Another crazy week in Utah Jazz –land, but sadly no games to report on. And we’re not going to go to that creepy level where we stalk the players and their families . . . it’s not like late August or anything yet . . . so there’s still some Jazz news to talk about. The big stories this past week seem to surround the Jazz players and coaches and the end of season awards for the NBA. It’s been a while since our players were even in the discussion, and seems like ages ago since one of our coaches was. But there’s more than just that to revel in. One of my favorite players is gearing up for a big season next year, and another is having some throwback games in the old country too! Of course I am talking about Alec Burks and Andrei Kirilenko. So beyond this being a fun week for me, it’s a great week for Utah Jazz fans. Check out the biggest stories all in one place!
1.RUDY GOBERT IS NOT SATISFIED!
Just yesterday the NBA announced who is the 2015 Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY), and released the voting results. If you add it all up the Utah Jazz sophomore doesn't look that shabby, as people from all corners of nation voted from him, including people in big markets (NY Post, NY; Grantland, CA, etc), and ESPN guys. While Kawhi Leonard made a strong impact on an already good defensive team it's hard not to notice that guys like DeAndre Jordan, Draymond Green, and Rudy Gobert made huge impacts on traditionally poorly defending teams. But still, being #5 is a nice thing. But Rudy isn't happy with that.
Can't wait for next season https://t.co/vFiRbp5srE— rudy gobert (@rudygobert27) April 23, 2015
This is our guy, he wants to take it to the next level. Love that.
2. Alec Burks can't wait to play again
Last season the Utah Jazz made a big decision by agreeing to a contract extension for one of their 2011 Lotto picks, but not the other. They went with Alec Burks, while Enes Kanter (the #3 pick) played his last season for the Jazz. Sadly, a few months after signing the extension Burks had to have season ending shoulder surgery. I guess the smart thing is to get this surgery when he did, back when he was still on his rookie contract. Next year some detractors will expect him to play like someone earning that $10 million, and in order to do so he'll have to be 100% healthy. Aiding him in this task was 50+ games of sitting close to Quin Snyder and soaking up a lot of the game that way. That said, he wants to play. The Deseret News' Ryan McDonald writes:
What did he learn while stuck on the sidelines?
Like his teammates, he grasped more fully what Snyder wants to see on the defensive end of the floor.
On the opposite side of the hardwood, the biggest lesson Burks internalized was the importance of slowing down.
"I learned that a lot," he said. "Quin preached that when I was hurt, slowing down when I do things so I can read things better."
...Despite Hood's success, Burks' desire is to re-enter the starting lineup this fall.
"I feel like I'm gonna be a starter, but it's coach's decision," he said during the broadcast of the Jazz's season finale against the Houston Rockets.
To that point, Snyder said team chemistry would be a main consideration when making personnel decisions.
"I think that the players' progress and development being aligned with the things that the team needs, wherever that overlap occurs, I think that accelerates chemistry," he said. "When that doesn't occur, which is a lot, we get back to the character of the players and the tradition and the people that have come before that have established that culture by being willing to put the group first and finding their way within that."
Hood said "I don't have a preference" concerning who starts and who comes off the bench.
Whatever role he does end up assuming next season, Burks feels he can be instrumental in helping the Jazz play beyond mid-April.
"I can help out when I'm healthy," he said. "Especially post-All-Star break, they played very well. I just want to be a part of that and I think I will be. ... I hope I'm the missing piece. I really hope so. I hope I take us over to the playoffs."
I don't know who should start yet, but I do know that Alec is going to be really hungry next year.
3. Quin Snyder already a Top 10 NBA Head Coach
Speaking of Head Coach Snyder, and NBA End of Season awards, Quin was voted as #8 in the NBA's Coach of the Year race. Layton wrote about it here, and he did an awesome job with that table too! Perhaps calling him a Top 10 head coach is a little premature, but the Salt Lake Tribune's Aaron Falk writes:
Utah's new bench boss finished eighth in Coach of the Year balloting, the NBA announced Tuesday, after his team's second-half surge helped net him a handful of votes from the 130-member media panel.
Snyder's old boss, Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer, won the award thanks to 67 first-place votes from the panel. Golden State's Steve Kerr finished second, nabbing 56 first-place votes after the Warriors' 67-win season. Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd finished third.
Snyder received four third-place votes, one each from Michigan-based reporter David Mayo, ESPN.com's Kevin Arnovitz, the Deseret News' Jody Genessy and Jazz broadcaster Ron Boone.
Atlanta Hawks play-by-play man Bob Rathbun gave Snyder a second-place vote for the Jazz's second-half push and "remarkable" defensive progress.
"I don't think great coaching is always reflected in wins. I think laying the foundation, bringing players along, developing the talent on hand and implementing the system is really the essence of coaching and leadership," Rathbun said in a phone interview Tuesday. "What Quin has done this year will pay off for Utah next season and for seasons to come. They're doing the right things. I wanted to recognize him for that."
Entering the season, Las Vegas oddsmakers pegged the Jazz as a 24-win team. Under Snyder, Utah finished 38-44.
I haven't been this happy with a new coach since Frank Layden gave the keys to the car to Jerry Sloan.
4. Andrei Kirilenko is still doing Andrei Kirilenko Things
Over there, you know, there, across the pond, or the North Sea, we have Andrei Kirilenko getting back to his roots for the Red Army team of CSKA Moscow. He's getting better as their season progresses into the playoffs and was recently awarded the MVP for the fourth game in the qualifying round for the quarterfinals of Euroleague play. I don't know what any of that means. (Is there like a bracket or something?)
Andrei finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks, 3 assists, and 1 steal -- and I still think he would be great at stabilizing our bench in a world without Trevor Booker. But still, none of that is going to happen.
5. Larry H. Miller day of service
Today is the Larry H. Miller day of service, do something nice and good for your community today Utah Jazz fans, in memory of the owner who made the Jazz a Utah fixture.
Man, I miss him.
That's all folks!