The Utah Jazz are in a losing streak right now, but that’s just a smaller trend in an otherwise overwhelmingly successful season. It’s been a season where Gordon Hayward is going to the All-Star Game, let’s not forget. It’s going to be fun to see him spread his wings and fly among the peer group that he has worked his butt off to join. Let’s also look back at the other Jazz All-Stars, and what to expect from the All-Star Weekend that’s coming up.
So tonight is the night where the losing streak ends, right? Tonight will be the last game the Jazz play before the All-Star break -- and it is against the guard powered Portland Trail Blazers. This is not going to be an easy game, it never is against Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. But tonight has to be about pride.
Not that kind of pride. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
But you can’t lose four in a row and go into the All-Star break with your head held up high. You especially can’t lose three HOME GAMES in a row. And seriously? You absolutely can’t lose EVERY HOME GAME in a HOME STAND. Sure, you can lose three home games here or there, but in a row? And leave such a bad taste in the mouths of everyone?
Sentence Fragment? Shut up.
If the Utah Jazz lose tonight it’s going to tell a lot about this team: how they are playing, what they are looking forward to, and what these guys are made up of. And it’s going to be frightening to find out.
Just a few days ago the Jazz were so good. What happened?
I honestly don’t know. These should have been schedule ‘wins’ with tired teams on road trips facing the Jazz. And for the most part Utah had the injury advantage as well. We all love small sample sizes and recency bias, though. I get it. But I also get that this season has been a success, even if the team loses tonight.
And this has been a successful Jazz team:
NBA 2016-17: Proportion of game time spent leading and trailing within a game over all games this season. Bigger: https://t.co/AnIfLUr5RS pic.twitter.com/Tm6ShAvGrw— Ed Küpfer (@EdKupfer) February 12, 2017
When it comes to being the better team at any moment during a game, looking at all games played this year, Utah is the 7th best team in the NBA. And let’s not forget that for all the games played this year Utah has been playing shorthanded.
And that’s the strange thing . . . now that the Jazz are out of the injury foxhole, why has the play gotten worse? That’s Quin Snyder’s problem and not mine though.
So after tonight’s game it’s the All-Star Weekend. I’m hyped to see Gordon Hayward in the skills contest. Though I think he’d be better at a RTS game skills contest.
Additionally, Trey Lyles and Dante Exum are going to do their thing in the rookie/soph game. It’s fun. It should be fun. Hopefully.
The biggest surprise is that I finally have a reason to watch the All-Star game again. I haven’t had to do that since 2011 when Deron Williams was there. Even more fun, he’s the 12th Jazzman to be selected to play! (Others who played for the Jazz at some point in their careers were All-Stars, but just while repping other teams: e.g. Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver.)
Keep in note that there was no All-Star game due to the 50 game lockout shortened season in 1998-1999 — so John and Karl would have had one more each. But it’s still crazy how good they were during the time when legends walked the earth. And as far as 12 man roster’s go . . . this is a pretty nice group. A little light on the shooting guards, but c’est la vie.
So who is going to be the 13th Jazzman to crack and All-Star roster? It’s gotta be Rudy Gobert right?
Really, this Karl Malone video from the All-Star back in 1989 is very well worth watching. (Also the Pat Riley tampering during this video for the Los Angeles Lakers.)
Many Jazz fans may remember the ‘89 game being one where THREE Jazzmen made the team: John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Mark Eaton. The West won 143-134, and The Mailman won the MVP award for his 28 / 9 / 3 / 2 performance.
NBA 2K always gets his speed rating wrong.
The Philadelphia 76ers fans are trusting the process; but which I mean: they love center Joel Embiid. Embiid follows as a rookie bigman after Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. But unlike Neol and Okafor, Embiid is angling towards being the Rookie of the Year. Provided he can get enough minutes to qualify (he has played only 786 so far, while rookies Brandon Ingram, Malcolm Brogdon, and Rodney McGuder have about twice as many).
Embiid is currently injured (knee) and was recently seen dancing on stage at a concert. Since then he has received a little flack, and he is no longer going to be participating in NBA All-Star Weekend activities. (He will still be there, but not playing in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge or the Taco Bell Skill’s Challenge.)
This seems like a slap on the wrist, but the NBA did announce the replacement players:
Nikola Jokic of the @Nuggets to replace injured Joel Embiid in the #TacoBellSkills at #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/0CUy6eV3Ls— 2017 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) February 15, 2017
Alex Abrines of the @OKCThunder to replace the injured Joel Embiid on the World Team at #BBVARisingStars. #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/mScdjjUiYk— 2017 NBA All-Star (@NBAAllStar) February 15, 2017
So because they are going Bigs vs. Smalls in the Skills challenge they went with All-Star Snub, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. I’m fine with that. As for the USA vs. the World game they decided to go with Oklahoma City wing Alex Abrines. The Spanish player is having an okay season, he is playing in 14.0 mpg this year and averaging 5.4 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 1.2 3PTM, 0.5 apg, and 0.5 spg.
There are three full-time ball handlers on the World team already (Emmanuel Mudiay, Dante Exum, and Jamal Murray); however, and I’m a Raul Neto homer. But I don’t think he deserved to be on the team this year (7.5 mpg, 2.2 ppg, 0.7 rpg, 0.7 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 3PTM). The loss of Embiid here hurts the World team a lot as now it’s Kristaps Porzingis and Domantas Sabonis (USSR forever) going up against the varied talents of Karl-Anthony Towns, Myles Turner, Jahlil Okafor, and Frank Kaminsky.
Ultimately, I still do Trust the Process. But you have to be smarter than to dance while being out at work for a knee injury.