As mentioned over here, we are less than two months away from the NBA Draft. The NBA Draft is awesome because that's where our team has gotten the most talent from over the last few seasons (not with trades, not with free agent signings -- really, our biggest veteran free agents the last few seasons have been stalwarts like John Lucas III, Randy Foye, and Trevor Booker, so one good guy in three years). Outside of Derrick Favors (who was in the Deron Williams trade), our main guys are all draftees / draft-day moves. We've had Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Rudy Gobert, Trey Burke, Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, and Jeremy Evans since they were rookies. That's most of the guys on the team that we still have a chance to root for. And that's why the drat is awesome, this generation of the Utah Jazz has absolutely killed it on scouting, and using their assets to go out there and get good players. Players that can help a team win games, and turn a franchise around.
The previous generation, under Kevin O'Connor, and even some of the Scott Layden years, included some great draft picks, but so many draft busts. We haven't really had any since Dennis Lindsey and company took over -- the worst I guess would be Burke who was moved to the bench this last season. Subjectively we want and expect more from a guy who dominated NCAA basketball, but objectively Trey's still pretty much one the best bench players this franchise has had.
I have no doubt that we're going to leave this draft with yet another rotation player that will help our team win games. That could be the #12 pick that we're likely to have; it could be someone we move up for. It could be someone we move back into the 1st round for. Lindsey keeps you guessing, except when results are concerned. The crazy thing is that with Lindsey and company having little birds all over the world they don't even need a lotto pick to mine gold. On consecutive draft nights they came away with Rudy Gobert (#27) and Rodney Hood (#23) deep in the first round. I am really excited to find out which new guys are going to vastly overachieve this time around.
Gather 'round young children, let me tell you a tale. It was years ago, Jerry Sloan was the head coach of the perennially playoff bound Utah Jazz. Basketball John was holding down the fort almost single-highhandedly here at SLC Dunk. And some skinny blond kid started writing about the team he loves online. Over the next few seasons Sloan rode off into the sunset, and Basketball kind of did too. The team would go up and down, but that kid never stopped doing what he loved. He went from being a fan to being one of the brightest stars on a team run program to showcase the voice of fans. Shortly after he moved onto a media site that covered everything the team did year round. Proving himself there he was selected to run his own site, re-branding it and drawing in readers from all over the world. A full-time media member today, he has recently expanded his portfolio to include working for media juggernaut KSL. And that skinny blond kid was none other than Andy B Larsen.
Quin Snyder wanted to play with pace, but the Jazz were the slowest team in the NBA. How does he feel about that? http://t.co/S3YEeZwNob— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) April 29, 2015
You may have noticed that the article I wrote is on KSL. Related announcement: I'm now working for KSL!— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) April 29, 2015
I'll be heading up http://t.co/iem686Z9Tg's Utah Jazz coverage from here on out, as well as helping out with other sports and web analytics.— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) April 29, 2015
Don't worry, I'm not leaving Salt City Hoops. I am, however, leaving my day job, meaning I'll be covering sports full time!— Andy Larsen (@andyblarsen) April 29, 2015
Andy is now one of the most respected and well liked media members in our small Jazz community. He is on TV, the radio, does podcasts, responds to spaghetti relayed questions on his Reddit AMA, and covers the games in a way that expands our knowledge base, but does not stray from his voice as a legitimate fan of the Jazz; someone who loves the team and loves what he is doing. And I love that he's now doing it full-time.
Mr. Larsen is a tireless worker who was able to make that jump -- from a college kid who didn't study Journalism to being such a boss in new media. I love it. And while his rise may not be typical of everyone who starts writing about the team they love, he shows the template of how to get it done. Work hard. Don't ever give up. Keep improving your game, and expanding your talents. And with just a little luck, smart and effective networking, and your own brilliance -- you could be the next Andy B Larsen.
If I had to be critical of Andy it would be to say that, sheesh, he's such a slacker -- he hasn't written a Downbeat since DB #1041. Jokes aside, I can't stop smiling. Please read his first post on KSL here. It's about Quin Synder, and the Jazz pace of play.
It. Is. Awesome.
So, we know a little more about what Rudy Gobert is doing in Africa. He first tweeted out a picture on Instagram here, but it didn't look like he was just there to relax. He went to Gorée, which was one of the larger island posts along the Atlantic slave trade off the coast of Senegal.
Aujourd'hui je vais sur l'île de Gorée, un des lieux marquants de notre douloureuse histoire, de mes racines et donc de mes ancetres!— rudy gobert (@rudygobert27) April 28, 2015
J'ai passé une super journée avec @Giving_Back Sénégal ! #Education & #Sport #solidarity Many thanks to Makha KONATE! pic.twitter.com/VTWQsRxWxJ— rudy gobert (@rudygobert27) April 28, 2015
Yesterday i had the most humbling experience of my life. I had the opportunity of visiting the House… https://t.co/c5VpEsbrv5— rudy gobert (@rudygobert27) April 29, 2015
While there he was #GivingBack to Africa and doing charity work. He's a sensible 22 year old multi-millionare. He's aware of who he is, but also where he comes from. Selfishly he is a great ambassador for the Utah Jazz, but globally we need young men like him in all industries, not just sports or famous people.
Rudy is also going to be playing for France during the European championships (September 4th to 20th), and France will really be relying on him because Joakim Noah will not be tag-teaming with him in the paint. Quel dommage!
Gobert isn't the only Jazz ambassador of late, Quin Snyder, alone with Steve Nash and Dikembe Mutombo (and others) went to Cuba to do Basketball Without Borders work earlier this week. Two years ago Tyrone Corbin, then the head coach of the Jazz, went to South Africa for Basketball Without Borders. I really appreciate how our players and coaches make the news for doing socially conscious things with their celebrity; and aren't getting their names in print for getting in trouble. (#RIP #PILLOWFORT)
Gordon Hayward loves where the team is going, and is going to be a dad. He also has a not-so-secret life where he plays video games. I play video games too, but I don't understand any of this.
But yeah. Be you Gordon. (Also, Andrei Kirilenko, Kyrylo Fesenko were also big PC Gamers, as are Shane Battier and Channing Frye. And Andrew Bynum. For reals. So. Yeah. I don't have anything else to add.)
The NBA is giving the Rookie of the year award to Andrew Wiggins today. Of course, I do not believe for an instant that for the marketing machine and the recent inroads into Canadian TV deals, that they wouldn't have given Andrew Wiggins the ROY award. All the pre-college hype till now, all the teams that tanked, he was the obvious choice after Jabari Parker went down early, and Nerlens Noel played for a team that managed to win -17 games this season.
This season the Jazz boasted a roster with a whole bunch of rookies: Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, Joe Ingles, Bryce Cotton, Jack Cooley, Patrick Christopher, and Jerrelle Benimon. I do think that Hood has a chance to make either the 1st or 2nd Rookie team. But we'll see. Being a rookie is the natural progression from being a draft pick. (See how I linked Beat #1 with Beat #5? That's why I get paid the small bucks.) But being a rookie and getting better is the natural progression for OUR draft picks. It's going to be fun times in Utah, even if the players aren't winning any of the individual awards.
The real hardware that matters is one that can only be had with a team that's unified in purpose and desire. And listing again to all the locker clean out interviews, it's obvious that our team (from players to coaches to the front office) are all on the same page. After the KOC / Greg Miller / Tyrone Corbin era it's nice to have that unity from top down.