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The Downbeat #1969 — The 2016-2017 Schedule looks nice for the Utah Jazz.

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Rio, players getting paid, players trying to make the team — and of course, the 2016-17 schedule

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

First, obviously, a look at the NBA Schedule and how it looks for a Utah Jazz fan . . . for one thing, it looks like you’ll be able to see them play even if you don’t have ROOT Sports at home. Also, a look at what’s happening with the Rio 2016 Olympics basketball tournament with 60% of the group stage in the books. Also, can Joel Bolomboy make the Utah Jazz roster, or is he going to have to play somewhere else next season? Can our star player Gordon Hayward ever make LeBron James money . . . or can anyone ever earn that much?

Beat 1

The NBA Schedule dropped. And yes, our team is on the books for at least another 82 games this year. Half are at home, and half on the road. The team will play the Eastern conference 30 times, twice each for all 15 teams out there. The Jazz will play Western foes the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, and Phoenix Suns only three times this season — not four.

The NBA has made an effort to add more rest during the season, and reduce cumulative strain. That means fewer back-to-back games and an attempt to minimize three-in-four (or more) sets. Because of the Jazz timezone, division, and decision to continue not having home games on Sunday (though the last few seasons weren’t as bad as it used to be), the team is still going to have five games in seven nights sets. But it’s not all bad. For one, the timezone means that ONE team in the Mountain region needs to be on the air nationally -- and this year it seems like that’s going to be the Jazz. (Sorry Phoenix and Denver.) But with all of the efforts made by the NBA it seems like the Jazz have a pretty nice schedule.

The Jazz will play 17 back-to-back games, but eight finish off in Utah. (So less than half, but still, not as awful as it could be). The league average is 15.90 back to back sets though. The Jazz will play one group of four games in five nights, with the league average of 0.70 such clusters. So in both cases the Jazz are on the bad side of average here. But still, it should be manageable.

ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle did the math and still figures out that the Jazz have the 2nd easiest schedule in the NBA this year, where the schedule should net the team +3.29 extra wins. (IN$IDER Link) I don’t know how sure I am of that, though.

There are three road trips to note:

  1. November: Knicks, 76ers, Hornets, Magic, Heat — five games in seven nights, two back-to-back sets, two of those qualifying as 3rd games in four nights. The first home game back will as well.
  2. January: Nets, Celtics, Raptors, Timberwolves, Grizzlies — this is another five games in seven nights, with two back-to-back sets. It has the same cadence as the first big road trip: back to back games, day off, game, day off, back to back games. So it has all the same three games in four sets as well, including the first home game after the trip. WORSE still is that this trip starts off as East as you can get, flies west (Toronto), then more west (Minnesota), then flies back East again (Memphis) before going home. At least the November trip is all in the same country and time zone. Not so for January.
  3. March: Pistons, Cavaliers, Bulls, Pacers -- this would be the “Amar road trip” if I still had the time to go to lots of road games in a row (or a wife who would be okay for such an extended break away from family). It’s much easier with being only four games in six nights, instead of five in seven. There’s only one back-to-back set, the first two games. Better still, the first home game after the trip will NOT be a 3rd game in four nights either. Fantastic.

On the flip side, the Jazz only have two home stands of any significant length:

  1. December: Suns, Warriors, Kings, Thunder, Mavericks -- five games over eleven nights.
  2. January (end) / Febraury (beginning): Lakers, Grizzlies, Bucks, Hornets — we’ll see some teams on the back end of their back-to-back sets here. East pickings.

As a team hoping to go to the NBA Playoffs, and with some momentum, here are the last 10 games of the regular season:

  • @ Los Angeles Clippers (After a two night rest)
  • vs. New Orleans Pelicans (One night rest)
  • @ Sacramento Kings (One night rest)
  • vs. Washington Wizards (One night rest)
  • @ San Antonio Spurs (Second night of a Back-to-back)
  • vs. Portland Trail Blazers (One night rest, third game in four nights)
  • vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (After a two night rest)
  • @ Portland Trail Blazers (Second night of a Back-to-Back)
  • @ Golden State Warriors (One night rest, third game in four nights)
  • vs. San Antonio Spurs (One night rest, Fan Appreciation night for Utah)

The Spurs and Warriors may be resting on those last two nights. Which is good. Also the first five games aren’t impossible with the normal rest to between them. Two games against Portland will be tough. These two squads will be in direct competition with one another for the Division title. Minnesota is also going to be hard to beat, if their hype is as legit as our hype.

