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The Downbeat #1649: Stop Asking For Another Point Guard

Seriously, stop looking for another point guard. The Jazz are good. I swear. I promise. Just ... stop.

Is this Utah's future?
Is this Utah's future?
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

For those readers of the Dunk who are over 30, many of you remember the intricate flex offense that the Jazz used.  This motion offense when played correctly was as much of a buzzsaw as the current Golden State Warriors were this past season.  It focused on team play and avoided 1 on 1 isolations.  The coach who put this offense into motion in Salt Lake City was Jerry Sloan.  But the coach that taught Jerry Sloan this offense was Dick Motta.

Dick Motta was recently awarded the Chuck Daly Lifetime Achievement award.

Jerry Sloan played under Dick Motta while he was a player in Chicago.  Jerry Sloan's longtime assistant and good friend Phil Johnson also play under Motta, but not at the professional level.  He played under him as a 7th grade basketball player when Dick Motta coached at Grace High School in Grace, Idaho.  That's right, Idaho.  (Still a huge failure that Idaho State allowed him to sneak away to Weber State, but I digress.)

Jerry Sloan said of coach Motta:

None of us were great 1-on-1 players, but we played well together at both ends of the floor. Coach Motta had some plays, some offensive sets, that you can see teams still running every night in the NBA today. That's why I'm definitely surprised he's not in the Hall of Fame.

Dick Motta was known as a teacher of coaches.  Those coaches include (but are not limited to): Sloan, Johnson, Mitch Kupchak, Bob Weiss, Bernie Bickerstaff, Danny Ainge, Ron Ekker, Brad Davis, Scott Brooks, Jason Kidd, Gene Littles, Jim Brovelli, Mark Jackson, Clifford Ray and Rick Adelman.

The modern NBA can thank Motta.  Look at the Spurs, the LeBron Heat, the Golden State Warriors, the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics, the Utah Jazz, the Phoenix Suns, etc.  Dick Motta is to thank for beautiful team basketball.  Congratulations, Dick Motta.  Thank you for being such a big influence on Phil Johnson and Jerry Sloan.  Thank you for showing us the beautiful game.

There have been a few Jazz writers out there who are pushing for the Jazz to trade for a veteran.

There was this nugget:

And this one:

Even Kevin Pelton had recommended Patrick Beverley at some point.

Allow me to be the voice of reason for a moment.


Did I say that loud enough?  Let me explain why drafting another point guard or signing another point guard does not help the Utah Jazz in any way and would push this team backward.


The Jazz if they choose to sign or draft a point guard will increase the amount of salary in the point guard position exponentially.  Right now the Jazz have committed $6,435,960 to the point guard position.  If they were to draft another point guard they are bringing that number to $9,000,000.  Before drafting another one do you want to hand that much money to three projects?  At this point you gotta choose.

If the Jazz sign another point guard that full number for the point guard position is now at about $12,000,000.  That's for two projects AND a point guard with a limited ceiling.  For $12,000,000 you should have star potential, not two projects and a B player.

Dante's Development

Quin Snyder has already shown that he has a penchant for development.  He has helped Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors, Rodney Hood, and Joe Ingles reach new highs.  One could add Dante Exum into that mix.  Many want to throw Dante Exum and Trey Burke under the bus for their terrible play next season.  This would be naive and jumping the gun.  Especially when it comes to Dante Exum.  Some would say his rookie season was disappointing.  But it should be encouraging.  He saw his role, didn't shoot the Jazz out of the game, and played superb defense.  Once upon a time there was another gangly 19 year old who hadn't grown into his body who had a very rough season.  Many thought he shouldn't have earned rookie of the year honors because he shot the ball so poorly.  That player?  Kevin Durant.

Now is Dante Exum a point guard version of Kevin Durant?  I would hope, but most likely not.  But a struggle filled rookie year is not a bad omen.  It's more like a right of passage in the NBA.  There was evidence that Dante was starting to turn the corner at the end of the year.  He is in Utah training and has put an emphasis on his improvement.  Mucking up Dante's development for a quick spike of improvement is like burning all your turbo at the beginning of Cruising The World.  It's short-sighted.  We all want to make the playoffs, don't sacrifice prolonged playoff success for a two year playoff blip.

The Backup Point Guard Argument

This is the great one in form right now.  The Jazz need to part ways with Trey Burke and get a true backup point guard.  A VETERAN point guard.  The problem with this argument is most of the time the argument against Trey Burke as a good backup is his ceiling is a solid backup point guard.  So the Utah Jazz in essence have a point guard on a rookie contract with All-Star potential and another point guard on a rookie contract with veteran back up point guard potential.  Now it's a very sensitive chemistry that Quin Snyder has to balance.  This can go bad.  But if Snyder can keep Trey Burke bought in to being a change of pace point guard off the bench the Jazz could have high potential in their backcourt shortly after boasting one of the worst backcourts in the NBA.

