The Downbeat #932 The "Theme Nights and Trades" Edition

Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE

So the Jazz have returned to 17-17. According to my month preview for January, I have us finishing 23-23. We're one game up right now (having won 2 of our first 2 games without Mo Williams this month). Our life continues to get easier though, even if our record isn't hovering over 50%. I think a team CAN get better, and BE better without having a better record. Games like last night (an effective blowout on the road) are signs of encouragement that this is happening. Sure, the Phoenix Suns aren't tearing it up right now and missing a few guys, but we were missing our #1 PG and our #4 big in Mo Williams and Enes Kanter. That's not the same thing as missing two #1s, but the point of bringing this up is that the replacements offer a huge drop off. Going from Mo Williams to Jamaal Tinsley or Earl Watson is a huge step down. But it's not as huge as going from Enes Kanter down to Jeremy Evans. That said, I think we did okay last night and Tyrone Corbin was forced to do a lot of different things. Some worked. Some did not. And some of the stuff that did not work, would work against another club; and by the same token, some of what did work did so because of who we played.

One thing I noticed from last night was that Marcin Gortat was actually blocking shots against us, particularly Gordon Hayward 's shot. Gordon had an up and down game, but did not play his best (we can agree). He was scoring effectively off of cuts; however, his drives were stopped by Gortat. Against a less mobile big they would have been layups and free throws. An example of something that worked that usually would not was Alec Burks at the PG spot. When he was in the Suns did not pressure him at all. In the preseason against the Golden State Warriors the Randy Foye / Alec Burks backcourt faced full court pressure and struggled. Tonight with Mo out Alec got a chance to run some PG -- and he actually ran the plays well. But, I will point this out, he received only token resistance because the Suns doctrine was to play the passing lane -- not hound the ball handler.

It's nice to win in a gym you do not normally win in, and even nicer to do so while resting some main components. Birthday Boy Big Al did not play at all in the 4th quarter after dominating the third. Neither did Marvin Williams or Jamaal. So three of our starters got an extended rest on the first game of a back to back set. Tonight the Jazz play in the Mile High City and hope to defeat the dastardly Denver Nuggets. Resting three of our starters, getting the "old" Paul Millsap back, and hopefully the return of Enes Kanter . . . yeah, it would be a great time to start a winning streak.

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Just a quickie . . . but has anyone noticed the updated layout? The FanPosts are higher up on the page, all the regular posts appear in a more standardized way, there's less white space . . . ? I think that we're slowly figuring things out at SB Nation and we are making improvements in both layout, content, and load times. I only still reach the site on my mobile phone from the app (which has been discontinued for the iPhone, but you can still find it for Droid, I believe). That works fine for me, as I can read everything and post comments. I know a great number of you would wish to participate here viewing the site from mobile. Tell me how you feel. Tell me how you feel about anything, I'm really lonely!

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Maybe you did not notice, but for most families around the land money is tight. And that means (for most) that you have to cut back on fun stuff and luxuries. For a lot of sports fans this means staying home and watching the game on TV instead of taking a family of 4 or 5 to a game. As a result, reported (as well as actual-"we can see the seats on TV") attendance is down league wide this season. This is especially true for Phoenix Suns (14.7k avg), Atlanta Hawks (14.5k avg), Milwaukee Bucks (14.1k avg), Indiana Pacers (13.9k avg), New Orleans Hornets (13.8k avg), Detroit Pistons (13.3k avg), and Sacramento Kings (13.3k avg). These are the teams averaging less than 15k people in the stands per home game, and are the bottom 7 of the NBA. The Jazz, in direct comparison, are reporting an average of 18.8k this year -- which is right in between the resurgent, "one of the best crowds ever" group that supports the Golden State Warriors (19.0k, I'm rounding everything up, they're at 18,988 and we're at 18,797) and historically relevant Boston Celtics (18,624k). So we're Top 10. A lot of the teams above us usually also have a hockey team as well to support but the NHL lock out has made the NBA team the only game in town for all of these cities. That's something Salt Lake City enjoyed, but it's an even playing field. And we're not doing that bad. The only small market team above us are the Portland Trail Blazers (#4, and we're #9). I wouldn't call the Miami Heat small market, but they are #3.

Last night the Detroit Pistons held their Star Wars theme night, and Billy Dee Williams was even there. (For those who don't know, he was in the original movies and is kind of a big deal). I think some more people came last night, and they got to see a close home win as well. (Good for you, Pistons!) Theme nights are all the rage in the NBA, and they get people in the seats. All season long (and last season) the Pistons have been bringing in your favorite groups from the 80s and 90s to perform at halftime (too many to name). There's always a big showing when they bring back a Mo Town performer as well. I know the Golden State Warriors held a Bollywood night, which makes sense as there are a ton of South Asians living in that media market (Silicon Valley) who follow the Warriors who would probably never get their wives to let them go to a game -- but this also had Bollywood songs, dance numbers, including Cheerleaders in Saris, all night long. I am certain that it will now be a regular thing every year. That's really targeted marketing to a minority group. The closest we had in SLC was playing Gangnam Style during time outs.

  • Do you think that theme nights would help attendance?
  • What Utah specific theme nights would you like to see? (Like how Detroit brings back singers from Detroit to perform at halftime)
  • What larger culture theme nights would you like? (Like the Star Wars night the Pistons had)
  • What targeted demo theme night would work in SLC? (Like how the Warriors did a Bollywood night)

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Downbeat #932? Let's have a Karl Malone video up in this.

Man, if our front office screws up our recent draft picks (because "nobody" is thinking about the Core Four) then this could be the last guy who was a Jazzman who goes into the Hall. How messed up is that?

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Zach Lowe wrote a piece on Grantland talkin' possible trades for the Memphis Grizzlies apparently-available-for-the-taking forward Rudy Gay. You probably have read it already, read it again here. He makes trade scenarios for a number of clubs, one of them being our Jazz. He writes:

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Maybe my favorite Rudy Gay wild card, even if it’s hard to find anyone around the league who thinks Utah is quite ready for such a shakeup. One caveat: Utah is only about $3.3 million under the tax, meaning the Jazz (like Boston) can’t get Memphis all the way under without finding a third team to take on a cheap Grizz player.

Utah does have an extra first-round pick from the Warriors — the same one Golden State tanked so furiously to keep last season. A package of Marvin Williams / Raja Bell / Alec Burks / Warriors pick would have to at least pique Memphis’ interest. Williams has been a bust in Utah, but he’s a solid defender and rebounder with a history of hitting corner 3's. Burks is a prospect at what will be a position of need if Tony Allen signs elsewhere this summer. You could switch Enes Kanter in for Burks as the token young Jazz man heading to Memphis, and then replace Bell with a cheaper guy, such as DeMarre Carroll.

- Z. Lowe, Grantland.com

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I'm not crazy about Gay for a number of reasons, but we'd get a REAL former all-star SF (he was an All-star right?) who can get to the line and occasionally hit a three. We wouldn't be addressing our PG problem at all though. So . . . if we're going to make a deal, I wouldn't do it to get yet another wing. What do you think?

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