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Utah Jazz are finally getting the hang of analytics -- The Downbeat #1562

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Make way for Rudy; Gordon Hayward is Elite; The Sloan Sports Analytics Conference; Quin Snyder and Analytics; Anthony Mason RIP

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz have had a pretty interesting February so far. There's one game to go, tonight at home hosting the Milwaukee Bucks, but I think the general impression from fans are that "things are moving along the right direction." Even the whole Enes Kanter trade thing didn't derail the team because the front office worked quickly and quietly to fix the situation. The jury is going to be out for a while on this trade because we don't know how good Grant Jerrett and TIbor Pleiss are going to be, or what Dennis Lindsey is going to do with our picks -- but the early returns suggest that making more space for Rudy Gobert to flourish was a brilliant move. It's something the Jazz failed to do with their other younger players. We all know that talented bigs like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were in the way of Derrick Favors and Kanter. But we often gloss over on how many sub-standard wing players displaced Gordon Hayward (who wasn't a full-time starter either) and Alec Burks from getting enough sunlight.

After all, the Los Angeles Lakers did trade away Eddie Jones (along with Elden Campbell to the Charlotte Hornets for B.J. Armstrong, J.R. Reid, and Glen Rice) to make more room for Kobe Bryant. Jones had a lot of potential and was young, and was a Lakers guy by being drafted in the lotto by them years earlier -- but Kobe was going to be better only if he had less corporate competition in his way. There are lots of examples of this working out, and I think the liberation of Gobert will work out.

We do miss Enes' ability to make free throws tho . . .

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Somehow we're not talking enough about Gordon Hayward. He's gone from occasional starter, to spot up jump shooter, to all-around player, to best-play-on-a-bad-team, to actually being a legit, solid, first option. His progress over his five year career has been delightful to watch. He wants to take the last second shot. He wants to be the guy playing defense in crunch time. And he's really leading this team with his play on the court. This season he's above 19 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg, and 1 spg. He's closer to 20/5/5/1 than anyone could have predicted.

Who are the Utah Jazz players who have gone for 19+ / 4+ / 4+ / 1+ over an entire season?

And now G-Time is right there. As for the "next level" of 20/5/5/1, how many people have done it from the year 2000 till today?

Gordon may never get the name, national media support, or branding of those guys. But he has the chance to be in their club with his play on the court.

This is so nasty, if he dunked on a black guy there would have been a lot more people going crazy about it -- which is so racist I can't even begin to explain it.

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It's that time of the year again, it's time for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference. The list of speakers are here (inc Adam Silver, Arn Tellem, Daryl Morey, Howard Beck, Jeff Van Gundy, Kirk goldsberry, Mike D'Antoni, Nate Silver, Pete D'Alessandro, R.C. Buford, Rod Thorn, Shane Battier, Tom Haberstroh, Wyc Grousbeck, and SB Nation's Bill Connelly), and the research papers are here. But you know who else is there? Andy Larsen! So follow his stuff on twitter!

Highlights from Day 1 (yesterday):

  • Basketball Analytics: Push the Tempo
  • Technology Amplifies Success: How Analytics is Changing the Game
  • Is Analytics Taking the Joy out of Sports?
  • Advanced Defensive Metrics for NBA Basketball

I haven't read ANY of the info on these topics yet, but these four are sure to be the things Andy would have mostly tried to hit too. So at the risk of not trying to compete against a dude there, I suggest people to just follow his live-stream of everything on his twitter (linked above).

Day 2 has some interesting things as well. I hope that the Jazz people who went there attended the one that just ended right now (9:00 am EST to 10:00 AM) called "Finding the Digital Fan". As much as they try, many of the online fans of the Jazz are being pushed out in favor of the #44United #United44 crowd. It's impossible for a guy like me who doesn't live in Utah to justify buying season tickets. But you will be hard pressed to find someone on this planet who devotes so much of their free time to following the team than some of the international fans out there.

But that's just how I feel. I can't wait to read what Andy has to say about the entire event. And personally Andy, by not going back with the Kyrylo Fesenko t-shirt you lost some of your mojo!

(Yes, this is what these nerds do for fun at the SSAC)

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Speaking of Advanced stats, check out this piece by Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:

Here's an excerpt:

Charles Barkley opened his mouth - not an unusual thing - and about sent stat geeks into a tizzy a couple of weeks ago.

During a TNT-televised rant about Houston general manager Daryl Morey, Barkley responded to an insult by the executive with some heated comments.

"He's one of those idiots who believes in analytics," Barkley said. "I've always believed that analytics is crap."

Lakers coach Byron Scott reignited the conversation before Wednesday's game when he told reporters in his pregame interview that he's not a believer.

"I think we've got a few guys who believe in it," he said, according to the Orange County Register. "I'm not one of them."

The coach on the other side of the court is.

Quin Snyder doesn't base all - or even most - of his game-planning decisions and strategy on the oodles of statistical data at his fingertips.

But the Jazz coach is a believer. He routinely seeks out information and trends from Utah general manager Dennis Lindsey and his analytics crew (including Bart Taylor and Taylor Snarr) to see if there are tactical adjustments that can be made based on numbers.

- Jody Genessy, Deseret News, 2015

Yes, I love all of this! If you only read one thing today, read this article!

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Anthony Mason, best known for his work with the New York Knicks in the 1990s, passed way today earlier this morning. There's no connection between him an the Utah Jazz aside from a) Mason being at his peak during the era many of us were glued to our TV screens in the 90s, and b) perhaps because one of his basketball playing sons played for Cholet Basket, the same team Rudy Gobert hailed from. Mason, dead at 48, is just way too young. His passing is a result of congestive heart failure.

Heart failure is a big deal in the United States, especially within certain demographics that also have some linked behaviors that can only make things worse -- like hypertension, smoking, obesity, and diabetes. In some cases the morbidity and mortality of heart failure is as bad as some Cancers. During his playing days Mase was a 6'7 guy, wing height, but carrying around power forward weight. His playing days behind him I could see that some of his off the court behaviors may have contributed to making his heart failure more severe than others. After all, he perished in the hospital.

Mason didn't take care of himself as well as he could have, and now he is gone on the wrong side of 50. It's sad. But it can be a wake up call as well. Your health is important, there are many free online resources you can use to help track your behaviors and try to find out what things you may be at risk for. More than that, though, there's lots of advice to be had on living healthy. What you eat. What you do. And so forth.

Anthony played the Jazz 22 times, and averaged 37.2 mpg against us; and he managed 9.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, and 0.7 spg. Rest in peace Anthony. And everyone else, remember to take care of your health! And if you wanted to drop a line in to Knicks fans on this, Posting and Toasting has a page up there just for that.