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Utah Jazz bigmen Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert have really worked on their free throws - Downbeat #1764

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Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Today the Utah Jazz are giving away free tickets. The team's free throw rate has gone up, and bigmen Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are a big part of that. Trevor Booker is exciting about the bench this season, and you all need to celebrating winning something! All this and more in today's Downbeat!

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The Utah Jazz play their 2015-2016 season home opener tonight, against the dastardly Portland Trail Blazers. It will be the first game played in the 25 year old arena under the new name of "Vivint Smart Home Arena" or "The Aunt Viv" as I will call it. Formerly the Delta Center and EnergySolutions Arena, the Viv is trying to continue the tradition of home excellence. As a franchise the Jazz have won an overwhelming majority of their games at home. A huge part of that are the fans. The people at Vivint are trying to make the fans happy, so they are giving away 500 (+10) free tickets to tonight!

These, according to the press release:

"Vivint has purchased 500 upper bowl tickets for distribution to deserving Jazz fans on a first-come, first-served basis. The giveaway begins at noon on Nov. 4 in the lower level ticket office at Vivint Smart Home Arena. There is a two-ticket limit per person. Free parking will be provided at Park Place. Fans are encouraged to wear their Jazz gear."

- Utah Jazz, NBA.com, 2015

I think that's really cool! I hope many people go to the game tonight and that it is really loud!

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So, we need to keep talking about free throws. The Jazz are averaging 94.3 ppg (25th out of 30 NBA teams), and yes I get it, the offense is pretty okay with an OFF RTG of 103.2 points per 100 possessions (14th in the NBA). But one way to actually put up some easy points on the board is to make free throws. You know this. The coaches know this. The players know this. So how are the Jazz doing from the stripe so far this season? They get to the line 21.3 times a game (last in the NBA, no doubt somewhat pace mitigated). And they made 16.0 of those shots, missing (using math) 5.3 free throws a game. In total it's 48 / 64, for a .750 success rate. That 75% is good enough for 18th in the league. By direct comparison with last season, the Jazz went 17.0 / 23.5 per game, for a success rate of .721 -- which was 26th in the league.

So free throw making has gone up, but the team is getting to the line less. A huge factor here has been the early season results for the bigmen Derrick Favors (14/19, .737), Rudy Gobert (5/6, .833), and the rest of the bigs (Trey Lyles, Trevor Booker, etc) (2/4, .500). It's actually a smaller player holding the Jazz back: Gordon Hayward is 9/13, making .692. That's funny, and I think as the sample size increases we'll see some normalization here. But the Jazz need to get to the line more. I think playing less than 100% of the games on the road will help with that. Also, this is where Alec Burks (10/12, .833) can really shine. Perhaps his lack of a deep attack, and penchant for CAS means he should call him:

Alec BRRRKS

Alec Burks #10 and the A-10 were meant to be, maybe.

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Is it too early in the season to be looking at free agents? Yes! Still, SB Nation broke down all the players who did and did not get an extension to their rookie contracts, and thus will become restricted free agents (RFA) this off-season:

There are more, and for the full list check out the full article here! We saw what being an RFA can do, as last season Reggie Jackson and Enes Kanter were traded at the deadline. It would be silly for some of these teams to let their best players slip away. It would also be silly for some of these teams to keep these guys around. I think we all love Evan Fournier because he is Rudy Gobert 's IRL BFF. He's a really good shooting guard who has three point range. I'd rather have him on the roster than Chris Johnson. Of course, is he better than Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, and Joe Ingles? Probably not. Is he better than Elijah Millsap? Not on defense. Does he want to play for a team as the 3rd, 4th, 5th best wing player? Also probably not.

Of course all of this is hilarious to even discuss, because it's not like the Jazz are going to a) be big players in free agency, or b) want to tie up their money right now when they will have to max out Rudy Gobert.

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So did we figure out a name for our bench unit yet? Here we see Trevor Booker getting hyped up for himself, Rodney Hood (SG/SF), Chris Johnson (SF/SG), Tibor Pleiss (C), and Trey Lyles (PF/SF).

DB 1764 - Trevor Booker Bench Squad

Via Trevor Booker's Instagram (35_fitz)

Now, I don't know how frequently you're going to see these five guys on the court at the same time, but it's nice to know they are all in full-support-mode. That's the key to any bench group -- they have to be team first. And that is usually a personality thing. Dennis Lindsey seems to have found a whole bunch of people who are just that. (Btw, in NBA 2k16 if you check it out almost every single Jazz player is attributed with having a "laid back" personality. I can't wait to see how that plays out when no one is playing over 33 mpg.)

As for our actual bench unit: Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Joe Ingles, Trevor Booker, and ostensibly Jeff Withey . . . do they have a cool name? An anagram of their last names doesn't work out perfectly, but if you remove a few letters you can get:

  • Hebrew Bibles Stories
  • The Bourgeois Blues
  • Biology in the USSR
  • Her Younger Sister
  • Religious Brother
  • Between Your Legs
  • and Books by Hitler

I don't know if we want to offend anyone, but there are some crazy suggestions from the anagram list here. If you just look at their first names, and again take out some random letters to make it work, you are left with better options like "Total Recovery" or "Act of Terror", "Tree Ocelot", or "Vote for Larry." Perhaps our team will not find the perfect bench name this season, but I think over the weeks we'll see them continue to have a positive impact upon the games they play in.

And ultimately that's something to jump up off the bench and celebrate.

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Stealing these from Diana . . . because they are great:

Not being a "Utah" Jazz fan I'm never around for these community things. But I think they are great. Should the SLCD community meet up more? Even if it's for remedial English classes? (That's a joke, unload your weapons.)

So, congrats guys! You all made the news. I mean "Y maed teh news!" Also, SLC Dunker founder Basketball John had the best possible response:

Love it. Also, I love all of you readers at the site. English is hard. Internet English is even harder.