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NBA Playoffs 2016: Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder Game 7, plus Utah Jazz' Rodney Hood - The Downbeat #1923

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Game 7! Game 7! Game 7! Also Conspiracies, Memorial Day, Rodney Hood, and the Utah Jazz future!

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A look at Memorial Day and what's coming up next for basketball fans, including the NBA Finals, the NBA Draft, and of course, conspiracy theories. (And also, because of conspiracy theories, Nicholas Cage.) Moreover, we look at Rodney Hood, what he did last year, and what he can do in the future. He's already a fan favorite, but every young guy can still improve. Also, ESPN's Future Rankings come back into the fold, for better or for worse.

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So it comes down to one game now to see who is the best of the West. The 73 win Golden State Warriors, the team that won the title last season, fought back from a 1-3 deficit to tie it up with a very solid road win in Game 6. Do the Oklahoma City Thunder prevail tonight, or is this just a really great story line for the fabled and media adored Dubs? Klay Thompson has been on fire, while Stephen Curry is still the main focus of the defense. Draymond Green has been almost a no-show except for his amateur Urology clinic he's been putting on. On the other hand, the Oklahoma City Thunder are going to need nuclear powered Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook to make it past them. They've had solid performances from under-heralded guys -- but it's a team of stars against a team of roleplayers that have two stars on it.

Also this:

Yeah. The Dubs are at home. Have the NBA, the Refs, and the Potential TV audience (and the marketing guys for the NBA and TV stations) on their side. It's not a conspiracy theory if people are actively assisting them behind closed doors.

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There's also this . . .

. . . but let's choose to disregard it like Dikembe Mutombo 's pre-lottery tweet congratulating the Sixers on winning it.

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So, Rodney Hood? Good? Average? Streaky? Bad? Starter? Starter until someone better shows up? I don't know what to think just yet. I know that I'm always going to be a fan of his -- personally -- and I came into our relationship not really interested. His heart is what won me over at the NBA Draft back in 2014 during the post-selection media availability. I'm excited to think about what he could one day become, but know from Jazz history that it can take a young player a very loo-oong time before they go from being streaking to being consistent. (Case Study: The first seven+ plus years of C.J. Miles ' NBA career.)

I do think that his Duke Pedigree gives him an edge with head coach Quin Snyder. And I know that Gordon Hayward has mentioned him almost more than any other player so far in his post-season blog series. Like him or love him, he is going to be a Jazzman for a while. So let's celebrate some of what he did last year:

Also, of note. Do you think that Kobe Bryant doesn't come into his last game with a little more less heat of Rodney didn't drop 30 on the Los Angeles Lakers a few weeks before?

Trying to beat the Lakers always makes you a fan favorite -- this too:

I hope he does become consistent in his shooting, and a better defender, because there are a lot of reasons to fall in love with this guy.

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Like with most things Utah Jazz related, ever are we looking to the future instead of the present. ESPN's duo of Chad Ford and Kevin Pelton break down the "Future Power Rankings" once again . . . and that's the main take-away for the Jazz.

Utah does climb up to 7th this time around, up from 8th. The Jazz score in the Top 10 in: Draft (5th), Players (7th), Money (7th), and Management (8th); however, as expected, take a big hit in Market (29th). This kind of also goes along my own investigations that include popularity and reach -- where the Jazz also score worst or close to it. Ford had the following to say about our Jazz:

The young roster continues to be the story in Utah. Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert are the basic building blocks. Dante Exum, Alec Burks, Rodney Hood, Trey Lyles and another lottery pick this year round out the core. Hood and Lyles especially showed promise this season, and if Exum can come back from his torn ACL, he has a chance to make the Jazz a very dangerous team.

While Utah was obviously disappointed about missing the playoffs, injuries, not talent, were the primary reason. The decision to continue to stick with this young core should pay off for Utah in a big way soon.

- Chard Ford, ESPN, 2016

At some point the potential of the youth needs to be transmuted into production of the present. We're seeing a little of that but not enough. There is no actual solution beyond just playing the younger guys and getting better. Of course, it should be reminded that Deron Williams led the Jazz to the Western Conference Finals as a Soph, and Karl Malone and John Stockton were guys playing big roles on playoff teams since their rookie years.

There's some mystical spell that seems to make all the other teams get something productive out of their lotto picks during their rookie contracts that the Jazz somehow cannot tap into -- over the last decade plus.

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Today is Memorial Day. It's an important federal holiday where the purpose was for something greater than just getting another three-day weekend in the United States. It's a day to remember the men and women who had heeded the call of duty, and answered that call by serving their country and died for it. Within the not-talked-about American Civil Religion, this is effectively our Spring festival -- with the main themes of death, sacrifice, rebirth, and possibly also community. I'm not going to get too into it, for fears of sounding like someone who in their lifetime has to unironically steal the Declaration of Independence.

The NBA Finals are upon us, and soon, the NBA season will be over. But as we celebrate the actual "let's get the grills out and celebrate summer" holiday, we must look at the future. We have the NBA Draft, Summer League in Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas. Then the pre-Olympics tournament and then Olympic Basketball to watch. And before you know it, it'll be training camp again.

Stick with it. Soon enough we'll have 12 months of basketball. (Hopefully!)

Happy Memorial Day.