So for the second straight game against Minnesota, the Jazz were missing a starter due to a hip injury. And while the starter was different each time -- Gordon Hayward on Saturday, Derrick Favors on Tuesday -- the end result was terrifyingly similar. (No, Tuesday's loss wasn't quite as bad...but it was close.)
Amar has already written a post describing the average length and severity of hip flexor injuries like Hayward's. And since he's a doctor, I'm betting he knows what he's talking about. Meanwhile, Favors' injury is a hip abductor strain rather than a hip flexor, so there's no indication right now of how long he'll be out. Perhaps Amar could enlighten us there, too.
While two hip injuries to two starters in as many weeks might have some calling shenanigans, I choose to look at them as happy (hippy?) accidents. I mean, the Jazz were winning juuuuuust a few too many games there. Now we've got a nice losing streak going again, and as My_Lo observed yesterday, the schedule does get harder in March.
So maybe Shakira really did say it best: así es perfecto.
Shakira Amar, have you seen his 40 at 40 series? It's crazy-go-nuts. It's straight banana-stand. It's some next-level ish. And he's only half done. (Tremendous props, sir, and sincere concern at the disturbing amount of time it must have taken. You decide which is worth more to you.)
Amar's first post (technically second, I guess, but he labeled it Part 1) was my favorite, as he delved into the historical attendance numbers of the Jazz franchise and tried to find statistical correlations regarding pace, margin of victory, and overall success. Did the research show anything relevant for today's team?
My hypothesis that "fans would come for a fun team" exists because we're shown precisely the opposite and fans are not coming. A team that headlines Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and even Ian Clark seem more fun to *me* than seeing John Lucas III (great guy) and Josh Howard types. But that's just me. Winning ugly satisfies some Jazz fans because that's what they saw and that's what's normal to them.
Looking at the entire history of the team, though, we're more than just a grit and grind team. We're a team where the one real, enduring quality is that we're a team that's had a lot of fans show up season to season. Some years we're fast. Some years we're slow. Some years we win. Some years we don't. But every year our arena is filled. Except these last few years.
[...]I think the team does have some budding stars now, hopefully they will be a draw. I also wouldn't mind playing a little faster. We're starting a small ball lineup as it is with Marvin Williams at the 4. Why limit the effectiveness of the advantage small ball gives you with speed and quickness by playing with the 25th slowest pace in the NBA this year? Why not take advantage -- wait for it now -- of the advantage? Why not play a little faster? It's not like we have much to lose. The team is #29 in DEF RTG this year and #23 in OFF RTG. We're also #27 in PPG. Going faster can't hurt, can it? Nothing can hurt our performance right now. Even if we're winning a little bit more these last few weeks.
Excruciating performances like last night and Saturday aside, I really am enjoying watching this year's team. It's a different sort of pleasure, the intrigue of watching players develop and struggle rather than the hyper-competence of the Stockton-to-Malone years. i just hope it pays off with some success eventually.
Anyway. Hope you didn't consider that cheating on my Downbeat, re-posting an excerpt from one of Amar's post. I just want to make sure he gets his due, and he's too self-effacing to do it himself. Respect.
...but just in case you do feel cheated, here is a gif of a cat riding a skateboard.
FanPosts! Got several good ones for you this week. Thanks again to everyone who contributes these. And if you want an extra Twitter shout-out for yours, don't hesitate to get at me @theshums or via email. Mi internet es su internet.
First up: Dyl attended his first-ever Jazz game in Detroit -- you lucked out, my man -- and he had some great impressions, especially regarding one Trey Burke:
I remember thinking, the Jazz are getting fantastic floor spacing, much better than I remember it on TV in previous games. Trey Burke in particular. In transition or when a different Jazzman brought the ball up the court, I tweeted at one point that Burke was habitually spotting up in good position to help his teammate with the ball make a play. He was, God, I sound like a broken record. He was simply fun to watch. Burke this, Burke that, but honestly folks. #3 wowed tonight. He was everywhere, in every aspect of the game, doing things that a seasoned NBA pro should do. And he looked hungry. He looked like a driven man, like someone who would show the initiative to go to Spokane to meet and pick Stockton's brain.
