So last night the Utah Jazz, having dispatched the Los Angeles Floppers (oh, that's the Lakers, I mean the Clippers, so the LA Whiners), moved to 3-0 on the preseason. It's not much, but it's a start. The offense was clicking, guys were taking open threes (not contested ones), and at the end of the day our 2nd and 3rd line players held off their best ones when they turned the defensive pressure up.
Lots of players had good games, but the one we'll be talking about for years was Rudy Gobert 's 20-10 game, but his inverse 20-10 game. He had 11 points, and 20 rebounds.
And this huge oop finish was the icing on the cake, of a great night for the second year player. That's not the only highlight of the night, but probably the only one that really mattered. The rest from NBA.com are here.
IT'S ALL GOOD IN THE HOOD!
You love Zach Lowe. You may like Grandland. And you may be vaguely aware of other basketball teams. Within their 2014-15 NBA preview Zach talks about 33 crazy predictions for the NBA Season. (Check it here) You know he has to talk about the Jazz, just because we are such a compelling storyline this year. Among the topics like Draft reform, the trade deadline and Andris Biedrins free throw shooting was this tid-bit:
Extension talks are in chaos as teams and agents wait for the league to provide salary cap clarity. Teams might be eager to lock in long-term deals that will morph into bargains, but agents are wary of signing long-term contracts for the same reason. Being known for signing an under-market contract is bad for luring future clients.
As a wing player who has mostly come off the pine, Burks might settle more readily for a compromise number. Kanter is a big man with bigger dreams, and the Jazz have Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert on the roster.
Yeah, it's not the only Jazz related thing he talks about, and it's not the most pressing thing the Jazz fans have to talk about today. But this is a big deal. If you factor in that Burks has looked good, is a more known product, and is currently injured right now ... him making a deal with the team seems likely. He is on good terms with head coach Quin Snyder and they seem to know one another / understand each other. Alec has flourished in the little time he's had so far under Quin. Enes, on the other hand, knows just how much money there is out there for teams to overpay bigs today. Add to that how he hasn't killed it so far in preseason and is going to be pressed all year long by Trevor Booker, and it's likely that he G-Time's it in a "what you see is what you get" contract year.
It's what we fear, but that's how I see it shaking down.
Do you know about Vox.com (or Eater.com?) well, Vox media runs SBNation.com. So we're all brothers and sisters and there are a ton of sites like this one, but for whatever hobbies you may have. Vox.com is mainly news and education (enrich yourself by learning about other things). You go there and you feel smarter. They posted "40 maps and charts that explain sports in America." And it details dynamic shifts for all the major sports leagues, and includes at least one Cricket reference (big for me). Of course, they had to talk about teams that move. And well . . .
Next topic "White people live all over the world, but also Utah for example."
Can we get over this, ever? Probably not. If anything, I think our new team is very evocative of the musical genre that I actually actively listen to. Not that the world cares about accuracy or whatever. (Do the Magic play like Magic?) But it's a great read anyway, especially when they breakdown the basketball's path through the entire game (#19), the logic of the three-point shot (#20), and my personal favorite, basketball's 13 true positions (#21)! That stuff is amazing and charts well with what most of us have figured out about the modern game.
You have to move the ball. You need to take threes. And your roster needs to be balanced by on court tasks, not antiquated models. I can almost bet you that Dennis Lindsey has already read this Vox.com piece. (And nodded in agreement with many of the things it reveals) Be like DL, and click here to read them too!
The Salt Lake Tribune's Tony Jones believes that Steve Novak's shooting makes him important to the Jazz system. It is a delightful read about the benefits of having a Novak in your life. I'm pro-Novak, as long as it's Peter. So I'm not entirely sold on Novak within the concept of what our squad is going to do today and tomorrow and three years from now. He's a nice guy, a funny interview, and obviously the best shooter.
This is what we know: The 6-foot-10 forward is the definition of a specialist. He does little, other than make jumpers from the perimeter. He's an NBA veteran, had to grind his way into the league and is the only member of the team over the age of 30. He's witty, has a touch of sarcasm and likes to joke with teammates and media alike.
His shooting is what makes him so enticing to Snyder's system. Novak is - percentage wise - one of the best to ever do it, cracking the top-10 career list in that category. As a power forward, Novak stretches the floor and provides spacing with his very presence in the offense. With Snyder valuing that aspect so much, one can't bet against him getting minutes, maybe even in crunch time.
Most teams have to defend him when he's out there on the floor, agreed. However, Jones does not identify the inverse though. There's a reason he barely played 10 mpg last year for the Toronto Raptors. When he's on the floor he has to defend someone back. The Jazz' defense has been a work in progress so far in the preseason, but after three games they have held opponents to 89.0 ppg. That defense is a product of having five guys who can actually play defense out there on the floor most of the game. Playing Novak more (he has played 17.7 minutes total so far this preseason) does not maintain that solid defensive unit that is SO OBVIOUSLY something on GM Dennis Lindsey's mind. That's why I'd rather go with Rodney Hood over Novak. No one on the team is going to be able to shoot like Steve. But thankfully, no one on the team is going to be as poor a defender.
In the age of Enes Kanter and Trevor Booker taking threes the role of the knock down specialist (for a lotto team) is a luxury, not a necessity. Especially when more talented players exist who can at least keep the defense honest from deep, like Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Dante Exum, Gordon Hayward, Ian Clark, and Rodney Hood. At his worst, Hood isn't going to be able to defend back up power forwards any worse than Novak can -- but he can do it while creating a miss match on the other end of the floor. If Rodney can LEARN from Novak then this is a perfect situation. Few are as adept and cunning in the pick and pop.
If the main emphasis is to establish a defensive culture with this team, this means not playing offensive only players anymore. And that seemed to be a sin from the last coach that will not be carried forward with this one.
Love Steve Novak the guy, funny, honest, and a great pull quote. Amazing range. But not much else. His shooting is important, but so is everyone's in this new offense of floor spacing and multiple threats. J.J. Redick and Kyle Korver both defend. Rashard Lewis can at least move from side to side. Steve Novak's best defense seems to be from the media right now, and not anything we've seen on the court yet. And the believe this year is that if you play defense you'll get on the court. And for me, that's more important than being a one trick pony who is in his 30s, and will never get better.
What city names would you most want to hear Craig Bolerjack say on live TV?