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Utah Jazz Roster: Let's try to pump the breaks a bit on the youth takeover

Stephen Dunn

I may not be the biggest activist for playing the younger players -- but I do seem to be one of the most quantitatively vocal supporters. I think the Utah Jazz front office did a great job in getting a number of good assets for Deron Williams, and for keeping their unprotected Isiah Thomas pick from the New York Knicks. These assets turned into Derrick Favors (#3, 2010), Gordon Hayward (#9, 2010), and Enes Kanter (#3, 2011). Our own lotto pick netted us Alec Burks (#12, 2011). I also think our scouting department did a great job in being able to accurately evaluate these guys. We picked three of them, and I'm certain that the Jazz had scouting data on the one we did not pick.

I think these guys will be good players, and I also think that the return on the investment could be quicker if they got more consistent minutes earlier.I'm strong in my position here, and I've done the individual research to back up my position. Of course, the best way to be sure your point of view is stronger is if you actually take it head to head against strong, reasonable, logical, and valid opposition to your point of view.

So far I have not found any that's been worthwhile from the self-appointed opposition to this point of view, so I'm going to go and go full-on, anti C4 here. It's just more easy to fall in love with what's new. We don't know all the flaws and failures of the C4 yet because they are so inexperienced. The possibility exists that we're high on them, but incorrectly so. Here are 10 reasons that we all need to take in, consider, and think about. Here are 10 reasons to pump the breaks a bit, on the youth takeover.

