Let's all take a deep breath and remember that this season we shouldn't be fixated by wins and losses. I'm more interested in how the team plays the game -- and a few different ball bounces or free throws -- and the team is 2-0 right now. Still, wins and losses should not be the metric for evaluation this year. Of course as fans it's hard to break out of that mindset. What the team is learning happens to be more important than what we fans hold onto.
We've seen Gordon Hayward hit clutch threes and display an all-around game. We've seen double doubles and inside domination from Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. We've learned that our current point guards aren't that amazing. We've seen Alec Burks score 24 points off the bench with a number of decisive moves to the basket. We've seen Richard Jefferson show his worth to this team, and possibly to a contender. We've seen Rudy playing well, and Rudy playing not so well.
[N.B. The above video has a lot of cuss words in the soundtrack, *mute* is your friend]
The front office is learning about this team, and the players are learning about one another. What will the fans need to learn? In a word: patience.
So, you may have noticed that quite a few good players did not get their contracts extended from that notable 2010 NBA Draft class -- two of them were the Phoenix Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe and the Utah Jazz do-it-all Gordon Hayward. As Jazz fans we like both guys, but only have the inside track of picking up one of those two in restricted free agency. It's a let down that the Jazz did not lock up Hayward, but its not the end of the world. Dan Clayton and Andy Larsen wrote an epic piece explaining the 'what happened' and 'what's next' situations for the Jazz and Gordon. Check it out.
"Why couldn’t Hayward and the Jazz agree to terms?
Simply put, they had different perceptions of Hayward’s value, and given that there was no open market to regulate his price via supply and demand, it got to a point where neither party wanted to accept the other’s assessment of Hayward’s value.
We don’t know the exact figures, but we can piece them together. Deadline day whispers hinted as a Jazz offer somewhere in the $40M+ area, with incentives that could get Hayward closer to his magic number if he hit certain triggers (like making an All-Star team or scoring 20 points per game). We also know from Hayward’s end that the asking price was somewhere less than Hayward’s max deal, because his agent Mark Bartelstein has told multiple sources that they weren’t discussing max deals. A max four-year deal for Hayward would have been around $61M. So that tells us Hayward’s camp was probably asking for something in the 50s. We also know that the two parties were "several million dollars apart" (Wojnarowski again).
My educated guess from absorbing all that: the Jazz were probably willing to beef up their offer but preferred to stay in the 40s, and Hayward’s team didn’t want to drop out of the 50s.
Does this mean Hayward wants out? Or that the Jazz don’t want him?
It means neither. The most likely scenario is that the two parties come together on a new contract next summer, either in direct negotiations or because Hayward secures another offer and the Jazz match it. Both sides know how the process works, and Bartelstein commented to USA Today that it was difficult to bridge the gap given that there was no open market to help establish his value. This is all part of a process that most likely ends with Hayward staying long-term."
- Dan and Andy, as SCH . . . Dandy? I don't know. We'll work on their nickname later.
That's just a snippit, check out the full article. It is really good, and should cool some people down with cool, refreshing logic. I have always had full confidence that the Jazz and Hayward will get a reasonable deal done after his market value is set. People who are more doubtful need to read Dan and Andy's work immediately.
Three things are really hurting the team this season (beyond injuries to five potential rotation guys in Trey Bukre (Starter), Brandon Rush, Marvin Williams, Jeremy Evans, and Andris Biedrins):
Turn overs: 43 turn overs in 2 games (21.5 turn overs a game average, -12 on Own TOs vs Opp TOs), which is 26th worst in the league overall (which is based on totals, not averages, and a number of teams have played a full extra game more than we have). Five players have five or more turn overs in these first two games: Derrick Favors (10), Gordon Hayward (7), Alec Burks (6), Rudy Gobert (6), and Enes Kanter (5). Yes, Jamaal Tinsley and John Lucas III both have 6 assists and 2 turn overs (3:1 ratio); this seasons' primary ball handers (as seen in touches) are not making up for their turn overs with assists. Hayward has 13 assists and 7 turn overs. Alec Burks has 7 assists and 6 turn overs. Derrick Favors has 9 assists and 10 turn overs. Enes Kanter has 2 assists and 5 turn overs. As a group the C4 has 31 assists and 28 turn overs. That's a 1.11 assist to 1.00 turn over ratio, positive; but not really great. Man, we miss Trey Burke.
