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NBA Playoffs 2016: Golden State Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and everybody else - The Downbeat #1893

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John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Playoffs start now (games are on as I speak), and it caps another year where Utah Jazz fans (and players, and coaches, and front office execs, and owners) are watching it on TV. There are a few questions. There are fewer answers. And a long off-season to dwell on all of it. But right now, let's take a look back at the season that was.

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The NBA Season was nuts this year. The Golden State Warriors won 73 games. The San Antonio Spurs could have won 70 as well this year if they didn't rest their players as much as they did. The Cleveland Cavaliers sleepwalked to the best record out East, and the Toronto Raptors had their best season of all-time. I don't know if the playoffs will mean that these four teams will reach the NBA's Final Four. But amongst all the threes out West, and the changing of the guard out East there was a season for the ages.

ESPN wraps it all up in 120 seconds, and if this video loads then I don't have to say anything else.

I was very impressed with this rookie class. Karl-Anthony Towns looks like he could be better than Anthony Davis in a few seasons. Kristaps Porzingis is ridiculous. Actually, I should just make this another beat entirely.

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The rookies in 2015-2016 were a great bunch, and the best is yet to come for them. I'm not saying that this class was better than 1984-1985 (Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe, Alvin Robertson, John Stockton, Kevin Willis, Sam Perkins, Tony Campbell, Vern Fleming, Jay Humphries, Sam Bowie, Jerome Kersey, Frank Brickowski, Antoine Carr, Michael Cage, Leon Wood, Terence Stansbury, and Rick Carlisle), or 2003-2004 (LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Kirk Hinrich, David West, Josh Howard, Mo Williams, T.J. Ford, Boris Diaw, Chris Kaman, Kyle Korver, Luke Ridnour, Udonis Haslem, Steve Blake, Matt Barnes, Leandro Barbosa, Kendrick Perkins, Keith Bogans, Mickael Pietrus, Zaza Pachulia, Marquis Daniels, Travis Outlaw, Willie Green, Raul Lopez, Keith McLeod, Kason Kapono, Luke Walton, Matt Carroll, Marcus Banks, Dahntay Jones, Sasha Pavlovic, Francisco Elson, and the immortal Curtis Borchardt), but this group will be up there.

The 2015-2016 Rookie Class is headlined by (from most to least season minutes) Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell, Justice Winslow, Devin Booker, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kristaps Porzingis, Nikola Jokic, Frank Kaminsky, Stanley Johnson, T.J. McConnell, Jahlil Okafor, Raul Neto, Mario Hezonja, Willie Cauley-Stein, Trey Lyles, Myles Turner, Larry Nance Jr., Jerian Grant, and the list really goes on. Some guys who are going to be rotation players (or better) didn't even play that much: Duje Dukan, Kevon Looney, THanasis Antetokounmpo, and Sam Dekker. There were 73 guys all-in-all, and with how the NBA is evolving, I wouldn't be surprised to see at least 40 of them stick around for a while. Man, I didn't even mention Delon Wright. He could have started for the Jazz this year.

The biggest surprise for me this season was the depth and potential of this rookie class. The NBA Playoffs seem normal and boring as a result.

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Speaking of that, the very least I could do was list the teams even in it. The East is underway right now, and I don't think we really care that much.

[1] Cleveland Cavaliers 57 - 25 69.51% LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, and lots of expectations
[8] Detroit Pistons 44 - 38 53.66% Stan Van Gundy made this team, Andre Drummond could cause trouble
[4] Atlanta Hawks 48 - 34 58.54% Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, and non-Jazzmen playing team ball
[5] Boston Celtics 48 - 34 58.54% Brad Stevens is pretty good, no? Isaiah Thomas could be great.
[2] Toronto Raptors 56 - 26 68.29% This is what a perimeter oriented team is supposed to play like.
[7] Indiana Pacers 45 - 37 54.88% C.J. Miles!
[3] Miami Heat 48 - 34 58.54% Not one, not two . . . Okay, maybe two.
[6] Charlotte Hornets 48 - 34 58.54% Remember when Kemba Walker scored 52 on the Jazz? Yikes.

Out west there will be a few bloodbaths.

[1] Golden State Warriors 73 - 9 89.02% History! Three pointers! Not- Mark Jackson!
[8] Houston Rockets 41 - 41 50.00% Houston, you have a problem.
[4] Los Angeles Clippers 53 - 29 64.63% Chris Paul hasn't gone as far in the playoffs as Deron Williams has.
[5] Portland Trail Blazers 44 - 38 53.66% I still don't understand how this team is good.
[2] San Antonio Spurs 67 - 15 81.71% Playoff Boban is going to be fun to watch in this four game sweep.
[7] Memphis Grizzlies 42 - 40 51.22% I wanna see Vince Carter dunk again
[3] Oklahoma City Thunder 55 - 27 67.07% Is this their last chance to keep it together?
[6] Dallas Mavericks 42 - 40 51.22% Went from the 9th seed to the 6th in like two weeks. Impressive.

Bring on the draft, amirite?

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The Utah Jazz limped to the finish line, and failed to impress down the stretch. No playoffs for them, again. But at least the late season sucking resulted in the 12th seed in the lotto, and not the 14th. The Lotto is on May 17th, 32 days from now. And with the 12th seed in the lotto the Jazz have a 93.5% chance of staying the 12th seed. (Insert gif of Randy Rigby saying "damn" here) The way the lotto works is that, somehow, at the 12th seed the Jazz are more likely to go DOWN in the final draft order (3.9%) than they are to actually go up in the final draft order (2.5%).

That would be a kick in the pants, conspiracy theories be-damned!

At the 12th seed you still can find some good players. Mike Woodson, Kelly Tripucka, Darrell Walker, John Williams, Tyrone Bogues (Muggsy), Harvey Grant, Mookie Blaylock, Greg Anthony, Harold Miner, George Lynch, Khalid Reeves, Cherokee Parks, Vitaly Potapenko, Austin Croshere, Michael Doleac, Etan Thomas, Vladimir Radmanovic, Melvin Ely, Nick Collison, Robert Swigt, Yaroslav Korolev, Hilton Armstrong, Thaddeus Young, Jason Thompson, Gerald Henderson, Xavier Henry, Alec Burks, Jeremy Lamb, Steven Adams, Dario Saric, and Trey Lyles are some recent examples. If you play your cards right you are going to get a guy who will be a long-time rotation player and occasional All-Star selection. Or you could draft a guy who paints his nails black, and leaves human poop in his house.

I trust the Jazz will once again work out about 100 players: lotto prospects, bubble first-rounders, second-round gambles, draft and stashes in other leagues, many seniors looking to play ball anywhere instead of getting a real job, NBADL prospects, and undrafted rough gems. I really do think our franchise is now scouting everyone. And they are going beyond what we can see by watching the games and following the stats. After all, who knew Lyles had a three point component to his game? He didn't show that in the NCAAs but now looks to be a stretch big in the making. The Jazz scouts saw that in him. I didn't. I was wrong.

Whomever the Jazz do select, most likely best player available, it's going to be with an eye to how that player can help this team make sure that we'll not be in the lotto again for a very long time.

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It's halftime right now with the Raptors beating the Pacers 45-43. That game is on ESPN. There are three other Game 1's today:

  • Rockets @ Warriors: 1:30 pm MT on ABC
  • Celtics @ Hawks: 5:00 pm MT on ESPN
  • Mavericks @ Thunder: 7:30 pm MT on ESPN

I don't expect any upsets today.