I'm up to my neck in data for this season already, and we're quickly getting bombard with a number of national and local narratives. And, well, on the court we're a 1-2 team, having dropped the last two games to the injured New Orleans Hornets, and exceptional San Antonio Spurs.
One week into the 2012-2013 season there are a lot of question that we fans still have. But as fans, it's also our elective duty to cheer for what's going right. So, here are 10 reasons to be happy in Utah Jazz -land. (If we like these enough, I may do two of these a month...)
10. Randy Foye is doing it right now.
According to Fantasy Basketball experts @TomLorenzo and @BBALLSource (Tom heads the SB Nation Memphis Grizzlies site Straight Outta Vancouver, and Coach Nick is THAT Coach Nick that everyone talks about) -- Randy Foye for for real this year.
And, let's be honest, during the preseason games it looked like he wasn't for real at all. In the preseason Randy shot 29.5 fg%, while still taking 7.6 shots a game. he also shot 29.6 3pt%, going 8/27. Randy did average 2.5 apg, which isn't bad for a bench guard playing less than 20 minutes per game. But the over all perception of Foye from his preseason stats were that he was a one trick pony, and the trick wasn't working anymore. It's not working if you're a shooting specialist who is shooting less than 30%.
Well, in the regular season he has shown up. He's shooting 45.5 fg%, and 42.9 3pt% -- while shooting 11.0 TIMES A GAME! (GAEM even!) Good shooting + lots of shooting = ???
It equals points, and he's scoring 13.3 ppg this year off the bench. His CAREER high is shooting 16.3 ppg, in about 10 more MPG. As of right now Foye is doing it. And if you play fantasy basketball and you need bench points and threes, you should pick up Foye. We all know he's going to have both minutes and the green light all season long.
9. Earl Watson. Soon.
Earl Watson , our own Obi Wan Kenobi "Only Hope" type for pick and roll / dribble penetration defense, is going to be coming back soon. He's not in game shape yet, nor is he at game speed. But I figure out that after the dust settles after this 12 road games in our first 18 mess is over, and we get some extended home stretches, he'll be ready.
Photo Credit: Russ Isabella - US Presswire; PhotoShop Credit: AllThatAmar
8. I love Free Throws.
Free throws, if we live in a society where fouls are called equally when they occur, and star players don't matter, reward hard play and beating your man. If you are winning on the court in your specific battles the other team will have to cheat to even the score, and cheating is holding our fouling. These are penalized. Or are supposed to, unless your name is Paul Millsap. Well, our starting non-bigs last season were Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, and Raja Bell. (Based on which of our players started the most games) Those three averaged 7.5 FTA per game. This season our starting perimeter guys are Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, and Marvin Williams. And they are averaging 11.7 FTA per game. It may not seem like much, but that's pretty huge. Our non-Bigs are more aggressive this year and are being rewarded for that aggression. (And here we were thinking that our team of just three point shooters wouldn't get to the line...)
Remember last season when Dallas Mavericks jerkwad (I guess I should have put an umlaut in that somewhere) was acting like a bully, years after he injured Andrei Kirilenko on an unnecessary foul on an uncontested layup? Well, he kicked his teams ass (yeah, I wrote ASS) in our home opener. Just because we couldn't guard Greivis Vasquez doesn't mean we didn't ALSO drop 113 on Dallas to start the season.
6. Holy heck, Al Jefferson is not the focus of the offense this year, we're sharing the sugar.
And surprisingly me, the guy who wanted it, is now complaining that he's not getting enough touches. The good news is that Big Al played really big down the stretch against the San Antonio Spurs going one on one against a legendary Hall of Fame, four time NBA champion defender, and scored on him each time. His defense is still as bad as doggie morning breath though. But at least when we set our offense to it, he's produces; and we're actually moving beyond our necessity to use him every play. (Let the weaning begin!)
5. Paul Millsap is averaging 16 / 12 / 3 / 2 / 2, or at least he would be if he was playing 36 minutes per game.
Aside from points, these are the greatest numbers per 36 minutes of fixed time that he's ever produced over his entire career. Oh yeah, he's also 3 / 3 from downtown this year. Remember how we worried about his ability to spread the floor, and how our team doesn't have a stretch four?
What is it with these Louisiana Tech players who only grow stronger whenever you doubt them?
4. Alec Burks is really, really, rested.
3. Marvin Williams really is good, and this year there are going to be a lot of babies named Marvin.
Or people thinking of him while having sex. Masha Kirilenko is already getting her Estonian sweat shop workers to make the T-Shirts already. He can spot up. He can drive. He can post up. He can get to the line. And he hits threes. We haven't had a 5-tool offensive SF since . . . never. I'd love to see our team actually use him more.
2. Randy Foye isn't going to shoot this well forever, but right now, he IS shooting the lights out.
It would take me a while to find someone else who was making 3 three pointers per 36 minutes in a Jazz roster. The most Kyle Korver ever made per 36 was 2.2 threes a game. The most Memo ever made per 36 was 1.7. Jeff Hornacek? 1.4 threes per 36 minutes in a Jazz uni was a personal best.
We were really bad at threes. I think we solved that. We WERE really bad at threes. We've made the 6th most threes in the entire NBA so far this season. That table shows us that we've are usually 26th best, not 6th best. Randy is a big part of that this season.
1. Mo Williams is not on fire right now. He is fire.
He's a hair away from the 50 / 40 / 90 club. He's shooting 49 / 42 / 100 though, so I'm fine with that. He's leading. He's taking control when we need it. And without him we're 0-3, and looking really sorry right now. He's scoring 22 ppg, and averaging 1.47 PPS (league avg 1.21, Al Jefferson 0.95 this season...). Mo also has a 55.6 eFG%, 63.4 TS%, and accumulated a 29.1 PER.
He's also leading the team in APG (6.3), and second on the team in AST% (34.5% -- only Alec Burks has a higher value)