The Downbeat #874 - The State of the Blog edition

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

So I guess this is it . . . the last weekend downbeat before the games start. I wanted to use this first beat to basically say my state of the blog address. The most important thing about what I do here isn't to promote the site, or organize schedules, or even write. The most important job I have isn't to somehow use this as a springboard to work for some other company or get more exposure for myself. My self directed, most important job here at SLC Dunk is to ensure that all Utah Jazz fans from all over the world have a place they can visit, a place where they can both read and interact, and a place where they can feel to be part of the greater Utah Jazz fan community. Sure, we make a lot of content for the fans (original content, not slide shows or re-posts of things the Utah Jazz twitter feed puts up on instagram); but for me it's about maintaining and maybe growing this community. For me that's the heart of SLC Dunk.

Perhaps part of that belongingness need stems from my life of never meeting another Utah Jazz fan until I was 20 years old. Because I always moved around I never had a stable base of NBA fans, let alone Jazz fans. I am sure there are other people like me out there today, isolated in deep pockets of America and abroad. This "new" digital frontier attempts to make distance a thing of the past. And now, immediately, we can get quick reactions in game threads from people in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe -- all watching the same game, at the same time.

This blows my mind. And it's something I am passionate about. I'd love for all of us to continue working together, to keep making SLC Dunk great. And our greatness is enhanced by more than one regular podcast, or 7 days of posts a week. But our greatness stems from our community. No other Jazz blog has the community we have. And it is this community which matters most to me. So with this new season starting let's all have a great year, a great year together. I'll do a better job removing spam from the comments section; but you guys have to promise to act like good citizens of SLC Dunk too. I want discussion and dialogue, not personal attacks and threats. We're all fans of the same team here, and we're all coming here because of that, major, unifying factor.

And that factor is that we love the Jazz, and if we root hard enough they'll win the title this year. Hmm, I guess SLC Dunk is less of a nation and more of a fatalistic cult then, ha ha. Shut up. Drink your Jazzy Juice and be ready to merge with the all-Layden!

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I still don't know if the preseason means anything or not. It clearly means nothing on the team level for the Los Angeles Lakers who have lost every game. It probably means something on the individual level though. However, how much stock should one put into that? I don't expect Al Jefferson to shoot 93% from the free throw line in the regular season. And neither do you. I wrote my impressions here, and I guess this is a warning . . . we're going to go into stats later on this weekend. Lots of them, including Kyle's Player of the Week, and Player of the Preseason posts. So -- yeah -- no pressure there Kyle. Now that I'm hyping up your work, or anything . . .

Quickly though, I found it interesting to see how our team did in the preseason. Three barometers that I wanted to watch were how well our bigs shot (fg%), how well our wings hit threes (3pt%), and how well our point guards made free throws (ft%). Last season our most efficient bigs did not shoot as much as they could have; while our main meal tickets both shot under 50 fg%. Additionally, our three point shooting from our wings left a lot to be desired. And yeah, piling on, our PG free throw shooting left a lot of points on the board. How many times did you say "Yeah, Devin is shooting the technical? Welp. We're going to miss this . . . "? Too many times, right?

Well, our bigs (Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Jeremy Evans -- sorry Darnell Jackson / Brian Butch) combined to go 129 / 259 in the preseason. That's a 49.8 fg%, which is right around half. I'd love to have seen that be on the other side of half, but two of our dudes did not shoot well at all. Individually Sap shot 48.1 fg%, Enes and Jeremy both shot above 58%, and Al and Derrick were both in the 44-45% range. Over all, our bigs need to shoot better -- or alternatively, we need to get more shots for Enes and Jeremy.

What about threes? Threes were the major happy point for us. Our wings (Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward, DeMarre Carroll, Alec Burks, Randy Foye, and Kevin Murphy) went 34 / 77 from deep, that's a robust 44.2 3pt%. Wow! Our best shooter by 3pt% was Alec who went 7/11 (63.6%); and our worst was Randy who went 8/27 (29.6%). Marvin made the most (11/19, 57.9%), and Kevin Made the least (2/4, 50%). Over all, though, everyone contributed. I'm a little down on the bigs, but I'm over the moon with the wings shooting from deep.

