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Downbeat #1866 - Making Changes, or Not

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

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Well, I suppose it was refreshing to see the Jazz NOT blow a double digit lead before losing.

Game Flow

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Last night showed off what remains the major flaw with our beloved team. Hood was out with a sore back, so Chris Johnson started instead.

This ain't ideal.

Once upon a time, the Jazz had quality players who could fill in with real minutes. Ronnie B.'s out? No problem, cuz we had Kyle Korver and Wesley Matthews to fill in. Boozer's out? Fine ... in comes Millsap. And so forth.

I understand, to a point, the reason for the current Jazz team's lack of depth. I get they wanted to give Trey Burke a final chance without undermining him. That the injury to Alec Burks wasn't exactly planned. That they believe, very strongly, in Dante Exum and don't want to sign anyone to be in his way future years. I get it.

But man, it is hard to watch a team whose talent pool is so shallow, sometimes.

Talent pool

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There are only 18 games left in the season. By my count, the Jazz might be the better team in about ten of the games (Washington, Sacramento, Phoenix twice, Milwaukee, Minnesota twice, LOL twice, Denver). I'm not sure winning these ten will be enough for a #PlayoffPush. At some point, the team is going to have to both beat weaker teams and also pull off a couple wins against better teams.

I'm not feeling confident right now. But in reality that's mostly because of the past couple weeks. Teams go through funks. Teams can also pull off decent runs.

But now is definitely time for the runs.

Burn

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Watching Paul Millsap play so well in Atlanta has reminded me, again, that it's important to NOT overreact to what is happening to a team right now. I remember the hand-wringing (just a few years ago) that the Jazz simply had to get bigger. That they'd never be able to get through the Lakers with perpetually undersized bigs.

Well ... stuff changes. I don't know anyone expected the Warriors revolution. But we should have been able to realize the Lakers weren't going to be the team to beat forever.

My hope is that the Jazz don't overreact to their current struggles and jettison one of the things that is good about the team in an attempt to make them better. Yes, there is a lot of work that needs to be done. I think it's pretty clear they need a pretty major overhaul on their roster after the top 4. I think it's pretty clear the top 4 also need to work hard and improve.

But I don't think we should give up on the kind of team they are trying to build because of a couple tough weeks. Or because of the style of the best team in the NBA right now.

Don't Panic

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So, keeping my point #4 in mind, here's a question I have wondered since the beginning of the season:

At what point do you decide to go in a different direction?

I'm going to quote the ultimate source of truth and wisdom: the fantasy masterpiece Taran Wanderer, by Lloyd Alexander:

"I could forge a sword well enough and weave a cloak well enough. But now, what I truly long to grasp is beyond my reach. Must the one skill I sought above all be denied me?" Taran burst out in an anguished voice. "Is the gift forbidden me?" He bowed his head, and his heart froze even as he spoke the words, for he knew, within himself, he had touched the truth ...

"It is a heavy question," Annlaw replied at last. He put a hand on Taran's shoulder. "Indeed no man can answer it. There are those who have labored all their lives to gain the gift, striving until the end only to find themselves mistaken; and those who had it born in them yet never knew; those who lost heart too soon; and those who should have never begun at all."

It's hard. Because you never want to be the one who gives up too soon. You also never want to be the person who stubbornly insists they are on the right path, only to discover at the end you should have gone a different way long ago.

The original impetus to the question was thinking of both Rodney Hood and Alec Burks at the beginning of this year. I had been a stubborn Burks fan, but I was able to be real enough to accept that he might not become the guy I had hoped he would become. And I was trying to decide, for myself, at what point do I say "I've seen enough."

The question matters for more of our team as we continue on. There are still many young players who have a lot of potential for growth. And yet the team also desperately needs some real depth. At what point do you decide that one guy isn't going to do it for you? At what point do you decide to fill the roster spot with a different person?

What do you all think? Has the team reached a point that they need to make changes via trade or free agency? Or should the continue on their path of draft and develop and see where all their player development can take them?

Annlaw