The Jazz franchise appears to be at a cross roads, if you listen to Karl Malone. Let’s look at the bright side of things this season; and of course, our coaching situation.
- The biggest thing we need to look at, and frankly the only thing that matters, are wins and losses. We may be really down on our team, but we’re pretty much right in the thick of things – just like last season with Boozer, Korver, Wes, the Koof, and Jerry Sloan. For a transition year being 31-24 isn’t that bad. Sure, it’s not 40 wins out of a total 55 games played, but it’s a start. A 56.4 winning % isn’t the worst in the league. It’s actually a few percentage points off of being a Top 10 winning percentage. Loss of focus on the road, getting beat down at home, minor injuries to all players, and a few major ones to key guys . . . and we’re still not getting anything from our bench . . . yet the Jazz are the 12th best team in a 30 team league.
- We wear our hearts on our sleeves as Jazz fans, and swing wildly from overconfident to deathly despondent. Perhaps a more honest, and less crazy point of view is necessary? The Jazz aren’t a threat for the 3rd best seed in the West anymore, but with 27 more games remaining, and a 56.4 winning percentage, the Jazz look to finish the season with 46 wins. That looks horrible, doesn’t it? Well, if you need 50 wins to be in the playoffs in the west, it looks like we’re not going to make it. (And I’m not saying we won’t, just looking at last season as a barometer) Maybe the Jazz pick up a game or four and reach 50 – it’s not out of the ordinary to pick a few up as the season goes on and some of the teams we’ll face go into tank mode.
- Still, 46 wins look really bad, right? Well, we won only 48 in 2008-2009, which was 2 seasons ago. That’s a win total we can totally reach. That means the Jazz have to win 17 more games this season. Is it possible? Well, I count 13 more wins till the end of the season, but that’s without counting ANY wins against the ‘good teams’. Can we beat a good team 5 times from now until the end of the regular season? If so, then yes, we can win 48 games – a total we made 2 seasons ago back when our team "wasn’t at a cross roads."
- Even if the Jazz win 45 games this season, that’s not bad compared to previous "season’s in transition". In D-Will’s first year, a year we still relied upon Collins, Harpring, and Giricek, we won only 41 games. In the first year after Stockton and Malone (a season with a high level of turn over), the Jazz only won 42 games. The Jazz have to go 14 for 27 in order to be 3-4 games better than in previous seasons. That’s at an even lower winning percentage than we’re currently at. What I’m trying to say here is that with a more honest appraisal of where this team is, and where this team may end up – we shouldn’t be unhappy. If you told me that our team would be in the playoff seeding chase with Mehmet Okur playing in only 23.6% of our games this year I would have called you a liar.
- As long as the Jazz make it to the playoffs and have 2 home games guaranteed anything can happen. We’ve won series without homecourt before. Sure, right now we’d be facing either San Antonio or the Lakers – teams we can’t beat. But with some movement we could be facing the New Orleans Hornets with us being a 6th seed. (It’s possible) You know you’d all be smiling if that’s how the west finishes.
- As for the playoffs, does another couple of home games make making the playoffs worth it? If we do make it, the T-Wolves have our pick. If the Jazz don’t make the playoffs (and on paper, that would be expected with how crazy this season has been; on pride it would look bad), we get our lotto pick. I’m not going to speculate on whom we’ll be blowing our next lotto pick on . . . but just saying . . . anything can happen when it’s a lotto.
- Of course, this season has had a number of challenges – none larger than losing our coach. I’m not going to really dwell on this (because we have already); but Sloan’s retirement has a silver lining in it. First of all, we now have a newer coach, who is younger and may be better suited to understand and be flexible with the players under him. I don’t think anyone is going to suggest that Jerry Sloan was the best coach on those respects. Ty is still going to run the same offense, so it’s not like we’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. Getting ‘new blood’ into the coaching chairs means the front office has to work and go beyond systematic lethargy. This should have a trickle down effect all the way through the franchise. Who knows, it may lead to a permanent starting job for CJ Miles and, heavens, maybe a better rating for his video game doppelganger in NBA 2K? Sure, that’s a silly reason to be happy – but you gotta be content with what you have (a new coach), otherwise you’ll just build up unhappiness within yourself.
- This is a new era for Jazz basketball, but one that should still be familiar to us. Seeing Horny and Ty in suits felt ‘right’ to me, the natural progression of this mom and pop franchise. Before we let nostalgia take over, seeing Karl Malone wearing a suit (as a potential coach in the future) is just absurd. Would he be allowed to wear a cap on the bench?
- As far as Coach Malone goes – I think we’d all love that. The largest problems with this team seem to come in the "heart", "toughness", "work ethic", and "pride" categories. I don’t know how great Malone would be at teaching these things, but he wouldn’t tolerate his guys acting like
pussiesa Bosh. You know that country boys Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson would know where Karl is coming from. And other bigs would be forced to compete with Karl in a very hands on way on and off the court. If a 40+ year old man is out working you in the weight room when you’re in your 20ies, you know you’re not getting playing time. Sadly, we’re not going to see him for at least 2 more seasons after the end of this one. And (hopefully) before then the Jazz will have hired a full coaching staff by then. I wouldn’t want the Jazz to hire Karl to have a low-influence job. He’s loud, outspoken, and knows the game. He would need to be an full-time assistant coach for it to be worth it to our players and to him. In the mean time, we can only dream . . . (will Fesenko even still be in the league in 3 seasons?)
- Little was said on the national feed for the Jazz/Suns game about Mark Eaton being in the arena. I know crazy talk when I say it, but what I’m going to ask is NOT crazy talk. Dude is obviously still around, and still intimidating. Is he just too cool for school or something? Why isn’t he interested in helping out our bigs on how to play defense w/o fouling? Sure, I’m pretty sure that he could still block our dudes (I only give Elson a shot at scoring over him) – that has much to do with length. But he could teach them a thing or two as well. Oh well, all this speculation will end as soon as we hear more news about the coaching staff. (Probably be done during all-star break)
- Hope everyone has a good Valentine's Day weekend, and day tomorrow. If you're single, I'd feel bad for you - except think of all the money you are saving. Plus, you can do whatever you want tomorrow night.