Apologies for the lateness of this Downbeat. Blame the Utah spring rain and the inefficiency of state high school baseball tournaments.
Anyway, we were hoping for a miracle in last night's NBA Draft Lottery, but it was not to be.
(Note to self: don't play poker with Dennis Lindsey.)
So at least we can stop deluding ourselves with false hope. We're picking at 12.
You've probably already read about past players picked at #12 -- I'm pretty sure Amar has posted his research on this before, but I can't keep up with every he writes because he is a madman -- but recent notable names include the Thunder's Steven Adams, our own Alec Burks, the Nets' Thaddeus Young, and...well, not a lot of others. You can check the list here courtesy of DraftExpress. It ain't pretty.
Bottom line, even though #12 is a "lottery" pick, the Jazz will be fortunate to find someone who can contribute, especially given the other young talent already on the roster. Then again, Rudy Gobert and Rodney Hood came much later than #12. It's still a crap shoot, and it'll come down finding a player who's the right fit for the roster, and putting faith in Quin Snyder and the Jazz staff to develop them.
The other story to come out of last night's lottery was the Knicks, who had the second-worst record, sliding to fourth place as the Lakers leap-frogged them. Enjoy the anguish of the partisan New York crowd as their fate is sealed:
You can also see on that graphic that the Lakers' pick was top-5 protected. There was a slim chance that they could have fallen out of the top five and been forced to give up their pick as part of a prior trade. Instead, they'll get one of Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Emmanuel Mudiay, or D'Angelo Russell. Life ain't fair.
Given the inherent inequity of the lottery process, and the tanking behavior it reinforces, NBA thinkers have been attempting to revise it. Or, in the case of ESPN's Amin Elhassan, abolish it completely.
You may have seen Elhassan tweeting about his favorite and least-favorite NBA cities last week.
24. Milwaukee 25. Cleveland 26. Memphis 27. Detroit 28. Salt Lake City #FaveNBACities....that's a wrap!— Amin Elhassan (@AminESPN) May 13, 2015
This involves his scheme for fixing the NBA draft lottery, which is to replace it with a free-agency allocation system, where the worst teams would be able to offer rookies the most money:
Turn draft season into a rookie free-agency period: Each team will have a rookie salary exception at its disposal. Teams would be free to negotiate with any incoming rookie player during this period, and can choose whether to use their entire exception on one player, or divide it among several players (as long as they each draw at least league minimum salary).
Inevitably, bad teams will decry the advantage good teams have, so we can weight the system and size of the exception by the reverse order of the season-ending standings, with non-playoff teams receiving the highest 14 exceptions.
So bad teams would get more salary-cap exceptions, but ultimately the rookies themselves would decide where they wanted to play.
This is a massive flaw, and this is where Elhassan's list of favorite cities comes in. If you followed his whole list, you could see he used roughly the same criteria NBA players do when judging cities: weather, nightlife, size of market, "culture" (basically nightlife again), and food. I'd venture to guess that Elhassan's list is fairly close to popular perception among NBA players.
So say you're a rookie. Say you can play anywhere you want, although bad teams can offer you the most money. Say you're from a big hoops school like Duke or Kentucky, and you've got one or two teammates entering the draft with you. HOW DO YOU NOT IMMEDIATELY SUBVERT THIS SYSTEM BY AGREEING TO SIGN IN L.A. OR MIAMI WITH YOUR BROS FOR SLIGHTLY LESS MONEY. Meanwhile, teams like Utah, who are already hamstrung in free agency due to cultural perception, would face the same issue with draftees, erasing one of their key platforms for roster improvement.
Will there be players who'll rather play for Miami for $2.2 million than in Detroit for $2.5 million? Of course, but the idea is that as a team like Miami signs better talent, it'll improve and eventually get smaller exceptions. In other words, while forgoing $300,000 in exchange for a more scenic location is an easy decision, you'll see very few, if any, prospects make that same switch from, say, the Detroit Pistons to the Los Angeles Clippers, who could only offer about $800,000 versus the Pistons' $2.5 million. Remember: Most draftees have never seen a dime of professional pay. In most cases, the need to secure their financial future will outweigh the need to live by the beach.
I'm not buying it. Has he forgotten about The Decision? This suggestion would make that happen every year. And no rookie would ever play in Utah again. (That's an exaggeration. But the Jazz would be stuck overpaying for mid-tier talent, as they already are in free agency.)
Anyway. That's way too much time spent on a flawed idea. If you've read any others about fixing the draft, I'd love to hear your thoughts. (Or if you think this particular idea is better than I do, let me know that, too. I'm always up for being told I'm wrong.)
FanPosts! Here's three for ya.
Beeblebrox42 on the "end of the bench" and a playoff-style Jazz rotation:
Most NBA teams use a 9 or 10 man rotation during the season, then tighten it to an 8 or 9 man rotation in the playoffs. The Jazz were pretty close to that this last season with 11 players getting 900+ minutes over the course of the season and getting 15+ minutes per game. That's including all the wings we brought in after Burks went down for the year.
Given that, I started wondering what our 8 man rotation would look like. I started with just those players under contract (no FAs or draft picks), and found that we have a solid 8 man group, which looks like this.
OregonJazzFan has a question about Alec Burks:
I read a lot to understand the finer points of the game but I have not played in any organized competition since I was 7. So I miss a lot of the strategy that is going on throughout the game. That being said, my question to you all is can Alec Burks play backup point guard in Snyder's system? I know that experiment did not go well with Corbin, but what did go well under Corbin? It seems like Burks could play point guard just as well as Exum played this year if not better. Burks actually drives into the lane and has a higher 3 point percentage. Especially if he played with any combination of Hayward, Ingles, or Hood who all can handle the ball.
And Uber_snotling on starter predictions and offseason training goals:
Per game projections for 2015-16
Points : 12
Things to work on in the offseason
1. A reliable hook shot that he could hit at 50% by the end of the season.
2. A bully post move for backing down smaller players if the other team switches or goes small ball.
3. Improve his free throw percentage to 70%.
Nice work, everyone.
Two quickies from Twitter to wrap up:
@JeremyEvans40 you rock thanks so much @keybank @utahjazz #slc pic.twitter.com/Y3vABPhyGk— Elizabeth Cobb (@TalkativePR) May 19, 2015
We've mentioned it before, but Jeremy Evans is an amazing person. He's not even under contract for next year, and he's still out doing public appearances under the Jazz name. (I mean, I suppose his formal contract lasts until July 1 or whatever, but seriously, how many other players would do this?) If we've seen the last of Jeremy on the court for the Jazz, I'll sincerely miss him.
From last week:
Whoever want to get beat let me know pic.twitter.com/xLhKo34qyc— Derrick Favors (@dfavors14) May 14, 2015
I will now spend the rest of the day speculating about which Mortal Kombat character each Jazz player would play with. Here's the list -- hit up the comments and let us know.