The Utah Jazz lost on Friday night to the Miami Heat -- and I kinda took Saturday off to do family stuff. So the recap for that will be up asap. But back to the Jazz, the team lost a winnable game. Again. The blowouts are bad this season, but appear to be happening less frequently than last season. Among the 17 losses this season, 10 have been by 10+ points, and 6 by 15+ points. Is that better or worse than last season? I don't know but it looks bad.
Well, that's a lie. I do know. I know it looks bad, but there's improvement.
Last season the team won only 25 games. That means they lost the game 69.51% of the time. Of their 57 losses, 39 were by 10+ points, or 68.42% of their losses were significant. And of their 57 losses, 24 of them were by 15+ points, or 42.11%. So the team lost 70% of their games last year, and two in five of them were blowout losses.
This season the team has won only 6 games, but played 17 (not 82). That means they have lost 73.91% of their games -- worse! But of their 17 losses, only 10 have been by 10+ points, which is 58.82%, lower. Furthermore only 6 of the losses have been by 15+ points, which is only 35.29%.
Bottom line: this team is currently losing more games, but are more competitive in the losses. And this increased competitiveness is coming on a team where the average age is 24; and not one that's starting a bunch of over the hill free agents who will leave the team.
The way I look at it is the team is hungrier, and will be better. Meaning that the rebuild will be a success. The right guys are playing now, and playing with fire. Even if that means a few more losses in the early part of the season.
One thing which I would want the team to really adopt is this hunger for defense. Utah Jazz teams have been some of the best offensive teams in the league for a while, but it's the inability to clamp down on defense that has sunk some of our playoff sojourns in the past. I figure that the offense is easier to pick up because most of our players are offensive minded . . . but after a while a switch has to flip for defense.
Take a look at Tyson Chandler.
Dude won't even let an opponent pass a shoe back to his own teammate who lost a shoe during the process of the game. Chandler is a 32 year older former DPOY and NBA Champion who is playing a game in December, and playing with this defensive mentality and instinct that you need if you want to get there.
I think there's some of that in Rudy Gobert. I'd love to see more of it, and him, just in general. This season, by MPG, Rudy is 10th on the team. I think there are clever ways to get him out on the court more than 16.5 mpg . . . but that's just me. After a while he's just going to force Quin Snyder's hand.
My main man, Neil Paine (formerly of Basketball-reference.com, back when I used to do guest posts for their site) destroys Kobe Bryant here, in this comparison of his career against that of Michael Jordan. Being a Jazz fan kinda means being anti-Kobe no matter what; so I hope you enjoy this piece.
Jordan has always been an easy comparison for Bryant. The two men play the same position (shooting guard), are built similarly (both stand 6 feet 6 and weigh about 200 pounds), seem to possess the same maniacal work ethic, and even have similar-looking games. Bryant’s championship count, five, even rivals Jordan’s six. In the minds of many fans, Bryant is the closest to Jordan the game has seen since Jordan retired for good in 2003.
Statistically, though, there’s never really been much of a comparison. According to most advanced metrics, Jordan was better than Bryant at both ends of the floor. (This is true even if we restrict both players to the same block of seasons by age so we’re comparing apples to apples. Kobe entered the NBA at age 18, and he’s 36 now; Jordan played from age 21 to 34, retired and played again from age 38 to 39. So their overlapping years are 21 to 34.)
Offensively, Bryant can’t hold a candle to Jordan, mainly because of a disparity in efficiency. After translating both Jordan’s and Bryant’s stats to a league-wide offensive efficiency level of 106 points per 100 possessions to account for the changes in the game (the NBA’s overall average since it merged with the ABA in 1976), Jordan posted an offensive rating of 118.4 between the ages of 21 and 34, while Bryant put up a rating of 112.4. For a top scorer like Bryant or Jordan, an offensive rating boost of six points per 100 possessions can mean an extra four wins for his team in an 82-game season.
Check out the full post here. Personally, as a Jazz fan I don't care for the MJ / Kobe thing. I just care that Kobe isn't going to be able to catch Karl Malone on the All-Time Scoring list (my own stat piece here). I also think it's cool that Neil fav'd my tweet.
So there's that. Kobe sucks. Or more objectively, he is great, but not the greatest. And thus on the internet, that means he sucks (we just go to hyper extremes here online.)
Speaking of twitter, Mark Eaton fav'd one of my tweets too -- which is hilarious because it's me talking about a video game.
I'm absolutely certain that he has no idea what I'm talking about, which makes it that much more hilarious that he Fav'd this tweet. I'm talking about the game NBA 2K15 (sorry, I am a PS3/PS4 guy). (Well, actually a PC Master Race guy...) And I play the MyTeam mode and recently got Mark Eaton, from 1984-85, the first time he won Defensive Player of the Year. And he has just dominated for me, with an Overall rating rating of 83, he is by far the most logical guy to start. At 7'4 (larger than created players can be) he is just a mountain, taking rebounds away from the HANDS of opposing players, and his ratings for defense are just too ridiculous. He even gets a 90 in Pick and Roll defense. Our center! By far the most overpowering thing is that he has a 98 dunk rating -- which combined with the fact that the developers of this game failed to recognize just how poor he was at catching the ball means it's just too easy to get him the ball under the rim and dunk it.
Because I keep track of the stats that the game doesn't even keep track of, with him in the lineup my fictional Jazz team are 9-0, and he's averaging 7.2 ppg (100 fg%, 100 ft%), 14.4 rpg, 2.4 bpg, and changing so many shots. He absolutely neutered Tim Duncan recently by blocking his first 3 shots in one on one coverage. Duncan would finish the game with 3 points, and went 1/5 -- and his team only went to him two more times the entire game.
While NBA 2K has continued to nerf the Jazz, with John Stockton and Karl Malone being undervalued, having Hornacek be a tier of player below what he should have been, and with no Bryon Russell still, after so many years . . . they did make Mark Eaton too good.
He's a beast.
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