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The Downbeat #2000 - Yes, really, 2000 of these

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Even Coach Sloan is surprised.

Jerry Sloan

According to our very serious and official records, this is Downbeat #2000. It’s a legacy to our single-minded dedication to the Utah Jazz. This site, started by glorious leader Basketball John, is a decade old thereabouts. And over that time we’ve all pitched in to cover the ups and downs. A Western Conference Finals run. A lockout. The passing of a legendary head coach (Jerry Sloan). The hiring and firing not re-signing of another (Tyrone Corbin). We’ve had #3 draft picks come, and go (Deron Williams, Enes Kanter), but one yet remains (Derrick Favors). Some seasons BBJ did everything, some seasons he had help. The ebb and flow of life continues, our responsibilities change but our loyalty does not.

It’s been a pleasure to write downbeats, this one moreso than any other because it’s the first tag-team-beat. Enjoy.

The Utah Jazz can’t keep looking over what went wrong or right in their first preseason game — a 98-89 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Tonight they tip off once again, this time in the valley of the Phoenix Suns. We’ll have more game coverage to plow thorough later on today, but just for fun . . . caption this picture!

Jazz v Suns X Marion

Also bonus points to anyone who remembers what happened right after this picture was taken.

The Detroit Pistons just had some bad news — particularly that their starting point guard (formerly Russell Westbrook’s caddie down in Oklahoma City) Reggie Jackson isn’t going to be good to go when the season starts.

Detroit is looking for help here, but their fans are looking at the Free Agent market:

I find that there may be a more elegant solution here between our two teams. Yes, things were closer when it was GM Kevin O’Connor and GM Joe Dumars talking on their flip phones. But while the faces making the moves have changed, I still believe the relationship may persist.

After all, the only point guards Utah is not willing to part with right now are Dante Exum (the 21 year old) and George Hill (the Spurs DNA “Three and D” guy in a contract year). That means Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, and Marcus Paige could all be up for grabs.

Is there anything that the Jazz actually WANT from Detroit? Probably just picks and cash, really. Utah is under the cap. And probably wants to remain under it because they have to pay Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, and possibly Derrick Favors this off-season. I’m not a fan of it, but one solution could be sending over combo-guard Alec Burks. He can defend PG and SG, and may be a better fit for Stan Van Gundy’s offense — but he’s making $10 million this year.

Detroit is on the books for over $100 million this year, and are thus over the cap. So Utah would have to take $10 million back (about what Jon Leuer is making. Burks for Leuer as a straight up trade is pointless). Neto’s and Mack’s contracts are much smaller. I’d support saying “Bye Felicia” to Shelvin Mack. Someone as pretty as Neto you just don’t trade away to Detroit.

NBA: Utah Jazz-Media Day Jeff Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

I lived there for nearly a decade. He’s not equipped for that world.

EDIT: BREAKING NEWS!

...speaking of point guards, and the state of Michigan, how could I miss the opportunity to talk about Trey Burke?

I fully believe that Trey Burke is an NBA player. His best talents were clutch play in pressure situations. During his tenure with the Utah Jazz those were very few and far in-between. He sunk two game-winners when his number was called. Elevating his play in games that matter is what made him National player of the year in the NCAAs. There were not many games that mattered that he played in while wearing a Jazz jersey. Maybe things will be different for him out East. We’ll know more about how all of it ended up five seasons from now. Going from a lottery pick to an NBA starter . . . and then to the second string . . . and then to the third string; honestly, that’s not the career trajectory that ANY of us expected.

As a Burke apologist I’m not going to forget what he can do, but I can’t forget what he did and did not accomplish playing for my favorite team. A wing oriented offensive system was not one that he could flourish in. Washington may be a better fit.

I’m not going to comment on what his father said, the internet already said it all for me. I wish Trey nothing but success going forward. Jazz DNA is more than setting screens and getting floor burns. Few handled his professional adversities with the composure that he did. Few his age would have behaved with that level of professionalism and poise. He will have a long career in basketball, and part of what will get him that career will be the things that the Jazz brass saw in him that he scored so highly on. Toughness and persistence.

No Jazz fan wanted him to fail. But I don’t think that any Jazz fan believes that his strengths as a basketball player aligned with the Xs and Os shifts the team has made since moving away from the FLEX offense.

Nostalgia continues in #DB2000 as we check in on the anomaly!

Jeremy Evans, currently injured, is now a member of the Indiana Pacers (a team which also boasts C.J. Miles and Al Jefferson). The good folks over at 8points9seconds had to write about him:

Staying relevant as a second-round pick is not easy. Drafted with the 55th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz, Jeremy Evans entered the league as a guy known for his dunking ability. He lived up to that reputation, pulling off some uber-athletic plays and winning the 2012 Slam Dunk Contest.

Dallas was his next stop when his time in Utah came to an end.

Once again, Evans didn’t see much playing time. He averaged just 8.4 minutes per game with the Mavericks, making it five out of his six years in the league in which he’s averaged below 10 minutes per game. One of his shining moments in Dallas was playing for their D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends.

Josh Padmore, 9points8seconds.com, 2016

It’s more than just a laundry list of places he has played, it’s also a hopeful message to us Evans fans who want him to stick around. Now in an era where bigmen don’t need to be super tall and bulky you’d think that Larry Bird and the rest of his staff will see Evans getting some more minutes this season. Right? RIGHT?

Someone with his skill set is just someone who makes great things happen on the court for your team.

How good is Rudy Gobert right now? How much better can he get? Is he at Top 10 center in the league? I think he’s great. That’s expected. Other people are falling in love with him as well. That wasn’t.

Snot had this to say about the bigman:

Big things are expected from the Utah Jazz, in large part because their big man in the middle. In the 2014 season, Rudy Gobert exploded onto the scene as a game-changing defensive force; his freakish length and impeccable timing being a big part of Utah rising to a respectable 14th in defensive rating after finishing 29th the season prior, when Gobert was mainly nailed to the pine. Gobert made his impact felt even more last season, as the Jazz finished with the seventh stingiest defenses, but his numbers as a starter – minutes, points, rebounds, field goal percentage, and blocks – all declined in what was supposed to be his breakout year.

Some of Gobert’s relative struggles can easily explained by injury; he missed a month with an MCL sprain, and never seemed to get back to 100 percent. Even at his reduced capacity, his rim protection, massive screens, and burgeoning knack for finishing as the roll man made the Jazz a headache with him in the lineup. Utah’s second most used lineup (255 minutes of Gobert-Derrick Favors-Rodney Hood-Shelvin Mack) were +10.2 points per 100 possessions; their most used lineup (305 minutes with Raul Neto in for Mack) was +7.2; for comparison’s sake, only the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder posted a net rating greater than +7 last year.

After scoring almost exclusively on garbage buckets and dunks two years ago, last season Gobert showed flashes of a nifty offensive game. At 7’2” he’s no stiff; he has nice footwork when navigating defenders in close, and is constantly moving without the ball, making himself available for drop offs and pocket passes (an underrated big man talent). His insanely long arms (he sports a 7-foot-8 wingspan) means any Jazz player can throw a lob in the general vicinity of the rim and he can go get it, and he’s not afraid to collect an offensive board and try to put defenders in the rim with bone rattling dunks.

James Holas, Basketball Breakdown, 2016

That’s just an excerpt (a big one, but hey, Gobert is a big guy so it’s in proportion to his actual size), but please read the rest of what he wrote over at Basketball Breakdown. He talks about Gobert’s future, and his future financial situation as well. And for Jazz fans we know that the team is going to have to pay him to stay. He’s worth it, though. His numbers are nearly as off the charts as his anthropometrics are.