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NBA Playoffs 2016: Utah Jazz leaders Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors should be done watching on TV

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We should learn from history. And the historical record shows that we're behind.

Harry How/Getty Images

Soooooooooooooooooo, the NBA Playoffs are still a thing. More aptly, they continue to be a thing without our beloved Utah Jazz. I worked it out and our team's 2nd round Drought stands at six seasons now, and while it's not as bad as some other teams (Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings, as examples), it's still been six years. A number of our players, ostensibly our "core", are still on rookie contracts. But right now they are pretty much supporting the "true vets" on our team right now: G-Time and D-Favs. (Also, as an aside, I hate this "FIRST NAME initial - LAST NAME short form" style of nicknames.)

In fact, only three current Jazzmen have even made the NBA playoffs with the Utah Jazz. Ever.

Going Playoffs 1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round
Player Pos Into G Min MPG Playoffs Semi. Finals Conf. Finals NBA Finals
1 Dante Exum 1 2 2nd -- -- -- -- -- -- --
2 Rodney Hood 2 3 3rd -- -- -- -- -- -- --
3 Gordon Hayward 3 2 7th 4 123 30.75 2 -- -- --
4 Derrick Favors 4 5 7th 4 116 29.00 2 -- -- --
5 Rudy Gobert 5 4th -- -- -- -- -- -- --
6 Shelvin Mack 1 2 6th -- -- -- -- -- -- --
7 Alec Burks 2 1 6th 4 63 15.75 1 -- -- --
8 Joe Ingles 3 2 3rd -- -- -- -- -- -- --
9 Trevor Booker 4 7th -- -- -- -- -- -- --
10 Jeff Withey 5 4th -- -- -- -- -- -- --
11 Raul Neto 1 2 2nd -- -- -- -- -- -- --
12 Trey Burke 1 2 4th -- -- -- -- -- -- --
13 Chris Johnson 2 3 5th -- -- -- -- -- -- --
14 Trey Lyles 4 3 2nd -- -- -- -- -- -- --
15 Tibor Pleiss 5 2nd -- -- -- -- -- -- --

N.B. Playoff minutes values for JUST Jazz games, Playoff round number is that player's first time reaching that round, and indicated by their then current year in the league

Gordon and Derrick both made the playoffs for the first time in their Jazz careers in their 2nd season in the NBA. Alec comes in during his rookie year (Enes Kanter too, but whatever...). But that's just three guys out of 15 who have played home games in front of a Jazz crowd. The question I had was "is this good enough?" I don't think so. Sure, these kids made the playoffs years ago when they were whipper-snappers. But the rest of the team is now at risk to go through their rookie contracts without a taste of the playoffs.

And it's really not good enough that going into the 7th season for these guys that they haven't even seen the 2nd round yet.

As a result, to test my hypothesis I had to delve into New Orleans / Utah Jazz history. I looked at every player who has ever played a playoff game for the franchise. And I looked at every season, including lottery years. And the good news is that there were a lot of strong Jazz teams led by actual star players. The bad news is that, well, our current team has the potential to be strong, and has the potential to have stars on it.

If the proof is in the NBA Playoff Pudding, well, let's look at it:

Point Guards:

Point Guards Playoffs 1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round
Player Pos G Min MPG Playoffs Semi. Finals Conf. Finals NBA Finals
1 Deron Williams 1 2 44 1,779 40.43 2 2 2
2 John Stockton 1 182 6,398 35.15 1 1 8 13
3 Derek Fisher 1 2 16 445 27.81 11 11 11
4 Rickey Green 1 36 935 25.97 6 6
5 Jay Humphries 1 2 21 471 22.43 9 10 10
6 Howard Eisley 1 79 1,226 15.52 2 2 2 3
7 Delaney Rudd 1 2 24 187 7.79 1 2 3
8 Jacque Vaughn 1 21 154 7.33 1 1 1 1
9 Ronnie Price 1 2 24 174 7.25 3 3
10 John Crotty 1 16 84 5.25 1 2 2

Deron Williams led that magical 2006-2007 Utah Jazz run to the Western Conference Finals Text in his soph season. But that was a team that a) had some luck in the playoffs, and b) had a lot of good players on it. And a Hall of Fame coach. And I guess Derek Fisher was kinda important too -- in his 11th season he had come to the Jazz with years of playoff experience behind him. John Stockton inherited a veteran team with Green, Griff, Dantley, and Eaton. He made it to the second round as a bench player, but when he was given the keys to the car he didn't make it to the 3rd round until his 8th season in the league, and he was in his 13th when he made the NBA Finals.

