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Utah Jazz star Gordon Hayward has a baby, Rudy Gobert the next Wilt Chamberlain? The Downbeat #1644

Godon Hayward has a baby, well, uh, his wife had a baby! What if Quin Synder coached the 90s Jazz teams. Rudy Gobert the next Wilt Chamberlain? The Shaq Effect and how great players need good teammates. And the Kendrick Perkins Case Study

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Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

By now you have heard the great news! Utah Jazz star small forward Gordon Hayward and his wife have added another member of the Hayward family -- baby girl Bernadette Marie Hayward!

Awesome news, and congrats to the whole Hayward family! Because the majority of the readership here are not pediatricians, developmental psychologists, or midwives . . . here's a list of milestones for Baby Hayward and the upcoming NBA season:

  • Utah Summer League / Las Vegas Summer League: rooting reflex and grasping reflex
  • Utah Jazz training camp: makes sounds, crude motor control, can follow objects, grabs things, smiles at familiar faces
  • All-Star Break: an roll over, sit up, pass objects between the hands, laughs, babbles
  • NBA Playoffs 2016: can almost say complete words beyond mama / dada, has understanding of causality, rudimentary understanding of object permanence, experiences anxiety over being alone or without caregivers / parents.
  • WNBA 2036: MVP

Next on the docket, Derrick Favors and his twins!

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Questions of the day: how do you think the late 90's Jazz would have done running Quin Snyder's offense? No more Jerry Sloan / Frank Layden / Dick Motta Flex offense; but more ball sharing, high screens and dribble hand-offs -- very little isolations? Would a more active Jeff Hornacek (Philly version) on those Jazz teams made the team better? Or would it all have gone south quickly because of floor spacing? Perhaps Greg Foster would have become an ahead of the curve stretch big, instead?

Crazy.

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You may have noticed that American Pharoah won the Triple Crown in horse racing yesterday. For those who are not following that sport, the winner of the Triple Crown is the horse (and jockey?) who has won three American events in the same year: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes. A horse winning the Triple crown has happened only 12 times before: Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1943), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977), Affirmed (1978), and yesterday American Pharoah joined that club. Now, I get it. Some people love that stuff. I'm not crazy about horse racing. Horses are fine animals, but I've never seen one throw it down hard in the paint.

Ostensibly, the Triple Crown in the NBA would be the season MVP, All-Star Game MVP, and the Finals MVP -- all in the same season. None of our Jazz players have done that yet. The closest being Karl Malone, who was MVP twice, and All-Star Game MVP twice -- but not in the same season. Has someone actually done this at the NBA Level for another franchise? I'm assuming that MIchael Jordan has, but like I'm going to spend part of my weekend looking up MIchael Jordan info. Screw that guy.

The advanced stats Triple Crown would normally be something like PER, WS, and VORP. Again, I'm not going to look up those things. But on the team level what about players who have led their squad in USG%, AST%, and REB%? Looking at a few rosters no one seems to have done it recently. My money is that Wilt Chamberlain must have been a candidate back in the 1960s. For example, back in 1967-68 he led the 76ers with 24.2 ppg, 23.8 rpg, and 8.6 apg. (N.B. He got to the line 11.4 times a game and shot 38.0 FT% . . . . his numbers should have been even bigger) The only value for USG%, AST%, and REB% we have for back then was his AST% -- a whopping 23.2% for a center. By direct comparison the best passing bigmen of recent history have been Arvydas Sabonis (career season best of 19.3%), and Vlade Divac (career season best of 28.7%). So, we need to just include Wilt up there now, even if we don't have a lot of film to reconstruct our schemas with.

As for our Jazz, Gordon Hayward had a USG% / AST% / REB% of 26.2% / 21.7% / 8.2%. The ranks for that are 2nd, 2nd, and 12th. Derrick Favors was 6th, 12th, and 5th. The dark horse candidate is Rudy Gobert -- who had 2014-15 ranks of 19th, 15th, and 2nd.

But I may be a bit biased.

Going back to Wilt -- lots of people don't know that he was essentially an Olympic level athlete, who just happened to be really strong and really tall. And thus, played basketball. People know about the 100 point game, and all the women he slept with. They know he has rings, and tons of NBA hardware too. Some even know that the NBA changed the rules of the game to make it HARDER for him to dominate. Dude even led the NBA in total assists one season. But the core of all of that was his athletic ability.

The official numbers for him as a track and field star go as follows:

  • high jump: 6'6"
  • 440 yards in 49.0 seconds
  • 880 yards in 1:58.3 minutes
  • shot put: 53 feet, 4 inches
  • broad jump: 22 feet

As a high school athletes over 200 colleges wanted him and offered more than just acceptance letters. UCLA offered to make him a movie star. Penn wanted to buy him diamonds, according to Wiki. That's ridiculous. Almost as ridiculous as the potential we have in our diamond in the rough, pick #27 Rudy Gobert.

Of course, it's still not the 12'9" of Jeremy Evans . . . but nothing ever will be that.

