The Downbeat #850 - I just met you, and this is crazy, training camp started, so Downbeat maybe?

Stephen Dunn - Getty Images

We don't usually do a Downbeat on the weekend; however, evidence suggests that this is something that you want. So. . . . here goes. (P.S. Don't worry, someone better than me at these things will handle them in the future)

So we're doing a full day's worth of "Game Day" type stuff today if you did not notice. This includes reserving that big rectangle in the cover for all the Game stuff for that day. Which includes a game preview, any updates (injuries, suspensions, lineup changes), the actual Game Thread, a post game thread, and of course, the review of the game. If that all works out as planned then that's most likely how we're regularly going to handle the 82+ games we get this season. If you don't like it please propose an alternative. Thank : )

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You may have noticed that I've put up an image of Myck Kabongo as the cover image of this deal. And yes, I recognize that he's not a member of the Utah Jazz; nor is he likely to be one in the future. (The odds are low, we'll probably take a big European center instead of a legit NBA starting point guard in the draft if we have our way) So as we're as far as possible from the NBA draft as we could be, I still felt the need to bring him up? Well, as the NBA season is starting soon, so too is the NCAA season. Kabongo did not have the best rookie year in college (but if you compare it to other fringe All-Stars who are NBA level starters like Mo Williams -- he did okay). It's really not a surprise that I'm absolutely, certified, "'Bongo for Kabongo" right now. I like the idea of adding a Rajon Rondo type player (the Boston Celtics aren't going to trade him anytime soon for anything less than a ransom). He's a ball control point guard who sets people up all day. Re-watching that Jazz / Laker Game 6 playoff game from '88 made me recognize how much easier it is for the rest of the team when we have a guy who does that. All Malone had to do was get open, and the ball would magically get to him. All he would then do is catch the ball, make a move, and either score or go to the free throw line. He didn't clear out half the floor, demand the ball, and hold it while people watched.

As a guy who grew up watching the Jazz in the 80's and 90's you can see where I stand on this. Kabongo is not a shoot first PG. He's not a guy trying to be the next Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard. He's old school and will work hard with the ball in his hand to make sure he draws all the attention / aggro from the defense - which makes it easier for him to set his guys up. We've seen Enes Kanter. We know his limitations. He's going to get better, but he's never going to be a Big Al scorer. His best chance to be useful on the floor is for him to become that "Stretch 4" player, and to be a guy who moves without the ball to the open space to get a pass and dunk it. Kabongo is that guy to drive and dish. He did that at the High school level. He did it at the super camps and exhibition games. And he's doing it in college too.

Yes, he's not the perfect All-Around player. But we don't need a STAR at PG if we think we drafted the right guys already to BE stars. Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and Enes Kanter need to get the shine. Kabongo is the right floor leader to make sure that they get enough of the sugar for our offensive game to seem so sweet. Well, super Jazz fan @JJDFB tweeted me a link to a DraftExpress.com article that went up yesterday. It is a short preview of certain players from each region / division / conference. Here's a short quote of what they say about my current crush:

"Kabongo is first and foremost a pass first point guard. He has very good natural point guard instincts, displays a consistently high basketball IQ, and is extremely unselfish. Combine that with his excellent court vision and these are extremely promising qualities for a point guard prospect to have, particularly one at such a young age. Kabongo was 7th in the DraftExpress database in assists per field goal attempt, and his 6.7 assists per 40 minutes pace adjusted was the top mark among freshman in our top 100 database ... Kabongo's main value in the paint is as a passer, where he is equally adept at finding big men cutting to the hoop as he is at finding spot-up shooters when defenders sag off of them. Kabongo's timing is excellent, finding the exact time when the defensive rotations are at their weakest and finding the open man..."

- Derek Bodner, DraftExpress.com

You can read the whole thing here. Thanks again to @JJDFB for this link, and please God please let us draft Kabongo.

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Yesterday was great for me, because people kept sending me links in twitter! Another super Jazz fan, @ignitionnight, sent me a link to Dr. Dave Berri's Wages of Wins site (wagesofwins.com), specifically an article by Arturo Galletti (@ArturoGalletti) that looked at coaching. It looks at individual coaches and also teams. The data set is huuuge, but he presents the data in a smart, efficient, and easy to understand way. The good news is that the Utah Jazz have had the #2 best coaches, overall, from the time period of 1978 till 2012. Only the Los Angeles Lakers and their bevvy of good coaches are ahead of us. That's the good news. There is bad news. When you zoom in and just look at how the coaches have performed since 2008 till 2012 . . . our ranking went from #2, #2, #11, #19, and last season, #28. (The rankings are based on minute per game correlations to Wins per 48 for all players > 100 MP by Team)

In English, Einstein.

Okay, it means that when Jerry was here he was statistically the #2 coach over a number of seasons (the #1 coach wasn't always the same over that time, btw). And last year, particularly, the performance of our players expressed a very low coaching rating for Tyrone Corbin. This isn't the excuse of "well, it was the lockout", because it was the lockout for everyone too. We made the playoffs, and the numbers show that the 'coaching' was below average. This isn't pointing a finger at just one guy, after all, our coaching staff is larger than just one. BUT, if you wanted to point fingers, well, go ahead. I don't advocate it here in this situation.

Here's a quote from Arturo himself:

Utah seems to have lost their way after loosing Jerry Sloan and with the upheaval in their front office after being a model franchise for decades at playing the right guys.

-Arturo Galletti, The Wages of Wins

And you can read the whole article here, and it's a good one. It is long, though. And thanks to @ignitionnight for sending me the link!

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Did I mention that Raja Bell is gone? Here's the statement on the situation from the Utah Jazz:

As always, via: The Utah Jazz, NBA.com

This, of course, that means that:

  • we're still paying Raja Bell the $3,480,000 he signed a contract for,
  • we're still also capable of using his full contract in a move,
  • we're still selectively admitting things to the fans (We don't pay people not to play, okay. Let's ask Luther Wright that question . . . )

Still, let's not harp on that point. The point is we are avoiding the issue of having Bell around for camp, and having each coach, and each player be asked about Bell every day of camp. And asked about it every day of the regular season. This is clearly an issue of "Out of sight / Out of mind". For our team to move forward they need to forget the bad things, and try to get new, green, growth. Speaking of new, green, growth, here are some of the guys signed with us who will be making less than Raja does this year: Gordon Hayward ($2.7m), Randy Foye ($2.5m), Earl Watson ($2.3m), Alec Burks ($2.1m). All four of those guys are guards who will have bigger impacts this year than Bell would have had on the court for us.

This has been a really boring Downbeat, hey, it's my weekend too! So to liven things up let's finish things up with a look back at another pass first PG with the #12 who got in the paint and dished off to guys, and had a long wingspan and got some steals:

Man, Stockton was the best. So awesome, efficient, and he hated to lose. That's one thing which we don't talk enough about. He wasn't content with just being there. He always wanted to win, no matter what game it was. I was reminded of this John Stockton trait when Myck Kabongo was pissed off for being on the losing side of an All-Star game in high school, in a game he set some crazy assists record. It's about winning. And a big part of that is what's in your heart, and what's in your head. IF you wanted a floor leader who did it the right way, you wanted John Stockton.

Via YouTube: de3ikvideomixclip !

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