Bench point guards have mostly latched on behind our two star PGs, Stock and D-Will. This team may not have a stud PG (we hope Dante Exum is), and if the team makes the playoffs and wins a round he would look like he's on track compared to the other PGs on this list. Trey Burke is going into his 4th year and may not be on the team in a few months, and Shelvin Mack is going into his 6th year. If the team makes the playoffs next season getting a "6" up there isn't the end of the world. Heck, that's when Rickey Green finally made the playoffs in a Jazz jersey.

Shooting Guards and Small Forwards:

Wingmen Playoffs 1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round
Player Pos G Min MPG Playoffs Semi. Finals Conf. Finals NBA Finals
11 Wesley Matthews 2 3 10 371 37.10 1 1
12 Jeff Malone 2 30 1,111 37.03 9 9 9
13 Jeff Hornacek 2 1 100 3,321 33.21 8 8 8 11
14 Darrell Griffith 2 37 1,038 28.05 4 4
15 Bob Hansen 2 40 1,010 25.25 1 1
16 Kyle Korver 2 3 27 605 22.41 5 5
17 Ronnie Brewer 2 3 23 504 21.91 1 1 1
18 Shandon Anderson 2 49 971 19.82 1 1 1 1
19 Gordan Giricek 2 3 17 307 18.06 5 5 5
20 DeShawn Stevenson 2 1 5 45 9.00 1
21 Adrian Dantley 3 21 852 40.57 8 8
22 Bryon Russell 3 2 96 3,056 31.83 1 1 1 4
23 Donyell Marshall 3 4 9 284 31.56 7
24 Andrei Kirilenko 3 4 45 1,347 29.93 1 6 6
25 Tyrone Corbin 3 2 37 1,021 27.59 7 7 7
26 Matt Harpring 3 2 39 847 21.72 5 9 9
27 David Benoit 3 4 57 1,237 21.70 1 1 1
28 Blue Edwards 3 2 34 722 21.24 1 3 3
29 C.J. Miles 3 2 22 424 19.27 2 2 2
30 Chris Morris 3 55 736 13.38 8 8 8 9

Wesley Matthews stands pretty nicely at the top but he inherited a really good team to be a part of. The Jeffs were vets who cut their teeth with other teams, but were important additions to help the team move forward. But outside of the Golden Griff (and Gordan Giricek), all the other shooting guards on this list first advanced in their rookies seasons. It's impressive to see how far they reached on their first tries. But that's the Wes issue of being added to a good team.

Our current shooting guards, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, and depending on the day or what injury the team has, Chris Johnson or Trey Burke, or whatever, are not guys who joined pre-existing playoff teams.

Out of the small forwards there are a few different groups. The young guys who joined good teams made the playoffs early in their careers, like C.J. Miles, Blue Edwards, David Benoit, and Bryon Russell. The Jazzmen who did the opposite, toiled on bad teams to rise them up, had longer roads to playoff success, like AD, and AK-47. The vet additions group (and you could put AD in that group) if Matt Harpring, Tyrone Corbin, and Chris Morris show that there is a legit path to helping the team make the playoffs -- like what the Jeffs did in the shooting guard section.

Gordon making the playoffs in his 2nd season is nice and in line with most of the SG/SFs who started their careers with the Jazz. Gordon not making the 2nd round of the playoffs, ever, is not. Andrei made the playoffs as a rookie, but had to wait until five seasons later to make the 2nd round. Gordon could match that five year waiting period if the team makes the second round next season. If not, then he's behind Andrei in yet another milestone. #AllStar

Power Forwards and Centers:

Bigmen Playoffs 1st Round 2nd Round 3rd Round 4th Round
Player Pos G Min MPG Playoffs Semi. Finals Conf. Finals NBA Finals
31 Karl Malone 4 5 172 7,109 41.33 1 3 7 12
32 Carlos Boozer 4 5 44 1,683 38.25 5 5 5
33 Thurl Bailey 4 5 69 2,117 30.68 1 1 9
34 Paul Millsap 4 48 1,090 22.71 1 1 1
35 Tom Chambers 4 5 21 385 18.33 13 13 13
36 Mike Brown 4 5 37 668 18.05 3 5 6
37 Antoine Carr 4 5 63 1,025 16.27 11 12 12 13
38 Greg Foster 4 5 60 790 13.17 6 6 6 7
39 Marc Iavaroni 4 3 21 258 12.29 4
40 Adam Keefe 4 3 54 561 10.39 3 4 4 5
41 Al Jefferson 5 4 141 35.25 8
42 Mehmet Okur 5 4 32 1,101 34.41 5 5 5
43 Mark Eaton 5 74 2,295 31.01 2 2 10
44 Olden Polynice 5 15 360 24.00 13 13
45 Felton Spencer 5 34 768 22.59 4 4 4
46 Jeff Wilkins 5 21 462 22.00 4 4
47 Greg Ostertag 5 87 1,742 20.02 1 1 1 2
48 Rich Kelley 5 20 375 18.75 9 9
49 Kyrylo Fesenko 5 10 181 18.10 1 1
50 Jarron Collins 5 4 24 212 8.83 1 6 6

