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If You Can't Make The NBA Playoffs, This Is the Next Best Thing - The Downbeat - #483

How odd would it be to have both the Spurs and the Lakers eliminated from the playoffs before the western conference finals? The Lakers/Mavericks series is far from over but it looks like LA wasn't able to magically turn it on again after slumping down the stretch. I'd like to think in my mind that Hayward's destruction of Kobe down the stretch had something to do with it though they were already slumping at the time.

If the Jazz aren't in the playoffs, there's nothing that brings me more pleasure than rooting against the Lakers and stuff like this from Gasol.

So we have a real chance at another Dallas/Miami finals match-up. The good news for Dwayne Wade is that he should be able to use some fouls from the '06 series and roll them over into this year's. I know he's not a spokesman for at&t, but since they're merging with T-Mobile, I'm guessing he'll be able to start using that feature.

They're not boos Noah, they're saying Boooooooz. Carlos would be the first to tell you that. Boozer's teammate doesn't like the fans coming down on their $75M power forward,

Carlos is in a situation where he's hurt and he's giving us everything he can. I've been in the position where I've been booed before in the United Center and I know to get to where we want to get to, we need Carlos. We should be supporting him. I don't understand that.

He wasn't playing that well before the turf toe injury though. As has been pointed out before, his numbers for the playoffs so far have been pretty bad. Only four more years to go Chicago!

Blake Griffin was the Rookie of Year as you all know by now. So who would get the vote for the Jazz rookie of the year? You could make a case for any of the the three really. Here are their full stats and how they compared to each other. The case for each of them:

  • Jeremy Evans - 66% shooting, 13.8 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 2 assists per 36 minutes. He also had a .167 win share per 48 minutes. He played consistent basketball over the course of the entire season. His shooting percentage was never going to stay in the ridiculous 70% range that it was earlier in the season when he was getting in primarily in garbage time.

    But when his minutes doubled in March and in April, he still shot a tremendous 58% from the field. In his three games as a starter, he shot 61% and put up 6 & 4 in 15 minutes of play per game.

    Not bad at all for the 55th pick in the draft.
  • Derrick Favors - 51% shooting, 12.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, and 4 offensive rebounds a game per 36 minutes.

    Favors' stats don't jump out at your but are impressive nonetheless. With a couple of exceptions (his free-throw shooting being one of them), he improved in every statistical category when he came to the Jazz. That of course was a much smaller sample size of 22 games.
  • Gordon Hayward - 48% shooting (57.8% TS%), 11.8 points, 2.4 assists, and 4.1 rebounds per 36 minutes.

    Hayward started out the season slow. Even in his limited minutes he struggled with his shot and got burnt repeatedly on defense. As the season wore on, he played more and as he played more, his stats improved.

    In the end, he lead the league in three-point shooting after the break with 54.5% and hit 51% of his shots overall. You could see a little swagger seep from his off-court persona onto the hardwood. He was the best player on the court at the time against the Lakers in LA where he led the Jazz to their first victory at Staples in what seems like a lifetime.

That's a solid core of rookies. With that though, it's still going to take a bit for them to come into their own. Teams are going to be scouting them more next season. They're going to have to make adjustments and add skills to their games. All three have shown dedication off the court, working every day to get better. Not seeing their development may be the biggest thing I miss during a lockout.

Catching up with Deron... I know there are a few of you that have played Call of Duty online with Deron and Millsap. Williams in in California for the release of the new map pack, Escalation. He talked to Dime Mag a bit about that and about what went down with the Jazz.

Dime: Deron, you said this was kinda your favorite game. How would you guys rate your skills? Do you guys legitimately play a lot or is this the type of game where you can only play at certain times?

DW: I play a lot. I'm not the greatest. I've only prestiged once. Other people have prestiged 15 or 20 times, so I don't play enough to prestige that much but when I get the chance (I play). I have four kids to look after.

We're really in an age where everyone up to 40 or so grew up with video games being a large part of their life. So it's no wonder that Deron states later that about half the NBA plays video games regularly. It's only a matter of time now until we get a gamer in the White House.

Dime: For both of you, would you say this past year was kind of your toughest year individually dealing with all of the injuries you had and Deron, you got traded and Tyreke you had to deal with what was going to happen in Sacramento's future? Was it your toughest years individually?

DW: Yeah, this was by far my most frustrating year. I had high hopes for the team in Utah and things never really played out like I think everybody thought. Coach Sloan retired and then I get traded in the middle of the season, it was kind of unexpected. It was just tough, fighting and battling with the wrist injury. So it was definitely a frustrating and tough year. I'm not happy when the season's over, but I was kinda relieved so now I can get the surgery and come back healthy next year.

Nothing revelatory there.

The first comment about video games is more intriguing to me. The reason why is that he was asked about the possibility of playing overseas next season if there's a lockout. He stated that's he's looked into it but won't decide anything until after the CBA [expires I'm assuming].

I don't think there's any way he plays overseas next season. One, he realized just how hard it was to be away from his family for an extended period of time when he was traded. Two, as mentioned above, he has four kids at home. He's not leaving his wife alone to raise them for a few months. Third, he has more than enough money to last a season-long lockout. I don't know his personal financial situation obviously, but I know he's made a lot and he still has sponsorships. Finally, he's going to want as much time to heal that wrist as possible. While playing in another league would keep him sharp, he's not going to risk injury.

Thursday poll...