The Downbeat #868 - The Mavin, Mailman, and misses edition

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

You already know about what happened to Minnesota Timberwolves star Kevin Love, right? Well, The Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is set to miss 6 weeks as well. The Jazz start the season off against the Mavs at home. After that, though, the Mavs go on a bunch of East coast games which aren't really going to mess with their W/L record much. I'll do a full review and have this posted later on today . . . but with the Basketball Prospectus people changing their SSCHOENE projections it seems like the Jazz have been given an assist from the Injury Gods early on. Still, the team needs to win the games on THEIR schedule before looking at the rival squads.

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#2 is for Marvin Williams . . . and man, I'm crushing hard on this dude. Well, I was *really* crushing hard on him before, especially after his first two preseason games. What I've seen is that he has not been able to keep it up. He's consistent in some things that you want from a wing player, but inconsistent in the 'wow' factor that seems to elevate him at times. His minutes have been pretty consistent (averaging 23.4 mpg, lowest was 22, highest was 26), and so too has his shot attempts (7.0 average, lowest was 6, highest was 8). He's even been pretty solid from deep, going 6/10, averaging 1.2 made threes a game. What seems to change the most happens to be WHERE he shoots from. The last two games he's been mostly a perimeter guy and his shooting has been under 50 fg%. The first three games when he was an all-around threat scoring off of cuts and drive, in addition to spot ups, he went a combined 12/20. Furthermore, Marvin was getting to the line like crazy. The last two games he has 3 FTA total. In the first game alone he had 6.

Same amount of minutes, same amount of shots -- but shot location is key for him. More close shots, more free throw attempts = good. Only perimeter shots = bad. He can hit the three and has demonstrated that. But let's not limit him here. One of the key things he said on media day was that in Atlanta he was in one role and wanted the chance to show more of what he can do. Let's see that. So far it looks good. When you make him a ceremonial small forward jump shooter (the tag Andrei couldn't wear well, but Bryon Russell did perfectly) you don't get the full results.

As an aside, or as the quantitative proof, his PPS has gone down almost every game: 2.17, 1.67, 1.75, 1.25, and 1.14 last game out. Let's get him the ball going to the basket more, and let's post him up more. I want more Marvin!

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No, we're not done with stats yet. Let's talk about three pointers. At this blog we spent like 8 posts this offseason talking about it, and about 20 fanposts. And it seems to be working out in our favor now. And no, I don't just mean on offense. Yes, the Jazz are averaging 43.9 3pt% so far this off-season (29/66, averaging 5.8 made threes a night, which is +1.7 made a game), while last year the Jazz only averaged 32.3 3pt%. The huge difference has been on defense.

Last season the other team shot 34.0 3pt% and made 6.5 threes a night on us. So far this preseason the Jazz hare holding opponents down to 24.4 3pt%, and only 4.2 made threes a night. And the teams we played are the Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers. All of these teams take and make threes. But they failed to do so against our Jazz.

We're better at making them, and right now the opposing teams are bricking them. I don't know how long this good fortune will last, but I like it. If it can extend for the entire preseason, and then the first month of the season then we can begin talking about a new-found affinity for the long ball here in Utah. We did get better makers. But right now we're also making the other team miss.It's a +21.2% swing in our favor from deep.

Just look at the numbers, people!

Db_868_-_threes

I love it.

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Well, somehow Karl Malone remains in the news. I really don't see what all the fuss is for the #2 all-time leader in points scored is. After all, the Mailman only has 2 MVP trophies, was selected to be on three US Olympic teams (did not go in 2000 due to illness of mother), was a 14 time All-Star, and 14 time All-NBA (and 4 time All-NBA Defense) player. If what you care about is professionalism, hard work, excellence, and a small town guy who stuck it out in a place far from home -- then you don't care about Karl Malone. Or what Karl Malone can add.

Well, for a team that has almost exclusively brought in overlooked bigmen from either small towns, the south, or small towns from the south, it makes almost perfect sense why the Jazz are absolutely terrified by the prospect of adding a little bit of Karl to their group. There's absolutely NOTHING a guy who played 54,852 regular season minutes in the NBA can teach a bunch of people not old enough to rent a car. Much of the argument seems to be that a) not all good players can be good coaches, and b) Karl Malone be crazy. I think the second statement is irrefutable. However, no one said make Karl Malone a head coach. And I'm not even advocating for making Karl Malone a full-time assistant coach.

You have to work your way up, as a former player. Jeff Hornacek did. Right now we see him as a former player who is a full-time assistant coach who sits on the bench. But before that he was a full-time assistant coach who sat behind the bench. Before that he was a part time specialist coach in player development. And before that he was a contract based, development coach for just the off-season and training camp.He worked his way up by initially having two students: DeShawn Stevenson and Andrei Kirilenko. And he only saw those guys for a few weeks at a time. But NOW he's on the bench of an NBA team, and went on a few interviews for head coaching spots.

Karl Malone as a coach would similarly have to work his way up. And I don't think that if you give Karl access to Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors (let alone all 5 of our bigs) for a month that he's some how going to spoil them. A few days ago Mike Sanders was working with Favors on his midrange jumper. Sander's is a 6'6 dude who played a completely different type of game as a big. I'm thinking that a 6'9 guy would know a bit more about the trajectory, shooting arc, and little face up moves needed to create space and get off a good shot from that size and height more than a guard would.

Also, let's not forget that Karl HAD no jump shot coming into the league, but worked on it and worked on it until it became a weapon. And let's not forget that Karl HAD no vertical either, but learned to work on his body and learn the right way to post up and seal his man on the block. These are two things our young bigs need to learn. And these are two things Karl Malone excelled at. This isn't even going into the Xs and Os bits.

It seems like the main problem with the idea of Karl Malone as a part time player development coach in a specific area is that people would recognize that it's something he can do, and he could get promoted. And the last thing the Jazz want to do is not burn every bridge from their past.

Well, beyond coaching Karl Malone was in the news by being on the Men's Health Top 50 Fittest Men of All Time list. That's clearly the dedication you don't want your young players to be swayed by.

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And let's not pretend that the Mailman wouldn't have active and attentive students in the form of Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap either . . . even if it's just for a month or two.

... maaaan, Big Al GOING TO THE RIM = all of the efficiency.

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