Six years ago, I started using Twitter. Now I can't imagine life without it, especially as a sports fan. From #WojBombs to @DJJazzyJody Vines to Karl Malone calling his followers "grasshoppers," Twitter is vital for the modern sports enthusiast.
(It's also a place full of stupid arguments, ill feeling, and deplorable harassment and abuse. I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that. It's a medium that encourages knee-jerk reaction and often de-emphasizes thoughtful consideration. And for every tweet I actually post, I probably write and erase five more. Which maybe says more about me than it does about Twitter. We should be excellent to each other, is all I'm saying. Even on Twitter.)
Anyway. The Utah Jazz have stepped up their Twitter game this year, with more activity throughout the day and featured tweets from fans in the arena and on the broadcast. They aren't as interactive as I'd like -- and that's not too surprising, given the buttoned-up nature of official team messaging in general -- but they've improved a lot. (Shout-out to Jazz digital director @billylea for leading the charge there. Hopefully the team continues to give him more leeway.)
Over at Complex, they've ranked each official NBA Twitter account from 30th to 1st, and the Jazz fare better than one might expect, slotting in at #13 (although it's largely on the strength of this one tweet):
Complex's commentary follows:
Truth be told, if it wasn't for the burn that the Jazz directed at the Hawks in the tweet above, they probably wouldn't be this high on the list. But that was a great example of an NBA team that's not very good getting a win over a better team through the use of social media. Why don't the Jazz send out more tweets like it?
I love to see this kind of personality on Twitter. Fittingly enough, the victim of the above burn, the Hawks' Twitter account, is head and shoulders above most of the league in character, engagement and entertainment. (Complex has the Blazers at #1, but I respectfully demur.)
I used to say the Spurs were the Jazz's alternate universe doppelganger -- you know, like in every sci-fi TV series, when the main characters meet smarter, stronger, more successful (and possibly evil) versions of themselves -- but nowadays, it's the Hawks. (It doesn't hurt that they have three former Jazzmen in the starting lineup.) Most of the NBA is trying to emulate the Hawks these days. It wouldn't hurt for the Jazz to follow their lead on Twitter, too.
Here's another place where the Jazz are on the rise: FiveThirtyEight, the data-driven journo site run by king nerd Nate Silver, has recently updated its NBA Power Rankings, and the Jazz have jumped up four spots, to #20.
I'm not gonna gank the whole chart (click through! good, original content creators deserve clicks!), but one interesting note is that these numbers have the Jazz on pace for 33 wins. That's about where many of us predicted the Jazz would end up (and a ways above where many national pundits expected). Even more interesting is that the three teams directly beneath the Jazz -- Denver, Indiana and Boston -- are all predicted to win 34 games. For Indiana and Boston, that makes sense (they're in the East, and we just lost to Boston anyway), but the numbers seem to indicate that the slumping Nuggets, losers of seven straight, are actually a worse team than the Jazz, despite having two more wins at present.
Anyway. 20th isn't a bad place for this Jazz team, and I wouldn't be surprised to see us rise higher.
FanPosts! Here's your twofer this week. Speaking of original content, Beeblebrox42 has done some research on NBA starters and how our players compare:
When it comes to our players:
-- Favors and Hayward are both really good. Each of them is top 10 at their position. Favors is also the 2nd best PF by PER, and Hayward is the 3rd best SF by VORP
-- Kanter really struggles against other centers, but he's not good if moved to the PF list either (again ranking bottom 5).
-- If Gobert had qualified, his stats put him as the 4th best center in the league. If Exum and Ingles qualified, they'd be the worst at their positions.
Be sure to click through for the tables on that one. Nice work.
Meanwhile, tvilla1203 has spotted a possible fix for Trey Burke's shot:
When he's having a good night shooting like the game against the Nets you can see that Trey goes straight up and Straight down. He doesn't sway his arms or fade whatsoever. It's really a simple fix to show Trey to go straight up and to not spin circle the ball around his head. I don't think I'm the only one that has noticed it as I've seen one or two comments relating to his form.
Thanks for the posts, folks!
Two quick ones to finish: Here's a video (which I can't embed, because NBA) with a behind-the-scenes look at the shooting of the "Don Stockton" State Farm commercials. You'll have to click through to check it out, or be satisfied with this gif:
Midseason grades are out at Sports Illustrated, and Ben Golliver gives the Jazz a C+. A snippet:
The second-generation group includes Gobert, the athletic center whose recent play has been exactly the type of breakout executives are praying for when they fully embrace a youth movement. If 2014 lottery pick Dante Exum can find solid footing in his new starting role, Utah will really be onto something in a year or two. Last but not least: Trey Burke, who has seemed over his head as a starter and was wisely moved to the bench by Snyder this month.
What's clear, in sum, is that the wheat on Utah's roster is separating from the chaff. Perhaps those expecting a sleeper push in 2014-15 were overly eager and a year too early.
What midseason grade would you give the Jazz? Answer in the poll below.