Jarom Moore, who covers the Utah Jazz for KSL does a great job engaging with people on twitter and is a stealth networking (stealworkthing?) genius. He has brought together a couple of blogger from around the Jazz-internet to talk about the team we all care so passionately about. You may recognize some of the faces -- like Moni (JazzFanatical, and here); Andy (Salt City Hoops nee SLC Dunk); and I. Of course, it's more than just us talking, you need to read Jarom's articles for yourself! (Part 1: March 3rd, Part 2: March 10th). [I am filing this under a Jazz Jam Session, because that's exactly what this is. Even if we didn't initiate it.]
To make things easier for SLC Dunk readers -- I will entice you with the questions and our answers. But please do click over there to KSL to read what the other Jazz bloggers had to say!
1. Who is the best player on the Jazz?
Moni: The easy answer, especially given the Jazz's record without him and his relatively higher level of consistency, is Derrick Favors. I'm going with the easy answer.
Amar: Enes Kanter. Oh wait, you said player, not playa. Okay. Well, that’s a little harder to answer. Right now it’s automatic to lean towards either Derrick Favors or Gordon Hayward. These two guys have had up and down seasons, but with many bright spots. Gordon has taken on so much more responsibility this season, has dominated some games, but at the personal cost of his previously stellar outside shooting. Favors has shouldered so much on defense, is playing significant minutes without being in foul trouble, but at the personal cost of blocked shots. Both had to make sacrifices for the team.
Including games and total minutes played there are over 20 advanced statistics that people follow. G-Time is in the Top-5 for the team in eight categories; D-Fav makes it 16 times. The average rank for Gordon is 6.38th place, and for Derrick it’s 4.86th place. By the least advanced way of looking at advanced stats it appears that Favors is the more important piece of our Jazz puzzle right now. Furthermore, his efforts are more than just the sum of his stat line. He’s the best player on the roster right now.
2. What do you want to see from the Jazz by the end of the season?
Moni: More than the end of this season, looking forward to a fresh start next season. It's hard to see any major changes, step forward, etc., this season in the time remaining.
Amar: I wish to see congruence between how the Jazz play and the x's and o's that the coaching staff devise. It seems like Tyrone Corbin is attempting to unlock some obscure Xbox Achievement or something, because it’s very unusual to have a team start a ‘small ball’ lineup (effectively a non-banging, stretch-four who is actually a small forward) and play a slowed down, drag it out, halfcourt pace. Logic dictates that if you want to play a halfcourt game you want to maximize each possession. And in doing so, you play the most traditional form of basketball possible. If you want to start a small forward at power forward you automatically eschew traditional norms in favor of speed and flexibility.
Either method is a valid form of winning, but you never see teams try to do opposing things at the same time. Perhaps that’s just the way the Utah Jazz are right now by trying to ‘win now’ and ‘take our lumps’ at the same time. Whatever happened to ‘not skipping steps?’ If you’re going to start Marvin, play at a quicker pace than 27th out of 30 in the NBA.
3. What is the most disappointing part of this season so far?
Moni: Lack of systemic direction and development.
Amar: This is easy. I’m most disappointed by the fact that Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors have played a grand total of 41 minutes together this season. My disappointment stems from my interpretation that this season wasn’t going to be qualified by wins; rather that this season would be a year of development and discovery. Sure, at times this year Trey, Gordon, and Derrick have been hurt – but not to the level that these five lottery picks, currently all still on their rookie contracts, couldn’t have played more than only 41 minutes together this year.
It’s March now. I’m not saying start them. I’m saying that if we wanted real-time data on how they play in actual NBA games as a unit, it would be best to try this out more. A larger sample size will only confirm or refute the notions that people have, on all sides of the "play the young guys" argument.
4. What did you learn about the Jazz this week after watching them nearly go winless on this road trip?
Moni: I'm not sure there was anything to learn from the Jazz just barely escaping a winless road trip. It felt like it was just more of the same of what we've seen all season long, only with more tired players and more frustrated faces on the court and on the bench. At some points in some games, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for the final horn to sound. On the bright side, from the players' interaction with one another on Twitter and Instagram, the locker room clearly remains close.
Amar: I honestly wish there was something new to learn about this team, but that would actually require testing out different variables. We've only continued to confirm that Utah doesn't play well on the road - which has been somewhat of a hallmark of the Jazz for decades. The last winning season on the road was 2009-2010, before that it was 2000-2001. It took John and Karl nearly a decade in the NBA before they had a winning road season. So I'm not upset with our performance this week in the big picture. Historically, wins are rarer outside of the 801. At least in this way this seasons Jazz are just like the good-old-days Jazz.
5. If you were Tyrone Corbin and you believe you are coming back next season to coach the Jazz, what changes would you make, if any, for the remaining games this year?
Moni: If I'm Ty Corbin and I want even a shot of being back next year, and I've been told by the front office that the top priority is development and defense (rather than wins), I've arrived at the point in the season where I realize I've still been trying to go after wins, it's not working, and it's time to start "developing" (playing) the young guys more, and more together. Which is what I think we've seen in the last week or so.
Amar: I'd buy a lot of lip balm and start trying to kiss up to Hayward, Favors, Burke, Burks, and Kanter. That means more than just playing them; it means actually running plays for them in an attempt to maximize their talents. Post up Gordon on SGs. Let Kanter test his range. Get the ball to Alec when he's on the move. More than that, it means actually not throwing ‘the youth' under the bus after every loss, or use that as the standard go-to reason why anything bad happens.
Some of those guys are in their fourth seasons in this system. In contrast to that, Tyrone had played for four different teams in his first four seasons. As job security is obviously always on his mind it would be wise for him to recognize that now, more than ever before, it is a player's league. Don't hate the players.
6. If you are Ty Corbin and you don't believe you are coming back next season, what changes would you make, if any, for the remaining games?
Moni: I'd be trying to squeeze out every win I can — and that means continuing to have veteran presence in my starting lineup and getting a larger share of minutes. At this point I'm, as DeMarre Carroll was fond of saying, coaching "for 29 other teams" and trying to show teams I can win games. Right or wrong, Corbin has shown he thinks his best chance for winning is with veterans, so I think we continue to see Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams starting. Meanwhile, lower-down-the-bench guys like Rudy Gobert probably won't get much beyond garbage minutes for the rest of the year.
Amar: I would start Andris Biedrins, but that leads to a domino effect where Corbin wins over Latvian fans; becomes the head coach of their National Team; and then rides Kaspars Berzins to Top 15 place in the next FIBA EuroBasket tournament. Soon after, Corbin would obviously develop a surprising friendship with Latvian cinema legend Laila Pakalnina. And the ultimate outcome would be of him agreeing to play lead role of "Tyronje" in Kurpe 2: Steampowered Boogaloo.
Or I would ask Andy Larsen for a primer on analytics. A lot of the traditionalist coaches who pooh-pooh the discipline as a "numbers game" end up playing the "unemployment game." Unless he wants to have a lot of lonely, late night phone calls with Lionel Hollins, it would be okay for Corbin to evolve on some of his stated positions. That's the big change I would make over the next few weeks if I knew I'd be looking for a job for next year.
Thanks again to Jarom for spearheading this -- and I hope that we all continue this dialog all off-season long. After all, no matter which sites we write for, we're all writing about our shared love of the same team.