Free Throw Shooting: Oh man. The Jazz aren't making their free throws, despite the adjective being free. Utah is 28th out of 30 teams in the league in FT% right now at a very dismal 64.9 ft%. Four players are getting to the line (rounded up) at least 4 times a game: Alec Burks (8.0 fta/gm), Derrick Favors (4.5), Gordon Hayward (4.0), and Richard Jefferson (3.5). That's good. What's bad is that everyone of those players is shooting lower than 70 ft% right now. The Jazz have left 12 points at the line this season, and have lost two games by 3 point margins. This is where we really miss a guy like Mo Williams who shoots 90 ft%. One of my desires for a starting shooting guard is someone who can make 80+ ft%. As of this point (all of 2/82th into the season) both Hayward and Burks fall very short in this department. The best free throw shooters on this team are Enes Kanter and Mike Harris, who have combined to go 9 for 9 this season. Everyone else has been the pits.
Perimeter Shooting: Gordon Hayward is in a huge shooting slump right now, but even in a slump he's demonstrated great outside shooting. From the three point range he has gone 5/11 this season, which is good enough for 45.5 3pt%. The rest of the team has made 6 total three pointers, one less than Gordon alone. And it hasn't been pretty, everyone else is 6 / 28, which is only 21.4 3pt%. It's bad. When are Trey, Brandon, and Marv back? Perimeter shooting is more than just threes, but I really don't have the heart to get into it right now.
The easy blanket statement here suggests that these are mainly problems of youth, and inexperience. That's too easy, some old guys can't shoot for their lives (Jamaal Tinsley), while sometimes young players take care of the ball and make their free throws (this season Damian Lillard is shooting over 80% from the line and has a assist to turn over ratio well above the desired 3:1 ratio for point guards). These are not problems of youth or experience per se; they are problems of precision.
And that sucks that Jeff Hornacek is no longer with the team, because he seems to be a precision oriented guy. He was focused and worked on these three things as a player, but also as a player development coach. I'm not going to lament Jeff in this DB, he deserves to be a head coach. And I'm happy for him that he has that job now. It is interesting that it took Tyrone Corbin five tries to get his first win, and did not get his second win as a head coach until his 9th NBA game as the head coach. It took Jeff Hornacek 2 games. That's just trivia though; and not real analysis. More trivia would be that Ty's first game as a head coach for the Jazz was the Phoenix @ the Utah. Jeff's first game as head coach for the Suns was the Utah @ Phoenix.
The cumulative effect of these three problems have been two close losses. The Jazz dominate the glass (duh, 3rd best ORB% in the league, at 33.0%), and have obvious talent. But the losses are going to be there this year. You worry about the morale of a team, but if you build the right team around the right types of personalities then you get a collection of players who do not ever want to get used to losing (I see ya, Al Jefferson!). During the preseason our players were tweeting about being upset about losing games. And last night our rookie center (who when Biedrins and Evans returns could be our fifth big) Rudy Gobert was being vocal about performance.
I played like a b*tch today, tomorrow is another day— rudy gobert (@rudygobert15) November 2, 2013
You love it when your 5th big (let's be honest, that's just my interpretation of what Ty does in the regular season based upon his entire coaching history) gets angry about a 3 point loss. Rudy is holding himself accountable for part of this loss, and he didn't even play in the last 5+ minutes of the game (crunch time). Gobert didn't dominate, I get it. But he gets it too -- he wants to perform much better with whatever time he gets on the court.
I don't remember Big Al ever saying he played poorly after a loss. I will freely admit that he may have done precisely that, and I am wrong here. It is just my recollection that it did not happen frequently. (The self-accountability, not the losses, those happened frequently enough.)
Of course Rudy's BFF comes in to save the day and put things into perspective:
Best thing about this league is that you get a chance to bounce back the very next day. Looking forward to the next game tomorrow.— Ian Clark (@IanClark) November 2, 2013
And it's true, last night's close loss hurts. But they have a chance to make a big statement with a win tonight!
This isn't isn't about wins, but still, man. We like it when our team wins. So when will the Jazz get their first win of the season?