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Have the Utah Jazz underachieved as a franchise? -- Downbeat #1626

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The Jazz problem du jour, Christmas Uniforms leaked, some people don't like Salt Lake City, according to the math the Jazz franchise has underachieved, and the NBA Playoffs.

George Frey/Getty Images

Wow. Writing a post online, huh? When was the last time I did that . . . Saturday? Okay readers, I'm out of the country working on actual real life stuff so the "writing about no news thing" has had to take a back seat. There honestly isn't much Utah Jazz news right now. What do I mean? I mean a website that has to churn out more web-content than we do was forced to do a whole story on "that Bryce Cotton dunk". No, for reals!


So this is a good segue into talking about the point guard issue -- which seems to be the next universally accepted issue for the team. There seem to be these overlying concepts that go around and hang onto each team for years. For the Golden State Warriors, who have taken a 3-2 lead in the second round against the Memphis Grizzlies, their label was that they never, ever, ever played defense. They are doing that right now though, yet some people still can't get around their Don Nelson / Run TMC days (where Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, and Chris Mullin were not asked to play any defense).

One of the biggest labels the Jazz had were that they a) were nonathletic, which went hand in hand with b) their overly physical defense, and penchant for c) always fouling. A lot of that started because of betweeen-game chatter by Phil Jackson when he was the "coach" off the Chicago Bulls. (Seriously, their GM was the real MVP.) So a decade later when the team had athletes like Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko the team would STILL be getting called for fouls on defense. Today I think we've kinda shed that label, finally. Thanks in part to Dante Exum (PG) and Rudy Gobert (C), and everyone else in-between.

Thus, as a group of athletic defenders who no longer foul a lot, the global flashpoint is clearly point guard. Of course, point guard is the hardest position to learn at the NBA level; and furthermore, it's the hardest position to defend now. Almost every team requires their point guards to be assisted with high screens when handling the ball, in addition to playing off the ball now and getting multiple screens to get open. (What used to only happen for Reggie Miller now happens for point guards.) If you combine that with the rule changes that greatly favor slashing players (Derrick Rose, John Wall, Russell Westbrook) one must accept that the point guard position is really tough.

Utah had the youngest ever point guard crew last season with lotto picks Dante Exum and Trey Burke, undrafted combo guards Ian Clark and Toure' Murry, and NBA DL call-ups like Bryce Cotton. Things are going to take time. I think Dennis Lindsey is a patient man. It's been a while since I watched Johnny Lingo, but I think he knows that what we have at PG will just blow people away in a few seasons. I don't know how many cows (or draft spots) Exum and Burke are worth. But Lindsey used a #5 on Dante, and moved a #14 and #21 for Trey.

I do think he knows a whole lot more about basketball than I do. So I trust him. I also don't know how many cows that Bryce Cotton jam was worth either. But time will tell how our current point guard group develops.

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Uniforms! Paul Lukas as UniWatch (an ESPN thing unless they fired him too!) goes over the new Christmas NBA Uniforms!

From this we can't figure out who is scheduled to play that day -- so they've made a number of them for almost every team. Here's a contact sheet for two very small market lotto teams and a big market one!

Overall there are designs for Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Miami Heat, Charlotte Hornets, Utah Jazz, Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets, Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Washington Wizards, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Minnesota Timberwolves.

So, no Toronto Raptors, and three other teams, it seems. I'm not crazy about these uniforms -- they appear a little too uniform if you ask me. Check out the link above for ridiculous details about this entire news story. Also thanks to Basketball John for the tip! I would have missed this if not for his efforts!

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ESPN's eclectic scholar and talent Amin Elhassan broke down his favorite NBA cities on twitter. And guess what? Salt Lake City came dead last!

...and in the express round...

I didn't think I needed to embed each of his breakdowns (or takedowns) of cities people live in. But it's an interesting list for sure, even if you don't agree with 100% of what he says, or 100% of the order. I've lived in a few NBA cities over my lifetime and most of them have either had a bitter winter or great weather most of the year. Weather is a huge factor for many people, I guess I'm the crazy one out there because I own more than two coats, and have more than two pairs of boots.

Check out his entire list by following him on twitter. And thanks to the Deseret News' Jody Genessy and Basketball John for finding this story.

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But hey, it's not all bad. Oh yes, it is. According to ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, the Utah Jazz have underachieved as a franchise. They've collected a number of 55+ win seasons, and gone to the playoffs a lot, but are 1.7 NBA Titles below where they should be.

From the ESPN Insider article:

     DB 1626 - Jazz Championships

Alas, Michael Jordan. The Jazz are still searching for that first title much thanks to Jordan and the Bulls upending them in back-to-back Finals. The Jazz aren't quite the Spurs, but their sustained brilliance under Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan rivals the Spurs' current stretch. Karl Malone, John Stockton, Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Hornacek have all contributed to Utah's 15 50-plus-win seasons under Sloan. But they're still hunting for the big one.

- Tom Haberstroh, ESPN, 2015

The Los Angeles Lakers, Chicago Bulls, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, and Detroit Pistons have all overachieved based upon their regular season performance. And the Jazz are one of seven teams to be on the wrong side of NBA Championship achievement. At least they are 0.2 titles less disappointing than the Phoenix Suns. (Jeff Hornacek? Most disappointed player ever?)

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The NBA Draft combine is this weekend, but we're not covering it in person this year because I'm out of town with real life stuff. I apologize. Also, do you want a daily thread for the NBA Playoffs still? Anyway, expect more posts at a more regular schedule in the next few days. Hang tight, Jazz fans!

As an act of good faith, here's a fun video to watch!

No titles sucks. But out of the franchises without one, I think ours is the best.