The Utah Jazz are facing a lot of injuries right now, and it's really not something we have any reasonable way of combating, aside from buying reverse Voo-Doo dolls of each of our players. And I don't even know if that is something that exists. Probably more upsetting could be the fact that the injuries have somewhat scuttled a promising season for this "young to in it's peak" group of players. It's a downer, but there are some things we can rely upon, from Hall of Famers not changing their stripes to little babies being cute. Also, because it's topical, we have to revisit the whole 2013 epoch change for the Jazz, starting with a huge draft night trade!
I've been an NBA fan since 1984. I've seen great teams, I've seen horrible teams. I remember the Chicago Bulls winning 70+ games and winning a title. I also remember the Atlanta Hawks (13), Dallas Mavericks (12), Los Angeles Clippers (12), New Jersey Nets (12), Denver Nuggets (11), Dallas Mavericks (11), and Charlotte Bobcats (7) win fewer than 15 games. I've seen stars fail, and I've seen role players triumph. The thing about the NBA I've probably seen the most of that I detest are injuries. As Utah Jazz fans we saw John Stockton and Karl Malone suit up almost every single night, and play through any aches and pains they had. We also saw Alonzo Mourning have to get a kidney transplant because his body could no longer metabolize the pain killers he was pumping through his body to get through an NBA Season. Being healthy is prep. Being ready to play is mental. But being uninjured is really a lot of luck.
And the Utah Jazz have not been that lucky since John and Karl.
The team is already playing the entire season with erstwhile starting point guard Dante Exum -- a freak acute injury that took place in a 'friendly match' in the summer in Europe. The team has been playing for a month without starting center Rudy Gobert -- a freak acute injury that took place in practice. And the team is going to be playing for two months without bench scorer Alec Burks -- a freak acute injury that at least took place in an NBA game. The Jazz have done a great job by managing the players with chronic injuries very well (Derrick Favors and Rodney Hood both have had bouts of plantar fasciitis), but it's the freak accidents that you have no control over.
Similarly, when something is out of your control it's hard to feel like it's a reliable situation. In the back of my mind I worry about multiple acute injuries leading to bigger issues, or the 'injury prone' tag. After all, Raul Lopez had two different knee injuries to two different knees. Andrei Kirilenko wasn't injury prone coming into the NBA, but ended up leaving with that tag because his style of play put his body on the line.
I guess the solution is to be more like John and Karl, be in peak physical condition year round and never complain about things? Seriously though, I feel compelled to go back to the luck aspect. You just have to be lucky and not have your players get injured. And really, I do not yet know if that is something we can rely upon.
At the end of the day, we can always be secure in the knowledge that Karl Malone 's phone is, well, a phone.
I don't even know if he can receive MMS on that thing.
The Jazz play the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. And that means we get to revisit the whole Trey Burke vs. Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng trade. The T-Wolves' Kyle Ratke got down to it in this post at their .com site.
Draft-day trades are set up perfectly for comparisons. Wolves fans have compared Brandon Roy and Randy Foye plenty of times. And then there's Stephon Marbury and Ray Allen along with Kevin Love and O.J. Mayo.
On June 27, 2013, the Wolves took point guard Trey Burke with the ninth overall pick, which seemed unusual considering the Wolves already had Ricky Rubio, J.J. Barea and Luke Ridnour on their roster. Many predicted a trade. Those people were right.
The Wolves traded Burke to the Utah Jazz for the mysterious Shabazz Muhammad, who Utah selected 14th overall, and Gorgui Dieng, who was selected 21st overall.
After two years and some change, it's not all that easy to figure out who won that trade. Or maybe it is... You tell us.
By the sheer numbers two guys have a better chance of beating one guy head to head. After all, there are two guys. Ratke goes into the per game and PER stats of each individual players and sets it up as Burke vs. 'Bazz, and Burke vs. Dieng. If you want all the deets in one place behold:
Chart by Basketball-Reference.com -- click here for the full breakdown.
