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The Downbeat #1981 — Questions only Utah Jazz fans can answer who is going to win the NW division this year...

Portland Trail Blazers v Utah Jazz Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images

Okay, we have some questions today for Utah Jazz fans. How good would Pistol Pete have been today? How confident are you in our potential “stretch fours”? Will Rudy Gobert ever stop clowning on his guys? And who is going to win the division this year? These topics -- and more -- today in the Downbeat.

Beat 1

Who is going to win the North West division this year? (First to fifth from 2015-2016 rankings)

Oklahoma City Portland Utah Denver Minnesota
Thunder Trail Blazers Jazz Nuggets Timberwolves
1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th
1 Russell Westbrook Damian Lillard George Hill Emmanuel Mudiay Ricky Rubio
2 Victor Oladipo C.J. McCollum Rodney Hood Gary Harris Zach LaVine
3 Ersan Ilyasova Evan Turner Gordon Hayward Danilo Gallinari Andrew Wiggins
4 Enes Kanter Al-Farouq Aminu Derrick Favors Kenneth Faried Gorgui Dieng
5 Steven Adams Mason Plumlee Rudy Gobert Nikola Jokic Karl-Anthony Towns
6 Cameron Payne Shabazz Napier Dante Exum Jameer Nelson Tyus Jones
7 Anthony Morrow Allen Crabbe Alec Burks Jamal Murray Kris Dunn
8 Kyle Singler Moe Harkless Joe Johnson Will Barton Shabazz Muhammad
9 Domantas Sabonis Ed Davis Boris Diaw Darrell Arthur Kevin Garnett
10 Joffrey Lauvergne Festus Ezeli Jeff Withey Jusuf Nurkic Cole Aldrich
11 Ronnie Price Pat Connaughton Raul Neto Malik Beasley John Lucas III
12 Andre Roberson Tim Quarterman Shelvin Mack Wilson Chandler Brandon Rush
13 Josh Huestis Jake Layman Joe Ingles Juan Hernangomez Tayshaun Prince
14 Nick Collison Noah Vonleh Trey Lyles JaKarr Sampson Nemanja Bjelica
15 Dakari Johnson Meyers Leonard Joel Bolomboy Axel Toupane Nikola Pekovic

A lot of these teams got better, the one exception being the team that just lost Kevin Durant to a bunch of fun-boys by the bay. It’s going to be a more competitive division with no team really being a punching bag anymore. It isn’t crazy to say the Jazz have the best bigs and the best wings. And perhaps, the least dominant point guards.

I hope our guys at least challenge for the Division banner, if not win it.

Beat 2

Read this Joel Bolomboy piece:

Also, now with Tibor Pleiss gone, can Joel get #21 for this season, or will he be eternally stuck with #22 from now on?

Beat 3

Rudy Gobert can’t stop / won’t stop.

BTW, I’m excited for NBA 2K17. At launch here are some of the overall ratings we’ll see for our Jazz players: Derrick Favors (85), Gordon Hayward (84), Rudy Gobert (81), Shelvin Mack (74), and Trey Lyles (72). I hope to see a bunch of players in-between Rudy and Shelvin (Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, Joe Johnson, George Hill, Dante Exum, and Boris Diaw), but we’ll all have to wait and see. For what it is worth, Dante was rated lower than Shelvin last year.

Beat 4

So former Utah Jazz summer league / training camp player Brock Motum is off to work as well, this time to Lithuania.

Fellow Aussie, and guy increasingly more and more in twitter, Joe Ingles had to chime in.

Brock is almost a prototypical stretch big, a guy who can get contested rebounds and space the floor. He didn’t really show that in Rio 2016, where he only shot 16.7% from downtown. Last season with Zalgiris he shot 34.1% in 47 games. I think that’s probably more indicative of his abilities.

As for our Utah Jazz team, I think there are plenty of options to use if they want to “go small”:

  1. Boris Diaw is 6’8, but I don’t think anyone would call him “small” seeing how he weighs 6 pounds less than a peak Karl Malone (if we’re just looking at mass). He has three point range, and is a true triple threat out there on the perimeter. Lately he seems to isolate and ‘self post’ himself up by backing in smaller guys.
  2. Trey Lyles is 6’10, and again, I don’t know if playing a 6’10 guy is “small ball”, but he has earned his SF qualification by playing it in NCAA ball. Lyles also filled in at back-up center in some situations for Quin Snyder last season, but it’s fair to say that his primary position should be PF. Like Diaw he has three point range and can drive. And I guess a change needs to be made in how we define “small ball”, perhaps it should just be called “skilled ball”?
  3. Joe Johnson is 6’7, but weighs about 240. That’s hefty. He transitioned quite a few times in his career, starting off as a combo guard (SG/PG) to being a scoring wing (SG/SF), and now seems to have graduated into an occasional stretch big (SF/PF). Johnson has all the Iso-moves in the world and has made countless game winners — including a few last season with the Brooklyn Nets. After moving to the Miami Heat he spaced the floor a little more and enjoyed spotting up with less overt defensive attention.
  4. Joe Ingles is another wing player graduating up to play some small-ball four. Snyder has used him there on occasion defensively — frequently against Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks over the last two seasons. At 6’8 and with his years of playing on the perimeter he can stay with most other small-ball fours. But I don’t think anyone feels like this is where Joe should be playing when he gets out there on the floor.
  5. Gordon Hayward because why not? He’s 6’8 and worked on his body for years (see last Downbeat for evidence). Having him getting some of his minutes at PF (with a legit rim protector at C, like Rudy Gobert or Derrick Favors) really would put other teams on their heels. Also, it would open up some wing minutes for three guys who really need as many minutes as they can handle — Rodney Hood (on the precipice of being a star), Dante Exum (who missed all of last season), and Alec Burks (who has missed half the season each season for the last two seasons).

I think that the trend in the NBA may be straying away from the tradition five positions; as a result, it’s important to stay at least with the curve if not ahead of it when you look at the skills your players have. Unlocking “Power Forward” for Hayward, Johnson and others really takes the Jazz where the logical outcome of this current NBA trend leads.

Beat 5

Man, how good would Pistol Pete Maravich be in today’s game with full-season training and places like P3?

Also, imagine how many threes he probably would be jacking up? Man . . .