Frustrating loss in Portland on Sunday night, but the Utah Jazz have a chance to get right back into the playoff hunt with a win over the Houston Rockets tonight (who suddenly have two extra unwanted players after the traded Donatas Motiejunas failed a physical in Detroit). I wouldn't want to be in Houston's shoes, as I have a feeling the Jazz are going to take out their frustrations on an already dysfunctional Rockets team.
(I realize I have just cast a mighty jinx upon tonight's game. If the Jazz lose...well, my bad.)
Anyway. It's your Tuesday Downbeat, so we should probably bust a move.
JuMu already mentioned this tweet yesterday (and you probably saw it right after Sunday's game), but it's worth mentioning again:
One day i'm gonna take that fine and tell the truth about what's going on. Anyway we have to learn from this one and keep moving forward.— Rudy Gobert (@rudygobert27) February 22, 2016
This is far from the first time the Stifle Tower has taken a perceived (or manufactured) slight personally. On Sunday night it was unfavorable calls, but previously Rudy's reacted to short shrift from national media, fellow players, and pretty much anyone who even vaguely insinuates that he isn't the greatest center in the history of history.
It's that competitive fire, among other things, that ESPN's Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton say lifts Gobert above his fellow NBA "juniors," or third-year players:
[Gobert's] defensive presence is elite and there's enough potential there as an offensive player to believe he'll have an impact on that end too. I also love Gobert's work ethic and how he's continued to work on his game.
Interestingly, the fact that Gobert slid to No. 27 shows a real weakness in the draft evaluation process. Early in the 2012-13 season, Gobert was considered a top-10 pick, and he was still likely to go in the lottery coming into the NBA draft combine. But a poor performance there combined with lackluster individual workouts torpedoed Gobert's stock.
Had he not had a killer workout for the Jazz right before the draft, he might have slid out of the first round. Clearly, the early scouting process was more accurate than where it ended up. I think NBA scouts (and I) may put too much emphasis on what prospects do in workouts. Gobert is certainly a cautionary tale.
It's cliche to talk about the "chip on his shoulder" factor, but it's apparent in Rudy. I hope he never loses it.
This next item isn't Jazz-related, specifically, but I think it might apply to the kind of organization the Jazz want to build.
I can't understate how rare this kind of attitude is, not just in sports but anywhere in the working world. Because "getting over yourself" is not an easy thing to do. Especially when your individual performance is directly and proportionately tied to your monetary success, as it is for most athletes.
The Jazz and Spurs have a weird connection. I once said that the Spurs are like an episode of a bad sci-fi show where the protagonist travels to an alternate universe and meets the version of himself who graduated top of the class and married the prom queen and now owns a successful line of, I dunno, yacht dealerships or something. (Look, I say a lot of things.) The point is, the Spurs have openly said they aped the '90s Jazz in their organization, and now we have a general manager and a coach who both spent significant time in the Spurs system.
It wouldn't surprise me to hear Dennis Lindsey or Quin Snyder say that quote embedded above. I think that shows in the personnel acquisitions the team has made in the last few years, whether it's drafting Rodney Hood or signing Joe Ingles or trading for Shelvin Mack. I think they're looking for players who have gotten over themselves. (Or at least players whose ego can be channeled for the greater good, in someone like Rudy Gobert's case.)
I also think the bit about not having a wall between management and coaching is important. Not to beat a dead horse here, but more than anything else during the Ty Corbin era, I feel like that was a problem. And it speaks volumes that Pop would go out of his way to say that most NBA organizations AREN'T unified. (We're seeing that play out in front of our eyes with the Sacramento Kings, whose owner and GM and coach aren't on the same page, book, shelf, or within 500 numbers via Dewey decimal system.)
The Jazz may not be as far along as I'd hoped at this point, but I'm still not worried. Because I do think the team is full of players, coaches and personnel who have "gotten over themselves."
No new FanPosts this week. Instead, please enjoy this extremely chill upper-class cat:
Quick Twitter hits:
We heard during the trade deadline that these moves are basically just so Tibor can get some practice time with the Jazz. In other words...don't unpack, big guy.
(Also, next time, can you bring me some Flying Pie pizza from Boise? That's the good stuff.)
Moni tells us -- and she would know -- that this video aired during a Jazz broadcast earlier this season, but I'm just seeing it for the first time:
Who's the best/worst dressed on the team? The guys weigh in... https://t.co/kF9rFKbdDb— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) February 22, 2016
More fuel for the fire, Young Rud.