But all in all, it should be a good season according to the off-season moves this team has made, and the schedule as it currently stands. My pre-draft prediction of 52 wins seems possible.

Beat 2

The Utah Jazz are going to be on TV this year, so hopefully at the very least, our guys aren’t injured during those games. Being on TV means more people see your team play. Which hopefully removes some of the ignorance casual to moderate fans (and journalists — guys who have votes for end of season awards) have with regards to our squad.

If the team is playing well and the games are promoted, more people will watch — meaning that the NBA (and the TV stations) will make more money from airing the Jazz. One hand washes the other. The more money the Jazz generate for the league the more likely they will be to reciprocate and help the Jazz STAY on the air. It’s not a conspiracy, it’s economics. More people watching the Jazz will lead to a greater appreciation of the team, and maybe a few more jersey sales and/or All-Star game votes (which are still meaningless to a point).

Divided by conference and division, this is the current breakdown of which teams are going to be on National / International TV:

Atlantic Central South East
1 Knicks 22 Cavaliers 25 Hawks 8
2 Celtics 22 Bulls 25 Heat 5
3 Raptors 6 Pacers 11 Wizards 5
4 76ers 3 Pistons 6 Hornets 3
5 Nets 1 Bucks 3 Magic 1
Total 54 Total 70 Total 22
Pacific North West South West
1 Warriors 28 Thunder 22 Spurs 24
2 Clippers 26 Trail Blazers 14 Rockets 13
3 Lakers 15 Timberwolves 11 Mavericks 9
4 Suns 4 Jazz 8 Grizzlies 5
5 Kings 2 Nuggets 3 Pelicans 4
Total 75 Total 58 Total 55

The Jazz are on TV for these games:

  1. November 17th: Chicago Bulls @ Utah Jazz [TNT]
  2. December 16th: Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz [ESPN]
  3. January 13th: Detroit Pistons @ Utah Jazz [ESPN]
  4. January 23rd: Los Angeles Lakers @ Utah Jazz [TNT]
  5. March 22nd: New York Knicks @ Utah Jazz [ESPN]
  6. March 27th: New Orleans Pelicans @ Utah Jazz [TNT]
  7. April 2nd: Utah Jazz @ San Antonio Spurs [ABC]
  8. April 4th: Portland Trail Blazers @ Utah Jazz [ESPN]

That’s over and above anything we may get with NBA TV (fan voting for which teams are on the air for some nights), and we must remember the schedule can and will change. So the team could be on the air more or also less. (Last season we had a game bumped.)

Speaking of witch, Jazz president Steve Starks had this to say:

(That could just be for the Spurs game that was late-ly announced.) But it seems like the reverse jinx of my last Downbeat worked! The Jazz are on TV. Now let’s win some games, because we’re in “win now” mode!

Beat 3

So, did ya hear the news about LeBron James’ new contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers? He’s making a lot of money now. Surprisingly, it’s the first time the best player in the NBA is making the most money since, perhaps, Michael Jordan.

I can’t imagine paying someone that much money, for anything. But I guess with what LeBron has done — take a title-less team to the realm of champions -- is priceless. I could have maybe been okay with Karl Malone making a lot of money as an actual MVP. No one on this Jazz team seem like they’ll be able to earn what they cap will say they are worth though.

After all, what’s the most you’d pay for a guy who averages less than 20/5/5/1? That’s what Gordon Hayward averages. He’s going to be a max player for the Utah Jazz (or any other team) for the next six years. Is he going to start making championship level come from behind blocks in Game 7’s on the road? I hope so.

We’ll always have this, though. (Kudos to Alec Burks playing the part of J.R. Smith there to slow down / prevent the dunk.)