Of course, as a stats-guy myself, I must admit that there's more to it than stats. Burke has started and come off the bench. He takes whatever direction his head coaches want of him and doesn't complain about his role. When he's on the court he's always one of the first one initiating huddles with the players during stoppages. While his shot doesn't always fall, he does that point guard thing of trying to motivate and lead his guys out there. And at times his shot does fall, he's hit a number of game winners for this club. He was also Western Conference Rookie of the month three times, won the Skills title at All-Star weekend, and played in the Rookie / Soph game both as a rookie and as a soph. He has been successful, though in a muted role. At the end of the day, we've also always known how old he is.
The same can't be said for Minny's draft night trade haul.
Dieng is solid, but the 20 something pick's development is going to be put on the back burner not that Karl-Anthony Towns is in town. Muhammad is a bigtime scorer, but he's not important anymore either now that Andrew Wiggins is on the team. Down the line I think that Burke -- being established as a back-up point guard with scoring tendencies -- will be a more successful player down the road. It just may take a long road for him to get there.
Every year there are guys who come into the draft who are sub seven foot defensive bigmen, so Dieng isn't special in any way. Muhammad may end up bouncing around for a long time like C.J. Miles before finding a home. My money is on Trey Burke. And so is Dennis Lindsey's.
Thanks to Spencer Campbell for finding this story!
Rant-y time? Yes. Rant-y time. I feel disengaged from the Utah Jazz this season. The team is in year one of Trey Lyles, supposedly our last lotto pick in a while. The team is in year two of Quin Snyder, Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Elijah Millsap, and Trevor Booker. The team is in year three for Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert. The team is in year five for Alec Burks. And the team is in year six for Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward
Rudy Gobert. I'm a patient guy. I know that not all parts are at their best right now, and not all parts are healthy right now. But I'm not certain that our guys are getting it done.
A huge problem / obstacle was Kevin O'Connor. Some people want to laud him, that's fine. Do so. But he was not always aligned with the head coaches the team was paying. Dennis Lindsey came in and brought new blood into the organization which was necessary. However, a new GM seems to have that ego that they want a clean slate to work with, and to win or fail based upon their own decisions. So in a way, everything before the 2013 NBA Draft isn't something DL accounts as his own work. I get that. But it seems more and more like our current team isn't based upon maximizing the fruits of pre-2013 work. In a way, we had a number of absolutely lost years that were both pointless but now also meaningless.
Lindsey has HIS coach in Quin Snyder, and he's a developmental teacher. But that shows his hand a bit in that we're still learning, and not yet winning. And if you look at the scoreboard, that's also very true.
Because of this I feel like just because I want the team to win and make the playoffs doesn't mean that is the true goal for this season. If everyone was healthy? For sure. Because so many people are not? Start and play Lyles 20 mpg.
When I adjust my expectations accordingly I can't be mad either. Yes, the Seattle Supersonics / Oklahoma City Thunder made the playoffs in the 3rd season of Kevin Durant (Jeff Green, etc). We're now in the 6th season of Gordon Hayward. But I guess Gordon isn't our Kevin. We may want him to be. But he's a relic (?) of pre-2013. And the more we see from Lindsey, pre-2013 is still part of someone else's baby. Not his.
So what I ultimately am saying is that the clock is set back. Dante is behind schedule, and he's our Top 5 pick after theoretically whiffing on Enes Kanter in 2011. The team now has a coach that plays unready rookies stable minutes in a predictable role, instead of a head coach who starts a guy one week, and he gets DNP-CD's the next two games.
This is better. It's slower. It's not skipping steps. And I guess legacy players from pre-2013 are steps skipped that Lindsey would rather do-over in time.
Remember to buy season ticket packs, though, fans!
I sure hope Salt Lake City has a WNBA team by the time Derrick Favors' twin daughters are in their 20s.
Get well soon, girls! Get some rest, mommy and daddy!