We actually have some news in Utah Jazz land -- and it deals with the NBA Draft. Of course, we also take a look at the NBA Playoffs and go over what has happened, what could happen, and which Jazz players are putting in work. There's also a little NBA Free Agency talk as well!
The NBA Draft is where the next rotation player for the Utah Jazz will come from. And the NBA Draft lottery is now just a week away (it will take place at halftime of a playoff game on May 17th). It was revealed through candid conversations with Steve Starks on twitter that he, along with General Manager Dennis Lindsey and Assistant General Manager Justin Zanik, will be in New York next week on behalf of the Jazz.
Furthermore, the President of Miller Sports reveals that there are limitations on who can represent a team at the NBA Draft lottery:
Previously, we had seen a deluge of representatives, from assistants to children. Seems like the NBA had tightened that ship a bit, for the better. If I wanted to watch billionaire's heirs on TV I am sure I could. I want to watch the NBA instead.
Of course, I wouldn't be surprised to see a significant Jazz contingent in Chicago right now for the NBA Draft Combine. The Utah Jazz rolled in double digits last time they had a lot of picks, and would expect nothing less from them this year. Especially with the combine being upped from 50 players to 63 (so far!) this year. I do think that the next rotation player for the club will be had on draft night -- while I don't think it's going to be one of the late 2nd rounders, it could be the lotto pick we currently have.
Yes, it's true that the Jazz are more likely to pick behind their lotto seed (#12) than they are to move up into the Top 3 -- stranger things have happened. [For the record, I simulated the lottery 50 times, and never saw the Jazz move up, they did move back on the 12th, 42nd and 46th times though. All hail anecdotal information!] Let's all be super positive in the days ahead because B.F. Skinner's research tells us that animals do stupid things when presented with random interval reward schedules. As animals seeing that reward who are we to go against our superstitions?
Of course, we're only so preoccupied with the NBA Draft Lottery because, well, because the Utah Jazz remain a lotto team. The NBA Playoffs is where the big boys play, and for the fourth year in a row we aren't there. But it's pretty wild right now. In the first round some teams gave up the ghost early (Detroit Pistons, Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, and Dallas Mavericks) while some fought to their deaths (Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, Charlotte Hornets, and Indiana Pacers) -- but ultimately there were really no surprises save for the dysfunctional Clipps showing their true identities.
The second round has been 'lit', whatever that means.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1) vs. Atlanta Hawks (4) -- The Cavs swept the Hawks on their way to setting all kinds of three point records. This isn't the same Cavs team that limped to the finals behind the singular performances of LeBron James.
- Toronto Raptors (2) vs. Miami Heat (3) -- This series is all tied up 2-2, with both teams losing once at home. The games haven't been pretty, and both teams are fighting injuries right now, but this is what playoff basketball is supposed to be, one where the last team standing wins. It's where you kill yourself to be. And both of these teams have shown plenty of fight -- three of the four games have gone to overtime so far.
Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5) -- The Warriors are up 3-1 a series after completing a "Gentleman's sweep" of Houston. As defending champs they do look strong right now with their pick of opponents, but still thrive on adoration and create drama where none should exist. I am sick of their theatrics. But it is going to be hard for them to lose four times in a row at this stage, despite what Damian Lillard has been doing.
- San Antonio Spurs (2) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (3) -- Despite legitimate, evidence based fears, the Thunder aren't afraid of the Spurs and are actually up 3-2 in that series with a chance to win it at home in Game 6.
It's a bit of everything so far in the second: a sweep, a possible Gentleman's sweep, a series where the underdog could eliminate a dynasty, and a tied series that will most likely produce a Pyrrhic victor with little chance of moving on beyond the East Finals. Looking ahead, the Cavs are halfway there to their first title, and will have to face the winner of that Pyrrhic battle. I don't think they will be challenged much with how well they are playing right now.
I like to believe that the Spurs would pose a greater challenge to the Warriors than what the Thunder could do. But, well, I don't think the Warriors will be denied in the West, if at all this season.
With basically two rounds under our belts, let's check back on the former Jazzmen in the playoffs. Here are their 2016 NBA Playoff per game averages (categorized by position base class, and then sorted by highest to lowest MPG):
It's kind of funny to think of how some radio voices kept telling us how great a few of these guys were. You have a few real deals here, like Paul Millsap and arguably Wesley Matthews. But a lot of the has beens have played like has beens. Mo Williams and Randy Foye, in much more diminished roles, don't look so hot now. The bigs were mostly more efficient and effective out there on the court -- save for Marvin Williams. And it's funny to see that Enes Kanter's on court production mirrors that of Al Jefferson, albeit at a much higher FG% (not listed but .608 is larger than .506).
The big surprise has to be Kris Humphries, who really did a lot for the Hawks when he was on the court. Of course, I don't know if that happens if Tiago Splitter isn't injured for the season, but you gotta take that shot when you have it. Which is what many of the previously listed vets did when their agents told them to play a year with the Jazz to get their numbers up.
Speaking of agents . . . apparently the Cavaliers were going to sign Gordon Hayward.
Or at least, that's what currently Cavaliers stretch big Channing Frye told ESPN. Brian Windhorst writes:
Channing Frye first visited the Cavs in 2009 when the team was desperate to add shooting as LeBron James was headed to the final year of his contract. The front office then was convinced he was a great fit with James. But Frye longed to play in Phoenix, where he had dreamed of playing with Steve Nash since he was in college at Arizona, and he signed there instead.
In 2014, Frye was a free agent again. David Griffin, who helped recruit him to Phoenix over Cleveland five years earlier, was the new GM in Cleveland and trying to do it again. He sold Frye on playing with Kyrie Irving and told him about plans to sign free agent Gordon Hayward. They swapped numbers and approached a deal. Then James' agent called about his return to Cleveland and the breaks were slammed. Frye ended up in Orlando.
So if LeBron didn't return to Cleveland they were going to throw a lot of money a Gordon? G-Time did sign with the Charlotte Hornets and the Utah Jazz matched, so no harm no foul. But this is interesting news that I don't think we had heard about previously.
Trevor Booker is an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has played two years with the Jazz and in particular, has played well when there have been bigmen injuries ahead of him on the depth chart. He is an energy guy who displays toughness. He doesn't have a consistent finishing ability on offense outside of his thunderous dunks, and his outside shooting evolution hasn't been that quick. He will be going into his 7th season of his NBA career and does not look like he is improving on defense. HOWEVER, he is very good for a number of hustle plays and can help a team tread water while better players get rest. Occasionally he plays great, and goes beyond his normative standard deviation of performance. Over the years he has blocked shots, gotten rebounds, and even splashed threes for the team.
So do you bring him back, or just roll the dice with Derrick Favors, Trey Lyles, and company at the four?