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Utah Jazz PG Bryce Cotton Is A Mutant: Downbeat #1642

Effin A, Cotton. Also: R.J. Hunter, Curb Your Enthusiasm, famous-numbered Jazz players, and FanPosts. It's your Wednesday Downbeat.

We're onto you, dude.
We're onto you, dude.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Remember this?

That man you see up there is Bryce Cotton. And apparently that jump is not an aberration. Because this week at P3 Sports Science in Santa Barbara, Bryce Cotton did this:

So, cool, Bryce Cotton is a mutant. Noted.

(By the way, the record he tied belongs to one Jeremy Evans. Except Jeremy is 6'9", and Bryce is 6'1". I have a friend named Charles Xavier who would like a word with you, Mr. Cotton.)

Meanwhile, back in NORMAL PERSON LAND, here's the crop of hopefuls the Jazz are bringing in for workouts tomorrow:

A few biggish names there -- Gary Bell Jr. was a thorn in the side of BYU fans for years, and Ute supporters will recognize the Pac-12 participants. But perhaps the most notable name there is R.J. Hunter, for giving us this moment:

(Sadly, Hunter's father would not be included were the Jazz to select him.)

Some draft observers have R.J. Hunter as a first-round prospect, and this Sports Illustrated "common-sense mock draft" says the Jazz could trade down and pick him:

[Trade: Wizards receive No. 12 pick and Trey Burke from Jazz in exchange for No. 19 pick, 2016 first-round pick and Ramon Sessions.]

Utah ranked first in the league in defensive efficiency after the All-Star break last season. If the Jazz can even come close to matching that mark next year, it stands to reason they could compete for a playoff spot with a slight uptick on the other end of the floor. Hunter, a skilled guard renowned for his three-point shooting, could provide Utah a much-needed spark off the bench.

I still think the Jazz will keep their pick at #12, but I've no doubt Dennis Lindsey will explore all his options. Anyone who can provide outside shooting could find minutes on this Jazz roster.

Then again, the Jazz are in kind of a weird draft situation -- they have players they like at every position, and no rookie is likely to win immediate minutes over the established returnees. Point guard? Backup minutes are up for grabs, but Dante Exum's gonna be the starter unless and until he proves he can't handle it. Shooting guard? If Alec Burks is healthy, you'll have to beat out Elijah Millsap and/or the Dennis Lindsey D-Leaguer Du Jour for backup time. Small forward? Say hello to Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood. Power forward? There's room off the bench, but Derrick Favors is playing 30+ minutes. Likewise at center with Rudy Gobert.

Bottom line, I can't see any rookie at #12 who will be taking minutes away from the starters, and except maybe at point guard or center, they'll struggle to get off the bench, too. Sure, there will be injuries, hot and cold streaks, and the usual ebbs and flows of the NBA season. And no backup spot is safe -- Trey Burke, Elijah Millsap, and Trevor Booker probably aren't long-term bench solutions and could all be beaten out for minutes. But chances are that this year's Jazz rookie(s) will be riding the pine.

What do you think? The draft is still several weeks away, and we haven't seen some of the bigger names in town for workouts yet, but which direction do you think the Jazz will go? And what role will that rookie play? Lemme know, because your guess is probably better than mine.

FanPosts! We didn't have any last week, but y'all responded like people who respond by writing FanPosts. Here's three good ones...

Uber_snotling on offseason issues facing other Western Conference teams:

I wanted to project which western conference teams would drop out of the playoffs next year to make room for the Jazz, but there is a huge amount of uncertainty for the rosters for next year's western conference. So I'm posting those findings as a bit of background to offseason moves that should heat up starting in July.

