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Staff reactions from last night’s Philadelphia 76ers-Utah Jazz game

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The SLC Dunk staff gives their thoughts on the Utah Jazz’s struggles.

Utah Jazz v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Mychal Lowman: Okay, I want this to be an orderly funeral. Pay your respects to the dead. Remember them not for what they are, but what they were or could have been.

Let’s start with this question … when is it fair to forget last year and say, “This is this year’s Utah Jazz.“?

Andrew Bailey: Well, the team was preaching that before the season even started, right? Maybe they were trying to brace us with that message. Maybe they were as nervous about the preseason optimism as I was. Those “No. 2 in the West” projections terrified me.

Mychal Lowman: Every time I saw another writer talking them up, the inner Jazz fan was screaming, “It’s trap!!!!”

Andrew Bailey: Haha, my thoughts exactly.

That Chris Herring piece about them being a title contender was the kiss of death.

Mychal Lowman: That Utah Jazz starting lineup seems to put Utah in deep holes every game. What do you do with it? At first it felt like a Favors / Gobert pairing and Rubio would turn it around.

Now we’re at game 16 starting tomorrow and Rubio’s only had one good game of the season and it was against a New Orleans team without Anthony Davis.

Andrew Bailey: Oddly enough, the starting lineups Net Rating is still somehow positive. Not nearly as positive as the starters with Crowder, but I was still surprised to see that.

Mychal Lowman: Aside from that it’s a wasteland of subpar shooting, undisciplined defense, and questionable turnovers.

I wonder what happens when you take out New Orleans and Houston.

Andrew Bailey: Of course, all that I agree with. Haha

Mychal Lowman:Those games gave Utah a big margin in Net Rating, but Utah capitalized on teams in the weeds without their star player.

They also seemed to be snake oil.

Andrew Bailey: The starters’ Net Rating against the Rockets is almost 30. That’s definitely propping up the overall, haha

It’s 12.5 against the Pelicans.

Mychal Lowman: Yup. There it is.

Like any good scientist, let’s throw out the data that doesn’t agree with our hypothesis. haha

But seriously, there’s some bigger issues. Mainly with Rubio.

Andrew Bailey: Once again, he can’t shoot. And Utah survived that for months last season. Not sure how you can wait for months again. And there’s no guarantee he kicks back into gear like he did last season.

How many times can a team recover from a 19-28 start?

Mychal Lowman: They didn’t really survive. They were a lottery team and a bottom feeder. They were closer to Doncic than a playoff spot at one point.

Andrew Bailey: Well, the crazy finish allows me to say that. It’s just hard to imagine that happening two years in a row.

Mychal Lowman: History tells us they won’t do it two years in a row. When I wrote last year about Utah’s historic turnaround, there wasn’t a single team that did that turnaround twice. Doing it once requires insane resilience, a very favorable schedule, and a lot of luck.

Andrew Bailey: Yeah, it would be crazy to expect that again.

The obvious switch is Favors to Crowder, right?

Mychal Lowman: That seems to be the first one.

Andrew Bailey: Problem there is the bench units with Favors are even worse than him with the starters.

It kills me to say this, because I loved his out-of-nowhere breakout last year, but O’Neale might be the problem.

Mychal Lowman: Ingles and Favors play better together.

Andrew Bailey: That’s for sure.

Mychal Lowman: Royce O’Neale on those bench units has been a big liability. He’s a foul machine (4 in 10 minutes tonight) and he’s playing out of control.

Andrew Bailey: Two-man Net Rating of Ingles and Favors is -4.7. Two-man Net Rating of O’Neale and Favors is -22.2.

Mychal Lowman: Oh lawd that’s a difference.

Andrew Bailey: And yeah, O’Neale is really struggling this season.

Mychal Lowman: O’Neale is playing how I expected him to play last season.

Andrew Bailey: Haha, ditto.

Might be time to reassign all his minutes to Sefolosha.

So, I’m looking stuff up for the other article I’ll write tonight. The starters were -18 in seven minutes against the Kings.

Mychal Lowman: Sefolosha had good minutes tonight. If you’re looking for silver linings, he’s it.

Andrew Bailey: Sefolosha was the silver lining for a solid month last season, haha

Mychal Lowman: I’m still blown away that Quin Snyder tried to force his starting lineup against that all wing lineup of the 76ers.

