You know what is crazy about this NBA season? The Jazz are only 3 games out of the playoffs after losing 12 of their last 17 games. That is partly due to their strong start and partly due to the fact that so many Western Conference teams are underachieving. Portland has lost 7 of their last 10. And Dallas, Houston and Denver are just hovering over .500 themselves, although in Denver's case, injuries are to blame.
The problem for the Jazz is that they have only played 16 road games, tied for the fewest in the Western Conference with Golden State (which is another bad sign for the Jazz). While the Jazz are in the middle of their only 5 game road trip of the season, they still have to play 17 of their 30 final games on the road. And the Jazz also have the fewest road wins in the Western Conference and the second worst road record behind Sacramento. That's a bad combination.
The Jazz need to jump over 3 of the 4 teams within 3 games of them. Portland has 13 home games and 16 road games left. Minnesota has 13 home games and 15 road games. Denver has 15 home games and only 13 road games. Houston has 12 home games and 16 road games. So there is an outside chance the Jazz could catch Portland, Minnesota, AND Houston.
I am not confident that the Jazz will, even with their improved play as of late, but one thing is for certain: the Jazz will be in the playoff "hunt" until the last couple games of the season.
These are the tweets of the week in my opinion as it pertains to the Jazz.
These tweets are of course 3 tweets from Gordon Hayward's father who, while a little biased towards his son, is speaking a lot of truth. I just wonder how much of this is his own observation and how much of this he has discussed with Gordon himself. I think Papa Hayward does a bang up job, describing the Jazz's problems in short. They don't contest every shot and when they do, they aren't defensive rebounding enough for a playoff team. And offensively, we all know how much more effective the Jazz are when they move the ball.
And I would also now like to see Hayward guard Nowitzki and Kobe for an entire game to see what he could limit them to.
I made a realization this week, that for all the talk of building a winning culture, the Jazz sure is made up of a bunch of perennial losers. I wanted to look at each of our players' "resume" to illustrate this point, leaving out the five youngest guys, who have seen their fair share of losing so far.
Raja Bell: Been a major contributor on teams that have won an average of 47 wins a season. Made the Western Conference Finals with both the Dallas Mavericks and the Phoenix Suns.
Devin Harris: Has averaged 43 wins a season. Been on the extremes of both ends, winning 67 games with the Mavs (the team that lost to GS in the first round of the playoffs), and winning only 12 games with NJ most of last season. Went to the NBA finals with the Mavericks as a second year guy who played 20 minutes a night.
Josh Howard: Averaged 52 wins per season. Played in the Western Conference Finals with Devin Harris and the Mavs. Has been a part of only one losing season previous to this season.
Al Jefferson: Has averaged 29 wins a season. Last year was his second most wins, behind his rookie year when he played 15 mpg and went to the playoffs with the Celtics.
CJ Miles: Has averaged 47.5 wins a season and played in the NBA finals with the Jazz. Has played more than 10 mpg every year except his rookie year.
Paul Millsap: Forty nine wins a season. Has played at least 18 mpg every year and more than 20 mpg 4 out of 5 years.
Earl Watson: Thirty-five wins a season, made the playoffs 4 of his first five years with Seattle and Memphis. Has only once been an official member of a rebuilding project (starting PG for the Sonics/Thunder who won 31 and 20 games).
And now ask yourself, how many of the players on the team that have averaged a winning season, will be here past next season? Maybe one?
Interesting piece by SI's Ian Thomsen on the Deron Wiliams trade that happened over a year ago now. The article was written as a lesson to teams that are considering trading their superstar. There are some very interesting and candid quotes from Kevin O'Conor. Such as the importance of keeping the Deron trade hush hush:
"If it had gotten out," O'Connor said, "he would have dictated where he wanted to go. He could also have negated where he wanted to go by saying, 'I'm not going there.' It would have limited your pool, because the teams that have assets to make a trade are teams that generally are not very good."