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The Utah Jazz Are Late-Stage Rebuilders: The Downbeat #1463

Our team is still in the chrysalis, and we're not sure what the butterfly will look like yet. Also: Bricky Burke, good Gordon, pizza, hobbits and more.

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Man. It's been an exciting first 1/10th of the season, eh? Three wins is two more than last year's Jazz had at this point -- or indeed, until several games later -- and we've seen lots to be excited about, along with some concerns.

I think it's beneficial, though, to remember that the 2014-15 Utah Jazz are still in the rebuilding phase. I know it feels like we've been here forever, but it's really only been one year, and we still have a very new and inexperienced coach and a young team.

The Cauldron's Kevin McElroy reminds us of this, too, in his article entitled "The Definitive Taxonomy of NBA Mediocrity":

Like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon or a young bird ready to leave the nest, the Late Stage Rebuilder still has much to learn about the world but finally possesses the component pieces to make its own way. Where the Middle Stage Rebuilder possesses disparate talent without an obvious direction, the Late Stage Rebuilder has pieces that comprise a cohesive whole, although one that has yet to prove itself capable of thriving in a habitat where only the strong survive. The Late Stage Rebuilder has the greatest potential to surprise - for good or ill.

(You should click through to see the awesome Jazz butterfly illustration, too.)

That last line, about the potential to surprise, reminds me of a line that SLCD commenter SurlyMae has in her signature, a quote from Moneyball: "The pleasure of rooting for Goliath is that you can expect to win. The pleasure of rooting for David is that, while you don't know what to expect, you stand at least a chance of being inspired."

The Utah Jazz have always been David. (And come on, he never had to fight Michael Jordan.) Right now we're reloading our slings and making sure our sheep are where they need to be. Pretty soon, we'll be ready to take on the Goliaths of the world all over again.

Sorry for the Biblical references and butterfly analogies. I probably shouldn't write these so late at night. My brain makes weird connections. Never mind.

Anyway. Moving on. Did you read Amar's post on Trey Burke, and why we shouldn't worry too much about his shooting slump? You really should. Remember. Butterflies.

Anyway, I don't think I have anything to add to what Amar said, or My_Lo's analysis in yesterday's Downbeat. But I will cite Zach Lowe's comments in this week's Grantland column, expanded from his Twitter thoughts that My_Lo mentioned:

Burke is shooting 32 percent after clocking in at 38 percent last season. He doesn't get to the line, he's short, and he's a liability on defense. He's young, but at some point his shooting is going to become a problem.

Dante Exum is lurking, having outperformed expectations over a pretty hefty minutes load for a 19-year-old. He's 11-of-12 combined from the restricted area and the corners, and he has shown a nice change-of-pace patience off the bounce - advanced stuff for his age.

Nothing we don't already know, but it's interesting to see the perspective of a national writer like Lowe. (Not all national media types are worth paying attention to, mind you, but Lowe does his homework.)

The bottom line for me is that this Utah Jazz team still needs both Trey Burke and Dante Exum to improve. We can't afford to have either one of them flounder. So here's hoping Trey snaps out of it (and that Dante doesn't hit the rookie wall any time soon).

FanPosts! Here's your trio this week (and as always, a hearty thank you to everyone who writes. I read and enjoy them all.)

Speaking of Trey Burke, Mykroberts' take on his slump is rather less positive than some:

I am not suggesting we trade Burke today, but we don't need to play him over 30 minutes either. If he is in a major slump and playing like a D-Leaguer then he doesn't need more than 20-25 minutes to try and play out of it. To those saying that is shortsighted for development I have 2 main replies... We have plenty of players with more upside who can use the minutes. What type of ceiling do you think Burke has? I really think it is a Molo style player - not a great defender, mediocre distributor, and good shooter/scorer. He just doesn't seem to have the physical tools or mentality to be anything else (but go ahead and disagree in comments).

I think it's important to give space and voice to others whether I agree with them or not, so I'm grateful for the post, Myk.

On that note, Viktor Vaughn wants us all to take a look at ourselves as fans:

Oh. My. Days. (translation if you don't speak British: oh my gosh) This is probably my biggest problem with the Utah Jazz fan base. We are super super bitter. "But we have a right to be!" I hear you call out. Yeah, that's bitterness right there. We deserve to be bitter because 'x' event happened. We deserve to be bitter because 'small market team' (Napoleon Syndrome anyone?). We deserve to be bitter because whatever. Again, I feel the need to point out, it's literally just a sport. Michael Jordan pushing off Bryon Russell did not hospitalise (translation if you don't speak British: hospitalize) (ok I'm done now) your mother. Stop acting like that event killed someone in your family. It was a decade and a half ago. Time to let things go. Jazz fans hold on to this longer than resentful thoughts towards ex-girlfriends- and those at least did personally affect you.

Lots of good observations there, so click through and take a look. Thanks for writing it, Viktor.

On a much, much more upbeat note: hansenjames has given us his next Photoshop collection comparing the Utah Jazz to the Lord of the Rings.

Jody Genessy is Tom Bombadil.

I don't think I need to say anything else.

Two quickies to end on. First: Gordon Hayward? He's good. He's been amazing so far. ESPN and Pro Basketball Prospectus writer Bradford Doolittle agrees:

Gordon Hayward and the Jazz offense: Utah still can't stop anybody, but the offense is much improved. Hayward (seventh in WARP per 82 games) and Derrick Favors (No. 49) are emerging as the clear foundation players, and it's only a matter of time before they're joined by Dante Exum.

Only 144 times in NBA history has a player averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game for a whole season (assuming I did this Basketball Reference search right). No Utah Jazz player has ever done it. (Pete Maravich did it twice in New Orleans.) Gordon has an opportunity to add his name to that rare list.

So what did G-Time do while back in his old Indianapolis stomping grounds? Grabbed a slice of the local pizza, of course:

So eager to get back to Indianapolis, rising NBA star Gordon Hayward did what any $14.7 million player would do.

He got a haircut. At the hotel.

"(They) came to me," the Brownsburg native said before a game with his hometown Indiana Pacers.

Hayward, still only 24 years old, soaked up some of his favorite local food, too.

"I got some Donatos pizza," he said. "They don't have that in Utah. That was good."

I've never been to Indy, so I couldn't tell you about Donatos. But I know which pizza joint I'd be hitting up if I'd been away from Utah for a long time.


(EDIT: I should clarify that I actually would like to hear about your favorite Utah pizza place in the comments. Even though The Pie is better.)