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Utah Jazz early season defensive struggles not indicative of strategic failure, just overmatched ability

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Alec Burks' contract, Halloween, Defense, Offense, what to be happy about, social media . . .and . . . Rat Bag the coward?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Some pretty important things happened yesterday, first of all, Alec Burks , his camp (who also represent Trevor Booker, among others), and the Utah Jazz agreed on a contract extension. While most of us reported that it was worth $42 million in total, Jody Genessy was right that it is a harder to pin down contract value because of incentives. Later on the bosses over at Basketball Insiders got the deets (obviously there's a leak in the office somewhere) and it's a base contract that adds up to $41 million, with a chance for incentives every year. If Alec makes them (obviously incentives will be based on number of 4 or more word answers given in interviews with Jazz radio guys) then he could be eligible for making upwards of $45 million over the course of the four years.

The second important thing to happen yesterday was Halloween. So check out the pics of our Utah Jazz family here.

Third, I killed all the other Warchiefs except Rat Bag the Coward in LotR: Shadows of Mordor. (Ratbag being my Manchurian candidate that I helped to instal -- wait, when did video games get this complicated?)

And fourth, I guess, is that we know which players had their contracts extended (like Alec did), and which ones did not (like Enes Kanter did). Expect a post on that today. ... er, or tomorrow.

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The Utah Jazz are 0-2, and honestly, I guess that record isn't good enough for some. Or if it is, then others have felt the need to lament how the team has played so far. I guess expectations were bumped up a bit with the on court play during preseason (I think someone did a post on that exact subject....) And while I don't like what is specifically happening on defense during the regular season, I think more of that is based upon who we have played, and not a fundamental illusion from how good the defense looked in the preseason.

The Jazz got feasted on by Dwight Howard in single coverage, James Harden in single coverage, Dirk Nowitzki in single coverage, Monta Ellis in single coverage -- and also took it hard from other teams making open jumpers. You usually win the game when Trevor Ariza, Kosta Papanikolaou, Brandan Wright, and Al-Farouq Aminu all take as many shots as they did. IF we still had Synergy tech to look at you'd see that guys like Aminu aren't hitting 85.7% on spot up jumpers over their career. Similarly, teams have never consistently shot 52% from downtown against the Jazz.

The defense, and this is the argument I am making, looks worse right now because of who we played. Not just well coached, Western conference playoff teams -- but teams that specifically had a) great one on one scorers and b) guys who were collectively shooting out of their minds.

A guy like the Toronto Raptors Kyle Lowry needs a screen to get open, and that means that there's at least two defenders there to make a play. Guys like Harden and Ellis do not. And the discipline to stay at home against the shooters worked out. The threes the other team took were not because of defensive breakdowns, but because ball rotation made them open.

They just happened to make a very high number of them.

And for all the lamentations about the Jazz' offense . . . their pace of play is too slow for the athletes they have on the floor right now (28th in the league) but that is a product of playing HOU and DAL, two teams that decided to grind it out against us. The Jazz offense has the 11th best Off rating in the NBA right now.

That's a positive especially if you factor in that this is a team who has two losses, and is still so good on offense. Not that it's unfairly bumped up by a blowout win against a bad team. The Jazz, with a rookie head coach, and so many young guys, have the 11th best offense in the NBA right now -- against two playoff teams from the west.

It's going to get better, because this team is actually, dare I say it, going to be pretty good.

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Man, don't get so down. Remember, you love these guys . . . check out which of these guys have their eyes on the prize.


The prize being candy, not basketball. C'mon Gordon Hayward, stop being so boring!

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Today starts the first game of November, the first full month of the season. Expect to be bombarded with more info on this later on today . . . but as it stands the Jazz will play 15 games in 30 nights. Seven of them will be at home, and the other eight on the road. Beyond the idea of there being some stiff competition in November (Clippers x2, Cavaliers, Suns, Mavericks, Thunder x2, Warriors, etc) the real feature is the five games in seven nights Eastern conference road trip:

Getting into NYC on a Thursday makes it fun, as the Jazz are out of there by the weekend, flying up to Canada right after the game. As far as schedule losses go, harder to find one worse than being in Toronto, on the road, which qualifies as the 2nd night of a back to back, 3rd game in four nights, the 4th game in six nights, and the 5th game in 7 nights -- all after having to fly into another country and have to clear customs before even getting on the team bus to the hotel.

This Jazz team isn't going to get a lot of early season wins, so try to inoculate yourself for that. What we're looking for here is improvement. And we're seeing baby steps.

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Jody is the MVP of Utah Jazz media. It's not even close. Everyone else is playing for 3rd place because his vine's are #2.