There's no denying it, the Utah Jazz season is really right around the corner. Over the last few months we had a number of highs and lows. Our last game of last season was a double overtime ROAD win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Winning is fun, but that win combined with a season ending loss to the Boston Celtics had the two teams tied with identical 25-57 records. This meant that the very high probability of the Jazz getting a Top 3 pick in the draft would have to be shared and divided equally with the Celtics. That wasn't so fun.Thankfully the team won the coin-flip and was still drafting ahead of them. Again, that was an up swing. When you factor in that the Orlando Magic swing and missed when they took Aaron Gordon at #3 that left Dante Exum for us at #4, the last past of the season and the draft at the end of June finished on a high note. [EDIT. Gordon was at #4, and Exum at #5 -- thanks for pointing out my mistake!] Getting Rodney Hood (and Jarnell Stokes) was just icing on the cake.
Summer League, in July, was a mixed bag. Trey Burke did not look any better. Dante Exum had eye-opening games in Game 1 and Game 5. Rodney Hood was on fire in Game 2. Ian Clark could not find the magic touch that he had a year ago in Vegas. Brock Motum emerged as the best of the three Murphys. And Rudy Gobert showed us that he was ready to rumble. It was awesome. Even moreso when you look at how well Gobert did in the FIBA World Cup (August and September), but Exum didn't fare so well there. Like I said, mixed bag.
Free Agency thankfully had the Jazz not bringing back Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams, or Andris Biedrins. This gave the Jazz enough money to be able to give Gordon Hayward the max money he was offered on the open market. Utah also made a number of trades to help rebuild our bench and gather up future 2nd round picks like they were nuts for the winter, and our team front office was staffed by only squirrels. Overall, I think Jazz fans were happy with how the draft and free agency went.
Media day has come and gone and everyone is ready to play, in the best shape of their lives, added 15 pounds of muscle, and have been shooting 500-1500 shots a day, including three pointers. Training camp is currently ongoing and if you look at the calendar -- the Jazz first preseason game is in FIVE DAYS!
Last season was mostly downs, this off-season was mostly ups. I hope this season doesn't bring us back down in the dumps though. The roller-coaster called "Jazzfandom" is an unpredictable one.
For for reals though . . . this season is going to be a lot of fun!
Just give me like 2 more weeks to get ready for it!
Who do we hate? The Los Angeles Lakers. Who shares this hate? Ronnie Price. So . . . who is in training camp with the Lakers right now? Ronnie Price. (IS this a stealth mission?) And who is saying good things about him? Kobe Bryant.
Eric Pincus of the LA Times explains:
The Lakers had their first day of practice on Tuesday, opening training camp primarily with conditioning drills.After the team had finished, all-star Kobe Bryant singled out veteran guard Ronnie Price for quickly showing he's ahead of his teammates.
"Price looked really good. He looked like he could run all day," Bryant said. "He's in phenomenal shape."
The Lakers added the nine-year veteran on a non-guaranteed $1.3-million minimum contract, with a portion of his salary locking in if he is still on the roster on Nov. 15.
"When he was in Utah, he gave us a lot of problems," Bryant said. "He really turned a few games around for them ... with his energy and ability to get to the basket. He's an underrated shooter."
The 6-foot-2 Price said he remembers those Utah days well.
"It seems like that was yesterday, playing against the Lakers -- losing against the Lakers three years in a row in the playoffs," he said.
Now, he said, he looks forward to playing with some old friends.
"Carlos Boozer and Steve Nash are old teammates of mine," he said. "I'm happy to have the opportunity to compete with those guys again."
I think we all love Ronnie P for his fire, his energy, and his disdain for LA. A vet goes to whichever team will help him stay in the league, so I can be okay with this. And I wish him well and hope he makes it through training camp. You know. Just so this can happen during practice every week.
So speaking of threes, the hub-bub is that we may see some guys who were previously not allowed to shoot them actually shoot them this year; specifically Enes Kanter and maybe Derrick Favors. (That said, Jeremy Evans really should work on his shot so he can do that, and Trevor Booker used to make them in college) So I had to look it up, for guys 6'10 and taller (who are actual bigmen, and not tall small forwards), who amongst them have averaged 1.0 or more 3PTA per game, over the last five seasons?
- 5.0 or more 3PTA per game: Channing Frye, Ryan Anderson (stretch big, doesn't bang)
- 4.0-4.9 3PTA per game: Kevin Love
- 3.0-3.9 3PTA per game: Charlie Villanueva, Rashard Lewis (it's a stretch to call him a stretch big, also doesn't bang), Rasheed Wallace, Andrea Bargnani, Pero Antic, Steve Novak (stretch big, doesn't play big at all)
- 2.0-2.9 3PTA per game: Matt Bonner (see Novak), Mehmet Okur, Dirk Nowitzki, Troy Murphy, Ryan Kelly, Tim Thomas, Vladimir Radmanovic,
- 1.9 or fewer 3PTA per game: no one you care about, unless you're a huge Brad Miller or Chris Bosh fan.
I guess that sweet spot is at that Rasheed Wallace to Mehmet Okur level. So that is, according to the data, 2.9 to 3.6 threes a game. For the record, that is for the last part of both player's careers, and after a career of demonstrating actual, legit, clutch three point ability. Rasheed only made 33.6 3pt% for his career, but did have a few seasons that were in the middle 30%. Memo's career average from downtown is 37.5%, and he had a few seasons "up there". Both guys were tough, both guys got into scuffles and picked up technical fouls at times. (One more than the other). However, they always played tough in the paint, cleared the glass, and were able to score near the rim or get to the line.
Those are good models for Enes, but I think the original idea for this type of guy is . . . Bill Laimbeer, but hopefully with a bit more inside scoring ability like vintage Carlos Boozer. Kanter is built like a truck and isn't a twig like a lot of the other guys who are on that three point shooting bigman list. And the worry is that some guys start to fall in love with the outside shot when they get adept at it. (Al Jefferson in Utah is a good example of this, he took more midrange and farther shots than at any other time during his career when he was here.) As long as Enes is kept involved in the paint on posts ups and cuts, I think he'll be fine.
Heck, if he is just the next Rasheed Wallace I'd be cool with that, a bigman who is valuable enough to start on a contender who can rebound, fire his team up, and be just barely good enough from outside to deserve shooting from the outside.
Media day is like the first day of school. I think Jazz fans need a first day of school as well. I always like to know what you guys and gals got up to in the off-season. For me it's like the only "free time" I have, so...
- we moved, again;
- I spent it a lot of the off-season visiting family and going to various birthday parties for my nieces and nephews (32 with a few in the oven);
- usually I like to play video games during the off-season, and am in the death throes of free time right now -- so picked up Shadows of Mordor a few days ago, which is a game set in the Lord of the Rings universe and takes place years before The Hobbit (and thus, before The Fellowship of the Ring, etc). I am shocked at just how violent it is, especially when the tutorial for the game includes instructions on how to sneak up on your wife and kiss her;
- I plowed through the complete series of The Wire, Arrested Development, and The Newsroom for the first time;
- and bummed myself out by reading "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" by Elizabeth Kolbert.
Also, I am in the worst shape of my life, did not take 500-1500 shots a day, did not shoot an entire three pointer all summer long, and am not ready for the season.
What did you get up to this off-season?