It's the shortest day of the year, and we have much to discuss ere the sun sets, including Trey Burke's improving prospective trade value, Dante Exum gaining a possible new mentor, Jazz players spreading good holiday cheer, and your FanPosts. Plus there's that small matter of Alec Government Name Burks going all Starkiller Base on the Phoenix Suns. (That's only very slightly a Star Wars spoiler. Listen, if you didn't see it by now, I'm going to assume you don't really care that much about spoilers.)
Anyway, let's get to it.
Let's just get this out of the way:
It's like, there was a sun, and then Alec Burks happened, and then there wasn't a sun any more. I mean, the winter solstice PROBABLY would have occurred today anyway, but I can't be sure Burks didn't cause it himself with this dunk. (Are we going to fight over whether it was actually a "dunk" here? No, we are not. I SEE YOU IN THE COMMENTS. CUT IT OUT.)
Anyway, this whole game was pretty cool, with decent showings from Trey Lyles (six points, seven rebounds) and Raul Neto (nine points, three assists, four rebounds). Of course, Lyles' best contribution may have again been from the bench:
The win leaves the Jazz at 12-14, with five games left in 2015: at Golden State, home to the Clippers and Sixers, at Minnesota, and home to Portland. It's probably unrealistic to hope for a better result than 3-2 on that stretch, so Utah will probably end the year below .500 for the season. That's unfortunate, and certainly below most fans' expectations to start the season. But the Jazz are now 4-6 since Rudy Gobert's injury; finishing the year at 7-8 or better Sans Stifle Tower (not counting his earlier two-game absence) would honestly be about as good as Jazz fans could hope for.
Plus, the team isn't losing too much ground in the Western Conference. The Jazz are firmly in the 8th spot, with recent wins over Denver and Phoenix, the two teams just below them. Depending on when Rudy returns, Utah could still cement a decent playoff position. Even after the team's recent four-game skid, I'm more hopeful about the season than I was just after Gobert's injury.
Quick hits for the rest of today's Downbeat:
NBA.com's David Aldridge has a massive post on trade outlooks for every NBA team, and he proposes a deal sending Trey Burke to Philadelphia for a first-round draft pick (via Miami):
The new eminence grise in Philly, Jerry Colangelo, has carte blanche to do anything he sees fit to improve the Sixers, and it's clear that among the team's many roster deficiencies, point guard is the sorest thumb. And, he has no allegiance to the bevy of Draft picks that Sam Hinkie has amassed the last few years. There's no way Philly will use all of them, anyway; why not sacrifice one to see if Burke can do better with a second chance of running a team?
Burke struggled his rookie season on the ball in Utah, which necessitated the drafting of Exum in the first place. But Burke has been a high-energy spark for the Jazz so far this season, increasing his shooting percentages dramatically, from 37 percent last season to 44 percent this season (and from 32 percent to 39 percent on 3s).
I'm not sure I agree with the specifics here -- the Jazz drafted Exum because he fell into their laps, not necessarily because Burke was that awful in his rookie year -- but it's interesting that Aldridge now rates Trey as worth a first-round pick, albeit one in the 20-30 range. I don't think he could've fetched that price at the start of the season.
Problem is, I'm not sure the Jazz can afford to move him this season. Even with the ball-handling skills of Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks and Rodney Hood, the team just doesn't have the bodies to fill Burke's role until Dante Exum returns. Not if they want to stay playoff-competitive, anyway. Still, it's nice to know what he might be worth on the trade market.
Here's your featured FanPost for the week, which comes from Uber_snotling regarding the Jazz's rebounding success:
Rebounding is one of the four factors originally noted by Dean Oliver as statistically significantly correlating with winning basketball games.
The Jazz have not been killing it on the boards this season like they did last season. But when they do, they tend to be playing winning basketball.
Click through for the numbers. Thanks, Uber!
Here's an interesting and somewhat unexpected tidbit regarding our injured Aussie:
Kobe and Dante have the same agent, Rob Pelinka, so interactions between them aren't completely out of left field. The Kob-ster's on his retirement tour this year, so I suppose it makes sense that he'd want to start passing on his knowledge. Question is, do we Jazz fans even want a hated enemy like Bryant taking Exum under his wing? Is this a Kylo Ren situation? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.
Check out Jazz personnel brightening the holidays for the kids at Primary Children's in SLC:
Jazz players and coaches along with the America First Jazz Dancers and Jazz Bear visited Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City to visit the kids and spread a bit of joy this holiday seasonPosted by Utah Jazz on Monday, December 21, 2015