Times are good in Jazzland. The roster is healthy(-ish), they're on a six-game winning streak, they're climbing the standings in the Western Conference, they're crushing fools with defense and getting diverse contributions on offense. True, it took all of those things just to get back to .500 after all the injuries and sluggish play, but it looks like a repeat of last year's post-All-Star dominance is possible, this time with postseason consequences.
Today, we'll examine Utah's notoriously slow pace, get an update on an old legend, and ask you some weird questions. Because it's your Tuesday Downbeat, and that's how we get down.
It's been well established this season that the Jazz play at the slowest pace in the NBA. It's funny, because I don't always feel like the team plays slowly when I watch. But it makes sense -- when a rookie from Brazil is your starting point guard, and your other one is Trey Burke, fast breaks aren't really option number one.
On the other hand, there's more to pace than fast breaks, as this article from Nylon Calculus' Seth Partnow shows:
Speed of the game, its energy, tempo, is vitally important. Controlling that tempo is choosing the field on which the battle will be fought, a huge advantage to whichever team is able to grab it. But for all the understanding of the importance of pace, we do not have a very good way of describing it in statistical terms.
Sure, there is the "pace" statistic, which is not a bad stat, so far as it goes. But number of possessions in a game2 is not quite the same thing as the "speed of the game." Innumerable quirks can raise or lower this possession count, when exact possession counts are even used.3 Offensive rebounds, turnovers, intentional fouls can skew this total to make a game appear to have been played much faster or slower than would be described by the naked eye.
Partnow goes on to calculate, as best as possible given limited data, a more accurate measure of pace. Do the Jazz rate any faster with these new metrics? Click through to find out.
Really, though, I couldn't be happier that the Jazz like to slow things down. It plays into the hands of the team's Stifle Tower-ing defense, and it puts teams like the Warriors off-balance. (Well, maybe not the Warriors specifically. They're not human.) I love watching teams struggle when they can't do what they're used to on offense. It basically makes me do this:
Meanwhile, former Jazz point god John Stockton has left his secret Batcave in Spokane to help out this season with the Montana State women's basketball team, where his daughter Lindsay plays. The Salt Lake Tribune's Kurt Kragthorpe reports:
To say that assisting comes naturally for Stockton would ignore how he's also the NBA's all-time leader in stealing. Clearly, though, this role suits him. He loves the job description to "say what I see — even if it ruffles feathers," he said as the Bobcats warmed up before practice. "That goes with [players] or coaches. ... They've been beyond responsive."
And why not? "He's brilliant," said sophomore guard Hannah Caudill, who has played since elementary school for various teams coached by Stockton in their shared hometown of Spokane, Wash., where he returned after retiring from the Jazz in 2003. "He knows exactly what to say at the right times, and you can't not listen to him."
Not that Quin Snyder isn't doing a great job -- I hope you stay a long, long time, you crazy-eyed weirdo -- but I still have dreams of Stock returning in triumph to Salt Lake City and taking up, Elisha-like, the head coaching mantle. But notice that he's only assisting at Montana State -- the team's official roster lists him last among assistant coaches, a sign of subordinate status. I don't think John has any desire to deal with the kind of attention and drama of NBA life ever again.
Sad for us, but good for him. Still love you, Stock.
FanPosts! Got a trio for you this week. First, rvalens2 on the hot-take-topic-du-jour, intentional fouling:
Changing this rule would be advantageous for the team with the ball, because they would always put the ball in their best free-throw shooters' hands. But more importantly, it would speed up the game. The intentional foul rule would also give defenders less of a reason to intentionally foul an opponent, due to the heavy penalty that would be imposed. The result should be a lot less fouling towards the end of games and would end teams intentionally fouling players who do not have the ball in their hands.
Jordan Cummings follows up on last week's conversation about new marketing slogans:
"We Are Utah" is a pretty awful marketing slogan. It alienates Jazz fans who aren't residents of Utah, and it puts more focus on the state than on the team itself. A few ideas have been tossed around recently, and during an hours-long road trip over the weekend, I started thinking (dangerous, I know).
Anyway, I had a few ideas rattling around and so I decided to start a fanpost dedicated to potential marketing campaigns for the Jazz team we all love so much.
And gubihero applies football's shutdown-corner principle to Derrick Favors' block numbers:
Interesting thing, Favors has been rejecting a lot of shots recently. Around 5 a game for the last 3 games. Now typically if you were to say the Jazz had a player block 5 shots on any given game you would suggest it would be Gobert, and rightfully so, but Gobzilla is only blocking about 1 or 2 shots a game during the same block of time.
So what is going on? I would like to throw out this theory which I like to call the Elite Cornerback Theory. In fantasy football, it doesn't make sense to put an elite shut down corner on your roster because, counter intuitively they don't get any numbers. The reason? They are sooooo good that the opposing team doesn't throw the ball anywhere near them. So the trick is to put the corner that plays opposite said elite corner on your roster and rack up the stats.
Ever seen an NBA court assembled? Gordon Hayward has now, in this weirdly dramatically-soundtracked twitter video:
One more from Twitter to end on: @mattpacenza shares this unusual question, which was part of a survey sent to Jazz season-ticket holders: