Lots of folks are still riled up about yesterday's Vivint news. I'm not gonna talk much about it. I'm a firm supporter of fans being fans any way they see fit (as long as it isn't abusive or illegal), so if it bothers you, I think you have every right to be bothered. But don't look for any more extensive analysis from me. The good news is that I'm sure the Vivint deal cost a pretty penny, and that money will make the Jazz more secure in the long run. Call me a sell-out -- and hey, I left journalism for PR, so you wouldn't be wrong -- but I'm okay with that tradeoff.
Anyway, on to five points that have nothing (well, little) to do with the Vivint Smart Home Arena House Center Of Technology And Orange Stuff Palace.
FiveThirtyEight, the data-driven journalism site run by political-junkie and all-around nerd Nate Silver, has been doing NBA previews based on their CARMELO player projections. (CARMELO is an acronym of some sort that has nothing to do with the current Knick; you can read more about it here.)
Anyway, FiveThirtyEight's Ian Levy ran the numbers on the Jazz, and they're pretty positive:
The Utah Jazz enter the 2015-16 campaign with high hopes. The team closed out last season on a 19-10 tear, all of which came (not coincidentally) after it shipped away Enes Kanter at the trade deadline and inserted Rudy Gobert into the starting lineup. Over that stretch, Utah had the best defensive efficiency in the league — a full 4.1 points per 100 possessions clear of the San Antonio Spurs, the second-best defense. With a young roster mostly intact from that strong finish, the Jazz and their fans are sanguine about their playoff chances, despite the frightening depth of the Western Conference and the loss of second-year point guard Dante Exum to a torn ACL this summer. But for Utah to reward that optimism and reach the postseason, it will need to continue its late-season defensive dominance from last year and hope that improving young talent can bolster the offense from within. For what it's worth, FiveThirtyEight's CARMELO projection system is bullish on their chances; it has the Jazz going 45-37.
That's well above the initial Vegas over/under of 40.5 wins, and it's about in line with what most of us have been feeling, I think. Nice to have science on our side.
More predictions: the crew at the SB Nation mothership have gone on record with their guesses at how the West will shake out, and everyone has the Jazz ninth or higher:
Some of the panel picked a few individual Jazzmen for honors as well, so click through and check it out.
FanPosts! Here's what we got this week.
Dunk newcomer REXdunk asks what you would consider "progress" from the Jazz this season:
I know there are a lot of high expectations coming into the season and some national media members are actually talking about the Jazz. Weird, right? Here are some things to consider when setting expectations for the year.
The Jazz won 38 games last season, good enough for 11th in the Western Conference
No major offseason moves
Dante Exum suffered an ACL injury after most of the free agent signings occurred.
What would be adequate yearly progress to me? 45 wins. What would it be for you?
Combojazz reviews the preseason:
For the most part, this hasn't been the most encouraging preseason. Then again, last year's preseason was very encouraging, but merely presaged a disappointing start to the regular season. From what I've seen, this preseason has been used to evaluate different lineups and players with minimal interest on the actual outcome of the game. That being said, certain players have surprised and others disappointed. I've categorized the team below into the surprises and "meh's", but take this with a grain of salt.
And Beeblebrox42 gives some thoughts on last week's preseason game against the Thunder -- you know, the one that prompted Quin Snyder's tirade:
Despite all the problems, it was fun to go to the game, and the Jazz played well enough in the second half to keep the game interesting. I saw some good things (the Jazz did really well in forcing OKC to settle for long 2s, OKC just hit all of them), but they were definitely overwhelmed by a very talented Thunder. Even though the game was fun, I'm glad it's only preseason as the Jazz have a lot of work to do if they're going to compete with the top teams in the west.
Thanks, y'all! You guys are neat.
I like when people make lists of the best young NBA players, because there's guaranteed to be some Jazzmen in the mix. Here's a list from The Cauldron's Tommy Beer, featuring Gordon Hayward at #12:
One of the surefire marks of a great young player is steady, incremental improvement—exactly what Haywood has demonstrated throughout his NBA career. In fact, after averaging a career-high 19.3 points last season, Hayward became just the third player in NBA history to increase his season scoring average by at least two points per game in four consecutive seasons (Kobe Bryant, Gary Payton).
(Bonus fun: people are STILL calling him "Haywood." Editing is hard.)
I said I wouldn't talk about the new Vivint deal any more, but they were smart to release this video today, focusing on what has happened inside Larry's House rather than the name on the front.