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Utah Jazz make minor roster moves, as team tunes up for regular season -- Downbeat #1754

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Late Downbeat is late, Utah Jazz fans. But don't despair. There's lots of Jazz basketball to come, including tonight's ultimate preseason game -- at home against the Denver Nuggets.

The Utah Jazz made some more roster moves. So far in training camp the Jazz have cut: Grant Jerrett (zero minutes), J.J. O'Brien (1.6 preseason minutes), Jack Cooley (6.5), and Bryce Cotton (34.1). As expected they exercised their team options on Trey Burke, Rudy Gobert, Dante Exum, and Rodney Hood. And in a move no one saw, they added another player to their training camp roster in rookie E.J. Singler. As Andy Larsen of KSL elucidates, he's here for a bit and isn't likely to make the team. However, he's here specifically so that he can be grandfathered in through a non-assigned loop-hole to the Idaho Stampede.

E.J's DraftExpress profile doesn't have a snazzy scouting report, but does explain that the 6'6 wing player is 25 years old and finished his college career in 2012-2013 -- you know, back a while ago. He played for the Detroit Pistons in the Orlando Summer League back in 2013-2014, but did not catch on with an NBA team despite playing two games in the preseason for the Portland Trail Blazers that same fall. He spent one season playing for Idaho in the NBADL already, and averaged 14 ppg, 5 rpg, and 1 apg while shooting 47.5% from deep. He followed that up with a season playing for BC Kalvev-Cramo (a team in the same league where Kyrylo Fesenko was Player of the Week once) where he averaged 7 ppg but still shot a very nice 39.3% from deep.

That's really the rub on him. He's a shooter. He's not going to make us forget Kyle Korver anytime soon . . . but if he can develop into an NBA player who can stretch the floor that's great. I don't know if he's that Bruce Bowen three and D type that all Spurs org people are hunting for, though.

Provided the Jazz do cut this guy the team will be down to the NBA Max 15 player roster. I do think that Chris Johnson is on the bubble, but we'll see what happens.

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So, I've enjoyed most of the Utah Jazz jerseys in franchise history. I love that in games like NBA 2K I can use those jerseys, it's nice to see them in action because the Jazz seem very hesitant to do anything cool, fun, or embrace retro stuff. I think the last time the Jazz played an NBA game while wearing throwbacks the roster still had Raul Lopez and Sasha Pavlovic. That was a long time ago.

DB 1754 - Raul Lopez throwback

On the other end of the spectrum, the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to have a million different uniforms every season. Behold:

I appreciate that the Cavs see that they have a product and are a franchise on the doorstep of winning a championship. They put money into their product in order to expand their brand. Ohio isn't New York or California, but they are doing their best to have people know their name. I'm not privy to the inner workings of the award winning Utah Jazz marketing department (#seasonticketholderhashtag), but for whatever reason the most tangible on-court stuff that other teams seem to accomplish are just never happening in Utah.

I do really like a return of the logo to prominence, and the green alternative road uniforms. But again, some franchises do cool stuff every season. The Jazz are a little more conservative with either their ideas or money or both. Then again, there's no guarantee the team will even make the playoffs this season. So why try to expand the brand, right? I sure hope that's not their doctrine.

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Last season the Utah Jazz went 610 / 1781 from downtown, that's a success rate of 34.3%. The Jazz shot the 17th most threes last season and by percentage, were 19th best. Two seasons ago, in 2013-2014, the team went 545 / 1577, good enough for 34.4%. However, relative to their peers the team took the 23rd most threes that season and shot 25th "best" in the league. As a club the team has hovered around the 32-36% success rate for many seasons. The last time the team was outside of that bubble was in 2007-2008 when they scorched the nets from deep by hitting 37.2% of their threes -- good for 10th best in the NBA. Of course, because that was a way different era and different offensive philosophy under Jerry Sloan, the team took only 1095 threes in that 82 game season.

As Quin Snyder's offense improves, and the players are more comfortable taking their open jumpers, what are we expecting from deep? Will the team once again stay "Jazz average" around 34%, or will that percentage always almost 'haveta' stay there with the more and more threes the team is taking? Back in the day you really didn't pull the trigger on threes, especially not if you were a bigman. Today some of our bigs are learning on the job and taking threes with the added incentive that down the line it will be a useful weapon for them.

On that team from 2007-2008 that won the division, that team's top 5 three point shooters (by total 3PTA) were Mehmet Okur (294 attempts, .388 3PT%), Deron Williams (211, .395), Kyle Korver (188, .388), Andrei Kirilenko (116, .379), and C.J. Miles (77, .390). Upon looking at that in hindsight I don't think we recognized just how great those guys shot it while that season was going on. Also, man, I miss Jeff Hornacek the dedicated shot doctor.

I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that our Top 5 three point shooters (again, by total 3PTA) in 2015-2016 will be Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Trey Burke, Joe Ingles, and one of Alec Burks / Elijah Millsap / Chris Johnson (in the mix if he makes the team). I'm not expecting Trevor Booker or Trey Lyles to shoot the 38% that Andrei shot. I'm not expecting Trey to shoot the 40% that Deron shot either. So the massive three point shooting improvement this season will rest on the capable shoulders of the wing players.

Also, man, that was a really good team.

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#RealTalk -- I'm just posting this to show Greg Foster absolutely destroying Charles Barkley here, early on in this video.

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Is Gordon Hayward going to be an All-Star this season? He's gone from 16/5/5/1 to 19/5/4/1, but can he make the big stats jump to get the recognition he will need? The last wing player to make it in a Jazz uniform was Andrei Kirilenko in 2004. That was Andrei's 3rd season in the league and he beat out a very vocal Carmelo Anthony to do it. That season Melo averaged 21.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, and 1.2 spg and added half a block to boot. Andrei countered with 16.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.9 spg, and 2.8 bpg. The Nuggets would finish the 2003-2004 season with one more win than the Jazz too -- but the key is to be a big player on a team that has some wins by the All-Star break. You could also argue that Melo was a rookie and they didn't want to 'reward' him that early.

If Gordon is going to do it, he's not going to do it by being a big time 23+ ppg scorer this season. Not with his teammates and in this offense. He's going to have to continue having a robust all-around game if he's ever going to be recognized as an all-star.

It's possible that someone who scores more and plays in a bigger market will look like one . . . but not make it. But if Andrei can do it at the age of 22, why can't Gordon do it at 25?