The Downbeat #1316: The Front Office Edition

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

NBA front office rankings, rebuilding lessons, possible draftees, your FanPosts, and more.

As the 2013-14 season winds down, there's not a lot to talk about as far as on-court happenings. The Jazz are more or less just playing out the string -- they're definitely giving a lot of effort on the floor, but we just don't have a lot left to learn at this point.

Thankfully, ESPN is providing plenty of discussion fodder. This week, they launched a series called #NBAfrontofficerank, which attempts to analyze and set a value on the cumulative quality of each NBA team's ownership, general management and coaching staff. An excerpt from the project FAQ:

Can you really rank teams like this?

Yeah. We build the rankings by employing our ESPN Forecast panel, which has been ahead of the curve in making accurate predictions for the past six years. The same panel ranks the players from 1 to 500 every year for our #NBArank project.

The system is simple, but powerful. You've probably heard of the wisdom of the crowd, and that's the wisdom we're tapping into.

We have more than 200 basketball watchers on our panel -- or "experts," if you prefer. The point is, these are people who follow the game closely. In a series of ballots, about half of our panel participated, rating owners, front offices, coaches and the relative importance of the three positions.

What do these rankings really measure?

We asked the voters to focus on just the on-court performance of each team, both now and in general.

To be specific, the voters rated each owner, each front office and each coach on the quality of their guidance and leadership, in terms of how it affects overall on-court success, both in the short term and the long term (hence, overall).

But how do we know which role is the most important?

We asked the voters. The results, on a scale of 0 to 100:

• Owners: 26.5 percent
• Front office: 40.3 percent
• Coach: 33.2 percent

The front office is defined as the main basketball-decision-making individual or group. This can include the president of basketball operations, the general manager and others, including the owner in some cases.

So...where do the Jazz rank? About where you'd expect, given the team's performance over the past few seasons. All ESPN has at time of writing is a raw number, but they'll be examining each of the three criteria in detail during the rest of the week. I'll be interested to read their analysis and see what you folks think about it. Especially YOU.

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via i.imgur.com

While we wait for the NBA season to play out, the NCAA Tournament is down to its Final Four, and ESPN draftnik Chad "Charizard" Ford (I still call him that, for reasons that are unclear even to me at this point) has an updated list of players who performed especially well on college hoops' biggest stage.

Unfortunately for the Jazz (or maybe fortunately, depending on where we pick), the teams with big-name stars like Jabari and Wiggins flamed out early. But if, heaven forbid, the Jazz miss out on the top four, there are a couple of names that might still be interesting. To wit:

[Kentucky's Julius] Randle continues to be the top prospect on this team and has played like it the past four games, playing like a man among boys. Despite persistent double-teams, Randle has been willing his way to the basket and averaging an impressive 12 rebounds per game in the tournament. Randle still struggles with length, and his jump shot hasn't been falling, but his determination in the paint has helped him maintain his status in the top five.[...]

[Aaron] Gordon was terrific for Arizona all tournament. His shooting touch left him in the Wisconsin game; he just couldn't buy a basket. But like he always does, he made up for it in other ways, grabbing 18 rebounds for the Wildcats. Overall for the tournament, he went 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, giving some hope that his shooting touch has improved. He'd be somewhere in the 5-to-8 range if he declares.

Neither of those players is precisely what the Jazz need, but they'd be the best players available if we should fall out of the top four. Who would you draft if you couldn't get Jabari, Wiggins, Embiid or Exum?

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via i.imgur.com

FanPost time!

First up: If you haven't been reading KeyJazz's "Bafflement Report" entries, you should go back and check 'em all out for a different perspective and humorous writing. His latest post is regarding one Gordon Hayward and his ever-shifting role on the team:

Mr. Burke doesn't know how to play really well on a nightly basis and the only games where he plays well seem to be against lower-level point guards. However, I'll give it to Trey that when it comes to the final 5 minutes of games he's particularly awesome.

