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It's Never Too Early To Talk Utah Jazz Playoffs: The Downbeat #1690

We're light on Jazz news but heavy on playoff predictions, Trey Talk, and kittens. It's your Tuesday Downbeat.

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Look, we're in that terrible stretch of offseason where nothing NBA-related is happening. Let's just make the best of it by talking about stuff that won't be relevant for months!

Over at the SBNation mothership, Liam Boylan-Pett gives a brief rundown of the Jazz offseason and why they should be in the mix for a playoff spot, even in the murderous West:

After finishing off the season on such a high note, the Jazz weren't very active this summer. But that doesn't mean they didn't make upgrades. Gobert is going to have even more responsibility, Hayward and Exum should improve, and Burks and Lyles will add depth and offensive firepower.

The Jazz didn't sign a LaMarcus Aldridge or a slew of role players, but if they play at the same level they did to close out the 2014-15 season, they will challenge for a playoff spot.

It's not easy to interrupt the status quo in the West. The Golden State Warriors, Spurs, Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets are all coming back as good or stronger than last season. The Thunder are going all-in with Kevin Durant back and healthy, and the New Orleans Pelicans brought in a new coach. But the Portland Trail Blazers and Dallas Mavericks took a step back. That eighth spot is attainable.

It's funny -- a few years ago, I was dreading the possibility of an eighth seed for the Jazz and an inevitable slaughter at the hands of the Spurs. Now, I'd be fine with that outcome. And this isn't saying anything that you don't already know, but it's because the Jazz have a strong upward trajectory now. That playoff spot a few years ago was a desultory attempt at making a mediocre roster seem better than it was. Now, the eighth seed would just be a tasty hors d'oeuvre before the main course of NBA championship contention.

For the Jazz to take that next step, though, they'll need better point guard play. Writing for the Deseret News, Kincade Upstill (wow, and I thought my name was cool) points out an interesting fact about Trey Burke's poor shooting:

Let's break down Burke's shooting numbers: In catch-and-shoot situations, he averaged 46 percent from two and 35 percent from three, which are very solid numbers; but on pull-up jumpers he only shot 40 percent from two and 18 percent from three. The highest percentage of his shots comes from pull-up jumpers that require playing one on one, which is not his strength. If the Jazz can get Burke to become more of a spot-up shooter and less of a creator, then he might become a great role player for the Jazz. Burke has been an alpha dog his whole career, and switching to a role player could be a challenge and a blow to his ego.

I hadn't looked into that before, but it immediately makes sense. All the more reason why Trey shouldn't be starting, and why he shouldn't be looked to as a primary scoring option. He's still a decent passer, by the way -- his career assist-to-turnover ratio sits at 2.84, and he ranked 15th in the NBA among qualified players in that category last season. (On the other hand, his assists-per-48-minutes ranking was 45th in the league. So while he didn't turn it over much, he also didn't get that many assists relative to minutes played.)

Bottom line, as enamored as we've been with Bryce Cotton over the summer, and as much as I want to see Raul Neto compete in the NBA, in the short-term, Trey Burke is still the best choice at backup point guard. And he can still be effective...IF he refines his shot selection and makes himself a more consistent distributor. The trending information doesn't bode well, but I'm still hopeful.

FanPost time! I'm a little behind on these, so it's time to catch up.

pacoelcid on PER and GO Rating estimations:

Since Summer league is quickly playing out with the last game this afternoon, I thought I'd give everyone a snapshot of how players have performed. To do this, I brought back my "bin" charts.

For those who don't know, a bin chart shows a player's stat distribution over a period of time. In this case, the stats selected for the "bin" charting were estimated PER and estimated GO Rating for each game a player participated in.

Mykroberts on financial planning and Derrick Favors:

Basically in 2017/2018 Favors is slotted in for the bargain price of 12 million. The Jazz can renegotiate him to a max(ish) deal as long as they have the cap space. This should be easy as the cap will be jumping up a good chunk in 2017 (numbers in spreadsheet). It is a little silly to figure out the exact max as the cap is just estimated (and its 30% of some not-quite-cap number) so I'm going to pretend it is 30 million. The Jazz would be giving Favors 18 million dollars, but not out of the goodness of their hearts...

and Fesenko For President on where the Jazz's scoring will come from this season:

Based on the Jazz performance last season after the trade deadline, most Jazz fans expect the Jazz defense to continue to be very good this upcoming season, holding other teams to an average point total somewhere in the neighborhood of between 94 and 96 points per game. Therefore, the key to the Jazz making the play-offs is to be able to improve point input on offense.

Thanks as always to all our FanPosters. We have all been FanPosterized.

Trey Lyles had an inconsistent and all-too-brief NBA Summer League campaign. ESPN's David Thorpe breaks down what he saw:

Key summer-league stats:
11.3 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 31.3 FG% (6-23 from 3)

Lyles got plenty of minutes during summer league, so he was able to put up some decent box-score stats. But he is the classic guy who is very tall and skilled for a young college player but not yet ready to use those gifts against equally sized men who are stronger. He was able to find good shots but did not finish a lot of them.

He reminds me of Tobias Harris, though maybe not quite as skilled as a scorer. It took Harris a few years to catch up to the men he was facing in NBA games. The good news for Lyles, who is loaded with upside based on a strong skill set in an agile and coordinated body, is that Utah has proved to be a team that can develop young guys well.

I talked about some of my thoughts on Trey Lyles' performance a week or two ago on (shameless plug incoming) the Salt City Hoops radio show with our frenemy Andy Larsen. I thought, as Thorpe says here, that Lyles was able to find good shots, and that his basketball IQ was evident (although I kind of hate that phrase/concept). He didn't look lost to me, is what I'm trying to say. That's a good sign.

The bad sign is that he still shot so poorly. Jazz brass have referred to Lyles' potential as a "playmaking 4." But if you're not a threat to score yourself, defenders will sag off and clog the paint, preventing the kind of interior passing that Lyles could facilitate.

Obviously it's way too soon to tell. I'd be interested to hear your impressions on Lyles so far, though.

HoopsHype put together this piece on the first tweets ever posted by a handful of NBA stars. I looked up a few of our Jazz players' first tweets, and most of them are simple, boring, official statements. But I'm a fan of Trevor Booker's:

Hit this link to plug in other Twitter accounts, and let us know what you come up with.

That's all I've got. Enjoy the internet, cats and kittens.