Okay, so we have this guy. We got him from the Atlanta Hawks for a 2015 2nd round pick. He spent a few seasons playing in Europe, and we didn't get a lot of chances to see him outside of international competitions. Over this time we saw him once in a Utah Jazz uniform in the Orlando Summer League, but that was it. But now he's here. He's on the team. And he, and I don't mean this with any obliqueness at all, could be a transformative player that can really help this team. Today's NBA features either super fast point guards; absolute sharp shooters; or players who in other eras would have been short small forwards who have the strength and athleticism to just dominate. So in an NBA with the Ty Lawsons, Stephen Currys, and Russell Westbrooks . . . just where do we make room for a Raul Neto?
You don't. The league doesn't adjust. The Jazz do. While every team is trying to go small and find their Draymond Green this team has three guys who are seven feet tall. And going from the 5 to the 1, in an era of point guard specialization the Jazz have found a guy who is basically a bard. Raulzinho is super adaptable. He plays offense. He plays defense. He can pass. He can steal. While he has his flaws, he also has his feats. But there's more there.
Video by DaHoopSpot Productions
His intelligence with the ball, his un-ending vision . . . he plays as poetry sounds. He's not angry like Carlos Arroyo. Not unready like Raul Lopez. He's not incapable of scoring like Earl Watson. He's not at the end of his career like Jamaal Tinsley. He's not in a career transitional phase like Devin Harris. He's not limited player like Keith McLeod. He's not fundamentally poor like Ronnie Price. He doesn't focus on just one end of the floor like Mo Williams. He's not an opportunist like Derek Fisher.
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To me, he's a guy who can open the mind of this team to the potential and personality that it so lacked over the last few seasons. He's a guy who can control the beat. According to Jody, Quin Snyder and Gordon Hayward both lay some claim to the paternity of the "Wolf" nickname.
Rookie Hah-OOL Neto said Jazz coach Quin Snyder was the first to give him the Wolfie nickname. Then Gordon Hayward picked it up.— Jody Genessy (@DJJazzyJody) October 5, 2015
I guess I'm just an odd bird . . . because I don't see a "Wolf" when he plays. There are canine tendencies for sure, but I think his affect on the Jazz will be more cerebral than carnivorous.
Which brings me to the Allen Ginsberg poem "Howl". (Which some may only have heard about from the animated TV series Archer) A product of a transitional time in America, this beat generation legend talks about many things. It is many things. It's not just a treatise on struggle, or transformation, or a political social drama, or something completely destabilizing to society. Similarly, Raul isn't just a pass first guy, or a defender, or someone who has fundamentals, or is someone who can help steady a team to the playoffs.
The actual poem, some complex and NSFW phrases
One of the movie trailers that came out for the 2010 James Franco / Jon Hamm / Jeff Daniels film about the aftermath
In both cases they are deep, complex, and slightly dangerous -- to those who don't get it/them. And when I think of Raulzinho I really don't try to limit what he can do for this team of squares. He's not a piece to be plugged in. He's not the quick point guard, that's Bryce Cotton. He's not the shoot first point guard, that's Trey Burke. And he's not the athletic point guard, that's Dante Exum. Those archetypes already exist on this team, in varying degrees of capability and production.
Raulzinho Togni Neto is a counter-culture point guard in that he's not easily categorized, indexed, or replaceable. And during the course of this season he will scare people, like Ginsburg's poem. "Is he this? Is he that? How do you play him? Should he be banned? He plays defense too? He must be stopped!"
At the end of this post I'm just going to have to stick with my lugubrious tweet from last night.
Neto is Brasilian for Stockton. There. I said it. No way this can backfire.— Amar (@AllThatAmar) October 5, 2015
The Utah Jazz looked long and hard to find a point guard who wouldn't be John Stockton. Someone who you can't replace can't be replaced. I get that. But they tried for so long to find other types of point guards to go with specific trends . . . it's a breath of fresh air to have another guy who DOES play like Stockton. A smart, heady guy who can steal the ball, or keep his dribble in trouble, and make plays happen. He's not the fastest. He doesn't have the best shot. He isn't the most athletic. But he's on this team . . . finally.
That's something worth howling about.