That starting lineup has had trouble exerting its will against more traditional lineups, LET ALONE, a lineup that is the dream of every GM in the 21st century.

Andrew Bailey: He seems to have his heels dug in real far with the starting lineup.

And to be fair, I said a lot of this same stuff last season and was proven wrong.

Mychal Lowman: Utah’s insistence that they continue to play Favors and Gobert together is akin to Don Quixote fighting windmills.

Andrew Bailey: Again, it’s just hard to imagine that miraculous a turnaround two years in a row.

Yes. Yes, it is.

Mychal Lowman: The times of knights and dragons is over and if we’re being honest, it was over long ago.

Putting Crowder into the starting lineup is one thing, but then you have an issue with Ricky Rubio.

Andrew Bailey: Maybe that’s part of the reason they eventually figured it out last year. There were still a few holdouts. EVERYONE’s embracing modern basketball this season.

Oh, Rubio...

Mychal Lowman: Rubio is crashing hard. While Rubio is only 28, in professional ball years he has had a career of 14 years.

Tavan Parker: This team has too many depth pieces and not enough top end talent. They need another legit scorer to take some pressure off Donovan. With 3 non-shooters in the starting lineup, he’s got no room to work with

Andrew Bailey [9:18 PM]

Cue my Tim Hardaway trade!

Mychal Lowman: He started playing at 15. One has to wonder if his body is playing like a 34 year old wearing down rather than a 28 year old.

Andrew Bailey: That’s a great point, Mychal.

Mychal Lowman: Wondered if you were going to sneak that one into the chat.

Andrew Bailey: Not that he’s top-tier talent, but I think they need a shakeup.

Otto Porter is interesting too.

Mychal Lowman: Rubio only has 13,000 minutes in the NBA but 19,000 minutes in professional ball. Five of those years were spent battling bodies much more developed than his own.

Andrew Bailey: *Awaits Jordan crashing the chat upon the mention of Otto*

Mychal Lowman: *Braces for impact*

I … I think we’re good.

Otto Porter is interesting. Right now Utah can’t really make a move if it’s using Favors’ salary until January. If Utah does see an infusion of talent midseason as its solution, that infusion could be too late if they don’t get their act together now.

Favors team friendly deal does have a very Favors-friendly trade date of January 15th. Utah has to get their defensive issues together stay at .500 until January. If they start sliding like they did last end of November/December … any hopes of capitalizing on an easy schedule is way too late.

Andrew Bailey: Yeah, that January 15 restriction is really troublesome.

Because that’s also one Utah’s most tradable deals.

Second year being non-guaranteed could be very enticing to some teams.

Like the Knicks!

Mychal Lowman: This just came through on the twitter:

Donovan Mitchell must feel like Atlas right now. He’s tasked with holding the Jazz’s offensive world on his shoulders and is getting inconsistent help.

Andrew Bailey: Yeah, there are definite issues there too.

Utah needs someone who can take some of that pressure off him.

Mychal Lowman: Utah needs to get the guy some help. More than anything this Jazz squad doesn’t look like they’re having fun. Last year, the freedom of no expectations allowed this team to float with little cares for the most part until January where things got real. This year … the pressure is already crushing them.

That might be why Rubio has taken a significant step back: expectations and contract year.

Actually come to think about … everyone is basically on a contract year:

Favors

Rubio

Thabo

Ekpe

Royce

Raul

Andrew Bailey: Uh hum, another reason they should be letting Exum play through mistakes.

Tavan Parker: Can you imagine if last year was Rubio’s contract year? I’m terrified to think of what type of deal we may have signed him to

Andrew Bailey: Haha, I don’t want to imagine that, Tavan.

Mychal Lowman: That makes two bullets they’ve dodged with George Hill and now Ricky Rubio.

Tavan Parker: Dang you DWill and your Voldermort-like curse on Utah’s point guard position!

Mychal Lowman: Dennis Lindsey needs to pull a Billy Beane and move Rubio, not because you can get a lot, but it might be the only way they play Exum major minutes.

Tavan Parker: Sorry guys, just getting back from the new Fantastic Beasts so my mind is in Harry Potter world. A much happier place than Jazz land I might add

Andrew Bailey: I’ve honestly had that thought a few times this season.