Right now, Trey can't guard anybody, has a hard time shooting the ball, has only slightly improved getting into the paint, and for the most part has been outmatched by every other starting point guard in the NBA. So, let's objectively state (and by objectively I mean without any raw data or advanced data to back it up) that Trey Burke may be the point guard of our future but that for now he's not a top-30 PG in the NBA.

If I were the new head coach of the Utah Jazz (Lord, let there be a new coach for the Utah Jazz), my starting point guard would be Gordon Hayward.

Next: Hardwood18 makes his Dunk and Downbeat debut with this possible roster for 2014-15:

With an infusion of free agents and draftees this offseason, I tend to believe that the following lineup could be the best roster going forward

PG - Trey Burke / Raul Neto / Diante Garrett

SG - Gordon Hayward / Alec Burks

SF - Trevor Ariza (FA) / Kyle Anderson (Draft)

PF - Julius Randle (Draft) / Enes Kanter (stretch 4) / Jeremy Evans

C - Derrick Favors / Rudy Gobert

There isn't a guy on this roster that I wish wasn't on the floor like some Jazz rosters we have had.

Keep an eye on Randle in the Final 4. This kid is already a man who is mature beyond his years and has a similar game to Paul Millsap and Zach Randolph. That is why he is projected to go much earlier than teammate Alex Poythress, Montrezl Harrell, Adrian Payne, and Patric Young (who has yet to appear on draft boards for whatever reason)

Kyle Anderson might be the overall best SF in the draft class (as he is currently receiving comparisons to Magic Johnson) if it weren't for Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker (who I feel have yet to live up to the hype).

And finally, pacoelcid has compiled estimated PER numbers for each member of the Jazz roster and sorted them into blind charts, so you can take a look without bias. Click through and see if you can surprise yourself.

Thanks, y'all -- great work.

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via i.imgur.com

No matter how bad the Jazz were in March -- and only two wins is very bad indeed -- they were nowhere near as bad as the Philadelphia 76ers, who recently snapped a 26-game losing streak.

Despite their record-setting level of futility, Salt City Hoops' Laura Thompson says the Sixers and head coach Brett Brown could teach the Jazz a few things about the attitude of rebuilding:

One, it's pretty remarkable to see a coach who understands the vision of management and is willing to completely buy in to it. He recognizes that building a championship team-remember his experience within the Spurs organization-isn't an overnight thing. Two, clearly management has let him know that they have a long-term plan in place, and they've given him enough assurance with the job he's doing so that he feels confident he'll be around for 3-5 years to see this project through. How many coaches will talk about short-term pain for long-term gain? Three, he's willing to give Michael Carter-Williams the time and the space he needs in order to work through rookie walls, rookie struggles, rookie growing pains. He knows MCW will be better off with significant minutes: he's leading rookies in minutes per game at 34.7.

Let's say, theoretically, that Ty Corbin had said each of those things Brown did when asked such questions by either local reporters or national reporters. If he said those things, and did those things, would he be feeling a little bit less heat from the fans (assuming he feels any of the heat from fans to begin with)? If he were less defensive, less prickly, would it help some of the PR battle he's been facing this year? If both his actions and his actions aligned more closely with what management laid out earlier this year-discipline, defense, and development-like Brown has, would a little less vitriol be directed his way?

Such hypothetical considerations might be moot now, with both the Jazz season and Coach Corbin's contract ending soon. But it's interesting to think about, anyway. I think our team sometimes tries to have its cake and eat it too, pretending the on-court product is better than it is while simultaneously trying to mitigate expectations and hyping fans' hopes for the future.

And we should be hyped! Overall, I'd much rather take Utah's roster and future than Philadelphia's. But their blunt, bald-faced admission that they're deliberately suffering through short-term pain in exchange for long-term gain? That's refreshing.

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via i.imgur.com

April Fool's Day has come and gone, and I've found I can tolerate the day much more easily now that I don't formally work in the news media. Our friend Jabari Parker was the subject of a number of false reports, some funnier than others. But my favorite Jabari Parker parody item dates back long before the first of April:

If you're on Twitter, I highly recommend following that account. Comedy gold.

(This final gif isn't related; I just like it. It is also comedy gold.)

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via rack.1.mshcdn.com

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