  1. The best players usually start their careers getting consistent (not 30 one night, DNP-CD the next) minutes, and a lot of them (I've gone over this a number of times before: John Stockton minutes myth -- All-NBA Player MPG (n=225) -- 2013 NBA All-Star Player MPG (n=24) -- Recent History of the #3 Draft Pick (n=30) ). The fact that our C4 are not getting either consistent minutes, a lot of them, or both, may just be because they are NOT All-Star material. It's just simpler to think that hey, only idiots would play good players less than they should be playing; and you don't get to run an NBA team if you are an idiot . . . so our guys just may not be that level of player. And not all lottery picks become All-Stars, otherwise we'd have 14 new ones every year. While we don't like to admit it, maybe we didn't do such a great job drafting (Paul George? Greivis Vasquez? Eric Bledsoe? Landry Fields? Klay Thompson? Kawhi Leonard? Kenneth Faried? Chandler Parsons? Isaiah Thomas? Kemba Walker? Brandon Knight?), or it was just two bad years without out depth in the draft? Those are possibilities. If you really believe that it's talent and quality that lead to more minutes, and not that minutes help make potential into talent and quality then you have to agree here. If our guys were REALLY that good then our front office and coaches would be championing them, and they'd be playing more.
  2. Our coaches see them a lot more than we do, and do not think they are good enough to start. They don't rely on them. They don't think they are that good, and would rather collect, protect, baby, and play mercenary veterans who have obvious flaws to their games instead of play our youth. Al Jefferson only scores 17 ppg and doesn't play enough defense to be a consistent two-way threat -- but he's still miles ahead of any of our younger players. Our coaching staff doesn't seem to even think any of them are leaders. (Transcription from Jazzfanatical here.) There's no way that our coaches can be wrong about this because they have a lot more experience with them than we do. And there's no way that our coaches are trying to screw things up, and as a result, playing one way mercenaries right now isn't the best thing to do -- except with our roster right now it is. There is no possible alternative to playing the guys we play that could ever make us a good team right now.
  3. The font office did not make any moves last draft, or before the season, or during this trade deadline to rectify any 'logjam' issue. They did not make any moves because no moves needed to be made. If the youth was really that good then their qualities would have been noticed by the coaches, and acted upon by the front office. Assuming no breakdown in the chain of command, and that those two groups perform their jobs at their best of abilities, then it only supports points #1 and #2. In fact the opposite happened by bringing in MORE veterans to fill out the ranks of our wings. Favors and Kanter are not better than Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap -- so neither of the veterans were moved. And Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks aren't better than guys like Josh Howard, Raja Bell (last season), Marvin Williams, and Randy Foye. No coach in their right mind plays worse players ahead of obvious talent. No front office in their right mind brings in worse players to play ahead of their current assets.
  4. Gordon Hayward played 30.5 mpg last year, and is playing 27.1 mpg this year. Usually good players don't end up playing LESS minutes in successive years during their formative period unless there was an injury to recover from. Hayward did not have a serious injury to recover from. And perhaps, it's just more reasonable at due to the lack of talent at the wing spot last season our team was forced to play Hayward more than he a) deserved, b) was capable of playing, or c) could handle without becoming a soggy oreo. This season we have more talent, and thus, he's rightfully playing less minutes. Also, maybe he was too dipped last season and as a result, his play got worse. We saw it this year, he started 10 games and he was not good. It's therefore self-justified and accurate.
  5. Derrick Favors was drafted #3 not based upon merit, or talent. The only reason why Favors was drafted #3 was because DeMarcus Cousins, who is more talented than him, has a strong personality which makes him hard to teach, control, or even keep in the game. Based upon actual ability, potential, and NBA readiness Favors was not a "real" #3 pick, and therefore, he should be judged as a lesser talent. He was not the best big in the draft. And depending on how the careers of Ed Davis and Greg Monroe goes, he may not even be the 3rd best big in the 2010 NBA Draft. He's really not that good, he didn't do much in college, and his draft stock is elevated. His NBA performance is more akin to his lower stature. And he can't score. At least not in the way our coaches demand him to score from. They keep pushing him to get better at his weakness. And his FG% has gone down every year in Utah.
  6. Enes Kanter has career averages of 14.0 mpg. That's the least from his entire lottery class, and the highest draft pick he has a higher minutes per game average than is Tobias Harris, the #19 pick. Kanter was drafted as a mystery man from another country that had one good exhibition game and that was it. He played zero minutes in college. He played for a small private school in the middle of nowhere California. And he was drafted based upon being a big question mark. If the Jazz only had one lotto pick that year you could argue that they would not have spent it on a high risk / high reward player. He also came out in a weaker draft. He has little experience, and perhaps if he was more seasoned he would have one day deserved to be the #3 player, the NBA isn't supposed to be a paid vocational school.
  7. Alec Burks has an attitude problem, and is too cool for school. He doesn't make his free throws. He's not a real point guard. His turnovers are too high. He doesn't have an outside shot. He relies upon athleticism. He doesn't pass enough. He's not good at the passes he attempts. He doesn't dribble well. He doesn't close out well. He fouls. He doesn't block many shots. His transition defense is hampered by his attitude and desire to get offensive rebounds. When he makes crazy layups, he robs his team mates chances to get offensive rebounds themselves. He's not great at handling traps in the backcourt. He's faster on defense than Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson, which hurts their feelings. He also steals minutes from them -- doesn't he care that they are in contract years? Burks' name is also difficult to pronounce, at least for anyone who wishes to pronounce things correctly with any reasonable level of consistency. Yes, Burks has a lot of problems to his game. The sooner we agree, and recognize that he's not going to be good, and the sooner he recognizes that -- the quicker we all can find a place for him in the NBA, on the bench.
  8. Burks also caused the fiscal cliff. Okay, maybe not -- but we expect more production from how high priced these C4 guys are. After all, look at how great Randy Foye is doing while making only $2.5 million this year!
  9. The ratios seem to indicate that a #3, #3, #9 and #12 pick could be a star, or solid, more often than not. However, just maybe we need to pump the breaks not just because our players are not star material -- but also because we don't also pick the right guy. After all, we picked Deron Williams over Chris Paul. And just maybe time has proved us wrong on that one?
  10. They don't work well together, and you don't win with them. On offense Favors is a mess. He needs to be paired up with a stretch big to make life easier for him, and give him more space. Kanter has a better outside shot -- but Kanter also has a better post up game. So Kanter should be the one getting the ball first, but Favors can't stretch the floor for him. Hayward is at his best with the ball in his hands, and while he can hit shots off of screens, that limits his ability to create for his team mates. Burks isn't a spot up shooter, and doesn't score well off of screens. He does best with the ball in his hands too -- except he can't create for others. None of them are go-to scorers. None of them strike fear into the other team. And none of them are as clutch as Big Al. Defensively? Sure, they are all great at defense. Kanter's man defense is solid as he is a rock, and he grabs all the rebounds. Favors protects the rim like a nuclear submarine can protect a coastline. Gordon Hayward can guard everything from point guards to fowards, and gets steals and blocks like crazy. Alec Burks can actually defend the speedy guards that torch us. But defense is, like, you don't even SCORE points on defense. Defense is pointless. All Hail Big Al! Pax Jeffersonia!

The C4 just isn't there yet. And they may never get there. Smart teams don't take chances to get better at the risk of missing the playoffs. And let's face it: these guys don't know how to win at this level. Sure, they may never get the chance to learn that because we always rely on vets in crunch time. But if they were REALLY good, then they would have forced our hands here. They haven't. And they haven't earned more minutes. Even if they weren't that great, there still existed the possibility for them to EARN more minutes. And they haven't. The future of the Jazz may not involve the C4 at all. And while my money is on that being a self-fulling prophecy because our coaching staff doesn't help them reach their potential -- it just could be the 'easier', more simple solution that the C4 just isn't that good.