Despite personal success, team success wasn't easy for Karl. He made the playoffs as a rookie, but didn't first reach the 2nd round until two years later. Then he had to wait another four years before making the 4rd round (the Western Conference Finals). But that's not all! It was only after another five seasons from that level before he got to the NBA Finals.

Beyond Karl, a geological era it seems, the Jazz have not much to be happy about in the power forward success game. Thurl Bailey predated Karl, and came onto a very nice team, but had to wait most of his career before going from a good playoff team to being a championship contender. And much like John and Karl, Thurl benefited from staying with the same team for so long. I don't think that today's salary structure lends itself to that type of long-term longevity with one franchise. And that's the fear . . . how long can we expect Derrick Favors to be happy parked in Utah is the team isn't winning? Of course, Favors should be one of the reasons why the team wins or loses.

He will be going into his 7th season and hasn't seen the 2nd round yet. Thurl and Paul Millsap saw the second round as rookies. Karl in his 3rd. Adam Keefe in his 4th. Carlos Boozer and Mike Brown in their 5th. It's high time for him to see the playoffs again, and in a more meaningful way.

Mark Eaton worked his entire career off, he helped the Jazz make the playoffs in his second season in the NBA. That same year they made the 2nd round. But he had to wait 8 more years before surpassing that height. The flipside is Greg Ostertag who was added to a contender and made it to the West Finals as a rookie and the NBA Finals in his second season. Sometimes life isn't fair. There are lots of vet addition centers: Big Al Jefferson was a star before joining, Mehmet Okur had a Championship ring, Olden Polynice was a journeyman with lots of experience. It's rare that a homegrown Jazz center thrived.

Which is why Rudy Gobert would be a bigger deal than we realize if the team tastes a lot of success with him in the starting lineup. The two "defense first" bigs (Mark and O-Tag) were lucky to be on the court with more talented scorers. Rudy doesn't have a scoring power forward around him. Memo had that too. Either Rudy (or Tibor Pleiss, or Jeff Withey?) has to become a scorer, or the Jazz need to get more reliable scoring from Favors and Lyles to make up the difference.

Sum it up:

Guys like John and Karl first made the playoffs off of the backs of vets who helped lead them there (AD, Green, Griff, Eaton, Bailey). But it took a while for them to make it to the top of the mountain. Deron saw a lot of success early, but also came to a team with talented that existed before he arrived (Boozer, Memo, AK47, Gira, etc). Gordon and Derrick, like those two previous eras, also first made the playoffs early -- and again -- thanks to the efforts of vets (Big Al, Millsap, Devin Harris). But when it was their turn to lead they did not get the team to the post season.

The Jazz committed to John and Karl early on -- Dantely didn't return in Karl's second year, Stock was the full-time starer the year after that.

The Jazz committed to Deron early on -- making him the full-time starer and put the ball in his hands in his second year.

The Jazz gave consistent minutes, but not role, early on to Gordon -- and he is the only guy on this team who is in-line with where he should be vis-a-vis development. He may be under-rated and a possible All-Star Snub, but at least he's even brought up in those discussions. Even USA Basketball continues to completely disregard Derrick Favors, a testament to both his inconsistent minutes and inconsistent role every year he has been in the league. It's no surprise that he and Burks were not able to take on a leadership mantle early in their careers and run the team to playoff wins, regardless of their injury history.

If the team was healthier we assume they could have made some noise in the playoffs this year. Instead we have a team with very little NBA experience, and hardly any Playoff experience, needing to go from the lottery to the second round in order to keep up with the historical ascensions of the previously successful Jazz teams.

Either this core group will ultimately not be successful; or be successful a little later than expected. Unless, you know, the team finally starts skipping on-court success steps. Bad luck, and a bungled early start to Hayward and Favors' careers, have set them back.