The Downbeat #1091 - The "What happens next" Edition

"Witty comment goes here" - Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Okay, so the Utah Jazz are effectively half-way through the month and we still don't have any free agents signed. We did make a trade where we gave up one player for three. And we also made a trade on draft night to move two guys for one. And another on draft night to move one guy for another. And a third on draft night to move future assets for one guy. So if you add it all up, we still haven't signed any free agents for all our amazing flexibility and overt cap space. But that's cool -- we'll be a more interesting team next off-season.

You know, if you think an off-season where we make massive positive changes and four trades before July 15th is slow and boring.

Anyway, this is what we're working with right now. Do you see any holes?

Point Guards Shooting Guards Small Forwards Power Forwards Centers
Player Ex Salary ($) Player Ex Salary ($) Player Ex Salary ($) Player Ex Salary ($) Player Ex Salary ($)
1 Trey Burke R Rookie #9 1 Brandon Rush 6 $4.00m / 1 1 Gordon Hayward 4 TBD 1 Derrick Favors 4 TBD 1 Enes Kanter 3 Rookie #3
2 2 Alec Burks 3 Rookie #12 2 Richard Jefferson 13 $11.05m / 1 2 Marvin Williams 9 $7.50m / 1 2 Andris Biedrins 10 $9.00m / 1
3 3 3 3 Jeremy Evans 4 $3.45m / 2 3 Rudy Gobert R Rookie #27
4 4 4 4 4
5 5 5 5 5
Jerel McNeal 2 Non-Guarant. Shan Foster R Rights Ante Tomic R Rights
Raul Neto R Rights

  • I think we really need to figure out the whole point guard thing as soon as possible. I'm thinking that means we have to get Jamaal Tinsley back as soon as possible, no matter WHAT we do with McNeal and Neto.
  • Jeremy and Rudy were our top bigs at the Orlando Magic summer league, but right now project to be our 5th and 6th bigs in the NBA. Of course, if the Jazz don't get another wing player, then Marvin will probably return there into that logjam; and of course if Tyrone Corbin follows the script and mothballs Andris, then and only then, MAYBE, Jeremy and Rudy are #3 and #4 on our depth chart. But I really don't think our coach will do that.
  • NBA teams don't do 5 man hockey line shift substitutions, but right now our bench is looking quite headless. The right point guard could make a group of Burks, Jefferson, Marvin, and two random bigs into something good. But the conventional wisdom is that our bench is really weak -- which contrasts to last season when we had one of the strongest benches around.
  • Our strength seems to be at the wing, which is funny to say for a Jazz team. Last season we had four great bigs. This year we have four average or better wings. (Five if you bring Marvin back down there) It's going to be a strange season.

I expect the Jazz go to to 13 or 14 players this year. We're at 11 right now. Expect dudes from the summer league, unpicked free agents, the NBA DL to show up in training camp for us if we don't get to at least 13 by the end of this month.

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ProHoopsHistory's Curtis Harris wrote up a great piece of former Phoenix Suns, Philadelphia 76ers, and Utah Jazz shooting god Jeff Hornacek. Check out the full piece here, or just read an excerpt below -- THEN go back and read the full piece here!

I'm a big Horny guy, and I think our Jazz teams were so spoiled with him that we never learned what to do with a non-Hornacek wing player. We better figure it out soon though, because the wing is our main source of quality depth this year. Which sounds so wrong.

"Hornacek had an innate ability to release practically any conceivable shot from any given angle or spot. Of course, he’d also make a ridiculous amount of these shots. If caught 30-feet from the hoop with two defenders on his tail with just a second left, Hornacek seemed to have the opposition right where he wanted them. A shot would be flung up on the run, off the wrong leg, with two hands, and the sucker would go in… off glass for extra absurdity.

"A fantastic dribbler, Hornacek would more often dispense this kind of trickeration in the lane. Few players have utilized double-pumping hesitation better than Jeff while attempting shots. Or he’d just leave you off-balance and then toss a wrap-around no-look pass to a trailing or cutting teammate. There’s a reason why as a shooting guard he averaged five assists per game over his career. In fact, it’s better to just think of him as guard. Whether he should shoot or pass would be dictated by the circumstances.

"The assist tally becomes even more noteworthy, though, when you consider he played the vast majority of his career beside Kevin Johnson (in Phoenix) and John Stockton (in Utah). Both of those point guards routinely shattered the 10-assist per game barrier, but Hornacek still carved out a sizable chunk of play-making duties.