Besides the Jazz traded up for Trey Burke.  They're not going to bring in another point guard and diminish Trey's value to the point of being stuck in Utah.  Utah will build Trey's value up.  If Trey doesn't want to play second fiddle then the Jazz will trade him WHEN HIS VALUE IS HIGHER.

Some have said the Jazz should do so anyway citing that Trey is a sunk cost.  Those who have said so misunderstand what a sunk cost is.  A sunk cost is a stationary building that can't improve itself over the course of its life and will only depreciate over time.  Trey Burke still has plenty of time left on his contract that is still unpaid.  That has not been sunk.  The value of his performance in relation to his contract is not sunk.  The past two years?  Yes, sunk.  Gone.  But the future?  No.  Trey's value has never been lower to trade partners.  But Trey's importance to the Jazz has never been higher.  He must succeed in order for the Jazz to maintain cap flexibility and to be a consistent threat in the playoffs and not just a blip on the radar of the Western Conference postseason.

I have made no mistake that I think the Jazz should target Kevon Looney with their #12 pick.  At this time he is projected to go anywhere from #14 to #20.  I truly believe that by the time the NBA Draft is here he will be projected to go to the Utah Jazz.  If you're a Utah Jazz fan, you should be cheering for Looney.  He is made in the image of Andrei Kirilenko.  He is a lanky power forward who played point guard as a senior in high school and transitioned to power forward during his freshman year of college.  He had a hip injury and most of the people knocking him should know that all of his stats were earned on that injured hip.

Still not a believer?  That's okay.  The analytics are starting to paint a picture that he is a better player than what most people realize.

Daniel Frank of DraftExpress had this to say about Kevon Looney (emphasis added):

NBA teams have proven to overvalue youth, handsize, vertical jump, speed and wingspan while undervaluing steals and assists in making their draft selections. Stats such as steals, rebounding and low foul rates are important for projecting NBA success, while scoring and high usage shooting percentage seem to be less important. These rankings place Delon Wright, Kevon Looney, Wesley Saunders, Seth Tuttle as the most underrated, and Jonathan Holmes, Willie Cauley-Stein, Devin Booker and Anthony Brown as some of the most overrated in comparison to the DraftExpress rankings. While these tools provide guidance, they are incomplete without further investigation. Do the models underrate Cauley-Stein because they fail to capture his defensive abilities? Or do scouts overvalue his defense due to his athletic ability or his pairing with Karl Towns, by far the best defender in college basketball?

Many have fallen in love with great shooting.  As they should, it's a beauty to behold.  But don't overlook great shooting with a bad defensive player.  Jazz fans should still have fresh the memory of Enes Kanter who could be a bull on offense but a lamb on defense.  Remember the first beat of today?  What Sloan said? "We played well together at both ends of the floor."  The analytics love Looney because he plays hard both ways.

Andrew Johnson of Draft Express has this to say about Kevon Looney (emphasis added):

My P-AWS draft model is built using box score statistics, age, competition level, and high school rankings. Of the outliers between P-AWS and the consensus rankings, Kevon Looney, a freshman who was highly recruited entering college, may be the one I would point any organization to re-evaluate. Looney scored above average compared to the rest of the draft prospects in every statistical category except for scoring, which just happens to be the least predictable measure going from college to the pros.

At the end of article Draft Express has Kevon Looney rated #9 on their combined analytic models.  If the Jazz select Looney at #12 it won't be a reach, it'll be a steal.

If the Jazz were to draft Kevon Looney they would have a team full of guys needing to get SWOLL.  Well, don't you worry.  The Jazz are about to get an upgrade in the SWOLL department.

The Jazz right now have a lot of young players transitioning to the NBA.  It's important to get them some help maintaining an NBA diet and training lifestyle.  This is a great move for a young team.  Think of the players that are going to need to bulk up:

Rudy Gobert

Dante Exum

Rodney Hood

Trey Burke

Joe Ingles

#12 Draft Pick

The Jazz seem to be "borrowing" a lot from the Atlanta Hawks and San Antonio Spurs as of late.  AND I'M LOVING IT.

The Jazz are having another free agent camp this year.  This has become an annual tradition now.  The Jazz have found a lot of unheralded players out of these things and as I have mentioned before in my Blue Ocean Downbeat, this is part of the Jazz's strategy.  Combing through as many players as possible to find diamonds in the rough is vital to the Jazz's future.  It allows them to find players that won't count a lot toward the salary cap, but can be vital contributors on their team.  Well, here are this year's contestants.

Last minute entry.

Thank you, Utah Jazz, for not muting Rudy Gobert's twitter.