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The Downbeat #1131: The Fearless Predictions Edition

Alex Jensen, who will lead the Jazz in _____________?, ORtg, and Jeremy Evans nostalgia and wishes.

I think Favors is going to lead the Jazz in a lot of categories this year.
I think Favors is going to lead the Jazz in a lot of categories this year.
Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Bill Oram at the SLTrib wrote a recent article about new Jazz player development coach Alex Jensen. As a Jazz fan, I'm excited about his success as a coach in the NBADL, as well as his tutelage under Rick Majerus. As a Utes fan I'm stoked to have one of my favorite Utes ever with the Jazz.

But as a kid who went to high school at Davis High during the same years Jensen was playing for Viewmont ten minutes away ... well, I don't know how to describe the awesomeness of it. I was in the pep band, and I remember Davis getting absolutely destroyed by him. I was sure he was 6'11" (note: he's not).

But the best thing of all:

...he has already worked with about half of the roster, including in Santa Barbara, Calif., and in workouts between Derrick Favors and Karl Malone.

Anything that reminds us that Favors has been working out with the Mailman this summer makes me really, really happy.

I stumbled on a post at Purple and Blues with predictions of who will lead the Jazz in various categories this year. And it's a fun thing to think about because ... to quote the author, Josh Haslem:

It’s usually pretty obvious to know who will lead each team in scoring or any other category, but with the Jazz having an almost all new team and definitely a new starting lineup it will be much harder this year.

Well, here are my predictions:

  • Scoring: Enes Kanter
  • Rebounds: Derrick Favors (by a hair over Kanter)
  • Assists: I'm going to be bold and say Hayward barely edges Trey Burke
  • Steals: Favors
  • Blocks: Favors
  • 3P%: Brandon Rush

And how about some fun ones:

  • DNP-CD's: Ian Clark
  • Nights he shoulda gotten the DNP-CD: Biedrins
  • Sports Center Highlights: Burks
  • Eyerolls from fans: Ty Corbin narrowly edges out Richard Jefferson
  • Inspiring comments like: "Oh yeah ... I forgot he was on the team" ... even though he played 28 minutes that night: Marvin Williams
  • Leading the team in being referred to as "Burks" by Boler: Trey Burke

David J. Smith wrote up an article at Salt City Hoopes that I feel very passionate about: "Once a Jazzman, Always a Jazzman." This quote probably says it all:

Some may show otherwise when former Jazz guys return to EnergySolutions, but I, for one, continue to root for these guys and hope for continued success.

He then lists every former Jazzman who is on an NBA team in some capacity. When I looked at the list, there were several that I didn't know ... e.g. Ronnie Price is now on the Orlando Magic.

Anyway, I have never been known as either reasonable or compromising in my thoughts on this: I think it is best if Jazz fans cheer former players. This includes guys I didn't like much (Boozer), guys who I liked but frustrated me (Al Jefferson), and guys I loved (Andrei Kirilenko).

What former Jazzman would you want to give the loudest cheer for?

I've got nothing. So I'm filling space with this: what random event would you hope to see this year? I have a few candidates:

  1. Hayward driving into the lane, suddenly pulling a full-stop, and slowly take a walking step back for a 5-foot hopper. I saw him do it twice last year, and I nearly died of joy both times.
  2. A Biedrins FT. I don't want him to play, like, at all. But I do want to see him shoot FT's. I don't know how to reconcile these.
  3. Derrick Favors dunking on someone so hard that the opposing coach yanks the poor dude and chews him out for looking so stupid. For those of you wondering, Karl Malone actually did this.
  4. Kanter getting hot from behind the arc and hitting like 6 straight 3-pointers. SLCDunk and Twitter would both combust.

But for me nothing could top this. Literally nothing. Jeremy Evans doing this and then this in a regular-season game that counts and matters (and not idiotic charging foul called):

Today's look at advanced stats: Offensive Rating (ORtg) ... for teams. It's important to know that this term is used in two ways, for teams and for players, and they are calculated and measure different things in terms of teams and players.

I'm talking about it exclusively as a team stat today.

What it tries to measure: a team's offensive efficiency as measured by points scored in 100 possessions.

What values are good: This is very context-driven. Rule changes, trends, etc. can make a big impact. An average ORtg last year was the same as a top-6 one in 2003. So I'll just give you values that reflect last year:

  • 105.9 was league average.
  • 106.7 put you in the top-10
  • 110.5 put you in the top-5 (what I generally consider elite).
  • 103.8 put you in the bottom-10
  • 102 or less was awful (bottom-5)

How it is calculated: (points x 100) / (possessions)

Where possessions is a complicated formula looking at FGA, FTA, Offensive Rebounds, and Turnovers. According to Basketball-Reference, this is the formula for possessions:

0.5 * ((Tm FGA + 0.4 * Tm FTA - 1.07 * (Tm ORB / (Tm ORB + Opp DRB)) * (Tm FGA - Tm FG) + Tm TOV) + (Opp FGA + 0.4 * Opp FTA - 1.07 * (Opp ORB / (Opp ORB + Tm DRB)) * (Opp FGA - Opp FG) + Opp TOV))

Why it is calculated this way:

  1. Basketball is a game of possessions. One team gets a chance to score, then the other team gets a chance ... repeat until 48 minutes have expired. The team that scores the most points in that back-and-forth exchange of possessions wins.
  2. Pace can affect teams' points per game totals in a way that clouds whether the team is actually scoring efficiently or not.
  3. Whether the pace is 60 or 120 possessions, the team that scores more points in those possessions wins.
  4. Offensive rebounding, in this context, is considered an extension of a possession rather than a new possession. This keeps the number of possessions for each team equal, so the only thing that matters is who scores more when given the exact same amount of possessions.

Strengths to Team ORtg: It tells you simple offensive efficiency. Whenever you hear a team cited as "the best offensive team" this is the measure we are talking about. It works because regardless of pace, whichever team scores the most points in the same number of opportunities (possessions) will win.

Additionally, because ORtg gives you an estimate of how much a team will score, on average, in 100 possessions it is very useful in predicting a team's long-term success.

Weaknesses to Team ORtg: It tells you nothing about how a team scores. It doesn't let you know why or how a team is most efficient. Additionally, although ignoring the effects of pace is in many ways a strength, pace can make a difference. Perhaps a team tends to be its best when playing a slower pace, and then actually scores less effectively when induced into a run-and-gun kind of game. Or vice versa. The Team ORtg is also giving you overall trends, and doesn't necessarily predict how well a team will score in a single game.

Yucca's take: I think this is the best all-in-one stat to look at when citing whether a team, in general, has an effective offense or not. Despite the weaknesses, it still gives you a much clearer look at how effective a team's offense is than ppg ... and thus it helps make long-term, general observations.

I also think it is the starting point of the conversation. The next step is to examine why a team's offensive efficiency is what it is.