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Downbeat #2022 - Disregard injuries, focus on Jerry Sloan

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The team is headed in the right direction. It’s only November.

Jerry Sloan “This is how many more wins I had in an 82 game season than you did last year — but I did it by starting Michael Ruffin and Gordan Giricek”

Okay, there are some bad news in Utah Jazz land right now when it comes to injuries. But in the big picture the team is headed in the right direction still. Games that are close are games that would have been lost last season. And even with the injuries, the off-season additions are doing their parts to keep Utah in games that previous year’s teams would have already lost. The data agrees. Also, remember to keep positive — at least the Jazz franchise aren’t as bad as a few other ones out there. And, last but most important, Jerry Sloan is awesome. I feel like we need to do a better job of pointing that out to the fans of today.

WE ARE GETTING SICK AND TIRED OF INJURIES

Okay, so let’s do this:

  • George Hill — missed 5 games with a sprained right thumb, no clue when he is going to play next
  • Rodney Hood — missed one game with an “illness”, which could be anything from getting sick because his baby is sick and he spends time with his baby to being injected with a malevolent nano-virus researched and developed by Nordine Defense Dynamics in order to hurt Duke basketball players (Mr. Nordine is a UNC alumni who donates money yearly).
  • Gordon Hayward — missed 6 games due to a finger fracture he sustained in practice during the preseason, that kept him out of games. He’s playing with that nagging injury after being shut down for a few weeks
  • Derrick Favors — one game missed so far due to a combination of a left knee bone bruise, and IT band syndrome, but now projected to miss much more with his contusion.
  • Alec Burks — missed entire season, 12 games due to rehabilitation after a surgery last season, then a completely new injury, another surgery (left ankle debridement), and now the rehabilitation after that
  • Boris Diaw — 8 games missed due to a right leg bone contusion

A few of these guys are going to still be out after tonight, but as it stands that’s 33 total “man games” missed so far. And that’s 33 games all to projected rotation players. The only starter who hasn’t missed any time this season so far is Rudy Gobert. So let’s just mummify him in bubble wrap between games starting right now.

On a personal note

I really miss Alec Burks. I was reminded of this while seeing Nik Stauskas do this last night in the Philadelphia 76ers victory over the Washington Wizards.

Oh of course, we also got this gem from former NCAA player of the year / NBA 3rd stringer Trey Burke.

One guy isn’t playing. One guy can’t play. Man, so much for the Burkescourt. But the whole NBA is kind of nutty. The big story right now is the Memphis Grizzlies road victory against the Western Conference leading Los Angeles Clippers.

Yeah, Marc Gasol earned the right to do this. And you need your bigmen to stretch the floor now.

Enough with the negativity! Instead praise Jerry Sloan!

I’m just going to post Moni’s tweets here because I can no longer find the actual announcement stuff. Moni’s coverage is superior anyway.

Man, thanks for that Moni. As for Jerry, he deserves all of the accolades he can get. I don’t know much about the event (I will research it), but here’s a pic from Mark Eaton (with Frank Layden, and Jerry) from a Cystic Fibrosis fund raiser.

These three guys were such an important part of my early Jazz fandom.

Year to year improvement

Now, this data is two days old, but it’s still good. For reals. The NBA’s amazing John Schuhmann broke the entire league down in terms of “be better / get better.” And the Utah Jazz are working on their problems.

You can clearly see that some teams have made bigger jumps in certain areas — but the Jazz were a win away from the playoffs last season. In a season where you are not a title contender the whole point is to make sure that you ARE getting better every year. And the Jazz are. Their offense wasn’t so hot, and point guard play was a key reason. This year they brought in George Hill and he has made an immediate impact (you know, when he’s in the game).

The bigger problem seems to be injuries — but Dennis Lindsey did bring in a lot of talent to make sure that the Jazz could still win games instead of writing the season off early. Despite all the injuries the Jazz ARE still capable. It’s going to be fine. Data is on the Jazz’ side. Even if it’s a small sample size. Utah’s offense has improved the 9th most from year to year. And while the team is playing slower, and the defense is still finding their spot, they are a Top 10 most improved team.

And this was a team that missed the playoffs by a single win. The franchise is headed in the right direction.

Dark Cloud or Silver Lining?

Sports Illustrated decided to write about this:

Ben Golliver wrote a stellar piece on these “star players” who just aren’t likely to be winning a lot of games with their current club. You can read the entire piece here, and it’s really worth the read if you want to find out more about the other teams in the league aside from the Utah Jazz. Here’s an excerpt:

But there is another group of marooned All-Stars who, like Cousins, spent the first two weeks of the season kicking and screaming for help. In Indiana, wing Paul George was ejected and fined for booting a basketball into the stands, where it smacked a woman in the face. In Washington, point guard John Wall was tossed from back-to-back games for bumping a ref and dragging Celtics guard Marcus Smart to the ground. And in New Orleans, power forward Anthony Davis put up record numbers, but still endured an 0–8 start that has his playoff hopes on life support.

Together, Cousins, George, Wall and Davis—all former lottery picks under 27—embody the pitfalls of a league where success is driven by the concentration of talent. As Cleveland and Golden State seek to become the first pair of teams to face off in three straight Finals, these four franchise players opened the season fighting like hell to push past mediocrity.

All four play in small markets in front of crowds below the league’s average. Their franchises have yielded more name changes (Royals, Bullets, Hornets) than championship parades over the last 50 years, and they were a combined 11–29 at week’s end. Worst of all, barring a blockbuster trade, all four are locked in with their teams until July 2018 at the earliest.

Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated, 2016

Okay, so, first of all some small market teams can actually build around draft picks and win. After all, we have seen what the San Antonio Spurs can do! Well, they may be the outlier right now, but that’s just how the NBA turns. So what’s the Dark Cloud or Silver Lining here?

Either:

  • the Utah Jazz just do not have a star (and you need a star to win in the playoffs),

or

  • The Utah Jazz have a solid program here that doesn’t strand good players?

So which is it?