I NEVER get to write about games, so I'm going to take the chance here. Last night was a fantastic loss. The team played well (The players under contract through next year), but didn't add to the wins column.
Here's the lottery outlook after last night:
CHI 109 - NYK 90: The Knicks are tanking so hard.... for the Nuggets? The Knicks being this bad is not good for the Jazz as the Nuggets own the Knicks' pick this year (The Melo trade). The Knicks stay one spot worse than the Jazz.
ORL 92 - PHI 81: This is a wash. The Sixers have now lost 14 in a row, but are still 4 games better than the Bucks. The Magic are still 3rd, but only by 1 game.
I had the chance to watch a little college hoops this weekend (read: killing time before a party and Saturday night, so nothing else on). To be specific, I watched quite a bit of Kansas/OSU. I came to a realization that I am Team Wiggins. I've been skeptical of him because of his seeming to have a lack of drive ("motor"), but what I saw in that big game was a nonchalance about his game. It came so easy to him. Part of his numbers not wowing is Bill Self's system (I think they would be gaudy if he played for, say, Calipari). They compare him to McGrady, but I also see a bit of KD in him. Part of it is the calm demeanor, the other part is his build.
It's true his shot has looked rough and he'll have a steep learning curve in the NBA, but his overall tools are so tantalizing. Plus his defensive prowess is already lightyears ahead of Parker. Favors is proof that a player can get better offensively, but those defensive instincts are more difficult to pick up.
This is a real thing that happened and I almost can't believe it:
"He was really paying attention to details and I thought he got a lot better tonight," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said.
This comment is in regards to Kanter's defense last night (via Aaron Falk of the SL Trib). Now, the only Pacers big known for his offensive prowess is David West (and he dropped 25 on 11-17) but Favors and Kanter really did do a nice job of neutralizing Hibbert, Mahinmi and Scola.
This little exchange mentioned in Mr. Falk's recap is also fantastic:
With a crowd of local reporters surrounding Indiana native Gordon Hayward after Sunday morning’s shootaround, Richard Jefferson couldn’t help himself. The Jazz forward joined the pack, stuck his iPhone in Hayward’s face and asked him about the Captain America nickname that Jefferson himself had doled out.
"That question has already been asked, sir," Hayward responded.
I for one am fully onboard with GH being nicknamed Capt. America. It just fits.
Another amazing thing happened last night: This.
That's right. The Jazz's best FT shooter went to the line and sunk a technical free throw. You know what else happened? One quarter later, he did the same thing.
Trey is now shooting 91.5%FT on the year. Amazingly, he shoots 95% on the road.
Update: Happy Trey Day
Over at ESPN, Amin Elhassan has his list of the top 30 FAs this offseason (Insider). He has GH at #9 (just ahead of Lance Stephenson) with a projected AAV of $9mil over 4 years. AAV stands for Average Annual Value, and I have no idea how its derived- only that it Elhassan himself has set the value. GH at that price would be an absolute steal and with the number of teams with cap space this offseason, that number is likely to be quite a bit higher.
The Jazz will have room enough so that they could (and should) at least make an attempt to go after a big name free agent. Comments about "no one wanting to come to Utah" are warranted (there's certainly history to back it up), but it would be cowardly to not at least aggressively try.
This leads to something that came up at Sloan this weekend: the affect of state income tax on NBA free agency. As a business undergrad, I found the topic fascinating. Think about it: Texas and Florida are huge draws for NBA players because they have no income tax. So where does Utah rank? In 2008 Utah adopted a flat tax rate of 5%, putting it in a tie for 10th best tax rate. Of states with NBA teams, Utah is tied for 8th with Illinois.
So what's holding free agents back? If it's the weather, only 3 of those with lower tax rates have "better" weather than Utah. The only thing I can think of is the perception players have. I believe the Jazz have a pretty good reputation as a franchise, but the state itself has the reputation of "having no nightlife." Its abjectly false, but its there. It will likely take some hefty overhauling of... well, lets be realistic... the state's liquor laws, to change that image.
What do you guys think? Please be respectful in your comments.