Chills, dude. Glad you had fun. Be sure to click through for lots more of Dyl's thoughts.
Next: Aged Fan dives deeper into whether the Jazz's young players are getting a fair shake:
It seems to me that while these other types of issues have some significance, the far more important issue this year and for the long run is whether these guys are getting enough time to develop in an absolute sense. While I don't think that the relationship between playing time and development is a simple relationship (more playing time generally goes along with more development, I agree, but more playing time isn't always the answer to produce better development), I do think it's worthwhile to ask whether the young guys are getting the playing time they "deserve" (though I dislike that phrase because it's usually spoken from a too-narrow point of view).
To add to the assessment of that, I think it makes sense to compare what the Jazz's guys are getting with what other NBA players in similar circumstances are getting.
Lastly, Shredhound runs some numbers on point-guard efficiency vis-a-vis the aforementioned Trey Burke and his peers:
Trey is more efficient than Kyrie Irving and Russell Westbrook. These are two score first point guards that have struggled a bit so far this year, but I'd say its a good sign. As a frame of reference I also looked up Chris Paul's rookie season. His 1.25 points per possession used is excellent and would be 3rd on this list even today. Teams need to get that guy some help so he can make a run in the playoffs, he deserves it.
Click through for the data. Nice work, and congrats on your first post!
More Trey Burke comparisons? Yes, please! Here's Dakota Schmidt from Salt City Hoops with the deets:
Where Trey Burke really makes his impact on the Utah offense is his overall ability as a distributor. While a good portion of that could be due to the fact that he plays alongside the likes of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Alec Burks, probably the biggest reason behind Burke's high AST/TO ratio would be because of his experience in a slow-paced half court offense from back during his time with Michigan. Another trait that he's carried over from Michigan would be his expertise in the pick and roll. As 16% of the team's total offense, the pick and roll has become a crucial element towards Utah's progression as an overall unit, which will definitely help Burke progress as a player more quickly.
As for the general future of Utah's offense, Trey Burke has really transitioned nicely into the NBA offense thanks to his PnR partner Derrick Favors. The quickness and athleticism of Favors often pulls the opposing defense towards the paint, leaving a clear opening for Burke to either shoot from the perimeter, or drive and kick it to out to Richard Jefferson or Gordon Hayward.
Dakota's got lots of charts you'll want to click through for, but the most interesting one for me was the on-off court offensive comparisons. Trey stacks up surprisingly well.
So, yes: we have compelling data that shows how much better the Jazz are offensively with Trey Burke on the court. So how do we treat or analyze the first 15 games of the season, in which Burke did not play?
David Locke discussed this at length during his Tuesday morning Tipoff, noting that CBS hoops writer Matt Moore used the Jazz's horrific start to make a point about Ty Corbin. Locke then talked a bit more about how choosing which period of time to emphasize indicates the "agenda" of the writer and whether they want to "bury" someone. (Discussion starts at the 8:40 mark in the video below; jump to 14:30 for that latter remark.)
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/nPRS6WpLI6k" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
To Locke's credit, he acknowledges that he's guilty of this, too -- that he can choose to paint a positive or negative picture of the Jazz's progress based on whether or not he includes the first 15 games of the season. (Especially because he then goes on to do exactly that: painting a positive picture based on selecting more recent results.)
So I get his point. Maybe it's not entirely fair to include a period of time when the team had a thin roster and no real point guard. I don't know that we should pretend it never happened, and I don't think it lets the coaching staff completely off the hook, and I'm not sure it betrays any hidden "agendas" or conspiracies if writers include that period. But fine. No Trey equals not a complete picture. Fair enough.
But we were chatting about this point in an SLC Dunk staff email thread yesterday, and Clarkpojo made this comment:
I suppose it doesn't matter that the Jazz are the 23rd best offense and still the 6th worst defense over the last 25 games. I guess that doesn't matter. I'm all for tossing out the first 15 games. It still speaks very poorly for our coaches.
I'll put the question to you, Dunkers: How do you evaluate this team? Is it fair to include the horrible start without Trey? Does our slightly-below .500 record since then mean more? Or do the offensive and defensive deficiency ratings carry more weight? I'm curious to see what you think.