The Downbeat #1022 - The "I'm mad at everything and am a bad fan" Edition

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Blah. What a crazy week, month, and season. I'm still very numb about all of it -- and you've probably noticed because I have not been tweeting much, or posting much. For me this season was tough. Not making the playoffs wasn't a killer in the big picture. We weren't going to win the title this year, and before the season started I felt like we'd be anything from a 7th to 9th seed, and that's exactly where we finished. We won 43 games and lost 39 times. That's exactly what I predicted our record would be, so 'woo-hoo' for me, I guess. (I was admonished on twitter for being a bad fan for being happy when I am right and the Jazz are wrong) What was a killer for me was the constant public relations push that very rarely actually reflected what was going on.

I get it.

It's their job to try to sell the product at all times. Of course, I think that's inherently dishonest to the customer. It's not like they want to win us over with confidence, but by yelling at us. It's the hard sell. And I was astonished at just how spineless some people were. That is why this season was a killer for me. Some guys went on the radio and sniveled about how the negativity from the fans made this year tough. What made this year tough for me was the opposite, the consistently shifting justifications from the mouth pieces made this year tough. But all propaganda works that way.

If you were going to complain about the negativity that's fine. More power to you. I could and did and will continue to complain about other things. I chose to complain about the tempo of our team (21st in the league despite having all these young legs), and how we rarely scored in transition. I chose to complain about our Xs and Os and how we latched ourselves to an inefficient mule in a race with thoroughbreds. I chose to complain about minor errors that affected games all season long, and there was little evidence of this being fixed.

I complained and was negative this year because we were not getting that level of objective honestly elsewhere. Yeah, this is that shots fired moment. If you're going to tell me we can't play a dude like Alec Burks because he may be out of the league in a heartbeat you can't change your story in a week after he plays great offense and defense in a larger role. You can't tell me that we developed the players, when the only player who is sufficiently confident on the court is the one who has far and away the most minutes / experience. (Is it developing if the player has to say on locker clean out day that he had to go ask the coaches to help him with a flaw in his game, what are our coaches doing?)

I was negative, and others here were as well, for the main reason that we were not happy with what we saw on the court. We are the customers, and customers should be listened to. The bad news is that we're very loyal customers and love this brand. Even when the brand fails to make a product worth being loyal to.

The negativity was real because the real production and results of the team were bad. If you see that someone has an LDL Cholesterol level above 210, and you tell them they're fine and they should keep eating bacon you are a horrible human being. In some cases you should lose your job for being not only dishonest but also endangering their health. If you advise someone that robbing a bank, and getting caught on camera, can't be used as evidence then your client is going to jail and you don't know laws, or knowingly deceived them. But I guess sales and marketing is all about deception if you know your product isn't good enough. You have to look on the bright side all the time, and be overly clever in how you paint every success and failure. I'm sure the people in North Korea are used to it by now. Over the last few seasons Jazz fans are beginning to get the same feeling.

when Mo Williams breaks the offense, or makes a dumb pass in transition he's showing leadership and toughness. If Marvin Williams has a good string of games, then gets a DNP-CD; and then right after DeMarre Carroll has a good string of games, only for him to get the DNP-CD after 4 games that means our coach knows how to hold a lockerroom together. Our front office guys will talk about how they promote their own players, while the TV ads try to get fans in to see LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

This was a tough season for all of us. For me it became a year where honest appraisals were spinned as negativity, and negativity needed to be avoided at all costs. And in the end, you were a bad fan if you were negative. You know, like I could imagine a Coca-Cola Exec saying you were a bad consumer if you didn't like the taste of the New Coke. (Blind loyalty is more important than actual quality of product being sold)

I've seen great Jazz teams over the years. This wasn't one. I've championed and cheered for bad Jazz teams too, this one failed to excite me. We missed the playoffs in Deron Williams ' rookie year where our young prospect got a lot of playing time. We missed the playoffs in the first year after Stockton and Malone. Both times the fans were in the palm of the hands of the franchise because while it was close and we missed out, the product on the court was still worth supporting. And it was supported.

And the media then was a little more honest with what they were allowed to admit. (Can you imagine that there once was a time where beat writers, radio guys, and newspaper columnists had the balls to write a piece critical of Jerry Sloan, the Head Coach of the Jazz?)

That's the worst part. The media that reports TO the team (not on them) are smart guys. (Note: The media that reports ON the team are smart guys too, but there is a distinction with who I am upset with -- and I hope the people I am NOT upset with do not think I am lumping them in here with the Jazzland election year style attack ads that masquerade as news) They know more than they can reveal. So they are being forced, coerced, or complicit with spreading deception. If they didn't have to say Gravity was just a Theory that observers get wrong, we wouldn't have had to write so many articles talking about how it's -9.8 m/s^2.

It's easy to complain about the fans, or other fans, or other blogs. Be upset at the negativity and how that bummed you out. I decided to look at the source of the problem -- the team. This was a legitimate year to be negative of this team. They earned it, just like a team can earn cheers. This team earned an honest appraisal. We're not dumb fans, we were raised on good basketball.

I'm not going to apologize for being honest. Sure, the news was bad most the time. That's the type of news you're going to get if your Top Scorer scored 17 ppg while taking 16 shots a game -- and he's talked up like an All-NBA player. If you have high blood pressure I'm not going to talk about how people with low blood pressure are bad. I'm instead going to talk about how you need to fix your problems, and get lower blood pressure. That's not what we got from the state owned media, Al-Jazzera, this year.

