This month has been full of events. March Madness. John Stockton's birthday. Hot Rod Hundley passing. Enes Kanter going into WWE mode. It seems like a blip that we got to Jerry Sloan 's birthday, and then there were a million things happening at the same time. Jerry Sloan was a boss. The original Chicago Bull. The best coach in Utah Jazz franchise history. He's awesome.
And I need to share this tweet by YouTube vid maestro Adam (MemoIsMoney):
@slcdunk @utahjazz pic.twitter.com/7wlQvN6zZu— Adam (@prodigyJF) March 28, 2015
I love you Jerry Sloan. And I love animated head coaches. Having a personality helps your players want to play hard for you!
Simon Shortt, of Slam Dunk Zone, wrote about a couple of teams that have a bright future, even if their present leads them to the NBA Draft lottery once again. He breaks it down by each conference and goes over every team. It's very thorough, and well worth your time. Of the Utah Jazz he writes:
"...it is hard to argue with what the Jazz have done this season, and what some of their players have already proven. With forwards Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors the Jazz have an excellent two-way one-two punch. Rudy Gobert has already become a stud on the boards and while blocking shots at a high rate. Rodney Hood has also put together a nice rookie campaign and will look to be a career three-and-D guy and provide valuable minutes off the bench.
The question for this team comes in the back-court. Dante Exum has appeared almost timid on offense this season, and will need to discover if he is a one or a two before he can become truly effective. Alec Burks received a big payday from the Jazz but has only played in 70 or more games once in his four years in the league. But if he can stay healthy he could be a very good two-way player. And finally Trey Burke. Hitting a bit of a sophomore slump this year, Burke's assist numbers have dropped slightly and he has been coming off the bench some this season. But despite the questions in the back-court, the stellar play of the front court as Hayward looks to become a star will carry this team to new heights in the upcoming years."
The Dante Exum / Trey Burke thing is less evolved as we fans would have wanted. But it's a wait and see thing when you have a 19 year old and a 21 year old (their ages back in training camp). Yeah, I am totally down with this; however, I have some minor quibbles. I think Hood, from what we've seen of him at Duke, in the Vegas Summer league, training camp and today, shows that he's not really a three and D guy. He can hit threes, yes. And he can play some defense, yes; but that's not the sum total of his game. In college he wasn't known for defense, but rather more for his ball handling ability / ability to drive and dish. He solidly fits into Quin Snyder's tool box as a multi-purpose tool, not as something with a clear and obvious use. Within the offense he is a real triple threat guy, and that's very rare when looking at 3rd / 4th options. And that allows for a little more versatility of attack, and fluidity of motion on offense. He's not someone on the scouting report that the other team will play for the drive, and as he is wont to do he will -- and that causes defensive breakdowns. Effectively he could one day become the Gallant to Alec Burks ' apparent Goofus. Now, we all know that Alec is my favorite guy on the team -- easily. And I think Burks should start. But Hood's ability to do what is needed, not be someone who needs a situation, makes for a compelling dilemma for next season.
And please check out the rest of the article to get a better frame of reference of where the stack up against the other lotto teams. Read it all here.
March madness is where heroes are made, and where bubble guys jump up into the NBA Draft lotto. It's also where lots of websites go crazy with the Draft. This site is one of them. DraftExpress tweeted this out, and I found it to be both hilarious and a celebration of this next draft class.
Sam Dekker generating some buzz on DX. Real-time traffic look. pic.twitter.com/cSHz1TAhgA— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) March 29, 2015
Which player has impressed you most this tournament? No, you can't say Marmaduke. (Mamadou N'Diaye)
Do you know who the best clutch shooter in the NBA are this season? CBS's Zach Harper did the work and found out that the best guys are . . . Markieff Morris, Anthony Davis, Dirk Nowitzki, James Harden, and LaMarcus Aldridge. Who are the least clutch guys? Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, Russell Westbrook, Kyle Lowry, and DeMar DeRozan. I advise you all to read his post here, because it's not just filled with stats and words, but shot charts and locations.
I did find this excerpt to be absolutely necessary to share:
"...we often have the questioning of whether certain guys want to exist in those moments or do they want someone else to take the pressure and responsibility. The clutch argument is all about trusting the player and assuming they trust themselves above all. Regardless of where you fall on those certain topics, clutch shooting situations, opportunities, and decisions change from year to year.
This year, we've had a fascinating cross-section of players who have excelled at taking these shots and players that are struggling to get the job done. Typically, clutch shots are classified as field goal attempts in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime within a five-point margin either against or for the player taking the shot. Anywhere in the high 30's and above for percentage is often classified as adequate or justifiable accuracy in these moments.
With a few just brutal exceptions like Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz (28.8 percent), and Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls (28.6 percent), the majority of the shooters taking a high volume of shots are pretty successful in these last five minutes in a close game this season."
I'm not crazy, but . . . okay, let me start that again. I am crazy. But I think that you have to be an entirely different kind of crazy to want to take a last second shot. Maybe this is because I grew up and played point guard, and I loved passing the ball . . . but to be a guy who takes enough 'clutch qualifiable shots' you a) have to be in the game at that important time, and b) have to want to shoot it.
I remember in his first two or three years in the league Gordon Hayward *wanted* to be that guy. Sometimes we won the game, or got to Overtime -- but early on it was because of a Paul Millsap offensive rebound put back off a Gordon miss. (For the record, Millsap did this off of a C.J. Miles miss too, in Miami that everyone remembers more fondly.) Right now we're in a situation where Trey Burke wants to take ALL OF THE CLUTCH SHOTS, and as a result, he's not making a lot of them. I'd rather that he create an open shot for someone else, but again, you have to be a specific kind of crazy, bordering on having a Narcissistic personality disorder (Kobe Bryant ?), to want to do that.
At the end of the game you need crazy people who want to win. The Jazz have been burned over the years by guards shooting out of their mind, and have beaten a lot of teams where a guard shot them out of it down the stretch. The Jerry Sloan years did not have a lot of freedom for such an individual player to change the outcome of a game. But it's interesting now to see what we do. Dante Exum right now doesn't look like he wants to take those shots, and his inability to shoot right now keeps him on the bench longer than his talent should command. The major beneficiary has been Burke, and in a world bereft of Alec Burks, has been shooting quite a bit off the bench. I do feel that 28.8 FG% is very low, but over all this has been a poor shooting year for Trey.
And if we look at Gordon as a template -- keep giving Trey opportunities to improve. And over time he will.
Tonight (?) is WrestleMania (TM). I know because it's all over my Twitter timeline. Even Karl Malone 's wife Kay is tweeting about it.
So proud that my sweetie @TheDeliverer_32 learned how to order @WrestleMania @WWE on TV. Shut the front door #KarlMalone— KAY MALONE (@mamail) March 30, 2015
I was into this stuff once, back as a child. I was really hyped up for WrestleMania IV which happened back in 1988. That is a long time ago. Anyway, we no longer have the biggest Wrestling enthusiast in the NBA, as Enes Kanter is currently a "former player". If there was a Wrestling tournament in the NBA who would your pick be? Trevor Booker would represent the Jazz. LeBron James would get all the easy matches. Blake Griffin is great at acting hurt, while Chris Paul sneaks into the ring while the Ref's back is turned to hit the other guy. My darkhorse would be Sim Bhullar, if he's even still in the league. He has the athletic ability of a 1980s wrestler, maybe the game has changed since then?
I do know that, without a doubt, Quin Snyder would be a great, intense manager-type in those pre-match videos.