The Downbeat #856 - Feeling Left Out Edition

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

If you somehow forgot, or live under a rock or something, right NOW the Utah Jazz live / open to the fans / FREE scrimmage is happening. And reading twitter right now is very frustrating. Moni said it best:

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You know what? I agree. Great time for the streaming capabilities to be down. Well, I'm sure we're going to get some great info about the actual scrimmage (apparently Enes Kanter is killing it, while Mo Williams and Al Jefferson sit out) so let's move onto other topics . . . topics I can actually see, for one.

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Yesterday David Locke wrote a piece up on weareutahjazz.com about how "Competition [is] at the core of Alec Burks (sic) development." (Who is this Alec Burks guy?) You probably have read the piece when it dropped, but if you missed it you should check it out in full here! Here is an excerpt:

This year at Jazz camp one of the toughest battles is for shooting guard minutes between Randy Foye and Alec Burks. At the same time, Burks is improving every day because he has to battle with a 6 year veteran like Randy Foye.

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Alec Burks has already had one of those experiences with Randy Foye this year in camp. Foye explained, "One thing he is picking up from me is work ethic, the other day we were going against each other and he was a little tired and I continued to put the pressure on him and he said in the locker room hey man I was tired you kept pressuring me and I told him there are time in the game where you can tell someone is tired and you have to just attack them all out and force your will on them."

It was a learning moment for Alec Burks. One Paul Millsap had when he broke into the game playing against Carlos Boozer "In order for you to get better you have to compete every day against the best competition especially against someone who might be ahead of you or has more years than you. You learn the only way to get better is to work hard and to compete."

I think this is a nice story, and good justification. Similar to how LAST season in training camp we were being taught the fable of Raja Bell being a great guy to help, teach, mentor, and improve Alec Burks by being a wily vet who'd foul him in practice. Remember how well that worked when it got time to actually develop Alec Burks "in game situations?" Well, all in all I think competition should be good for Burks, especially from Foye who was another lottery pick who has experience in the league as a non-star. Foye does one thing really great, and that's hit spot up jumpers. That's the one thing we really want from Burks if he's to make it in this league. If Burks is going to be a star he's going to also have to learn how to pass -- and Foye is listed as a combo guard, which is precisely what Burks has not been used as so far.

I think Raja could have been a good mentor last season, but I don't know how great he was. Foye is a bit closer in age, body type, draft position, and play style (offensive, vs defensive). Of course, it's one thing to be competitive in practice, as long as Corbin plays the guys who deserve the minutes. After all, Karl Malone played against Fred Roberts and Jeff Cook in practice and he still turned out okay. Perhaps that had more to do with him playing 30.6 mpg as a rookie, and 34.8 mpg as a soph than ANYTHING to do with who he scrapped against between games.

There are a lot of ways to reach the top of the mountain. If any of our C4 dudes are going to do that, the first step will be to earn playing time by beating down the guy ahead of them on the depth chart.

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Of course, it's not always about development time, time on the floor, or practice. The more I watch the game of basketball the more I see that success and failure REALLY ARE based upon the teams' play. The Jazz have a lot of pieces right now, and trying to look at lineups goes beyond trying to juggle minutes, and goes deep into a SimCity style micro-management exercise. Or at least, it does for me.

In the next few days you're going to get a lot of 'my takes' on different lineups that Tyrone Corbin may or may not use this year. I've done my homework when looking into these lineups. Truly these dudes HAVE to be greater than the sum of their parts. We've already seen that on the Los Angeles Clippers Mo Williams and Randy Foye were lesser than the sum of their individual parts. (No really, welcome back to July 25th for that piece) Together, for instance, their three point shooting (from both the corner or the arc) went down in 3pt% and also wend down in how many they attempted. On the floor together, offensively (and their best move on offense is the three) - they got worse on the floor. But more on all of that either in the dedicated post to it (link above), or in the pieces I'm going to post soon.

The point of item #3 is to highlight that it is a team game. And looking at who we need to have on the floor at different stretches of the game is an important thing to think about. If you listen to the players, though, it really goes beyond numbers.

It is a team game, and Marvin Williams hinted at how great it was to be able to switch everything down the stretch with an Al Horford, Josh Smith, Marvin, and Joe Smith group on the floor together. Personally, on defense, I'd love to see a Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward group out there. (Again, Hayward totally draws wing player aggro when he's out there -- and guys invariably try to hard to beat him and beat themselves in the process)

Moving beyond defensive "lock down" situations you have to see which groups of players play the best together: which two guys have synergy, which three somes work well and rotate for each other, and so forth. Finding that line-up magic is more than just plugging in 5 guys, you also have to factor in these accumulated "bonuses" with different combinations. (Devin Harris wouldn't have thrown all those alley oops to Jeremy Evans that he got from Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley)

I have my eye on the possibility of having Randy Foye and Alec Burks on the court at the same time. Clearly the evolution of the game is to have two ball handlers on the court at the same time -- this is due to having to be in the same division as Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Having one PG and one SG is the old way. Maybe at times, against other benches, having two combo guards will unlock some specific 'bonuses' to this lineup. Both can handle the ball. Both can initiate the offense. Foye is great off the ball and doesn't want to play point. Alec seems to be most dangerous with the ball in his hands, but isn't allowed to play point. Have them on the floor together and they can switch off every few plays -- or even at the halfway point of a single shot clock! Wow! Which would allow a play to be run, defended, and then counter attack with Foye drifting off to spot up while Burks attacks off the bounce -- depending on the defense that's either going to get someone FTs or an open shot.

Please Tyrone Corbin think outside the box with lineups this season!

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A while back I said Jarron Collins got worse every year in the league. I did the research before and it was true. A priori and posteriori! I mean it. Check this out:

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And yes, in his 8th year he kept Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko on the bench as both played zero playoff minutes against the Los Angeles Lakers while Jerry Sloan started Jarron in 3 games. We lost that series badly.... of course, I would have picked a different player or players to go out there and fight against the super long Lakers of Pau Gasol / Andrew Bynum / Lamar Odom frame than the 6'11 tree who couldn't move.

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But this could just point out that who we as fans want to play are just not good enough to play. Or that the people who decide who gets to play are just stubborn or end up playing veterans well past their expiration date. Remember last season when Raja Bell made a fuss after Alec Burks had a big game -- then Burks got a DNP-CD the next game? Yeah. No matter what mentors you bring in to give Alec competition . . . . he shouldn't ALSO have to beat the coaches too.

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So . . . now that the scrimmage is over I'm going to post this . . .and wait for all the info to start trickling in . . . not that us non-Utah fans were left out by the franchise or anything this year. Maybe next year they'll remember all the out of state / out of USA fans who have loved the Jazz for over two decades . . . . until then, Gordon Hayward and I will just chill and watch youtube videos . . .

I guess this is the Klezmer version of Gangnam style?

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