At least be honest with your customers, guys. At least admit that we're rebuilding now, a season into the rebuild. If you're honest and put out a product we want to see, fans will show up and cheer. And you won't have to exaggerate so much with how great a team we are and how amazing everyone is doing.

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There are two funny things happening in Jazz land right now. The first is that the Jazz owned media are spinning this season as an 'it is what it is' year as a product of not having a legit star. Secondly, they are suggesting that they have a lot of confidence in Gordon Hayward. Are these two things related? They are in my mind. The first thing -- the need for a star -- is something I wrote about three or four times in the last 3 seasons. Of course, the main criticism of those posts were that we didn't need one legit star, after all, look at the Detroit Pistons. (I wrote about them too, but few seemed to change their tune) So I find it funny that now after three years of putting the 'playoff' cart before 'the star to build your team around' horse, the media is validating my opinions. But this is just me being a bad fan for being right.

The second thing is the overwhelming confidence they have in Hayward. Particularly when comparing him to the other members of the outlaw gang known as the C4. Well, I'm raising my hand here. Maybe the front office is so high on his ability to play basketball because . . . well . . .he's the only one of the C4 who has been given consistent minutes throughout his career?

And yes, sorry to offend you but minutes do = development. This is a rule about learning and behavior. It's called operant conditioning, which leads to mastery of one behavior regardless of intrinsic or extrinsic motivations or environmental stressors. Of course, not everyone who is putting their hat in the ring to actually give their educated (or woefully uneducated) opinion on this do not actually know much about training the brain.

Who is going to look the most comfortable working at the drive through window during peak time, the person who has actually done it for 2 months -- or the person who sat and watched a training video of it for 2 months? Who is going to be able to tie their shoe laces with the least effort, someone who has been tying their shoes, or someone who gets their mommy to do it for them?

Who's going to look most comfortable out there on an NBA court and confident in their abilities, the guy who actually gets on that court and plays against other NBA players . . . or the guy who sits on the bench and only gets in against fringe players?

Db_1022_-_c4_mins_total

Db_1022_-_c4_mins_per_game

Minutes = development because minutes = actual time playing basketball. Sure, we hope players work on their game during the off-season, or add something new to their arsenals. But nothing replicates actually playing.

And it's not a surprise the Jazz feel most confident in Hayward, after all, he's played way more minutes than any of the other guys in the Core Four. The more experience you get, the most you get a chance to break down each behavior into a set of smaller actions that you can hope to gain mastery over.

Of course a lot of the people who are on the "minutes =/= development" bandwagon are going on anecdotal evidence, instead of, you know, the peer reviewed work of people like Edward C. Tolman, Clark L. Hull, or my boyfriends, B.F. Skinner and Lev Vygotsky. But hey, that's why we're not reckless boggers at SLC Dunk, we're rational boggers who do a lot of research and look at as many resources as possible.

All season long we've made statements and backed them up with research and historical evidence. And we haven't changed our story as the season has gone on either. Some other people . . . I'll leave that up to you to figure out.

The question isn't have our young players developed (they have, but much of that is just the case of not being 19 and 20 anymore, but instead being 21 and 22 now, that part is normative and assumed growth). But have they developed enough, and could they have been on a faster track? I do believe the playoff cart before the star horse theory is foolish, and we'll see that in a while.

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Man, I just love David Locke for doing these things.


My snark aside, watch this.

My favorite part is how he explains everything at the 14:40ish mark. I think he does a good job there. It's very funny how he states that "the argument that we should have played the young guys, is (kind of) an argument for, like, nine months ago." That's funny to me because that was an argument I made 9 months ago. So, thanks, I think?

The tone of this post aside, I really think this is one of Locke's better vids. It's from before locker clean out, so some of the info he gets from there supersedes some of the theories he bounces around in this video. And as far as being an insider, it's always nice to get the point of view from the inside with this videos. Even if I think he has to hold back, and not divulge as much as he probably could. (Which only makes sense)

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Aaron (@docrostov) ranks each of the lotto teams from best to worst, and you may be surprised to see who he ranks as #1 . . . check it out. Of course, I don't actually agree; but Aaron does his work and I respect his methodology.

I played around with the idea of making lottery teams still have something to do after the season ended. How about a single elimination tournament with each of the 14 teams that don't make it, where the winner of that tournament is guaranteed a Top 3 spot, and the 2nd place team gets a guaranteed Top 5 pick -- and the rest of the draft goes as normal. So a really bad team can get better, but a team that just misses out can avoid being mediocre in just one off-season.

Of course, what stops a team from just 'tanking' to get into this tournament? Well, eventually if you get like 3 Top 3 picks in a row -- you're probably a playoff team sooner rather than later. It'll never happen, of course. Like, guys like Bon Jovi have to go on tour during the spring and summer.

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So we don't get the playoffs. We may have wasted the year by going with our "All Contract Year" Starting lineup, and three of our young prospects are way behind the curve. But at least we get two first round draft picks this year! We have the #14 pick (from our own win now excellence) and the #21 pick (from Golden State -- a team that leapfrogged us by shunning the 'win now every year' tanktastic strategy). You can expect to get a lot of info on these two spots because I doubt our front office will combined these picks and other parts to move up.

The draft will be on June 27th, in New York. Before that we have the 2013 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago, on that may 16th/17th weekend. And the NBA Draft Lottery, which will be on May 21st, in NYC.

We'll also look at the playoff stuff that's happening, and free agency as well. But . . . what do you want to see the most of right now at SLC Dunk?

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