Beat 4

So what’s new in Rio? Yesterday Croatia beat Brazil 80-76, Spain beat Nigeria 96-87, and Lithuania defeated Argentina 81-73. Well, there are now four more days remaining in the group stage of the Men’s Basketball tournament. Only two teams are 3-0 right now, the United States and Lithuania. A second tier exists for the 2-1 teams, which include mainstays Argentina, Croatia, and France — and feelgood surprise story Australia. These six teams are evenly divided between both groups (A and B). (Duh)

Totals PPG Totals PPG
Group A W L PTS OPP +/- TM OPP Group B W L PTS OPP +/- TM OPP
1 United States 3 0 330 219 111 110.0 73.0 Lithuania 3 0 252 229 23 84.0 76.3
2 Australia 2 1 270 244 26 90.0 81.3 Argentina 2 1 257 229 28 85.7 76.3
3 France 2 1 230 222 8 76.7 74.0 Croatia 2 1 234 236 -2 78.0 78.7
4 Serbia 1 2 241 233 8 80.3 77.7 Brazil 1 2 218 227 -9 72.7 75.7
5 Venezuela 1 2 203 267 -64 67.7 89.0 Spain 1 2 231 225 6 77.0 75.0
6 China 0 3 190 279 -89 63.3 93.0 Nigeria 0 3 233 279 -46 77.7 93.0

So what you hopefully see is an easier route to the knock-out stage for some of these teams. With four teams from each group advancing — and there being only five games total in this part of the tournament — we can already disqualify China and Nigeria (unless they end up with higher points totals for any other 2-3 teams in their group, which is unlikely).

I expect Serbia to hold off Venezuela in Group A. I don’t know what’s going to happen in Group B. Spain should advance, right? I’d put them higher than Brazil if I wasn’t going by what Wiki says for their standings right now.

Anyhoo (is that even a word?), there are three games today.

  1. China vs. Australia - Boomers will look to break their great defensive wall
  2. United States vs. Serbia - Athleticism and depth will beat swarthiness
  3. France vs. Venezuela - A cargo cult will develop around Boris Diaw ‘s nutrition

Personally, I haven’t watched a lot of the Rio 2016 Olympics this year. Have you? Maybe that will change with Track and Field starting today. We shall see.

Beat 5

It seems as though Marcus Paige and Joel Bolomboy are in camp right now. No, not with the Utah Jazz. But more like in school — with the NBA’s Rookie transition program. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they are talking about the same thing here on social media.

Of course, it also doesn’t mean that either of them will make the Utah Jazz — or the NBA entirely on their first try. But for both of them (and the not talked about Tyrone Wallace) it’s all about finding their place. Lots of players blow up the NCAAs but can’t seem to get a handle on the NBA. Either the lack of structure kills them, or something else does. Or that they just can’t do what they did against better competition.

It’s a long road and these young men have traveled so far already. After all, only 60 guys get drafted every year, out of the hundreds of eligible basketball players. That in itself is worth something. But making an NBA team is the next step.

I like Bolomboy. It’s no secret. The last thing I want for him is to play a year out of sight / out of mind of Jazz fans in Europe, and then get traded during next summer league. It’s hard to find a place for him right now behind Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, and Trey Lyles. But if anything we’ve seen that Quin Snyder seems to favor hustle and occasional three point shooting — Bolomboy is a taller, more athletic Trevor Booker in this regard. (Just maybe not quite at the same level of North / South speed.)

Though, it’s likely that the Jazz ask him to stay with the Salt Lake City Stars — but make less money. I don’t know if he takes that. I’d rather that he takes a roster spot. Jeff Withey is better than Tibor Pleiss, but Tibor is under contract. Chris Johnson is non-guaranteed as well. I’d be okay with getting rid of Pleiss and Johnson to keep the best talent on the team — including the awesome potential of Joel.

PG: Hill / Exum / Mack / Neto

SG: Hood / Burks

SF: Hayward / Johnson / Ingles

PF: Favors / Diaw / Lyles / Bolomboy

C: Gobert / Withey

With Dante Exum, Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, and Trey Lyles filling in some of the wing minutes, I think we’ll be okay. Tibor is a great offensive player and Chris is a three and D candidate — but they aren’t make or break players.

Perhaps Bolomboy isn’t either, but I do hope he learns a lot in the Rookie orientation camp he’s currently in. It will help him in whatever league he starts his career in. Hopefully that will be the NBA.