Today in Utah Jazz land we read more hype and more than just hype for this upcoming season. Also, point guard talk; beating the Golden State Warriors; and the hidden problem of too much depth / no stars.
With the Utah Jazz playing their first preseason game THIS MONDAY, things are hyping up pretty steadily right now. Eric Freeman of Ball Don’t Lie feel as though that our small-market Jazz are ready to take a step up.
Fans and media generally pick one team to improve considerably before every season, to the point where once games start that group usually sneaks up on no one. The identity of this year’s group was obvious as soon as the 2015-16 season ended, if not earlier.
The Utah Jazz, who lost out on a playoff berth right before their last game of the season, are widely expected to make the postseason, perhaps even easily enough to nab home-court advantage in the first round. Quin Snyder’s young team added veterans in the offseason, will get several key players back from serious injury, and looks ready to take the next step. Bet against them at your own peril.
All the pieces are in place for a very successful year. The Jazz followed up a strong final few months of 2014-15 with a 40-42 campaign, their best finish since winning 43 games in 2012-13 (another non-playoff year). Ending up in ninth place was relatively disappointing given preseason expectations, but the Jazz dealt with more adversity than many anticipated.
Point guard Dante Exum, the fifth pick in 2014, tore his ACL in August and missed all of what was supposed to be a crucial campaign for a high-potential player. Shooting guard Alec Burks joined him on the shelf in December after suffering a fractured fibula, robbing the Jazz of what looked like their backcourt of the future. Highly effective big men Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert each missed at least 20 games, as well, which kept the team from exercising its biggest advantage on many nights.
The good news is that a lot went right
You’re gonna have to click the link to see what Eric wrote! The ending is precisely how I feel about the team right now, especially the part about looking smarter than your friends.
But with all the hype, it’s clear that it would be smart to pump the breaks — even just a little. New #801 resident (well, now a year now) Zach Harper of CBS explains why:
The Utah Jazz are, in terms of depth and well-rounded talent, probably a top 5 team in NBA heading into the 2016-17 season. That probably sounds crazy to a lot of people, but it's true.
The question is whether their record this coming season, and potential playoff seed, will ultimately reflect that talent. You have to assume Utah will be in the postseason this year. They weren't this good last season and still only missed the playoffs by two games, and statistically they performed much better than their 40-42 record.
In fact, despite injuries to Derrick Favors (20 games), Rudy Gobert (21 games), Alec Burks (51 games), and Dante Exum (the entire season), the point differential of the Jazz last season projected them to finish with a 46-36 record. That would've made them the No. 5 seed in the West, which seems like a reasonable, if even a little conservative, projection for this year.
Aside from the injuries, Utah's biggest problem last season was that it went just 10-17 in games decided by five points or less. They have to get better in the close games, and given that they went out an acquired three solid veterans who can win them those crucial late possessions, there is reason to believe that could happen.
The normal ‘take’ on the Jazz were about how good they would be. This take isn’t specifically a contrarian idea; rather, it’s a great example of what the Jazz still have yet to prove. This is a team on the rise, and they have made some solid transactions to beef up their roster.
But pretending there aren’t problems that need to resolved on the court — not just on paper — would be folly. With hype comes expectations. We fans DO have expectations now. Maybe they should be tempered. Read the full article here.
Lots of heavy reading — let’s break things up with this video by Trey Lyles that features Chris Johnson, Joe Johnson, and Joe Ingles.
You’ve probably seen it already, but I love the chemistry of this team. Of course, people are fighting for their playing time right now in training camp. They may be friendly in videos, but with so many of them having things to prove (younger guys out of the rotation) or in contract years (George Hill, by the way) — it can’t possibly remain this cordial all the time.
And this is one of the things I worry about. With depth you have a new problem. Especially with this Jazz team where there isn’t any specific “break-away” talents in their position group beyond Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert. And that means some guy who thinks he should play more is sitting, while someone who isn’t appreciably better is playing.
There’s no greater example of this than perhaps Trey Lyles, a second year player who is the youngest guy on the team. He was a lotto pick and has upside. But is he actually going to get the minutes he needs now that Boris Diaw is on the squad? Diaw has a resume all non-1st ballot HOFers would envy. He is super talented and makes other players better. He also has great chemistry with starting center Gobert — the two have played together and started together for many games internationally. They even went to the same high school.
Is Diaw better than Lyles? If yes, for how long?
This is the same question with Shelvin Mack against Raul Neto . . . against Dante Exum. I’m not even sure that Exum is worse than George Hill as a player. We haven’t seen Exum at his best, and he could end up being a superior player. Today he is not. And this is the second big issue.
Utah is in “win now” mode. It’s obvious. So that means development has to take a back seat. And if we’re being internally consistent here, does that mean starting Joe Johnson (or finishing with him) instead of Rodney Hood?
Food for thought.
Some point guard stories . . .
Exum says he learned a lot sitting with coaches last year, but at times felt lonely & disconnected from the team before he started traveling pic.twitter.com/fRxgbvKStp— Austin Horton (@austinhorton) September 27, 2016
This is something I picked up on last year, we saw more of him on the Playstation Network than behind the bench on road trips.
Yeah, I don’t know what to think about this -- but the thread was finished by the dude saying James Harden will have a career high season for turn overs.
So who on this team is least capable of keeping Quin Snyder happy? Which guy on this team may not know their job?
Oh yeah, and Shelvin Mack is blogging now. Check it out here.
Okay, so the Golden State Warriors are still the most hyped team in the NBA right now, despite not winning the Ring last year. The Ringer is looking at the Xs and Os on how to defeat (or hamper) their “Line-up of Death” which comprises players who can space the floor and create for themselves: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green.
Their solution seems to be to have athletic players with length go out there and switch everything. So what’s your LoD anti-dote? Which five Jazzmen do you put out on the court when Golden State goes small like this?