The Downbeat #902 - The Future has light Edition

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During the course of this season we've gone from feeling that the future is bright, to feeling like the future is dim . . . I don't have access to a time machine, but when it comes to predicting the Utah Jazz future I can calmly say that the future . . . . has light.

How many storylines can we wring out of one road game? Yes, the Utah Jazz lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder -- and from it we feel like: Al Jefferson doesn't care about losses, Derrick Favors got hurt, Mo Williams should play some 2, Earl Watson is better than Jamaal Tinsley, Alec Burks finally played, Gordon Hayward 's shot isn't back, and Enes Kanter is crazy good. I didn't even talk about Marvin Williams 's mystery concussion . . . the mystery isn't if he had one or not, it's rather about how bad it was. There are different grades. Heck, there's a whole scale I use at work every day. But whatever . . .

I think the main storyline that no one complained about last night was that -- we kinda hung in there last night against a team that was supposed to win by 30 points. Tyrone Corbin rolls the dice for excessive stretches of just starters and just bench guys -- and that's usually hit or miss. When he puts mixed lineups together we usually have success. (This was something I saw when I went over all the previous Jazz games this season with a fine tooth comb and found out how well we do by quarter and by rotation) The Jazz went on a 16-5 run to start the 4th quarter with Earl Watson, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and Al Jefferson. This line up was used against Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Martin, Nick Collison, Hasheem Thabeet, Eric Maynor, and Perry Jones III (in a number of mix and match lineups). Durant played all but 1:16 of the time it took for the Jazz to go 16-5. Gordon Hayward was on him. Kevin Martin played during that entire run, with Alec Burks on him. There is evidence (including 82games.com and Synergy) to suggest that even if Hayward and Burks never become consistent shooters, or dead-eye outside specialists like Randy Foye it will still be okay because they are both athletic enough to be legit defenders at the NBA level.

I know some people fail to recognize that our bench players play against the other teams starters (Just because Ty doesn't mix and match line ups before the 4th quarter doesn't mean others teams follow the same rules) -- but our bench guys (and the only starter on the floor during that 16-5 run was Jefferson) played killer defense against guys with NBA Finals experience. And they did okay.

If given more of a chance, they'll only get better.

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Do you like Music? Do you like Pop Culture? Well, I really don't like pop culture but I found my way to this SPIN magazine article that ranks NBA teams by how many current players on their squad have been mentioned in rap songs. Yes, this is apparently a thing. And no, we're not the last. The Jazz beat out the Atlanta Hawks, Memphis Grizzlies, Indiana Pacers, Toronto Raptors, New Orleans Hornets, and Portland Trail Blazers.

Our point guards Jamaal Tinsley (by the artist Foxy Brown), and Mo Williams (by HBK of Doughboyz Cashout) were our representatives this time around. I haven't heard of either of those two artists -- but I'm clearly the weird one here because I listen to things like Jimi Hendrix and Kraftwerk.

Check out the Jazz write-up here.

And frankly, I don't know how I feel by them ranking the Sacramento Kings better than us. (Clearly the Jimmer Fredette factor played significantly here.)

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Enes Kanter is a treasure . . . this was him during the Thanksgiving holidays . . .

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I'd be cool with the Jazz if they became a defense first club . . . but that may actually mean that they have to play their better defenders. That crazy group we went on that 16-5 run with last night had some interesting defenders on it. Earl Watson is known to be a bulldog, and last year dudes only got 0.86 PPP against him, while shooting only 40.2 fg%. Burks? 0.80 PPP against him, while opponents shot 36.0 fg%. Hayward? 0.96 PPP, while the bad guys only shot 42.5 fg%. Kanter? Bad guys only scored 0.87 PPP while shooting only 41.4 fg%. That's four really good defenders -- pair them up with Derrick Favors (when healthy) and you have a second unit that can make life very difficult for starters, bench players, or mixed lineups. This lineup hid Big Al last night against one of the top teams in the league. It's not happening by accident -- when you actually put guys out on the floor who are quick enough and strong enough to defend our team looks a lot more capable.

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San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Poppovich caused a stir by sitting out Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and other rotation guys from a game last week. He was fined $250,000 for it by the NBA -- despite almost winning with that skeleton lineup. We know that here in Utah -- where every game stands on its' own and must be won at all costs -- we'd never do that. And Jerry Sloan would never dishonor his team by doing it. That said, this is the Spurs we're talking about, they sat David Robinson way longer than necessary in order to get more ping pong balls -- and that eventually gifted them Tim Duncan. The Spurs gamed the system and won - and they have four titles to show for it. Noble Utah? Zero. Pop plays a different game than we do. And the results speak for themselves. How do you feel about it?

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