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Utah Jazz need to keep their 2010 Family Together: Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, Trevor Booker, and Jeremy Evans - The Downbeat #1604

The Playoffs start, OKC isn't in it, The Jazz org as a family, Rodney Hood Rookie of the month, HGH and the NBA, and a rant of sorts.

Okay, so Ian Clark is gone . . . but don't lose anyone else!
Okay, so Ian Clark is gone . . . but don't lose anyone else!
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

So the NBA Playoffs start today, and I wrote very little, but used a lot of Microsoft Excel quite a lot to display each team, when they play, who is good on their squads, and what TV stations they are on. You can read it all over here. We know which teams made it after a crazy last few nights in the league. One team that didn't was the Oklahoma City Thunder. Many of us hate OKC for a variety of reasons. I hate them because they should be the Seattle Super Sonics. Others hate them for who is on their team (Enes Kanter ? Steven Adams ? Russell Westbrook ?), or that they are just a small market team that drafted really well, got good fast, got a lot of hype, and when healthy -- they are very good.

Well, my hate for them isn't unique to me. Shawn Kemp just became one of my Top 100 favorite players for what he did:

That's awesome.



I don't know if anyone but me cares about this, but I love that Gordon Hayward and his wife, and Derrick Favors and his wifey are both expecting children this off-season. The Jazz franchise seems to support and champion strong families, and we even today joke about Dee Brown getting the boot for not being married (and thus, a distracting negative influence upon his young teammates), but there's some truth to the idea that if you plant roots in Utah, the Utah Jazz will want you to be here. The Favors family is the model family, one we can really never tire or rooting for.

For me, though, I'm really happy that these two guys from the 2010 draft class are having kids at the same time -- their kids can grow up close like John Stockton and Karl Malone 's children have. Good chemistry on the court, in the locker room, and off the court.

And I think this is why the Jazz perform a battery of tests on the players during interviews, character is a big deal. And if you see what Lindsey and company have done with this team -- cleaning house of all the mercs -- there are now only guys here who want to be here. And that's a very solid fertile ground to plant the seeds for greatness within.

The only problem now is the other 2010 draft class guy, Jeremy Evans, who obviously adores being in Utah. I want to see him return to the Jazz. Not just because he's BFFs with Gordon, or that he's a fan favorite. He's just someone who is that quintessential "Jazzman". A second round pick who worked his way to impress Jerry Sloan and stick with the team past his rookie contract. He's stable, married, has outside interests which are creative and constructive -- and has been working on his game for a while now. I've never seen someone be so efficient with such little time.

Of course, a big reason why the Jazz didn't feel the need to give Jeremy so much playing time this past season is because of yet another 2010 draft class player, Trevor Booker. Booker isn't in the same tight group because he didn't play in Utah as a rookie, but he's from that same draft class. And he also has some level of uncertainty as only a fraction of his 2015-16 salary is guaranteed and easy for the Jazz to drop if needed. Booker is known as a great dad and family man. But I would want him to return as well.

Keep building our Jazz family, keep all four of our 2010-11 guys!



Our guy Rodney Hood was recognized as the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for April! Woo!

     DB 1604 - NBA Instagram Hood ROM

I love how he has played since beating his foot injuries. He's showing the NBA what he can do, and reminding us of the player that he was back in Las Vegas. Rodney averaged 16.7 ppg (.452 / .353 / .913), 3.4 rpg, 3.4 apg, and 1.1 spg in seven games. Key was his 1.7 made threes a game, giving the Jazz something they really needed. His ORTG was 120, and DRTG was 105 over this span. He finished the season strong scoring in double digits in six of seven games, and was on fire for a bit going for 17, 25, 20, 18, and 21 powering the Jazz to three wins in their first five games in April.

Of course, it could have been 4 wins had Hood been offered three FTs to end the game . . .

Congrats Rodney, I fell in love with you when you broke down in the media room after getting drafted (I obvs haven't uploaded that video for important reasons). If you keep playing like this NBA fans all over the world will too!



The NBA and the NBA Player's Association agree to a blood testing program for HGH.

This will mean more injuries, but "cleaner" players. Drug masking is always a step ahead of drug detection. This recent announcement also means that everyone who needed to know about it learned about it LAST JUNE. Which also helps explain the diets and off-loading programs that players like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony underwent. Of course, some quietly knew as much but were advised not to discuss it.

I don't aspire for some idealized version of the game, or any game. Make things legal, study the affects better, make it healthy, make it safe, make it available. For the long distance runner from Kenya the diet, shoes, and training someone in a "1st world nation" gets is a performance enhancement. HGH is another form of performance enhancement. Science is moving us towards greater and greater advances all the time. Hiding our head in the sand keeps us behind, be it stem cells, or the ability for athletes to train harder and more frequently with fewer rest durations.

