The Downbeat #1322: The Bad City Edition

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

So, a game happened last night, I guess? It's hard to keep track at this point. No, actually, the Jazz played decently in the fourth quarter, making a run to keep the game close(ish) before Dirk Nowitzki did Dirk Nowitzki things to shut the door (passing Oscar Rob

Dirk has actually had a pretty interesting history against the Jazz. It's safe to say that Utah isn't his favorite place; he notoriously once said that "Utah is a bad city," which is wrong on a few different levels. And players like Andrei Kirilenko and Matt Harping seemed to have ways of getting in Dirk's head.

These days, though, Dirk seems to have had a change of heart -- possibly because the Jazz aren't quite the same level of competition these days. On top of that, though, Dallas Morning News writer Eddie Sefko has some extra explanation on that old "bad city" quote:

For the record, Nowitzki doesn't believe Salt Lake City is a bad place any more.

But the crowds here always razz him. And he remembers the genesis of the "bad city" quote like it was yesterday, not 14 years ago.

"We come back here for Game 2 and there was like one camera guy, and he asked me, ‘So why did you guys not stay in Utah?' " Nowitzki said. "I said, ‘Well, Utah is a bad city,' meaning it's the playoffs and we shouldn't spend too much time there, it's hostile. I meant going home sleeping in my own bed is never bad.

"I come back here and they blew the whole thing up. They were talking about it on the TV that night already. I mean, they were trying to call my hotel room. It was awesome. Then, like I said, I came out with 90 minutes on the clock and they were already booing. Every time I touched the ball to shoot during warm-ups, they were booing. So that was a good ol' time."

So, last night's loss notwithstanding, you can probably take Dirk off your Steve-Buscemi-in-Billy-Madison-style hit lists, Jazz fans. As well as your list of people who think Utah is a city. Probably.

Oh, one last tidbit, before this turns into a Dirkbeat instead of a Downbeat:

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Anyway, last night's loss kept the Jazz in fifth place in the 2014 NBA Tank-a-thon, half a game "behind" the Celtics for fourth and 1.5 behind the Magic for third. It's looking increasingly likely that, barring a sudden losing streak from the Warriors and/or winning the lottery, the Jazz will own picks somewhere around 5th for one selection and 23rd for the other.

Now, having said that, that doesn't necessarily mean that's where the Jazz will draft. It's possible -- even likely -- that with their salary cap space and young assets on hand, the Jazz could be big players in the trade market prior to or on draft night. The closest analogue we have to this situation is the 2005 draft, when the Jazz packaged picks 6 and 27 to Portland in exchange for the No. 3 spot, which became Deron Williams. Depending on how the lottery breaks down, a deal like that certainly could be in play.

The league's a little different these days, though, as teams highly value young players on cheap rookie contracts. But that also depends on how the talent pool is evaluated -- and as Clark wrote yesterday, it may not necessarily live up to the "superstar" billing we were promised.

Now that the NCAA Tournament is over, we've seen all we're going to see from the incoming draft class until workouts start in a couple months. Chad Ford just updated his Big Board, and Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum, Julius Randle, and Aaron Gordon are still the top six, in that order.

Going back to our 2005 comparison: When the Jazz were slated to pick sixth, they looked like they would miss out on one of the top points guards they craved. But they were proactive, identifying D-Will as their man early on and making the sacrifices necessary to get him.

My question is: Is there a player in this draft worth making a similar move for, given that it looks like the Jazz won't be in the top four? Who are you targeting, and what would you give up? You must choose...wisely.

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FanPost time! Good stuff today, as is always the case with you bright, intelligent, handsome and beautiful Dunkers.

No, that's not weird. I stand by it.

Anyway. First, here's EmkayTrey with more research and Jazz-related context on the new Real Plus-Minus stat that ESPN rolled out this week:

Let's look at RPM of 2014 Jazz players! First thing you notice, is that every players are in the negative except for Gordon Hayward. "OMG almost every player is worse than average! We suck!". This is not true... Well, we do suck. However, teams and lineups DO influence individual RPM, despite what ESPN appears to advertise.

The concept of Real Plus-Minus is based on similar ideas in Economics (Real Income, Real GDP, see the deadspin article below). We can adapt the idea of RPM to Economics pretty easily in this context. Each team is a country. Each country earns money by trading with each other (play basketball games and score points). A country "wins" by earning more money than the other in a trade.

Each player is a citizen. Just like in the real world, smaller portion of players dominates the wealth in this world, most NBA players are below "average income" (154 out of 435 NBA players have positive RPM).

Your country also matters, a rich man in a poor country might have lower income than a poor man in a rich country (how to compare the two is actually why Real Income is invented). Jazz is a poverty-stricken country. Jazz players are in the negative because the team as a whole has low productivity, not because they don't have talent. The country needs a regime change, introduce more productive citizens, and development.

Really great work there -- please to click through and respond.

Next: Beeblebrox42 takes a look back at his preseason predictions to see how they held up:

I don't think anyone saw this season playing out the way it has, but now that the season is coming to a close, I figured I'd go back and look at my preseason predictions and see how I did. Below is a copy of my original post, with successful predictions in bold, and errors with a strikethrough. After the bullet lists, I'll have a few comments.

Lastly, JuMu has found some statistical comparisons across the league to our most significant players this season:

How do our treasured (and disliked) players on our team compare to other players in the NBA? Many fans build up their promising prospects and see them in rose-colored glasses.

Are we doing the same with our players? Hard to say. Today, I will be looking at many of our players and how they compare to the 4 players with stats most similar to each of them this season.

Note: I concede that this may be an insufficient comparison due to not including pace of the team's that they play on, the record of their team as well as many other factors. However, I think this analysis will still provide interesting information for which of our player's raw stats this year compare most closely too. Let's get this show on the road!

Thanks to all of our contributors! And if you'd like an extra set of eyes on your FanPost or a shout-out on Twitter, get at me. The rest of you: get writing!

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Clint Johnson dropped a superb post on Salt City Hoops yesterday entitled "This Sordid Season," and while I don't agree with every word of it, I highly recommend it for its thoughtful introspection. I don't even want to quote too much of it, because I want you to go read it all for yourself. (Give 'em the clicks, y'all. Jazz fans is Jazz fam, you feel me?)

I'll mention this bit, though:

Kurt Kragthorpe said it this way: "Utahns never should have to endure another season like this one." I agree. Nothing has been pure this season, not the joy of victory or the pain of defeat. I, like all Jazz fans, and Jazz players, and Jazz coaches, and even Jazz management, have been caught in between competing imperatives. Jazz "Nation" has split under the tension, some aligning with one desired outcome (win in spite of all), some aligning with the other (lose in spite of all). And while I can bitterly disagree with people for their desired outcomes and allegiances, the truth is I can't blame anyone.

Because part of me has been right there with them. I could not hope, entirely and without reservation, for either wins or losses this year, and so everything proved a disappointment.

It's time such sordid seasons are finished. The insane incentive structure the NBA employs with their lottery must end. I don't even care how anymore, so long as it makes losing a constant evil and never a virtue. But never another season like this one.

There's also an interesting back-and-forth in the comments of that post, so do click through and check it out.

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Jeremy Evans is a talented dude, on and off the court. Some of his latest artistic stylings were on display during tonight's game at EnergySolutions Arena, and DJJazzyJody was on the spot with pics:

Oh, and lest we forget Jeremy's on-court art:

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