To Mychal, haha

Mychal Lowman: Hahahahaha

Tavan Parker: How is Exum on his second contract and we still have absolutely no idea who he is?!

Mychal Lowman: “Quin, you can’t play Rubio tonight.”

Tavan Parker: “Rubio-DNP-GM decision”

Andrew Bailey: That’s so perfect.

Also, did you guys see this?

Tavan Parker: Please find somewhere to make that disappear and never come back...

Andrew Bailey: I wonder if it’s karma for all my Melo hate over the years. I’m sorry, Jazz fans.

Mychal Lowman: That hurts, but at the same time, when you got shooters like Rubio and Crowder and Favors on the perimeter … why would you ever pass it?

OMG I’M A KOBE STAN

Andrew Bailey: #SpidaSystem

Mychal Lowman: Guess he shoulda signed with Nike.

Andrew Bailey: Cue the cymbal!

Mychal Lowman: Also can we put an end to Utah gets more open threes than any other team?

There’s a reason they do. It’s called Rubio, Exum, Favors, O’Neale, and Crowder on the perimeter. That shot is going to be there.

Andrew Bailey: Haha, so so true. So many teams just completely ignoring Rubio.

Mychal Lowman: Want to know who can’t find an opening because of those same players? Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles.

I hate hearing that. Touting Utah’s open three rate is like touting how easily it is to find an open table at a failing restaurant. THERE’S A REASON IT WAS THAT EASY.

Andrew Bailey: It’s pretty amazing that Gobert’s putting up the numbers he is with such terrible spacing.

Mychal Lowman: It’s nuts. You pray that Utah doesn’t waste Gobert’s prime with floor spacers like these.

Andrew Bailey: It’s time for a shakeup.

Mychal Lowman: Utah played moneyball last year and one, but they stopped playing moneyball the minute they banked on continuity. They didn’t get the best value on the free market. It’s very possible that their signings and decisions to stand pat were not about continuity at all. Instead of going after guys on the free market they guaranteed contracts and signed their own guys like gift cards.

Their redeemable for future players they may want. They’re the store credit.

Andrew Bailey: Ooooh, that’s very interesting. Yeah, they have some VERY movable contracts. Again, it’s just that January 15 restriction on the Favors contract that might make things tricky.

Mychal Lowman: Which means if things start spiraling Utah might have to part with someone more significant to get a deal done.

Andrew Bailey: I just hope they can at least hover around .500 for two months.

They SHOULD be able to.

Mychal Lowman: If Utah does want to go after Love--for example--they have to wait until January.

Ricky should be able to play average basketball.

Donovan should be making threes.

Andrew Bailey:Lots of shoulds right now!

Mychal Lowman: Crowder should be consistent.

lol

This season is just not feeling right.

Andrew Bailey: Yeah, feels like they need some kind of shakeup.

Mychal Lowman: Real talk … John Wall anyone? You get a start for a long time?

Tavan Parker: I’m kind of sick of kicking the can down the road. With Rudy and Donovan it’s time to go all in!

Mychal Lowman: I actually haven’t posited this to anyone and just wondered what your thoughts were.

Andrew Bailey: That might be the worst contract in the NBA.

I agree, Tavan!

Mychal Lowman: WHO WANTS TO BE THE NETS AND TRADE FOR THE MODERN JOE JOHNSON CONTRACT!

Andrew Bailey: At least Joe Johnson could shoot, haha

Mychal Lowman: I’m not sure if I’m just looking at Wall’s stats through Rubio colored glasses but 21.1 ppg on 50% eFG% seems tantalizing.

Andrew Bailey: It would probably feel like night and day.

Mychal Lowman: That’s the crazy thing with Utah. Capable point guard play changes this team’s trajectory.

Andrew Bailey: There would be A LOT of nights where he wouldn’t try at all, though.

Mychal Lowman: He’d but heads so hard with Quin, but what happens when he’s in an org that operates from the top down and not the players up?

Does Utah go after Rozier?

Make a deal with … the devil?

Andrew Bailey: Again, probably an upgrade over Rubio. But that’s another player I’m not thrilled about getting.

Mychal Lowman: I think that’s what makes a trade more realistic. If you have to talk yourself into it, you know it’s closer to reality. lol

Andrew Bailey: Haha, that’s for sure.

Long story short, something has to change. Trade, lineup changes, something. Anything.