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The Utah Jazz Front Office Is Improving: The Downbeat #1583

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The Jazz own the Stampede, ESPN likes our team leadership, states with weirdly popular jerseys, and a dog that can't catch food. It's your Wednesday Downbeat.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

We covered lots of Jazz-related news yesterday, including the team's purchase of the Idaho Stampede. You can hit that link for Amar's take yesterday, but here's the official word from the D-League mothership, and it's a good read, detailing the Jazz's ties to and reliance on D-League personnel.

During Snyder's first season as head coach, Utah has made a clear effort to give players on the fringe of the roster an opportunity.

The Jazz made their first Call-Up in December, signing Iowa Energy sharpshooter Patrick Christopher and even inserting him into the starting lineup for a game. Christopher was waived after sustaining a season-ending knee injury less than a month into his tenure.

They've since handed out 10-day contracts to six different players: Elijah Millsap (Bakersfield Jam), Elliot Williams (Santa Cruz Warriors), Chris Johnson (Rio Grande Valley Vipers), Jack Cooley (Stampede), Bryce Cotton (Austin Spurs) and Jerrelle Benimon (Stampede).

I've previously described this practice as Marginal NBA Player D-League Roulette (or some variation thereof; I'm too lazy to go back and check my actual words), and it's a favorite pastime of Dennis Lindsey's. I don't expect that to change now that the Jazz own the Stampede outright. In fact, we may continue to see the Jazz call up D-Leaguers from other non-Stampede teams. I feel like the Jazz treat players in Idaho as "known quantities," and would rather gather new data on unknown unknowns.

In any case, the Jazz now own the Stampede. I, for one, am on board with a team name change and rebrand. My choice: The Boise Bebop. Because then I can make more references to anime AND Charlie Parker.

Speaking of Dennis Lindsey, ESPN has released this year's new NBA Front Office Rankings, and the Jazz have moved up a few spots, from 19th to 15th. The full category breakdowns haven't been released yet, but the Jazz did get a very brief mention in the ESPN panel's initial discussion:

Elhassan: The owner is the most important figure in the organization, and not just because he cuts the checks. The owner really sets the direction of the organization by whom he hires to be his GM, but what's more important is knowing when to step out of the way and allow the professionals you hired to run your organization to do their job. This can be difficult because if your first decision (choosing a GM) is incorrect, stepping aside means allowing incompetence to flourish.

Penn: And doing so allows team management to do its job most effectively. Which front offices amid the rankings have enjoyed that autonomy? That's probably best reflected in their cap manipulation efficient spending.

Ford: Several teams stand out. Again, the Spurs have been terrific at allocating resources correctly. The Thunder, Grizzlies and Utah Jazz (No. 16) fit that mold. Another team that really stands out is the Milwaukee Bucks (No. 15) the past couple of years. Since bringing in David Morway as an assistant to John Hammond, they've been very clever in how they've handled their resources. On the downside, no one has squandered more resources and been a bigger cap violator than the Brooklyn Nets these past few years.

This is an interesting comment, especially in light of the Jazz's recent moves at the top, with Greg Miller stepping down and handing the reins over to a non-Miller. Obviously, it's too soon to see if that will have any ramifications in the day-to-day operations of the Jazz, but Greg was already less hands-on than his father Larry. It increasingly seems like the Jazz's fate going forward rests on Dennis Lindsey, Randy Rigby and the rest of the basketball side of things. That's okay with me.

There are no new FanPosts this week. Seriously. No one has written a new FanPost in almost two weeks.

So, um, instead, please enjoy this video of a dog who is unable to catch food thrown gently toward him from less than five feet away.

Grantland's Zach Lowe is back, and his main column this week focuses on the Phoenix Suns' accelerated rebuild. It's worth a read, given the comparisons some folks were making between the Suns and the Jazz prior to this season. But Lowe does specifically mention one Rodney Hood in his 10 Things list:

6. Rodney Hood's Floater

Utah's offense has perked up a bit since Hood replaced Joe Ingles in the starting lineup. Hood has emerged as a league-average 3-point shooter with the quicks to hang with opposing wings on defense — something Ingles lacks — and a nifty change-of-pace game on the pick-and-roll.

He keeps his dribble alive, probes for smart passes, and can loft floaters over big men who drop back against his drives:

Hood looks like a player, and it will be interesting to see how he fits in Utah's rotation next season when Alec Burks returns.

It's that last part that interests me most. Alec has become something of a forgotten man this season with his injury (and the revelation of Rudy Gobert and, to a lesser degree, Elijah Millsap). He still has elite NBA skills in getting to the rim and creating and finishing his own shot. But I'm starting to wonder if Hood might be a more versatile, if less explosive, fit for this Jazz offense. Maybe it makes more sense to keep Hood as a starter, where he doesn't need the ball in his hands to have an impact, and let Burks provide punch off the bench where he can lead?

Way too early to say definitively, but something to think about, at least.

Our noble Dunktimus Prime, BBJ (also known as @5kl on Twitter), found this map from retro sportswear company Mitchell & Ness, depicting the most popular athlete jersey purchased by state:

(EDIT: Should clarify this map only shows popularity of Mitchell & Ness products, not official jersey sales across all sports. So M&N throwbacks only.)

Utah's choice is no surprise -- though I might have expected to see Stockton there instead -- but some of the others are baffling. Who knew Kobe was so popular in the Upper Midwest? Why does Idaho love Mickey Mantle? What's up with Larry Bird ruling Mississippi?

Let us know in the comments if you find any other weird ones.