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Sometimes to be good, a player can do it on their own. Sometimes to achieve greatness you need to have lots of help. The NBA Finals this year will go down as an example of this as LeBron James does his best but his lack of healthy teammates (no Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao, etc) will sink his team. One player who has probably played with the best teammates of all time is Shaquille O'Neal. Furthermore, years after his retirement his teammates are still going deep in the playoffs. ESPN did a whole big deal about it:

Honestly, yeah, even off the top of your head you can name plenty of "good rotation player" to "star teammates" he's had the pleasure to play with. Anfernee Hardaway, Horace Grant, Nick Anderson, Kobe Bryant, Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Robert Horry, Karl Malone, Gary Payton, Dwyane Wade, Steve Smith, Alonzo Mourning, Christian Laettner, Udonis Haslem, Steve Nash, Amar'e Stoudemire, Raja Bell, Leandro Barbosa, Boris Diaw, Grant Hill, Shawn Marion, Matt Barnes, Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley, Robin Lopez, LeBron James, Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Antawn Jamison, Danny Green, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, and . . . Kendrick Perkins. By direct comparison if you look at the guys Patrick Ewing got to play with over his career (Charles Oakley, John Starks, 50 other scrubs) you can see that it's one thing to be good, but to be great you need help.

For our Jazz team I think they are collecting a lot of individual pieces that could be among the Top 2 players on bad teams, and together they will work to support one another here in Utah. It's going to be fun to see how they continue to mesh with one another.

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And I can't get enough of Kendrick Perkins. He's an NBA case study all by himself. The former Utah Jazz player was a #27 pick (like Rudy Gobert, and like the pick that the Los Angeles Lakers want to get rid of, apparently, this draft....), and worked his way up to be the starting center on an NBA Finals team. He was traded away in his 8th season with the Boston Celtics, with Nate Robinson, for Jeff Green, Nenad Kristic, cash, and a future 1st rounder (who became Fab Melo). So he went from being a key part of a championship team to being on a Western Conference contender.

Effectively, he was moved for a 24 year old former lotto pick. Green, the main guy coming back to Boston, played in 289 games for SEA/OKC, and averaged 14.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.7 apg, 0.9 spg, and 0.6 bpg while hitting 33.8% of his shots from deep -- and was a #5 pick who played 9984 minutes in almost four seasons with them. One of the under-rated aspects of the much maligned "Oklahoma City Theory" was the fact that they gave minutes early, and moved guys when their value was still high. Of course, the wheels fell off on Perkins quickly -- but to be able to trade Green for the starting center on a championship team isn't nothing. The other big trade they did was moving James Harden (with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook, and Lazar Hayward) to the Houston Rockets for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, and future picks (three picks, where only the first has been realized so far -- into Steven Adams). This trade looks really bad today. So maybe the one major flaw in what OKC did was that they were incapable of keeping good talent together? Which is the fear for the Jazz too, we draft really well . . . but . . .

. . . the #3 pick from 2011, Enes Kanter (with Steve Novak), was traded to the Thunder, in a three way with the Detroit Pistons, for Kendrick Perkins' contract, and absolute garbage. At least OKC got some utility out of Green before bailing on him. Kanter wanted out, and he got out. The reason WHY he wanted out is honestly the $20 million dollar question, a #3 pick is pretty expensive. And if you mess it up, it's a pretty expensive mistake.

ANYWAY, back to Perkins. Perk is famous for his defense and his scowls. He's playing in yet another NBA Finals right now, but he's a shell of his former self. Still, here's former Ball Don't Lie (Yahoo!) / Basketball Jones (TheScore.ca) and current The Starters (NBA.com) blogger / podcaster / TV guy Trey Kerby mean mugging with the Perk.

Perkins falls pretty low on the "skills" level now today, but isn't that goofy.

And, his house in OKC is on sale.

I know sometimes we get too into house stuff, but I think it's fun. From little evidence, and mostly speculation, I don't think he's coming back to OKC, but you can move in if you have $0.6 million to spend on this 5 bed / 4 +1 bath house on a 0.43 acre lot. I don't know how long he's going to play in the NBA, but he was one of the last players to jump to the NBA from high school and has played over 16.6k minutes in the regular season and over 3.3k more in the playoffs. He's had a career. So, what can we learn from him as a case study?

Generally, low lotto picks can be useful if they come into the NBA with an NBA level skill. They may not have a huge talent set, or the chance to improve a lot. But in the right situations they can be effective players. Greg Ostertag (a #28 pick) is another example. In fact, if you compare the two, it's almost comical. Do we expect Rudy Gobert's career trajectory to follow the path of these two big galoots? I don't think so.

But as a frame of reference, we know that if you are a defensive bigman with limitations, you can still make a lot of money and have a long career in the NBA if you keep to your strengths.

You can also end up on Shaqtin A Fool if you don't.

All that said, he's still one of my favorite Utah Jazz centers of all time, even if he played zero minutes for the team. (Trivia: Guys who have played fewer than 500 mins in a Jazz jersey at center -- Todd Fuller, Isaac Austin, Billy Paultz, Steve Hayes, Jerome Whitehead, John Gianelli, Rafael Araujo, Robert Whaley, Aleksandar Radojevic, Paul Grant, Brett Vroman, Luther Wright, Walter Palmer, Dan O'Sullivan, Andris Biedrins, William Cunningham, Darryl Dawkins, Marcus Cousin, Walt Bellamy, Carl Kilpatrick , Darren Morningstar, and Chad Gallagher)