We're starting things off today with a Utah Jazz rant about what the "new normal" is. We have to check in on a few of our favorites on social media, and break into the nuts and bolts as to why isn't playing more. Lastly, buck up Jazz fans, eight of the next ten games are at home. The good guys are likely to not float around .500 for much longer.
What's normal? To an individual what's normal appears to be a baseline state, which itself is subjective, that corresponds to observed and experienced situations, events, actions, and behaviors. For a reader of this blog, who started reading this blog this season, what's normal for SLC Dunk is a site that posts once a day. For someone who started reading a few years ago, it's a site that posts several times a day. For someone who started reading from the beginning, it's a massive community of people all watching the games together and writing together. What's normal seems to be tied to what is expressively normal depending on when you started keeping track.
This fluidity of normalcy is what my brain went to back when everyone in Jazzland (in-house media, beat writers, bloggers, people on "rival" sites, etc) were in the thick of things during the Tyrone Corbin era. (Or as I like to call it, Tyrant Corbin era) The reactions to the new Jazz norm were varied depending on what was normal for that individual fan. Let me explain:
For me, someone in the deep end of their 30s, who grew up watching the up-and-coming Jazz become a Western powerhouse what is normal is a team that improves year to year that fights for homecourt in the playoffs -- and the absolute worst case scenario would be a first round exit. My norm includes a 20-10 guy and a floor general with a crappy bench that still somehow made 50 games look easy. These were stars, and for me what's normal is a star led team.
Other some people younger than me, who may have only seen brief glimpses of the John Stockton / Karl Malone era, and were nascent Jazz fans during their "out in the first round every year" swan song going to the playoffs and bowing out without much success is normal to them. In that, best success was as good as the best normal success for the John / Karl / years. To me that's insane. To someone younger than me who only knows about success through fables, it's not insane. It's their normal. To them they've only objectively seen data through their lifetimes where the team gets worse and worse every year and what the worst case scenario for me (and people my age) was the normal.
Even younger people only know lottery era struggles and the best teams ever were the Los Angeles Lakers, and once made it to the Western Conference Finals. Again, for me I saw a team rise up together from being an up-and-comer to one that would go to the Western Conference Finals five times in seven seasons. My norm is so far away from the norm of these Jazz fans who only escaped the second round once./ / / ones who couldn't get by the
The teens watching the Jazz today see the theoretical rise from the stone age (the Tyrone Corbin era), may barely remember a non-pouty Deron Williams, and have yet to see actual on-court success. For them, the normal Jazz team is one that a lotto team. The first round sweep was the only playoffs they really remember. And that's not fair. That's really not fair.
I could not celebrate a former Jazzman I really liked, and a human being I've met in real life, because he was a bad head coach. My experiences with what a Jazz team was did prevented me from accepting the vast aberrance of that era as moments to celebrate. Some others, either younger than me, or vastly older who remember the four decades history of the club (and not just the good two decades), could.
And that is because of our different concepts of normality for this franchise that we all love (and yet somehow couldn't be unified in this love).
My Jazz norm is a team with stars who dominate teams at home. A team that wins 50 games and is a championship contender. The offense is feared and other fans hate our guys. Our best players were never hurt.
Today I see almost the full opposite. We don't have any stars to rely on. Utah is not a stronghold for wins. Making 40 wins will be an upgrade over last season. No one believes we are a championship contender, fears our offense, or even notices us. There's no swagger. There's no "Oh know, we have to play The Jazz?" . . . and our best players are frequently injured and not playing.
For other fogies who were raised during this Jazz Goldilocks Zone this season can appear like a downer. Another developmental year with incremental improvements. But that's on us. We have the power to be upset, or the power to recognize that we're effectively Jazzland Baby Boomers. We had everything at its' best. A little difficulty brings character.
Or perhaps I should just yell at the team to be better, and complain about the lack of stars bringing home wins.
Anyway, that's a huge rant. I don't apologize. I just want to know what's your Jazz normal. And what's the new Jazz normal? If it's what we see today it's going to be a big adjustment for people like me.
Whatever the "New Normal" is, it's never going to be Karl Malone:
' wifey posted a picture of the Jazz Wives' Christmas Party.
Does your Christmas party look like this? Also, who do you think is married to whom? I'm horrible at this game, but I'll guess that the toddler on the rug is single. That's also probably Bernie Hayward.
Do you know who is defending the paint in the most expressive way this season? Yes, even with injury,leads the team in total blocks (37), and blocks per game (2.6). But you know who leads the team in blocks per 36 minutes? Yup, it's Jeff Withey (2.9). Everyone from casual fans to expert professional credentialed bloggers believe that Withey needs to play more. (I place myself somewhere between those two polls) I think Dennis Lindsey brought in the 7' footer specifically to play, and not to help him put up seasonal office decorations. Jeff is a rebounder and defender who doesn't take bad shots.
He has an above average PER (6th best on the team), as a positive +/- Net RTG (104 ORTG, 100 DRTG), and averages a tidy 3.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.9 bpg in 10.6 mpg. (Expanding it to Per 36 he's one of three 'double double' guys on the team.)
Perhaps he's behind everyone else right now, and that's what's keeping him out of action . . . or maybe this is a great time for Quin Snyder to experiment with the concept of going small . . . but I think we'd all like to see more of him out there. He could possibly be the best back-up center in Jazz history (if we discount all those years played behind ). We don't know if he will be until he starts getting on the court more.
What's your best tin-foil-hat conspiracy theory as to why he's not getting more burn?
The 10-13 record right now isn't making anyone swoon with delight. (What's swoonin', Jean Snew?) But let's look at the next 10 games.
- Wed, Dec 16th -- New Orleans Pelicans @ Utah Jazz
- Fri, Dec 18th -- Denver Nuggets @ Utah Jazz
- Mon, Dec 21st -- Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz
- Wed, Dec 23rd -- Utah Jazz @ Golden State Warriors
- Sat, Dec 26th -- Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah Jazz
- Mon, Dec 28th -- Philadelphia 76ers @ Utah Jazz
- Wed, Dec 30th -- Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves
- Thur, Dec 31st -- Portland Trail Blazers @ Utah Jazz
- Sat, Jan 2nd -- Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz
- Mon, Jan 4th -- Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz
That's EIGHT HOME GAMES and only two road games. One of the road games is a schedule loss, and one is against a lotto team. Which one is the hardest game? Which one is the easiest? Don't you think that the next 10 games will help ease your fears, or confirm them, about our club? If the Jazz go .500 here during this stretch it should be a downer, right? Only so because it's likely that this Jazz team, one approaching better health and with more practice time (only one B2B), should be playing better. And winning more.