basketball. When Amare was no longer starting the Knicks moved Carmelo to the 4 with Shumpert to the 2. The Jazz would have had Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter guarding Carmelo Anthony. And people still complained. I love this. In fact, it might be my favorite part of the night. I know I don't humor fools well but this is really extreme foolishness. I haven't decided if I just keep the name of everyone who complained about this, if block them so they never infest my life again or if I forgive them because why really should they know better we live in world where you must stick to your agenda and talking points regardless of their well being or accuracy so why not in sports. Ok I am done. I just thought I would make it worth for any of you that are still reading this after a 2 win month. Thanks for being a Jazz fan

I am actually going to defend this.  Yes, you heard that right.  Because at this point in the season everyone is mad at everyone.  Our fan base is filled with tanking virgins, myself included.  WE DON'T DO LOSING WELL.  This hurts.  The pain hurts.  In this season of tanking, there are only a few bright spots.  I'm sure David Locke is tired of all the mentions he sees when he's just doing his job.  Now should he call the Jazz's consumers of "foolish [fans] who want to just bitch and [don't] have a clue about basketball"?  No.  That's wrong.  That's your consumer. We should all show a little respect even if we don't agree with their position.

Should he talk about taking names like he's Steve Buscemi in Billy Madison and have a revenge list for people who have disagreed with him?  No.  But I get where he's coming from.  We've all had it up to *here* with the intolerance and ignorance that we are ready to just throw our hands up.  So I get it.  I understand his point of view.  This season has made a fan base divided.  Losing does that to you.

If I was in Utah I'd probably offer to take David Locke out for a drink on me.  We're all spent.  Now was the verbiage and the stereotyping necessary in his post?  Probably not.  He might look back on it and realize that he probably shouldn't have hit send.  But most of us in this season have probably sent stuff in anger that we regret because losing sucks.  I know I'm not immune.

So David, if you road trip around the United States again, or if I find myself in Utah in the offseason, let's meet up.  I'll buy you a round.  We'll talk about the good times, the bad times, and talk draft picks.  We can even debate Big 10 vs Pac 12.

Time for this week's TANK WATCH.  This is what Chad Ford had to say about our Utah Jazz.

Jazz fans have been as vocal as any fans in the league about wanting their team to lose. They're dying to see Jabari Parker in a Jazz uniform, and the team's play of late might make it possible. But it's taking its toll on the players who obviously aren't intentionally trying to lose basketball games.

"I think that's just selfish for a fan," Trey Burke told the Salt Lake Tribune. "We play hard, practice hard every single day. Why would we go out there and try to lose? I just think wherever we do land in the lottery, that will be great for us. But to try to tank games and lose games is just absurd."

Gordon Hayward was a little more sympathetic: "As a player, that kind of sucks that they're rooting for us to lose, but you see where they're coming from. I think we're mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Fans just want [us] to be better for coming years. But as players, we just want to win every game."

I promise this article is not an April Fool's joke.  Yesterday, Scott Rafferty for Hardwood Paroxysm wrote an article looking for next year's Phoenix Suns.  Which team had the biggest chance of having a meteoric rise from the ashes like Phoenix?  He names the Utah Jazz as that team.

While Utah may not be as big of a market as, say, New York or Los Angeles, the pieces the Jazz have in place may be enough to woo a highly touted coach. Burke has thrived in transition this season and Hayward has proven to be a good running mate. While Favors' back-to-the-basket game is a work in progress, he's developed into one of best pick-and-roll bigs in the Association. The Jazz also have some good options off the bench with Alec Burks, Enes Kanter and Marvin Williams leading the way. In fact, their fourth most used lineup this season - Burke, Burks, Favors, Hayward, Williams - has put together a positive net rating, so maybe this idea isn't so farfetched after all, just as long as someone can find a way to put together a cohesive unit that can start winning ball games. Another promising sign is that in the games they've won this season, they've actually put up some pretty good numbers. Only thing is, it hasn't happened that often and their losses have been bloodbaths.

To read more of the article, go here.  But it's nice to see some optimism ahead in our current state of things.

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