Okay, the Utah Jazz lost again. That hurts. It hurts for so many reasons. I'm not crazy or getting hung up about the losses though; it serves no purpose to do that to a team where only like three guys are old enough to rent a car. (Actually, four -- Steve Novak, Trevor Booker, Joe Ingles, and Jeremy Evans) Still, everyone else seems to worry about losses. And I get that too. A win is the best evidence that your team is playing well. And playing well is evidence that your team is learning and on the right track. And right now most of us need a little evidence to support our wild ideas.
Well, plugging in all the relevant data from Basketball-reference.com, 82games.com, and NBA.com . . . I find that the next game the Jazz could win will be . . . the very next game they play. I don't necessarily mean the Sacramento Kings, but for a young team to win a game there are many factors involved. Sometimes everything clicks -- like they did against the Phoenix Suns. That was as close to a complete game as the team has played this season. We haven't had one since then, and that was a month ago. That's a long time, but it's still only a month ago.
Our Utah Jazz team is capable of beating almost any team on any night. Sure, not the San Antonio Spurs -- but for the majority of the games during this slide the team has actually been one run away from retaking the lead in the second half. (Note: no teams win a game in the first half, all games are won at the end of the allotted time -- and the time of the game always ends in the second half.) Runs are formed by getting stops -- and there will be more stops in the future as the team gets better at communicating with one another on the floor, and is better able to identify successful team defensive strategies.
I spend a lot of time (like many others) looking at the schedule. The Jazz will play @ Kings, vs Spurs, vs. Heat, @ Wizards, @ Pelicans, @ Heat, @ Magic, @ Hornets, @ Grizzlies, vs. 76ers, @ Clippers, and @ Timberwolves to finish out this month. Some of those games are bound to be games where Utah has a chance to win. And it could be any of those games through probability, and user error. (Player or coaching error, in this case)
Yes, I don't think wins are what we base this team on (by the way, the GM said this LAST year about LAST year's team -- but the coach didn't get it, and he went on trying to get wins). This coach, Quin Snyder, is trying to teach and instruct as the games go on, win or loss. I think we're seeing that.
The streak Utah is currently on will not last forever. And neither will the poor play. This group of young guys will surprise teams this year. And surprise some fans as well.
Yesterday the smart and handsome people over at CBS Sports did a Five Star Review of both the East and the West. Over for the West (link here) Matt Moore, James Herbert, and Zach Harper broke it all down. For our Utah Jazz Herbert writes:
Utah Jazz :
The Jazz were 5-7 before this seven-game losing streak. The story was Gordon Hayward performing like an All-Star and new head coach Quin Snyder's excellent new offense. These guys pass the ball way more frequently than any other team in the league, and it's been a pleasure to watch them play nothing at all like they did last year. The difficulty is that they have a whole ton of work to do on defense and, well, they have the unfortunate luck of playing in the West.
I think that's very fair and accurate -- and sometimes seeing someone else have their take on your team is both helpful and healthy. The West is tough. Period. And the teams with more than a three star rating in the West are: Memphis, Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Portland, Golden State, LA Clippers, Sacramento, and Phoenix. So 9/15 teams are vastly better than the Jazz right now. And record aside, there are four other teams with three stars. That's our neighborhood right now regardless of our record. Out East 9/15 teams are three stars or worse.
Getting beaten up by the best will help us toughen up enough to be more than capable of handling ourselves in the future. The Jazz are 3-6 against the East this year, despite the last two losses being to the Toronto Raptors (by a whole cenozoic era) and the Orlando Magic (by 5 points on a night where Gordon Hayward doesn't get to the FT line once).
It doesn't matter if you are in it for the development, or in it for the wins -- but all Utah Jazz fans enjoy Schadenfreude when it comes to former Golden State Warriors / full time poopoo head Mark Jackson. (Poopoo head wasn't what I first went with.) SB Nation / Pounding the Rock superstar Jesus Gomez broke it down as NOOZ came out that the owner of the Warriors (Joe Lacob) had to get rid of Jackson because of a) incompetence, b) over confidence, and c) being generally unlikable as a human being.
Check out Gomez' piece here, or check out the D. Leung piece at Inside Bay Area over here (the source material). Here's a teaser:
"Right now, (Kerr) looks great," Lacob said at the Western Association of Venture Capitalists/National Venture Capital Association luncheon Wednesday. "I think he will be great. And he did the one big thing that I wanted more than anything else from Mark Jackson he just wouldn't do, in all honesty, which is hire the very best.