"But back to the man’s shooting…

"For his career, Hornacek averaged 49/40/87 from the field, three-point line, and free throw line. Starry eyes appear whenever someone approaches those numbers for a season. Only Steve Nash has replicated that kind of shooting for a career." - C. Harris, ProHoopsHistory.com, 2013

Curtis is awesome for all the work he does, but he did omit reference to Jeff's Philly time.

Wow, really. That's even more impressive -- he was essentially the man, but was okay with being the third banana on a great team, instead of the best guy on a bad one. Oh, hi Al Jefferson!

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A lot of what we do next year is going to be about what we can coax out of Trey Burke. The transition from the NCAA to the NBA is not uniform for all players, sizes, skill strengths, schools, or positions. Even two guys from the same school who played the same game don't translate the same way. John Wall, Rajon Rondo, Tony Delk, Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe all played point guard at Kentucky, and are great examples of this point.

And getting to the point, Trey Burke did not dominate in Summer league. In fact, after seeing every game he's played in college, he was HONESTLY far below my expectations for him. Does this mean that we're worried for the future? No. Not at all. I have complete confidence in Burke going forward. However, I spent so much time last season being appropriately critical of the team -- I want to continue to love the Jazz but also be a little less partisan than some of the other big names in the Jazz media circle. So it would be whitewashing or highly selective if I did not at least mention this on the blog.

I was not happy with his performance. He did some things really well. He did some things okay. And at times Trey showed absolute brilliance. However, over all his performance in Orlando was not great. Over his two year career at Michigan he shot 45.0 fg% / 36.7 3pt% / 77.7 ft%. In Orlando, at the small sample size of 4 games (not 77 games like in the NCAA), he shot 24.1 fg% / 5.3 3pt% / 80.0 ft%. It was not what we saw in Michigan.

For the most part his rebounding and assisting rate remained consistent (3.3 rpg @ 35.6 mpg in NCAA; 3.5 rpg @ 26.8 mpg in Orlando; 5.7 apg @ 35.6 mpg in NCAA; 4.0 apg @ 26.8 mpg in Orlando). But we didn't move up in the draft to get him for rebounding and assists. (Guys like Nate Wolters are better at those things than Trey) We got him for his take over ability, and scoring.

He averaged 16.7 ppg in NCAA, and only 8.8 ppg in Orlando. Would he have doubled his scoring if he played 9 more minutes per game? Probably not.

So, he did not kill it in summer league. Does that even matter? In the big picture: absolutely not. Greg Ostertag destroyed Tim Duncan in summer league. We know how that turned out. Marco Belinelli and Nate Robinson killed it in summer league, and they aren't All-Stars. Though, Gordon Hayward was super efficient in the summer league (the "narrative by some Jazz tweeps is that Hayward was a disappointment, he wasn't. He just didn't take too many shots. But some people online don't understand facts, so I can't blame them.) Gordon played even fewer mpg than Trey did (21.0 mpg), but averaged 10.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.8 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.8 bpg while shooting 61.9 fg% / 33.3 3pt% / 92.9 ft%. In fact, his points per shot (not everyone's fav stat, I get it) was OVER 2 points per shot.

Gordon killed it in summer league. He didn't have gaudy stats, but what he did he did with absolute precision and confidence. He also jumped out of the NCAA from the runner up spot in the Big dance. Trey is coming from that same situation (like Deron Williams too), but did not play the way we expected him to play.

End of the world? No, far from it.

But a big enough story that we would be wrong not to mention? Absolutely.

I love Trey. I had a great time meeting him at the NBA Draft Combine and NBA Draft. He'll be a great Jazz player for as long as he wants to be here. But he needs to kick butt at these types of events. He did not. And it would be hypocritical of me for not pointing this out.

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Let's change pace from that downer. We are in the middle of a lot of roster turn over. Missing ALREADY from the guys from last year are: Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Randy Foye, Raja Bell, Earl Watson, Travis Leslie, Kevin Murphy, and assistant coach Jeff Hornacek. Many fans loved some or all of these guys. We pulled for all of their successes on the court last year. And it's sad to see people we rooted for leave. Even a dude like me who was hard and had high expectations for Jefferson never actively rooted for him to perform poorly. I wanted him to be his best, and with a few tweaks to our offense I felt like he could have been his best.

His defense was inexcusable for such a mobile and quick guy on offense. But that's no longer our problem.


Let's remember some of the good great times, and check this video out!

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So I guess now we're brought back to the beginning again. We've added guys. We've lost guys. Some new guys are great but did not get to show it yet. Some holes still exist on our roster though. So tell me, what gets fixed first:

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