Just so everyone knows . . . there are some pretty big days coming up. So I'm just going to list them here:
- Feb 11th: Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers -- #13 and #14 seeds in the Western Conference, 0.5 games between one another
- Feb 12th: Philadelphia 76ers @ Utah Jazz -- The #14 seed in the West vs #14 seed in the East
- Feb 14th: NBA Skills Challenge and Rookie/Soph Game -- Trey Burke is in both
- Feb 19th: Brooklyn Nets @ Utah Jazz -- Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko return to Utah
- Feb 20th: NBA Trade Deadline -- duh
Depending on what you care about the most, each of these days could be argued as the most important day. Two of them relate to tanking status and look towards maximizing the Utah Jazz' draft position for this 2014 bumper crop. One of them is historically important because it features two of our franchises' best players playing against us. One looks to the rising star that is on our team right now, Burke. And of course, the last one can really change the fate of a franchise.
Some teams are sellers. Some teams are buyers. Some teams are facilitators. Previously the Jazz were facilitators -- jumping into a five team, 13 player trade to only pick up Greg Ostertag. I think the Jazz fans hope that this year if trades are being made that it's us making deals to improve the team.
Personally, if the team is making a trade I'd love to get some draft picks back, for this draft or other ones. And honestly, I think the Jazz need to look at their squad like there are only 2 or 3 untouchables. The fluid model of building is a smart one, especially because we do not yet know who our cornerstones are.
Grandland's Zach Lowe goes into some more detail about which teams should be making trades. Clark posted something along these lines yesterday as well. His piece talks about ripple effects and the desire to unload bad money. The Jazz aren't mentioned at all until his bullet points at the end where he does talk about how the Jazz have changed things around to facilitate for Alec Burks a little more.
6. Utah adapting to Alec Burks
I noted before the season how Alec Burks tends to dribble away from screens on sideline pick-and-roll plays, even (especially?) when defenses shade him in that direction. If a Jazz big man set a pick designed to spring Burks into the middle of the floor, he often dribbles the other way — and right toward the dead zone where the sideline meets the baseline.
Utah has adapted this season by flipping the direction of a lot of picks for Burks, and often at the very last second, to confuse defenses:
If Burks wants to go toward the short sideline, the Jazz are at least going to set their screens in a way that gives him more of a head start in that direction.
It's worth the read because of his Xs and Os talk.
On the other side of the spectrum, Basketball Insiders (formerly Hoopsworld) pull out all the stops in discussing why they think the Jazz could crash the trade deadline party. Lang Green goes out and details the assets the Jazz have and can play around with, and looks at our cap situation. It's not out of the question to expect the Jazz could make a move at the deadline. Especially not if our vets continue to be hot. Here's an excerpt:
Jazz Could Crash Trade Deadline Party
There's no way around it. This is a rebuilding year for the Utah Jazz, one where the organization is allowing their young core of Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke to gain experience and learn on the fly. While some franchises, such as Brooklyn and New York, have struggled to live up to the lofty expectations of their respective preseason hype, Utah is right where most slotted them to be.
The Jazz (17-33) are owners of the second worst record in the Western Conference this season, but if the team gets its personnel decisions right over the next six months, a big improvement in 2015 is undoubtedly on the horizon.
There are many variables to pulling off a successful NBA rebuilding project, but here are three essentials: significant talent on rookie scale deals, draft assets and salary cap room to maneuver.
On paper, the Jazz are positioned strongly on all of these fronts.
I actually don't know if the Jazz will make a move; the previously super conservative and highly sedentary front office would rather just let expiring contracts expire and not move them. Stability was always favored higher than actually attempts at success. That's why the team isn't known to fire Head Coaches, and why the team let Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams, and company all leave for nothing. Not even a second rounder.
I don't know if you know, but if you listen to the local broadcast you know that Trey Burke has hit the "rookie wall". But what you may not know is that everyone has pretty much hit it too. Here are the February numbers for big time, non-bigmen rookies this season:
- Michael Carter-Williams: 16.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 5.0 apg, 34.6 fg%
- Victor Oladipo: 15.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.2 apg, 41.9 fg%
- Trey Burke: 10.0 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4.0 apg, 30.2 fg%
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: 5.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 0.8 apg, 27.6 fg%
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 3.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg, 0.2 apg, 30.4 fg%
- Ben McLemore: 6.8 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.2 apg, 33.3 fg%
- Nate Wolters: 9.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 42.6 fg%
- Tim Hardaway Jr., 10.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 38.5 fg%
- Tony Snell: 5.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.4 apg, 45.8 fg%
- C.J. McCollum: 8.0 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 1.0 apg, 52.4 fg%
Not everyone is having a bad month, but most people are compared to their previous months in the league -- and for the most part FG% is down across the board. Our guy Trey just doesn't jack it up there all day long like MCW or Vic does.
Kay Malone put this pic up on Instagram. Hilarious.
It's from a Jazz game back in 1993, and the good guys beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-91. If you can't read that the full boxscore is here. Karl Malone finished with 38 points (20 shots), 12 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. John Stockton had a bad shooting night buy still finished with 7 points, 12 assists (1 turn over), 2 steals, and 1 block. Jeff Malone had 19 points and 1 rebound, going 7/7 from the FT line. Off the bench David Benoit and Larry Krystkowiak combined for 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 steals. Current Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin started and finished with that desired 6 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists line in a revenge game. Devilish.
For the bad guys Chuck Person and Chiristian Laettner scored a lot of points. Felton Spencer and Thurl Bailey had bad games. As we all know that Jazz team would go on to win only 47 games that year, breaking a streak of four previous years of 50+ wins. And we also all know we lost to the Seattle Supersonics in the first round of the playoffs that year, which led us to make moves for Jeff Hornacek the next year.
Also of note, this game was after Valentine's day. Which is the other important date I forgot to list above.
Tonight we do play the Lakers. Write a haiku explaining how you feel about that franchise.