Okay, we see you Utah Jazz fans. We Downbeat’n again. (The last one can be found here, by Diana!)
How are the Utah Jazz doing? Well, it has been a fun and funny and difficult season. The Jazz are going to be going to the NBA Playoffs this year. Fact. We do not yet know if they will get home court, but that is really in their hands at this point. The Houston Rockets (#3 in the West) are 37-17, the Los Angeles Clippers (#4) are 31-19, but own some sort of tie-breaker right now against the Jazz (#5) who are also 31-19.
Utah has had a terrible time with injuries this season. Alec Burks has missed 34 games, George Hill 24, Derrick Favors 17 (and counting), Rodney Hood 10 (and counting), Boris Diaw 9, Gordon Hayward 7, and Dante Exum 7 (+8 DNP-CDs). And yet they are still only 4.0 games away from being the 3rd seed out West.
That is pretty crazy. (Also crazy that Houston and Utah were fighting for the 8th seed last year.) I do think that with this team, if healthy, the only thing that will stop them is themselves. They play up for the good teams, and play down to the bad ones.
That’s a trend I’d like to see changed at some point. Month by month the team has gone:
- OCT: 1-2
- NOV: 10-6
- DEC: 10-5
- JAN: 9-6
- FEB: 1-0 so far with 10 more games to go
I wished the Jazz would have had 10 wins in January, but they did drop a few that they didn’t have a lot of agency in. Playing six games in nine nights with a bunch of back to backs thrown in there is never fun. Dropping the two games to Memphis because of the schedule really mars that series (which MEM has the tie breaker for winning it 2-1). The first game dropped (Jan 8th) was the second night of a back to back, third game in four nights, and fifth game in seven. The second game dropped (Jan 28) was the sixth game in nine nights.
Not even having an All-Star (Gordon Hayward) and a snub (Rudy Gobert) could carry the team to the finish line on those tired nights.
As it stands right now the Jazz have 13 more home games and 18 road games left in this regular season. Winning 50 on the season is still a possibility. But this team needs to be healthy and play at their own standard level. They need to find out who they are and be who they can be. Easier said than done, I know. But I believe in this group. The schedule has been fair, but the intensity level is turning up a bit.
March will be the proving grounds for this season. But this team can’t overlook the bad teams. Get those wins!
It may not be important to you — but it is to the players who want to be liked — so it’s really awesome that the Utah Jazz will be represented at All-Star Weekend in a few ways. Gordon Hayward is our All-Star, selected as a Western Conference reserve this year. Both Dante Exum and Trey Lyles (again showing that it’s name brand and paying dues more than actual play that matter when the NBA chooses who to showcase) will once again represent the “World Team” in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge.
The Dunk contest will be bereft of Jazzmen (and it looks like a bad dunk contest at that, with it being DeAndre Jordan, Derrick Jones Jr., Glenn Robinson III, and Aaron Gordon). Despite being amazing this year, Joe Ingles isn’t going to be in the three point shootout (Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Kyle Lowry, Wesley Matthews, Nick Young, Eric Gordon, and C.J. McCollum will be there though).
We are going to see Gordon Hayward in the Skills contest though. Which is . . . good?
The #TacoBellSkills field#DevinBooker#JohnWall#IsaiahThomas#GordonHayward#JoelEmbiid#DeMarcusCousins#AnthonyDavis#KristapsPorzingis pic.twitter.com/Coj3BO2sR1— NBA (@NBA) February 3, 2017
Presenting your 2017 #TacoBellSkills participants! #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/CZkiT60QLp— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 3, 2017
I don’t want to put any pressure on Hayward, but all the Jazzmen who have previously been in it have won it. Deron Williams in 2008 and Trey Burke / Damian Lillard in 2014.
You’re up G-Time. Do well, win some more fans. Become more popular. Get some playoff star calls. Help the team win tight games. It’s all connected.
Without looking it up, who is the second leading scorer on this team, in Points per Game? Who is the second leading scorer on the team, in total Points this season? And who is the second leading scorer on the team, in Points per 36?
Well, the first in everything this year points related is Gordon Hayward. Duh. That’s why he’s our All-Star. The second leading scorer in PPG is George Hill (17.2 ppg). The guy second in total points is Rudy Gobert (653 points). And the dude filling up the basket in 36 minutes of action is Alec Burks (19.5 pp36).
Those four guys (Hill, Burks, Hayward, and Gobert) have played together in 7 different games for a grand total of 38 minutes. (Source: NBA.com) Three ball handlers and Gobert (Screen / Roller / Offensive rebounder) seems like a nice diverse attack. That fifth guy on the floor could be another three point shooter (Rodney Hood, Joe Ingles), another bigman (Boris Diaw for passing, Derrick Favors for inside play, Trey Lyles for spreading the floor), or some sort of combination of both of those things (Joe Johnson).
I only bring this up because game by game the Jazz continue to fall farther from being Top 10 in offense. They are the 3rd best defensive club by DRTG and with their slow pace are the #1 best team when it comes to opponents PPG. But when the playoffs start being able to also score is going to be something this team MUST do.
More of the ‘offense’ line-ups please. At least for now to test things out.
Boris Diaw wants to know . . .
. . . if you are totally okay with this. Because he’s totally okay with this. No pressure.
Earlier today I kind of ranted on Rudy Gobert. Well, now we get a chance to go crazy about Emoji Gobert as well.
I'm rather proud of this version of the #Rudymoji I've been working on... #takenote #takeFNnote #YesItsWatermarked pic.twitter.com/XlwOmuq9FD— Sean Donahue (@Brynx_Inc) February 4, 2017
This is amazing, but I asked Sean to add his new hairstyle.
Ask, and thou shall receive. #takenote #takeFNnote #KillerSwirl pic.twitter.com/AsE7tzh7gq— Sean Donahue (@Brynx_Inc) February 4, 2017
I absolutely love it. And I love the passion and creativity of our fan base. I’m really happy that we have a team worth going crazy over. (Those were some dark days when John Lucas III was starting.)
And this ends the first Downbeat in a long time. Now keep the change, ya filthy animals!