The easiest points in the game to get are open shots. Free throws are open shots. Our best player, our most clutch player, used to be our point guard. And it has been this way for decades. Last season our PGs didn't shoot well. In the preseason? Well, our PGs who'll make the team (Mo Williams, Jamaal Tinsley, and Randy Foye * yes, Randy cross pollinates) went 33/43, for 76.7%. It's under 80%. That's not good. What is good is that Mo went 17/19, for 89.5%. The other two guys went 8/12 each, for 66.7%. If Mo is in the game and is fouled, I am absolutely certain he'll make the shot. Which is a huge upgrade from Devin Harris.

Of these three issues, bigs fg%, wings 3pt%, and point guards ft% -- two of the three are better than last year. And I hope those trends continue from the preseason to the regular season.

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The last little while I've been doing internet and actual radio tower radio to give my idea on what our team is going to manage this year. It's part of a program where I am actively trying to broaden our reach at SLC Dunk. It's also part of the idea that we are living in the future now, we can do more than just write 7000 words on Francisco Elson. (Like I did 2 seasons ago) We have podcasts now. We're going to do more media work in the future too. I think this is necessary. After all, there are a lot of smart people doing audio and video work already. On of them is Coach Nick -- and you probably following him online already @BBALLSOURCE.

Nick did a great, unbiased breakdown of the infamous no-call from the 1997 NBA Finals that we Jazz fans still haven't gotten over yet. (And how could we? We think we deserved two game 7s that never came -- one at home). If you can mentally deal with the anguish again, please go over to read his great post on this topic here. There's also a great video breakdown, which is kinda what you knew you're going to get with Coach Nick. (I remember watching his video breaking down the Jazz / Miami Heat game from a few years ago and thinking to myself "I've wasted my life -- he's so good at this.")

Nick is tagging up with SB Nation's YouTube Network -- so expect me to post a lot more of his videos here every few weeks! Starting with this one:

I don't know if the Jazz win a Game 7 in Chicago in 1997, but I do have to hope for (even if it is a slim hope) that we could have won a Game 7 in Utah in 1998. I'd love to see that Howard Eisley / Ron Harper sequence looked at in depth at some point. But I'm still bitter, ha ha. Ha. *frowns* *cries a little*

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That's kind of a downer still . . . let's change gears. Last night Gordon Hayward was up to no good, like all young millionaire professional athletes in their 20s who are unmarried. Last night, Friday night, Gordon Hayward was sitting at home in his den playing the computer game League of Legends and invited everyone to watch. I only found out about this because of @DJJazzyJody (The irreplaceable Des News beat writer and Jazz fan extraordinaire Jody Genessy) tweeted this:

Lol_jody

Well, I don't play League of Legends, but I was compelled to watch as Gordon, a couple of his buds, and even a few lucky trivia winners got to join in and . . . uh . . . play a RTS/RPG action hybrid with a distinct economic system . . . or something? Whatever it was, it looked fun. The Last RTS I played was Warcraft III, and then I was in medschool. So I couldn't get into it too much. Anyway, Gordon kicked butt last night.

Lol1

Lol2

Lol3

Lol4

Lol5

Lol8

If I have more time, I'll put this in a .gif form. I don't have that time right now. And yeah, I love the "hands behind the head" pose at the end . . . it's like the standard "I'm awesome" pose from Star Wars (Chewbacca does it after beating C-3PO in that chess game, Luke does it after getting a kiss from Leia, and so on...). I watched two games, they were fun. Gordon interacted with fans, answered questions, and let us into his life a little.

Professional athletes don't have to do that, but Gordon did. So that was really awesome of him. I'm sure Enes Kanter would want to stream his Friday nights too -- but if I showed screen caps of that this wouldn't be a family friendly blog anymore.

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Can you believe that this is going to be the first Jazz Halloween party without Andrei Kirilenko? How are we going to get leaked photos this time around? I'm pretty sure I know what Kanter is going to go as: a tall guy in track pants and a T-shirt or undershirt. Man, at least Fes put the effort into his costumes . . .

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