First things first, the Utah Jazz lost to the Los Angeles Lakers; which therefore, retroactively, make the Jazz the worst franchise in the NBA -- despite having 75% of their wins come against Western Conference playoff teams. Sure, 4-2 isn't bad, but it's not as good as 5-1. It's too early to really watch the standings, but there are a few teams that still only have one loss:
- Toronto Raptors (5-1)
- Cleveland Cavaliers (4-1)
- Houston Rockets (4-1)
- Brooklyn Nets (3-1)
- and the Phoenix Suns (3-1)
Which if those five teams do you think the Jazz have the best shot of beating in a 7 game series? Which team out of those five do you think has worse stars than the Jazz (probably none)? What does our team have that some of those teams do not have? I'm guessing a bench.
And, uh, absolutely insane fans.
If you delve deeply the other commonality between those five teams and the Jazz so far happens to be the on court performance of the offense.
Yeah. I have been harping about the defense so much I think it's fair to look at the offense as well. Those "top" teams in the NBA are averaging 103.6 ppg, and the Jazz are less than a bucket off of that. In fact, if you somehow found a way to fix the Jazz' free throw woes we'd be right there. Utah's defense has a distinctive backbone that is based on paint protection -- which only makes sense when you have Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert on the team. So I'm not as worried about that aspect right now. Only two of our Utah's six games had the other squad reach triple digits against them.
It's early, but you can tell that Quin Snyder has his guys executing some sort of plan. And in October it seems to be working.
There are two main truths to the universe. The first is that you can't find a good quality clip of this that doesn't show Kobe Bryant making the three pointer first. And the second is that . . . sometimes dubstep remixes of pop songs shouldn't happen.
Still though . . . Alec Burks devastated Kobe here.
He seems to make a habit of it, starting from his rookie season. I fail to see why people went crazy for Randy Foye and the legion of one-and-done wings who got playing time ahead of this cat. This guy is so deadly, he rolls +6d6 extra dmg dice on drives to the basket.
The Jazz are still trudging along 17 players from their original 20 training camp invites (19 + an Ellen guest). I'm not a big fan of of keeping these guys hanging on until the last day. Ideally, the Jazz will carry only 14 into the regular season (keeping an open space for 'flexibility'). As a result the Jazz need to make three cuts.
And the guys I would cut are Jack Cooley, Brock Motum, and Dahntay Jones.
Cooley and Motum are easy cuts. They are both carrying cheap contracts and are redundant bigmen. Utah is strongest inside as they field a group of Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, Trevor Booker, Steve Novak, and Jeremy Evans. I presume that in a pinch you could even put Rodney Hood or Gordon Hayward at the four at the end of the game for a last second shot type of deal. You never know. Even without G-Time and Hood, there are six legit bigmen who are NBA quality.
Furthermore, there is diversity there. Favors is an All-Around talent. Kanter and Booker are bruisers. Gobert is a roadblock on defense. Evans is a super athlete and Novak is a super shooter. What Cooley or Motum are bringing to the table is greatly overshadowed by the six other players ahead of them on the depth chart. The only reason NOT to cut them now is if the Jazz want to keep resting the other six guys ahead of them on the depth chart. But really, I do not see a need. Just play Jeremy more if you want to keep resting Derrick.
Over on the wing the fight really is between Dahntay Jones, Toure' Murry, and Carrick Felix. I think that Ian Clark has played his way onto the team for at least another year, and is valuable as a SG/PG who can shoot and score. The full-season salary for each of those three players is between $800k and $1,000k (or $0.8 million to $1.0 million). There's no real difference between them, except that Murry and Felix have second years on their deals with very small raises, if any at all.
Jones has NBA experience, but may not be an NBA player anymore. He didn't play in the league last year, or apparently, anywhere. He is a good defender and made some shots against the Lakers, but I'd rather roll the dice with more wing playing time for everyone else who qualifies.
Murry hasn't gotten much playing time, and Felix hasn't done much on the floor. So if you are looking for impact, then the Dukie gets it. Unfortunately, the other two guys are neutral. Jones does good things and bad things out there. If the Jazz are going to go with 15 guys then cutting him is unnecessary.
In my mind I think 14 is enough. And Jones doesn't bring much sage advice, or experience (Alec Burks stands to surpass him in NBA minutes this season). He just has longevity. And that alone doesn't really make me feel like he's essential.
At the end of the day, he's not going to kill the Jazz by being a member of this roster during the season. But I am biased against one-and-done vets who don't add much to the team, and leave after a season.
Remember this Quin Synder face?
Yes, I see it every time I close my eyes.
Well, SB Nation's James Dator went a little crazy with it and did a few photoshops.
Let's play pretend. Say you are Quin Snyder, how do you divvy up the 96 minutes inside between the existing six players? For this exercise, it's a regular season game, everyone is healthy, and there are normal conditions (not playing against a team with two seven footers, or against a team going small, or a team with LeBron James).
- Derrick Favors -- 32 minutes
- Enes Kanter -- 30 minutes
- Rudy Gobert -- 23 minutes
- Trevor Booker -- 11 minutes
- Steve Novak -- zip
- Jeremy Evans -- zilch
That's what I would do. Missing out on Evan's athletic hustle plays sucks, but Kanter and Booker hustle enough. Novak occasionally earns his paycheck with his shooting, but so far I have been less than impressed with the other aspects of his game, aspects which determine if he's "worth it" to be on the floor at all. In last night's game he was a key part of the Lakers 4th quarter come back as his man scored on 4 straight possessions. (All face-up jump shots where Novak was 5 feet away from him, with both players stationary.)
It's going to be a fun year on the inside. And this group will make sure of that.