Do you know all the crazy stuff Google does? Today I was notified that I have a condo a short walk away from Gordon Hayward's agent's office. Among other things, I learned that Trey Burke is clearly the most interesting player on the Utah Jazz. (And why not? Best player on a Big 10 college team that went to the NCAA Championship game, who followed that up with a great showing during All-Star Saturday night, and then was 3rd in Rookie of the Year voting.)
If you check out our starting lineup (Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors), it's clear that Trey is dominant. Gordon Hayward has ups and downs, especially during free agency and US Basketball camps . . . but everyone else appears to be unremarkable.
Yes. But what about our bench? Taking a look at Dante Exum, Ian Clark, Rodney Hood, Trevor Booker, and Rudy Gobert we see that one player really rises about the rest -- and it's Dante. Though, Rudy was more interesting than him and trended higher during the FIBA tournament as France continued to roll.
Methinks there are other Ian Clarks about who are being Googled, though. Anyway, how about the rest of the squad? You are going to be surprised to see what's up with Toure' Murry, Joe Ingles, Steve Novak, Jeremy Evans, and Jordan Hamilton.
Big surprises here. Steve Novak and Jeremy Evans were more and more popular a few seasons ago (obviously as Novak was in New York, and Evans was in the dunk contest). Hamilton has had a number of spikes in his career. But there's a pretty high baseline for that search, from back when he was younger than 15 years old too -- so this may indicate that it's not just all him.
But the important thing to remember is that out of these three 'squad snapshots' the scale is different for each of them. So let's take a look at the two point guards, who will end up fighting for primacy in a season or two: Burke and Exum. How do these two players stack up, head to head?
At his peak Trey was higher, and despite a summer under the microscope, Dante is still behind over-all. Right now Trey is in the lead as well. It's going to be fun to re-visit this in a year or two.
So what does this information show? If anything, it shows which players on our team are being searched in Google. What does that mean, though? It shows interest -- interest from fans, other basketball media, and other teams. If you are going to build a marketing strategy with the attempt to grow your brand you kinda have to focus it around the guys who generate the most buzz. And if you want to maximize that, you continue to thrust those buzzing players into the limelight. You play them more. You work with their agents to get them on more national radio and TV shows. Zounds, you might even send out highlight packages of them coaches to across the league in order to curry greater league-wide respect and perhaps All-Star votes . . . but we know the Jazz will never do that.
If you need to make the Jazz popular you have to go out of your way right now to help produce content (viral content even) that gets the names Trey Burke, Dante Exum, and Gordon Hayward on everyone's lips -- and have them explode on social media. Trying to regulate the message and hinder their popularity only hurts your employers down the road (stars make the league, they get the benefit of the doubt calls, they generate more sold merch, and in both streams -- make the team owners happy).
The Jazz have a chance to really cultivate a star from these three players, four if you include Derrick Favors (who isn't interesting according to Google trends). I hope they are smart enough to make it happen, and don't fall too comfortably into the sloth-like patterns of not doing jack sh*t like they've done for a few seasons. (But, but, 44 United though!)
It's in the best interest to generate interest. And it takes 5 minutes to figure out which players are interesting, and which are not. On a team with so many international fans, and now more than ever, hope from international players -- it only makes sense to keep pushing the regional aspect of this franchise, instead of trying to re-brand the team to "We are the Jazz" vs. "We are Utah." But that's just me. I'm trying to get the LHM Group of companies more money, and their franchise to be a stronger brand. As a consequence, I can understand why people within their organizational structure would have a bone to pick with me and other writers at this website -- it's because we're trying to help them.
Anyway, for now the former NCAA college player of the year Trey Burke is our star, according to the Google Data. National recognition supports the theory that it's shared between Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward. And future hopes are on Dante Exum. This is going to be a fun year, regardless if the team can capitalize on the inherent popularity of the players. Or not.