UTAH JAZZ! UTAH JAZZ BASKETBALL! FINALLY! What what seems like purgatory for most fans who don't feed off of PR directives, Jazz basketball appears to be returning to the Utah Jazz. I am not alone in this point of view -- as the organization held a practice for their summer league team (not even their real team), and 10+ thousand people showed up. Most of them before the event started. The lower bowl was completely filled, and they had to seat people in the upper bowl.
This is democracy in action. Yes, last season the reported attendance says that the Jazz were 12th best in the league last year with 18,175 per game, but observational evidence suggests that the reported number has nothing to do with the reality of the legion of green seats at home games. The Jazz aren't hurting for money, as they got a lot of money from revenue sharing and ended up being the 7th most profitable team in the league last year. The empty seats just look bad, they don't hurt the LHM group's bottom line it seems. Getting back on track, at the risk if putting two to two together this suggests that at least several thousand fans were not 'all in' for the product they received the last four years. But they appear like they will support this new direction. Fans want to see young guys playing their game, having fun, and doing so under a real coach who will make the pieces fit together (Spurs method), instead of breaking pieces apart to fit their idea (Jazz method).
What about the actual practice? The Jazz didn't broadcast it -- but with the current age of digital media, you could follow it along from all the great FANS who were there who were sharing their tweets, pics, and videos of the entire night.
For on behalf of all the Utah Jazz fans who couldn't be there,
What did people see from this summer league roster? Y'a know, the one that has a few guys with contacts (Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood), a bunch of guys who do not (Nick Covington, Mardy Collins, Chris Roberts, Khalif Wyatt, Jerry Evans, Niels Giffey, Greg Somogyi, Jason Washburn, and Brock Motum), and a bunch of guys in-between (Ian Clark, Malcolm Thomas, and Erik Murphy)?
According to the beat writers, Dante Exum did not kill it. He failed to make a field goal during the game, but his natural athletic ability and point guard tendencies did make everything else run more or less the way we expected. His size allows him to do things on defense that we haven't seen at the spot in years. Many were talking about this, and as a result, it's clear that it's not just SLC Dunk that was taken by his defensive potential. Gordon Monson writes that he "could be great one day, but not today." The first play of the game was Dante setting up a drive and dish to Trey Burke for a spot up three pointer. I think we can live with that.
Rudy Gobert appears to be ready to take that next big step from being an oddity to being a rotation player. Against a field of people in his own age/experience bracket he distinguished himself. He put in work on the glass, protected the paint, and "covered for the mistakes of his guards on the defensive end," and did a whole bunch more.
The one player that really took charge at times with his smart and efficient play was former Duke bro Rodney Hood. Jody Genessy said that Hood:
"was probably the most impressive offensive player among the 15 Summer League participants. He hit from the outside and showed some offensive creativity with deft moves against defenders and near the basket."
Yea, we love these guys but can't put crazy high expectations on them just yet. They are going to be fun to watch. The players themselves appear to have been having fun out there on the court, and were mostly surprised by the sheer number of fans coming out to a practice.
The big win for me (I could care less about what someone does in practice, Raja Bell used to kill it in practice) was the unity between the front office, the roster, and the coach. Perhaps last season everyone knew they had to get better and/or be better. But this season all three parts seem to be moving beyond that introductory / Hodor like statement. They are going to actually be better and get better this year.
And a huge part of that has to be Quin Snyder.
He spoke to the crowd, addressed Xs and Os, talked about players in complimentary ways, didn't favor anyone, and even admitted that he was probably going to collect a few technical fouls this season.
I'm not expert on leadership, but I do know about development. Children act as they see their parents act. Snyder is the 'dad' of these Jazz players, and if he's fired up, doesn't play favorites, focuses on the team, and holds himself accountable the players will do the same. Tyrone Corbin may have been the nicest, hardest working, most complicated man ever. But on the court he seemed docile, and reactionary. Snyder seems much more active and engaged.
For Jazz fans that is what we grew up seeing as normal. That doesn't mean what's normal for us is what's correct. It just means that Snyder returns some level or normality to the bench with his cold, dead eye gaze at refs and his temper.
Many people are making a point to repeat how he announced how impressed he was with the general level of basketball knowledge of Jazz fans. Snyder is a
Dude DOOK guy, he studied there, and lived and worked there for years. He knows what smart basketball fan are. But more than that, he knows not to insult the fanbase. I guess only miserable people do that.
Gordon Hayward (@gordonhayward) July 10, 2014
This is a good dude, and I can't wait to see what he can do in a real system with the talent our front office has brought together.
Update: RxMike12 just posted this! Woo!
Gord and the boy at basketball camp... pic.twitter.com/wUX6XDxKhn— Mike (@RxMike12) July 11, 2014
Last, but most importantly . . . we have our first, officially useful nickname from our very own celeb, Jimbo Rudding:
.@rodneymhood Is it ok if I call you Rodney Hood: Prince of Threes?— Jimbo Slice (@JimboRudding) July 11, 2014
I love this. I am sure you do too. And I am sure Jazz fans will love the upcoming season. Heck, look at how crazy and happy we are about a summer league practice!