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The Downbeat #1995 - How Spurs-y can the Jazz be?

Count the days, Jazz fans!

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Utah Jazz Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The season is fast approaching. We had media day. We’re now in day one of training camp. It’s finally here!

First of all, yesterday was Utah Jazz media day. We have a stream up here, but it’s not completely up-to-date on each player. I’ll be updating it all today with some good info. You can’t and shouldn’t have to wait though, not when Moni is on the case:

Here’s an excerpt:

Hill: You talking about Big Fes? He was my teammate for one year in Indiana. That guy was sick every day.

“Why you sick?”

“Oh, I had some chicken in the refrigerator for, like, two weeks.”

I’m like, “And you ate it?” I’m like, “What are you doing?”

He’s like, “It was in the refrigerator and I was hungry.”

Also, that’s all the excuse I need to show this again:

My whole life is going through my head! :-)

A photo posted by Kyrylo (@armarius44) on

It’s all the good bits if you are looking for a great recap of what we learned! And as always, VISIT MONI’S BLOG!

One thing that resonates with this era of the Utah Jazz is how closely they resemble the San Antonio Spurs. Lots of guys on the payroll right now either played for, coached for, scouted for, or in some other capacity worked for the Spurs. One thing the Spurs have on the Jazz though seem to be how to keep people in their program.

While center Tim Duncan doesn’t have an official set of responsibilities, it’s nice to see San Antonio doing something like this. The Jazz? John Stockton doesn’t work for them. Karl Malone doesn’t have a job in Utah. Mark Eaton has never been a part of the coaching staff. Former players Jeff Hornacek, Tyrone Corbin, Earl Watson, and Mehmet Okur are all coaching elsewhere in the NBA. Jacque Vaughn and others from the Jerry Sloan coaching tree all didn’t get jobs here. I can understand other players not making it on with the Spurs. (Matt Harpring and Sean Elliott both do their TV thing.) But not having your star players be a part of what your team is doing seems . . . at the most innocent, like a missed opportunity.

Sour grapes aside, there’s a chance for our Jazz to be Spurs-like on the court this year with frequent substitutions due to depth. Players may not put up big numbers, but in a world where wins are what matters . . . it’s likely to be a very successful year for Utah in that department.

Dennis Lindsey and Quin Snyder have brought in 20 players to camp.

  • Point Guards: George Hill, Dante Exum, Shelvin Mack, Raul Neto, (Marcus Paige)
  • Shooting Guards: Rodney Hood, Alec Burks, (Chris Johnson)
  • Small Forwards: Gordon Hayward, Joe Johnson, Joe Ingles, (Quincy Ford)
  • Power Forwards: Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw, Trey Lyles, Joel Bolomboy, (Eric Dawson)
  • Centers: Rudy Gobert, (Jeff Withey), (Henry Sims)

The player above in brackets do not have guaranteed deals for this upcoming NBA season. So you can see that out of the usual suspects, only Chris Johnson and Jeff Withey could be in danger. What’s even tougher, is that it will be six players effectively playing for one spot. I am making the assumption that Bolomboy is for reals. From how the Jazz talk about him, it seems like they do.

  • Marcus is a deep threat smallish combo guard who is known mainly for his shot, not his playmaking or defensive abilities.
  • Christapher is a hard working “Three and D” candidate who shot a little worse than expected last season, but really brought his hustle when the team was ravaged by injuries.
  • Quincy went undrafted but really impressed enough people to make it all the way to training camp. There are lots of wing-capable players (with some bleed in from point guards and power forwards alike), so it’s not going to be easy for him.
  • Eric and Henry are somewhat known commodities and bringing them in to bang against the guys on contract could be partly a favor to them, and partly a measuring stick to grade the Jazz bigs.
  • Jeff — reasonably — should be the 15th man on this roster. He’s a legit 7 footer who gets rebounds, blocks shots, plays defense, and is engaged to get married. (So some life stability improvements over the off-season. He just needs to stop picking up ticket stubs for movies that aren’t his.)

The “wild card” would be to leave this spot open for the holiest of holies known as “Flexibility” -- but I think this year the Jazz should be flexing on the court, and not with their cap space.

Who wins out? My money is on Withey . . .

. . . but that doesn’t mean that’s the END for some of these guys. I could very well see Marcus, Quincy, and maybe one of the two bigs joining the Salt Lake City Stars this season. If we’re really taking development seriously, and not the development theatre we had in Idaho, then I think being Spurs-like means actually keeping people in the pipeline. You know, after constructing a pipeline.

Having the team in SLC means it’s easier to work with them logistically. Also it’s easier for guys to be shuttled up and down to get some run in. I really like Paige. He’s smarter than most of the people who write for this site, myself included. Or at least, he comes off that way. He has polish from being in the NCAAs for so long. And he has some potential. Seeing him with the Stars from Day 1 would be great.

Quincy also seems like a really high character guy. He has that on-court work ethic that you want all of your players to have. He was also one of 11 of his siblings to be home-schooled. So that totally screams out “Utah” to me. (Also: beautiful mountains, great hiking locations, very polite and friendly people, and cattle mutilations / rural alien abductions all scream out Utah to me too.)

That hair, tho.

One of the best qualities of the Spurs has been their scouting department and penchant for finding draft steals / good fits for their system. There could be two food fits in these two players.

The Jazz play their first pre-season game on Monday. Yes. Monday. The season is really coming quickly, with their first game being 29 nights away.