For a guy like LeBron, in my mind the poster child, it's about nature and nurture. He worked on everything to get where he is, from his basketball skills (dribbling, shot making, etc), to his body (full season training, eating right, embracing science). If he did or did not take HGH doesn't mean he cheated. He still put in all those hours in the gym and all those hours on the court. And I guess my point of view on this comes from that concept.

Lots of people take drugs to study harder and for longer during short durations during critical periods of their undergraduate or post graduate careers. No one is putting an asterisk on some kid's Orgo Lab written exam because she took stimulants (amphetamine and dextroamphetamine). Why present sports to be some idealized version of itself when most of us know just how dirty it really is?

I guess it's about image. And under the new NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, it's all about cleaning up a game that became increasingly dirty at the end of David Stern 's regime.

Some ask why is the NBAPA agreeing to this, after their new head fights for EVERYTHING? That is also simple. Because it was agreed that this new rule would happen NOW, and not last year. The players were given a season to off-load and clean out their systems beforehand as a courtesy. The only way the NBAPA agrees to this is if that is promised. And it was. The NBA and players get to pretend no one was "juicing", no one was thus "caught" for juicing . . . and . . . the league looks better by going so public with this "look at how transparent we are" media move.

Oh, and yeah, don't jump to conclusions to link the increased number of injuries this season to this. It may have had some relationship to the injuries, but for the most part the injuries we saw were acute injuries due to the frantic pace of the game, and not due to overall weakness in the player's body due to needing to rest more between training periods; and thus, were not at all influenced by growth hormone.



For me the playoffs are a sore subject; the Utah Jazz were always in the playoffs for me -- I wasn't a Jazz fan during those first five seasons in New Orleans or their first four seasons in Utah. Being the "last bandwagon Jazz fan" in history (joining in the 80s) I've been blessed to see a team fight hard enough, and be good enough, to make the playoffs as a given.

A huge part of that was a strong corporate leadership from Larry H. Miller, excellent team construction by Frank Layden (and help from his son Scott Layden), the Layden - Phil Johnson - Jerry Sloan coaching three; and very lucky drafting to get John Stockton (1984 Draft #16), and Karl Malone (1985 Draft #13). You don't usually get Hall of Famers in back to back drafts in the middle of the first round. And today with the way the salary cap is, and the structure of contracts, it's very rare to have a great player on your team for their entire careers.

The Jazz missed the playoffs for three straight seasons between the end of Stockton and Malone, and the rise of that Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Andrei Kirilenko squad that was never lucky enough to be healthy enough to win enough regular season games to avoid the Los Angeles Lakers in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Everything went wrong with the team in a few seasons, which resulted in our HOF coach retiring, the battle field promotion of Tyrone Corbin, and the trade that sent our, then, franchise player D-Will to a bigger market. There was a lockout shortened season hiccup that saw the #12 ranked Jazz claw their way up to the #8 seed (at least 2 teams tanked for the prospect of getting Anthony Davis). And that playoff drubbing at the hands of the Spurs was my first real experience of the Jazz in the playoffs as a "media" guy (as I was asked to go on radio and the net in a bunch of places because my team was a playoff team).

As it stands right now the Jazz have missed the playoffs three seasons in a row, tying their longest drought in franchise history, since the team finally first made the playoffs back in 1983-84. Dennis Lindsey and Quin Snyder want to continue growing and have cautioned against the idea of trying go to "all in" to make the team shift from teaching and development into being a "win now" franchise. I think that is the smart move, especially since the Jazz need to keep growing internally before our window of opportunity opens.

That said, the fan in me is emboldened by the exit interview talk by our players who are targeting the playoffs, as early as next season. If the team does so that would be awesome for many reasons. And in this era of shortened contract lengths and a ballooning salary cap, it's hard to keep a player's interest in just one place for too long. Making the playoffs is a good first step. And failing in the playoffs is the first step that all young teams who go on to greatness must overcome.

I think this is where the player's desires and the front office's timeline tracts with one another, and with the hopes and dreams of us ravenous fans. If this team, with minor tweaks, can make the playoffs next season then that is absolutely awesome. But that would have to come as the bonus question at the end of a season long exam of cumulative learning and practical experiments. Don't trade young assets now to get mercenary vets to try to sneak into the 8th seed under a short sighted plan. Like last time.

Anyway, this is kinda a rant, but there are some really cool pics the NBA put out on Instagram that you should check out.

DB 1604 - NBA Playoff Instagram

There's one for each playoff team, and they are much better than the photoshops that I do, so they are worth checking out! Also, it's a little lighter than my stump speech here, sorry guys.