Beeblebrox42 on how good Jerry Sloan really was:

There's a discussion that floats around every so often as to whether Sloan or Jackson was the better coach (the most recent I recall was in the comments of Downbeat #1626). Outside of Jazz fandom, the answer is obviously Jackson, and it's no contest. I felt like digging into it a little to see if Jerry really has a case against Jackson or any other all-time great coach. I picked 10 of the best coaches in NBA history, I wanted to make sure there was a decent sample size, so the minimum requirement was 10+ years as head coach and an overall winning percentage above .500. There are a few that met those requirements that I didn't look at, mostly because I wanted to keep the list short (the last cut were K.C. Jones, Rick Carlisle, and Rick Adelman).

And Salty_Dog7 debuts with "Want, Maybe, Meh" draftee evaluations:

Now I know that a lot of draft stuff has been hashed and rehashed and will be for the next month until the draft, but why not throw my "Wannabe GM" hat into the ring.

With the Jazz picking 12th, there's a few guys there that I think would be a great fit. (And yes, I'm one of those guys that is a "draft for need" nerd. Don't know what it is, but it sucks seeing a guy drafted and totally doesn't fit what they need and then sits on the bench forever or gets shipped off somewhere else.) I have my own personal 3 categories of players I want the Jazz to get with the 12: Want, Maybe, and Meh.

I encourage you all to click through to those individual posts. They're all top notch. Thanks, friends!

In the wake of extremely-former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau's public execution firing, ESPN published a piece discussing whether so-called "defensive-minded" coaches have a success ceiling, a limit of being able to take teams only so far. Here's a snippet:

Kevin Pelton: It's not like the defensive-minded coaches don't like offense or anything like that, but if you're asking guys to expend that much energy and you're spending that much of your practice time at the defensive end, offense is inevitably going to get the short end of the stick. You hear a lot of 'let's hire an offensive- or defensive-minded guy, then go get an assistant who specializes on the other end of the floor.' Is that going to work if there's still not enough practice time, if there's not enough energy?

That part stuck out to me because it kind of reminded me of how last season went with some Jazz players, specifically Dante Exum. We heard in interviews, and it was visible on the court, that Dante was focusing on the defensive end. And it showed, both ways -- toward the end of the season, Exum was a definite plus on defense, especially as a starter. Offensively? Not so much. And that was a little weird, because the original scouting reports on Exum praised his quick first step and dribble penetration. So far, he hasn't shown much of that. But it seemed clear that Quin Snyder was encouraging Dante to focus on defense first.

Then again, Snyder wasn't necessarily supposed to be a defense-first coach, although he certainly preached hard about that side of the ball in his early days with the team. (That was probably due to the local media asking a lot of questions about defense, since the Corbin-era Jazz were extremely poor defensively.) So maybe Snyder's not a Thibs or a Scott Skiles -- he's just prioritizing.

Here's another bit from the ESPN article that paints less of a defense-vs.-offense picture, from Amin "Hate Hard" Elhassan:

The other reason is it's a control thing. The reason why these guys aren't good offensive coaches isn't because they don't know the game, the X's and O's. The best offensive coaches cede some control to the players to go off script. You give them the framework and structure but you don't make it rigid where you have to go through the progressions, or 'we better call timeout so I can draw up this play.' No, you let the players make decisions.

I liken it to regular sitcom television versus a show like "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Regular sitcom television is scripted. The actors have to say the exact words on the script and what the director wants. On "Curb Your Enthusiasm," there's more improvisation. To me, great offensive coaches, they do it like "Curb Your Enthusiasm." 'Hey, guys, these are the general play-actions we are going to run, I'm going to trust you to figure out when to audible, when to roll.'

Well, Quin Snyder certainly knows the game. So maybe there's nothing to worry about. And obviously, it's still really early to say whether this Jazz team will always be defense-first under Snyder. Personally, I think there's a ton Snyder has to offer these players offensively, and he just chose to get the defense sorted out as a better foundation for that offensive knowledge. I can't wait to see it.

Can you spot all the Jazzmen? (Hint: They're not all in Jazz uniforms.)

Give us your results in the comments.