Today is a big day in Utah Jazz land. The season is *fully* done. The lockers are cleaned out. Even the bloggers are writing their season review pieces... while other teams still are playing games in the playoffs. It's an odd feeling, for sure, because as Jazz fans we're used to being in the playoffs. However, reality has forced us into the lotto way too many times in the last decade. (This is a tangent, but as a result, the fans from the golden era have a different set of standards than the ones from the poopy era. If you grew up watching the Jazz struggle for the 8th seed and classify that as a 'good season' then you are inherently rooting for a different team than the one I grew up watching in the late 80s.) It's not the end of the world to be in the lotto for a dip, but to swim in those waters year after year with no advancement is something we'd best avoid.
It's mediocrity of a different kind, really. We've faced the one where the 8th seed is the Holy grail, now we could be at risk of making the lotto more familiar than unfamiliar. And as Jazz fans we don't want that.
Anyway, today is a big day in Utah Jazz land for sure. We need to figure out what's happening with our coaching situation. That's the first thing to fall into place, because you wouldn't normally want to go into predraft workouts and then free agency without a head coach. It goes against the stability argument we hear a lot from our front office.
So, Moni asked in her amazing downbeat from April 11th for you to guess when we figure out what's happening with Tyrone Corbin. I know that 14 people picked 4/20 or earlier and will no longer be able to win. But most of you haven't submitted your guesses yet. Please do so! And for the record, this isn't a defacto "when Ty is gone" date, some people are guessing dates for when the Jazz will give news that he's being extended. So if that is what you think will happen, please feel free to guess in that direction!
This season, after exhausting the fights about the offensive scheme, the defense, the transition game, the rotation, the development, the coaches, and the front office the fans of the Jazz still had about 4 months of basketball to occupy. So they turned on themselves. Perhaps I'm ignorant, but I don't know if this type of behavior exists in other fan bases. It is truly something to look at.
Right now the playoffs are happening, and it's a huge deal for some teams who don't usually make it there. The Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats are two such teams. You could argue about the Washington Wizards too, but that is recency bias, they have a ring from back in the old days. This is the second time in franchise history the Bobcats have made it to the post season, and sixth for the Raptors.
Perhaps our expectations from being raised on winning basketball has given us expectations that are a little too high, and when we don't reach them, we get antsy? I don't know.
I do know that the Raptors superfan was interviewed by the dag-nabit New York Times on the whole "fan experience of a bad team" thing. He's been a season ticket holder since 1995. He has watched a lot of bad basketball.
Bhatia, 62, has never missed a regular-season home game, he said. He watched Kobe Bryant score 81 points against Toronto in 2006. He endured a 66-loss season in 1997-98. He rooted for the Raptors when Morris Peterson was among their leading scorers. His enthusiasm never waned. Bhatia, the owner of two Toronto-area Hyundai dealerships, remained courtside, chiding far superior opponents for being too old, too slow, sometimes both.
"It's funny," the Raptors' DeMar DeRozan said, "because I watch old games from the late 1990s, and you see Nav sitting in the exact same seat, doing the exact same things."
Given the team's up-and-down history - mostly down - Bhatia is relishing this postseason. The Raptors, the third seed in the Eastern Conference, trail the Nets by 1-0 in their best-of-seven first-round series. Game 2 is Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.
"This season has been very special because nobody expected this," said Bhatia, whose sizable commitment to the Raptors includes roughly $300,000 a year on game tickets, many of them for fellow Torontonians with South Asian roots. "Basketball has given us a way to connect to the mainstream. We might look different, but we have the same passion for the game."
Bhatia refers to almost everyone he knows as either "my good buddy" (Vince Carter, Dwight Howard) or "my dear friend" (Mark Cuban, the rapper Drake). Over the course of a recent 30-minute conversation at Madison Square Garden, he used the word "love" 15 times. He loves basketball. He loves the Raptors. He loves his employees. He loves his wife. Did he mention that he loves basketball?
I'm sure there are plenty of Jazz fans who are happy no matter what. Regardless, it's cool to see a dude so crazy about his team be rewarded with the playoffs. Maybe our current struggles will create a new type of Jazz fan? One who is just crazy about the Jazz in a new way than the current factions who are crazy about the Jazz in relation to their perspective. Other cool news about that immigrant turned super fan -- Jonas Valanciunas said, "He's like my dad." That's awesome. I don't know if Enes Kanter is close enough to any fans to feel that kinship.
Speaking of the playoffs, there are a number of former Jazzmen in them:
- Bobcats: Al Jefferson
- Bulls: Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer
- Grizzlies: Kosta Koufos
- Hawks: Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll
- Mavericks: Devin Harris
- Nets: Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko
- Thunder: Derek Fisher
- Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews, Mo Williams, Earl Watson
That's a cool group of 14 ex-Jazz players. Would that be a good team? Who would start? Who would take the most shots? This kinda looks like my NBA 2k14 MyTeam before I got all the bronze level players. Maybe this says something about me, but I was way more capable of scoring with John Lucas III than I was with Deron Williams.
Speaking of team composition . . . do you what to know HOW the playoff teams got their players? RealGM did all the hard work to find out how the players got there (trades, drafts, free agency), how the team has performed, do they have stars on them, and their average age. For example, the current Nets team is made up of free agents (7), traded players (6), and actual guys they drafted (2). Their average age is 29.2 years old. And most importantly, their team is 2/3rds made up of 1st round draft picks.
RealGM also figured this out for lotto teams too. The Jazz are built in a much different way, with drafts (6) being the largest slice of the pie, and predictably, zero stars. Also predictably, they are the home to the second most undrafted players.
I don't want to steal their thunder, so I won't copy and paste all their information. Visit their site, there's tons of great info: playoff teams, lotto teams. This is all really good info, I cannot stress enough how much of it I am stealing for my spreadsheets.
You can tell that it's the off-season here, as there just isn't enough new Jazz news to report. Tony Moss, of CBS, went out and ranked the NBA playoff coaching staffs by which team's coaches would win a pick-up game. The team that 'won' was the Clippers, with their group of Doc Rivers, Armond Hill, Tyronn Lue, Howard Eisley, Alvin Gentry, Kevin Eastman, Brendan O'Conner, J.P. Clark, and Dave Severns. I guess having nine coaches helps you win. The second place team was the Warriors, led by Mark Jackson, Pete Myers, Lindsey Hunter, and three people you've never heard of.
I think the Jazz with Tyrone Corbin, Sidney Lowe, and Mike Sanders at the vanguard would make some noise. That said, some other coach staffs have HOFers on their crews. Can we please incorporate Karl Malone more as a full-time bigman coach / player development?