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Utah Jazz bigman Rudy Gobert is a defensive anomaly - Downbeat 1775

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The Jazz are locked on on defense like Luke Skywalker on a Death Star ground attack run.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are great on defense. And they are young. Duh. That's something to build on. Other teams in the West are tearing things down. Crazy. Also speaking of crazy, let's visit Memo's fantastic life and Nazr H.'s "List".

Okay, so the big news of today is that the Houston Rockets GM DM (Can't pass that up) fired Hall of Famer Kevin McHale. McHale has been an instrumental part of two franchises -- the Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. As the head coach of the Houston Rockets, well, they didn't really leave the launch pad. Houston is 4-7 this season, and in the four seasons under him the team reached first round escape velocity only once. If you fire a head coach who has taken your team to the playoffs three years in a row what does it say about the stability of the Utah Jazz who will stand by their head coaches come hell or high water?

Not all teams benefit from the top - down stability of the Jazz. The Rockets clearly show some stability, but not as much. (For the record, this is how their coaches have gone over time after their first six difficult seasons -- Tom Nissalke (3 years), Del Harris (4), Bill Fitch (5), Don Chaney (3.x), Rudy Tomjanovich (11.x), Jeff Van Gundy (4), Rick Adelman (4), Kevin McHale (3.x).) McHale will be succeeded by J.B. Bickerstaff as an interim head coach. Yes, he's the son of Bernie Bickerstaff. (So, heads up, one day the Rockets may be coached by John Lucas III.)

McHale hasn't had the best last two years of his life with his tragic family situation (it doesn't matter if you are in your 60s, when your children are adults and get ill they are still your little babies), and now this. Even worse seems to be this Timberwolves touch . . . with Flip Saunders passing away weeks ago. A while back some people were writing about the plight of African American head coaches, but perhaps the real issue here is that being a head coach -- in general -- is like putting a target on your back. As Jerry Sloan said, "you can't fire the players."

Thank you to the Utah Jazz for being a stable organization. I appreciate the recent changes made to the front office that have trickled down. But I also love how I never had to watch a team have three head coaches in the same season -- like a lot of other fans have had to see.



Onto more Jazzy news . . . the Jazz are young and good at defense. They aren't as young as they used to be, but I think the defense is better than it has been in decades. I haven't looked at the Jazz year-by-year yet, but RealGM has this handy diagram looking at the entire NBA this season, so far:

Utah, the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, and Phoenix Suns all line up to be a younger team that has their stuff together on defense. The interesting thing, to me, is that there are eight young teams that aren't Top 10 in offense or defense, and six old teams in the same boat. Perhaps #YoungLegs aren't that big of a deal compared to talent and Xs and Os? I've only been an assistant coach of a horrible high school basketball team before, but I will admit in that case it was a talent issue. I know. I was on that team as a player. One of the best burns I ever got was during a time out when a younger kid I was trying to help out said "Amar, maybe you should be a full-time coach and an Assistant player."

I'm still applying medicated creams on that burn decades later.



A big part of that defense is due to Rudy Gobert. Even ESPN knows his name!

I hope this means some more jokers vote for him for end of season awards . . .



I do not understand how Mehmet Okur 's car door works.

Erkekkkklerimmm ❤ #mertmehmetokur #yigitmehmetokur #boys

A photo posted by mehmetokur13 (@mehmetokur13) on



This kinda pissed me off . . . but former Utah Jazz draft pick Nazr Mohammed listed the 6 toughest guys he has ever guarded. The bigman lists them in a somewhat predictable order with Shaquille O'Neal being #1, and everyone else behind him.

One guy he didn't list was Karl Malone. After looking at the data, well, I can kind of see why. In Head-2-Head they have played only four times. And while The Mailman did average 21.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.8 apg, 1.0 spg, and 1.0 bpg . . . .Nazr responded with 13.3 ppg, and 8.5 rpg. Perhaps I'm looking for Mohammed's next list . . . Hall of Famers I actually looked decent against.

Hindsight can suck sometimes. And finding out that your heroes weren't always at their best is tough. In a decade a lot of Kobe Bryant fans are going to experience the same thing when looking at little notes like this. That brings me some level of grim satisfaction with the whole Nazr thing. He was a Jazz draft pick when we needed solid, defensive bigs. Why did they trade him? Crazy.