"Carte blanche. Take my wallet. Do whatever it is to get the best assistants there are in the world. Period. End of story. Don't want to hear it. And (Jackson's) answer . . . was, 'Well, I have the best staff.' No you don't. And so with Steve, very, very different."
Lacob praised associate head coach Alvin Gentry and assistant coach Ron Adams, whom Kerr hired for their experience. Lacob said he thought at the time when he hired Jackson that the key for an inexperienced coach who he said "didn't know X's and O's, really" was to hire the right staff around him.
"You can't have a staff underneath you that isn't that good," Lacob said. "And if you're going to get better, you've got to have really good assistants. You've got to have people that can be there to replace you. We all know this from all of our companies. It's . . . Management 101. A lot of people on the outside couldn't understand it when we (fired Jackson)."
Only one of Jackson's five assistants last season, Darren Erman, remains in the NBA. He was fired during the season for violating company policy shortly after Brian Scalabrine was reassigned to the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz.
Yikes.You mean hiring your buddies and/or people you can boss around and intimidate isn't a sound management strategy? The bigger, juicer parts are still in the article above, so click it. Essentially, the co-owner of the franchise comes out and says "you can't have 200 people in the organization not like you," with respect to Mark Jackson.
Where have we seen this before? Maybe starting a mutiny in a locker room to displace John Stockton? Crazy. Just crazy. I'm really glad we never had Mark Jackson in our franchise after that. I'm also happy that we have a very active and involved coaching staff right now that meshes with the front office.
The Jazz brass, not just Dennis Lindsey, all signed off on Quin Snyder. Snyder was the FIRST coaching search for the team since after Tom Nissalke. That same summer they had another coaching search, for Coach Cooper in the NBA-DL. They scouted far and wide and interviewed people and got the guys they wanted. Snyder and Cooper also brought in their own guys to be part of the coaching staff -- but ALSO incorporated existing members of the Jazz staffs. It's a much more reasonable and logical way of doing things than getting a high profile "me first" guy who hires a bunch of his homeboys and doesn't make any friends in the process.
Because we all don't like Mark Jackson I also recommend the book (like made out of paper, I don't know if it's on Kindle or anything) "Loose Balls" by Jayson Williams. (It's available in paperback for $0.01, but it is on Kindle for $10) You may know him as the guy who shot a limo driver by accident while giving a tour of his house. Williams is very candid and funny in that book, and details a lot of the stuff fans never get to see about the NBA. He pulls no punches when talking about Mark Jackson, and how he could continually punk him when they were team mates back in college.
Jackson, despite on court success and notoriety, is a full time loser. And no matter what, our Jazz team will never be as morally bankrupt as he is.
Man, I need something to get all the bad taste of hating Mark Jackson out of my mouth.
Ah, so refreshing! Just what I needed, thanks Dante Exum!
In other, more specific Utah Jazz news -- there are rumors that:
- Alec Burks needs shoulder surgery
- Alec Burks does not need shoulder surgery
- Alec Burks needs shoulder surgery, in the offseason
- Alec Burks could return in 2 weeks
- Alec Burks could return in 2 weeks, but only after some very aggressive rehab
- Alec Burks will not return in 2 weeks, regardless of rehab or date of surgery
Everyone has a difference source, and obviously, they have different ideas on what's what. The intended consequence of an injured Alec Burks is that it gives Snyder with an impetus to try out more radical things out there. (Radical in the medical sense, not the skateboarding sense) The unintended consequence is that we have fewer games this season of Alec to play with. Coming into this season Burks had played in only 4,269 minutes in three seasons. I feel like he is behind on practical, on court experience. He's not making it up by being injured.
Missing out on more Alec means that an unfinished product is going to remain less polished. But at least for the short term it opens up 30+ wing minutes another for Snyder to try other guys out. Unfortunately, not everyone has the potential of Rodney Hood. But everyone needs to play a bit this season. This is a way that will only serve DL/QS in the upcoming months.
Of course, no Ale for x weeks = an even weaker bench. And when some Jazz fans think of weak bench they think of Andrei Kirilenko. This rumor has a feel-good story vibe, but we're not getting the 2005 version of Andrei in this deal. The Nets aren't also giving us a time machine. We'd be getting a guy who has played only 36 minutes this year (not injured), and more than a decade removed from his All-Star season.
Of course, if you put two and two together, I'm sure Andrei would be GREAT at passing the ball to a cutting Alec Burks against opposing benches. But that is something that only happens in NBA2K15 right now . . .