The Utah Jazz did not make the NBA Playoffs, and that sucks. But the second season continues without our overt attention. We check in on what has happened and speculate on what's going to happen. Awards season is around the corner and some guys are looking to pick up some more hardware. One guy doesn't seem so thrilled. Utah isn't in the playoffs but many former Jazzmen are. We have to ask ourselves some tough questions about it, obviously I still blame the coach. But that's just me. I have a hard time letting things go. Similarly so, enjoy the video below! #MemoryLane
So everyone's played once, and we've seen:
-  Cleveland Cavaliers put away the  Detroit Pistons, 106-101
-  Toronto Raptors get stunned at home, again, by the  Indiana Pacers, 100-90
-  Miami Heat absolutely torch the  Charlotte Hornets, 123-91
-  Atlanta Hawks eek out a victory over the  Boston Celtics, 102-101
And out West:
-  Golden State Warriors blast the  Houston Rockets, 104-78
-  San Antonio Spurs beat up on the injured  Memphis Grizzlies, 106-74
-  Oklahoma City Thunder embarrass the  Dallas Mavericks, 108-70
- and  Los Angeles Clippers keelhaul the  Portland Trail Blazers, 115-95
For those counting at home, and sadly this includes the Utah Jazz players, that's five blowouts, one normal game, and two close ones. Neutral fans are making comments that these playoffs would have been better if the Jazz were in it. I like that idea, and it's fun to think about, but I don't know if we could honestly expect a better first game performance. The first playoff game an inexperienced team has is usually a tire fire. I would have expected the Jazz to also have dropped game one in a rout, just like five of these teams suffered through.
The adage is that a playoff series does not yet begin until a home team loses. In that case only the Raptors / Pacers match-up is a series right now. Out West I don't expect to see a 'series' by these definitions until the second round.
While the Jazz are not in the playoffs there are a few Jazzmen on playoff rosters. In fact, you could make a pretty composite "this is the doldrums era Utah Jazz" team from this group.
|PG||Deron Williams||Devin Harris||Mo Williams||Bryce Cotton|
|SG||Wesley Matthews||Kyle Korver||Randy Foye||Ian Clark|
|SF||DeMarre Carroll||C.J. Miles||Richard Jefferson||Brandon Rush|
|PF||Paul Millsap||Marvin Williams||Kris Humphries||Jeremy Evans|
|C||Al Jefferson||Enes Kanter||Nazr Mohammed **||Jeff Ayres *|
|* the Idaho Stampede's #1 overall NBADL Draft Pick|
|** the Utah Jazz one time actual NBA Draft Pick|
Of course, this would be a pretty good team, do you think they'd be a playoff team in the West though? Lots of good players, but I don't know if all the component parts fit together. Playoff rosters aren't 15, and you aren't taking all 20 of these guys anyway. So let's do something fun -- with these parts, who are the five guys you put out there in crunch time? Who is the guy who takes the last second shot, or the go-head basket?
Of course, part two, this makes me think about how in the NBA algebra doesn't exist. A player isn't the same player in different situations.
... and that's the case with a lot of the former Jazzmen. They may be performing better or worse, but they are not performing the same. A great example of this is Paul Millsap. Then undersized and out-muscled in the West, now in the East when everyone is going small, he is phenomenal. In the mid to late 2000s he was predated upon by 7' footers in the playoffs and couldn't buy a call from a ref. Now? He's an All-Star, likely to be an All-NBA Player, and was recently announced as one of the runners up for the Defensive Player of the Year.
Kawhi Leonard won the award, his second of his career and this was his emotional outburst.
What a reaction!
Utah Jazz bigman Rudy Gobert placed 7th, despite playing only a portion of the games this season due to injury. Atlanta Hawks bigman, and former Jazzman, placed 5th. But 2015-2016 Millsap isn't the same thing as 2009-2010 Millsap or even 2012-2013 Millsap. The game changed and made it better to be a skilled tweener. When he was first drafted he was an unskilled tweener. He was an energy guy / hustle guy who was a rebounding specialist. He worked on his game, but even with the Jazz he wasn't a three point shooter. Not even under the watchful gaze of honorable Lord Corbin.
So I feel as though lamenting the loss of Sap is legit, but we didn't say goodbye to an MVP candidate when he did leave. Millsap wasn't a DPOY guy back when he had a 104 DRTG in his last season with the Jazz. He does have slightly more exposure out East than he did in the West. But he's also playing in a system that better takes advantage of his evolving talents.
I'm happy he is finally getting some of the recognition that he deserves. Few guys have been more sufficiently a Jazzman than him. But I don't think the guy he was when he left is the player that he used to be for our teams, nor is the player making a name for himself today the guy who sleepwalked through much of the 2012-2013 Season.
The situation is different, and he is thriving. But Utah didn't give up a great player, just the potential for one. Who knows what else could have been different if the Jazz decided the coach was the problem, not the collection of players (who for whatever reason have made it onto playoff teams)?
Anyway, let's go over the next few weeks for us non-award winning, non-playoff having fans.
- NBA Draft Combine: May 10th to May 15th
- NBA Draft Lottery: May 17th
- NBA Draft: June 23rd
- NBA Free Agency: July 1st
- NBA Summer League: Salt Lake (TBD), Las Vegas (TBD) -- both in July
- 2016 Olympic Summer Games Basketball - Make it or break it tournament: July 4th to July 10th
- 2016 Olympic Summer Games Basketball: August 6th to August 21st
Question -- should Trey Lyles play in Summer League this year?
It's Monday and I'm up to my butt in contractors right now, so sorry this downbeat is late. It's been a long time since we had something good to feel about in the post season. So re-watch this game.