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Downbeat #2016 - Utah Jazz finding balance early in the season

Absolutely 0% Political talk here, it’s safe to click

NBA: Utah Jazz at Philadelphia 76ers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz are rolling right now. Well, they did take out the Knicks and Sixers, so I don’t even know if those count. They do in the standings, and we take a quick look at the West. Also, checking in on how money changes some people, or not. Sometimes a chance of scenery is good, but again, there are examples where nothing different happens. But there are some feel-good stories to still celebrate. Check them all in our latest Downbeat!

Standings watch, in November?

The Utah Jazz weathered the storm of Gordon Hayward’s injuries, and are rolling with the rotating group of regulars who are out (Alec Burks, Boris Diaw, Derrick Favors, and now George Hill). And right now they are the 5th seed in the Western Conference. Of course, the conference looks all kinds of jacked up right now as it goes:

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder
  2. Los Angeles Clippers
  3. San Antonio Spurs
  4. Golden State Warriors
  5. Utah Jazz
  6. Los Angeles Lakers
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. Houston Rockets
  9. Denver Nuggets

The rest of the teams are under .500, and that includes a 1-5 start for the Dallas Mavericks and a 1-4 start for the pesky Minnesota Timberwolves. Some people were high on the Wolves for sure, but there were mixed reviews on Dallas. The Memphis Grizzlies were supposed to be contenders and right now would find themselves out of the playoffs. Weird.

So the question is “which teams are out of place?” We don’t reasonably expect the West Playoffs to be these teams in this order. The Clippers, Spurs, and Warriors should occupy the Top 3, right? Is OKC being Top 4 more out of place than UTA being ahead of POR, and so on? How the heck is LAL half a game behind UTA?

It’s way too early to worry about the NBA Playoffs. But as a franchise we haven’t seen it since Josh Howard was our starting small forward. I think we’re all going to be a little nutty about standings for the majority of the NBA Season. I am happy the team is winning right now, but they have to keep it up.

The Podcast you need to listen to today

Deseret News super beatwriter Jody Genessy is on the air waves. Listen up, Jazz fans!

From Kurt’s teaser:

The Utah Jazz are everyone’s favorite pick for breakout team this NBA season, a potential 50-win team that could have home court in the first round. They won’t talk about it publicly, but that’s what they want and expect.

So we’re going to talk about it with Jody Genessy of the Deseret News joins Kurt Helin to talk Jazz. They discuss what the return of Gordon Hayward from injury means, why Utah had to lock up Rudy Gobert, how Rodney Hood has surprised everyone, and the big question of if Utah management can — and is willing to pay — to keep this team together in the coming years.

The two also talk about how Genessy lost more than 100 pounds and the will power of eating healthy on the road.

Kurt Helin, NBC Sports, 2016

Thanks to Basketball John for the heads up with this.

Perhaps the real treasure here is making the NBA, not trying to star in it?

Former University of Michigan standout, and NBA lottery pick, Trey Burke continues to search for his place in the NBA. Now a member of the Washington Wizards (1-5), he finds himself coming off the bench behind star player John Wall, but also European rookie guard Tomas Satoransky. Just as a point of reference, he finished last season as the third string point guard — mainly because Dante Exum was injured the entire year and did not suit up once. It can be presumed that he would have been fourth string in Utah then. So as a result, this is a step up for him in that ridiculous comparison. The fourth year guard is in a contract year. And well, I will root for this guy. He was the consummate professional as a Jazzman. He did get an opportunity to share his thoughts about last season in a candid interview.

N.B. This video was uploaded on October 27th, which was a while ago. That said, he does express some views that are quotable. Specifically he intones that the Jazz were ‘holding him back’ by keeping him out of games. It’s true, he did finish the season with way more DNP-CDs than any of us would have imagined. But there had to be a logical reason for that. Of course, I will point out that Quin Snyder does appear to play favorites, and Shelvin Mack appears to be one of his most favorite. But it’s hard to argue with the results of what Mack did after the trade deadline vs. what Trey didn’t show on the court on a consistent enough basis.

I am without a doubt a Trey Burke fan, but I am also honest to myself enough to admit that he did not perform when his number was called in the ways his head coach probably expected of him. Snyder’s system is a wing oriented attack that focuses on the ability to switch on defense endlessly. Being a ball control point guard with traditional point guard size meant that there were going to be philosophical differences in role from a more normal, position based strategy.

Burke talks about more than just being ‘held back’ in the weeks old interview. Watch it if you want. I didn’t watch all of it myself. I had burgers to grill.

Fox Sports 1340 AM

But I don’t think the Jazz held you back, unless you are just looking at minutes. In that case, your minutes did decrease every year in the league. I do think on-court minutes mean more than practice time. But those were minutes available to be won. A coaching change / system change is hard to deal with. You didn’t cause any drama when you were in uniform. I respect the heck out of that difficult situation. (From going as a forever starter in high school and college AND the pros to being a DNP-CD guy.) But I don’t think it’s time to air out dirty laundry. But that’s just me.

And because I know you’ll ask, they were grilled mushroom and fresh jalapeno cheese burgers.

#MediaDay #PartDeux

It’s Media Day for the Salt Lake City Stars!

Well, Boris Diaw says we should, so maybe we should take a look?

Thanks for the shout out, @diawboris! Are YOU following us on twitter?

A photo posted by SLCSTARS (@slcstars) on

Oh, that’s their most recent Instagram post. Cool. I expect them to be updating all day long though. Follow them here!

Foul Behavour

Rudy Gobert just got paid, as the Jazz and he agreed to a ginormous extension ($102 million over four years). Since then he has fouled out of each game he has played (@ New York Knicks, and @ Philadelphia 76ers). So money solves a lot of problems, and usually one of those problems is a lack of respect. But so far the NBA Officials haven’t been moved to treat him like other “big money, big visibility” big men. For me the thing is that Rudy gets called for offensive fouls on moving screens while other guys on good teams seem to always get away with it. (Early 2000s San Antonio Spurs, Championship era Boston Celtics, these Golden State Warriors, etc)

It’s not the star players, but guys like Fabricio Oberto or Kendrick Perkins who are allowed to set these moving screens and get away with it. The biggest “star” who seems to get away with it is former #1 pick Andrew Bogut. Our guys? Not so much. If Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert were able to get away with fouls the team would look so much better. But as of right now Rudy is getting tagged for them on offense. When he gets called for fouling someone on defense? About half the time he is actually fouling them, so I’m fine with that. You have to win games and defend to be able to foul and have them not be called. (Like what the Lakers line-up did against Carlos Boozer / Paul Millsap back in the day.)

So how is Rudy taking it?

Diana Allen

Well, he’s aware of it. But also self-aware enough to delete the tweet. Diana Allen, my blogging #1 draft pick, is aware enough to screen grab it too. (Censored by me, also, Diana needs to charge her phone.)

So I’m not upset about Rudy feeling bad about fouling out. I’m happy that he’s upset about it. I can only imagine the twitter rants a 20 something Karl Malone would have gone on every night. Rudy is pretty composed here and is looking at the big picture. Right now at the beginning of the season it’s their job to get wins. A little later on maybe worry about the stats a little too, but you’re not going to be selected an All-Star if the team isn’t winning.