The surprises to me were, of course, the blowouts in Dallas and against the Suns. I hadn't really expected the Jazz to beat the Mavs, but I hadn't expected them to be down 30 in the first half either. On the flip side, I had only hoped the Jazz pull off a nice home upset over a good Phoenix team. I hadn't expected a near 30-point blowout win.
There are two things that are fairly clear about the team, however. The offense is looking decent. The defense needs a lot of work.
So there we go.
This week will be tough. The Jazz have three games: @Clippers Monday, then home vs. LeBron's Cavs Wednesday and Dallas Friday. 0-3 is very, very possible. 1-2 would be a decently successful week.
Derrick ********** Favors. That is all. It's not just his outstanding performance against the Suns. It's that he's been very, very good in evey single game. It's stupid to say "if he can keep this up all season" because, of course he won't (because ... well, look at the list of guys who have ever, ever, put up his current numbers for an entire season).
At the same time, we can say "if he can keep this up all season." Not in terms of stats, but in terms of actions: score inside relentlessly, with a nice 15-foot jumper to counterbalance, do some nice passes here and there, rebound fiercely, block shots, get steals, etc. I don't know what he'll do the rest of the season, but let's say that even a huge dropoff turns into a really, really freaking good PF.
It's nice to have Derrick Favors on our side.
Winning by 27
The first couple games induced some mass panic. But then we kicked the Suns' butts back across the Grand Canyon. I wondered, as the game was winding down, how often the Jazz won by 30 last year. Well, it turns out the margin of victory wasn't actually 30, but still ...
The answer (as expected) is that they didn't. Their largest win last year was, crazy enough, against the Suns. Jazz won by 23. They won two other games by 21.
So what does it mean that the Jazz have already won a game by 27?
Well nothing, really. It's one game. Random stuff happens. One game doesn't matter ... it what happens over and over, game after game after game, that actually separates the great teams from the good from the meh from the piles of manure from the Lakers.
But it is a nice little reminder: this team is likely going to be better than last year's. We were reminded during the preseason performance; we were reminded by winning the first game after three tries instead of nine; we are reminded by having a bigger win already than at any point last year.
This year's team will be better. How much better remains very much TBD.
Let's talk more in about mid-December at what the signs are pointing to.
On Enes and Trey
Disclosure: I believe that in a year and a half ... by the time of the 2015 All-Star break ... the Jazz starting/most used lineup will be Exum-Burks-Hayward-Favors-Gobert.
There are a lot of reasons I think this: stuff like size, skill sets, etc., etc., etc. But this isn't the time for all the whys and wherefores. I'd just say it's the most likely of the many different possibilities.
That said ...
I've been kind of bummed to see/hear some of the negative things said about Enes Kanter and Trey Burke. Some in comments. Some on Twitter. Some just with people I talk to about the team in real life. I just want to remind us all of a few things:
1. It's only been three games.
For about fifteen games last year Alec Burks inspired some open questioning whether he belonged in the NBA period. As a reminder, that stretch had him go for 9 ppg off 33% shooting, and 25% from three. It was bad.
And here he is, one year later, looking at $42 million and his fans smiling and thrilled he's staying with us.
I'd feel happier if I came across a lot more: "Trey/Enes really gunked up that game" after a lousy performance than "Trey/Enes is crap." For those who have difficulty understanding nuance and such, yes ... there is a difference.
2. Wins don't matter
Wins are definitely more fun to watch than losses, but let's be honest. The Jazz aren't competing for a championship. They are very likely to not make the playoffs. In this situation, If the Jazz:
- Win 30-35 games
- Clearly identify who of their young talent are keepers and who are not
- Help 2-3 guys take major steps in productivity during the course of the season
- Help the keepers establish good habits, solid foundations, and good on-court chemistry
- Make trades and such that clearly help the team starting next year and beyond, regardless of immediate impact
- Help us fans fall in love with a young, fun team that has a bright future
If these are accomplished, then the season's a success. Really ... long-term, even a full month of Kanter struggling, or three weeks of Trey shooting in the mid-30% ... they don't really have that much impact on whether this season is successful or not.
3. These are our guys
I already stated my humble prediction regarding who will turn out to be the best starting lineup within a year or so. But it's just a prediction. I will applaud and whoop it up if Trey and Enes prove me wrong. And so I'm going to cheer for them every step of the way. I will give them the benefit of the doubt, I will be a patient fan, and I will be reasonable.
Once upon a time, fans were really nasty to CJ Miles. Nasty Tweets directed to him and all that. It really affected him, and I think it was a rather dark day for Jazz fans. I wonder how much I contributed with my Smart CJ/Dumb CJ jokes in game threads. Probably not a lot, but still ... it was a part of the negativity.
Once upon a time, I grew frustrated with the Jazz deciding to build around Al Jefferson. I was without question a voice of negativity, and I regret it.
I want to do better with a couple of guys who have had a tough start to the year. Trey and Enes, you're my guys. I'm cheering you on. Yeah ... I'll be exasperated when you struggle on defense Enes. Sure ... I will be exasperated, Trey, when you take more shots than Derrick, Gordon, and Alec. But you're my guys still. I'll cheer you on. I'll hope for the best. I'll constantly remind us all that it's only three games (or whatever). And even if you don't pull things through, it's okay.