With the season drawing to an end, national writers and pundits have turned to discussing the various NBA end-of-year awards. It may not shock you to learn that no Jazz players, coaches or personnel are being seriously considered for any of them.
Earlier this year, it looked like there might be a chance for Trey Burke to squeasel (that's a combination of "squeeze" and "weasel") his way into a Rookie of the Year award. But writers like Zach Lowe of Grantland say he hasn't done enough, and may not even be in the top three:
Trey Burke was the toughest omission, and he may well be deserving of a ballot spot. The Jazz have barely resembled a pro basketball team without Burke's steady hand. But he has been almost as bricky as Carter-Williams, probably a bit worse on defense, and he's not yet a threat to get to the rim or the foul line.
Lowe also gives Alec Burks an honorable mention in his Sixth Man and Most Improved sections, but that's as close as any Jazzman gets from him, and other predictions seem to agree.
End-of-year awards don't mean much, but a couple of top-three finishes might have been a nice validation of the direction the Jazz are heading. Alas, we can't even console ourselves with that.
Do you care about these awards? Would you seriously consider any Jazz player for any of them?
On the other hand, at least we know how to tank properly. (Kind of.) I'm still pleased that the Jazz lost to the Lakers earlier this week. Yes, it was galling to watch Nick Young prance around EnergySolutions Arena in all his swaggitude, but the loss was absolutely the better long-term outcome for the team. Even if team personnel themselves would never say it.
Because meanwhile, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni seemed blissfully unaware of the ramifications of his team's performance. Via ESPN (emphasis added):
But D'Antoni didn't stop there, of course.
He continued his answer to reveal that he didn't know exactly what was at stake for the Lakers, who went into the night with a 25-55 record, playing against a Jazz team that was 24-56.
"They played hard, and I think, if I'm not mistaken, it's the same number of pingpong balls, right?" D'Antoni said. "They flip a coin, or something."
Turns out, he was mistaken. The Lakers went into the night with the sixth-worst record in the league. A loss to the Jazz would have put them in a tie for fifth with Utah, with the Lakers owning the tiebreaker as the worse team -- should the Jazz close out the season with a loss in Minnesota and L.A. finish things out with a loss in San Antonio -- because Utah would have won the season series 3-1.
A reporter informed D'Antoni that the win by the Lakers actually cemented the Jazz with a worse record and thus better lottery chances.
"I mean, you kind of hate that," D'Antoni responded, realizing what the win did to the potential draft order. "But, I thought we had the same rank."
Another reporter chimed in to tell D'Antoni that if the Lakers had lost to Utah, the coach would have been correct.
"Oh, I didn't know that," D'Antoni said. "Oh, OK. That's all right; we're going to beat San Antonio, anyway. So, it's all for naught."
Which basically makes me feel like this:
As Amar told us yesterday, we now have an 82.8% chance to pick in the top five of the upcoming draft. Meaning that we're almost guaranteed to get either Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Dante Exum or Julius Randle. (Well, that's my top five, anyway.)
For me, that absolutely makes Monday's loss worth it.
FanPost time, y'all. Here are the best of this week's bunch.
First, to piggy-back off of the previous item, here's IWMTB19 with a few NBA Draft scouting reports:
I watched a lot of basketball so far this year and this is what I've seen. This class has gotten a lot of hype, but seems fairly normal. The guys at the top of the draft all have incredible potential, but are also risky and will need years before they seriously contribute in the NBA. However, compared to last year's worst of all time draft, a normal draft seems pretty good.
Analytics are some part of my analysis as well. If you're interested in that, follow @vjl_ball for good draft stuff. Stats that generally transfer over at the same rate in the NBA as in college are steals, blocks, and rebounds. Numbers that really matter for NBA projection are steals, A/TO ratio, age, and early college production. Players that get more steals, have a better A/TO ratio, are younger, and produced early in college generally have better odds of turning out than those that didn't going by history. The stats and measurements referenced are from Sports Reference, Hoop Math, and Draftexpress. Measurements are accurate back from high school.
His ranking order might surprise you, so click through to check it out.
Next: Andy Wyllie gives us some thoughts on "Garbage Time and Development in a Winning Culture":
This season has never been about wins, but about development. We've been sold that maintaining a 'winning culture' was the best way to develop our players and stay as far away from Cleveland as possible. Amar posted yesterday about the amount of blowout the Jazz have suffered this year which shows there have been plenty of games we've had this year that are contradictory to that 'winning culture' so often mentioned. I've taken it a step further and looked at where a competitive NBA game turns into going through the motions by pinpointing how early in games we're blown out.
The Jazz have trailed at the end of the 3rd quarter in 50 games this year, trailed at halftime in 44 games this year, and trailed in 39 games after the 1st. We've led at the end of the first 34 times this year. That number suggests that, at least for 1 quarter a game, the 'winning culture' argument isn't too bad. But there are many other numbers to look at.
And lastly, Beeblebrox42 finishes up his four-part coaching candidates series. Here are his thoughts on the leader of the national champion UConn Huskies, Kevin Ollie:
Ollie played in the NBA for 13 seasons, and he only stuck around that long because he was a fantastic teammate and mentor. The Cavs and Thunder specifically brought him in to be a professional influence for LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He had to work hard to even make it in the NBA, playing on various 10-day contracts for the first few years of his career. He started to consistently find a place on teams because of his highly intellectual approach to the game, and that's carried into his coaching.
My Take: Ollie shows a lot of promise, but he's just too new to coaching to be a legitimate candidate for an NBA head coaching job. Given his recent NCAA championship run and the attention it's brought, I think a lot of teams will talk to him, but he doesn't really have any reason to leave UConn right now. I don't think he'll take any coaching position in the NBA until his UConn contract expires (or maybe is in it's final year).
Thanks, everyone! You've brought the knowledge every week with your FanPosts, and it's been my pleasure to read and feature them. Well done.
A couple of quick Twitter tidbits to wrap up:
Gordon Hayward will lead the Jazz in scoring this season. His average (16.1) is the lowest for a team leader in franchise history.— Steve Luhm (@sluhm) April 15, 2014
This is as indicative of the team around Hayward as anything, but it's certainly not a selling point for a guy who's about to pitch himself as a $12M+ player this offseason.
Not that he's worried (via DJJazzyJody):
Asked to assess his own season in which he became the go-to guy and team captain for the first time, Jazz shooting guard Gordon Hayward sort of summed up the season for the entire squad.
"I learned that I can be the guy. I just have to be more consistent. I think that's kind of the theme for our whole team," said Hayward, who has his own contract issue to be resolved this summer.
I'm honestly really curious to see the market for Hayward. And I'm doubly interested to see how the Jazz play it. Their usual MO has been for restricted free agents to go out and test the market themselves, and wait for a deal to match if necessary. But the team could find itself getting outbid in a hurry if chips fall the right way. On the other hand, I truly don't think Hayward had as good a year as he, or the Jazz, or free-agent suitors, were hoping for.
I don't usually criticize our TV announcers, Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring, too much. Sure, they're silly, and Harpring has a shortsighted anti-analytics bias, and Boler puts his foot in his mouth with #UDQMs too often, but they're not huge homers, and they're generally inoffensive, in my opinion.
Two people who aren't fans? Trey Burke's parents:
New commentators are needed for our Jazz. Need someone who's with us not a fan for the other team. #geesh— B.Burke (@Benjib10) April 15, 2014
Those 2 on the mic work my nerves to the max. Run tell that!— Ronda Burke (@Rondaburke2) April 15, 2014
What do you think of the broadcast team of Boler and Harpring? Vote in the poll below.