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Utah Jazz Downbeat #2060 - Where is Jerry Sloan’s statue?

Asking some tough questions and some easy ones - it’s hump day!

San Antonio Spurs v Utah Jazz - Game Three Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Sorry Utah Jazz fans, by ‘hump day’ I did not mean that we’d be talking about former Jazz draft pick Kris Humphries. (Or former combo guard Jay Humphries, either.)

The Utah Jazz have a playoff berth, and are likely to win the division, could reach 50 wins still, and earn home court in the first round of the NBA Playoffs this season. These are some of the ideas we had dancing in our heads after Free Agency waaay back in July and August. Months later and those ideas look like they could become realities.

And Utah has done it despite guys missing 167 total games this season to injuries and absences. I am impressed, and Dennis Lindsey saw the problem that hurt the team over the last decade and went out to collect both complimentary and redundant talent so that injuries - which always happen - shouldn’t derail the season anymore.

  • PG: Hill (27), Exum (7), Mack (11)
  • SG: Hood (21), Burks (35)
  • SF: Hayward (8), Johnson (4)
  • PF: Favors (27), Diaw (8)
  • C: Gobert (1)

The fact that this team could still win 50 is crazy to me, and very impressive. The 2016-2017 Utah Jazz are clearly greater than the sum of their observable parts! Also, I think it’s pretty obvious that the one big constant this season has been Rudy Gobert’s excellence and presence.

NBA: Utah Jazz at New York Knicks Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

I am grateful to have been an active Jazz fan who has seen so many of the franchises’ best players over the decades - and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone like Rudy before.

As for tonight’s road game (the 4th last road game of the regular season), the Jazz will be facing a) a team that’s playing much better since getting rid of DeMarcus Cousins, and b) be playing without a couple of starters. Again. For the 3rd season in a row. (Sorry for being lugubrious there.)

Derrick Favors has been out for a while now, we have not seen him on the court since his 32 minutes of against against the New Orleans Pelicans back on March 6th. And he has missed the last 10 games (5 wins, 5 losses). Things are ‘progressing’ without him at the power forward and center positions. Joe Johnson is getting burn at the four during crunch time and hasn’t been burned yet for being a 6’7 guy. Jeff Withey is coming off the bench to play some good minutes at the five, and I think we all love what we’re seeing so far.

Gordon Hayward is a different animal. For one, it’s not like there’s star power making up for his absence - there’s no Rudy Gobert type on the wing taking care of business. But what we are seeing is a combination of players that are stepping up. He’s harder to replace, and his efforts are harder to replicate - but now is a great time of the season for Rodney Hood and Dante Exum to get comfortable playing useful basketball.

All in all, without Favors the Jazz are 14-13 this year; and without Hayward they are 4-4. Against a motivated (to play spoiler) and energetic Kings squad will they be missed? Yes! Do we need them to play in order to secure a win? I sure hope not.

Let ‘em rest.

If a Sacramento squad that could be without Rudy Gay, Tyreke Evans, Arron Afflalo, and Malachi Richardson run the Jazz, then Utah deserves it. Regardless of injuries.

How well would this performance fare today?

I don’t know. I like David Benoit. I wish he worked on his three a little more, but I can’t hate on this Dunk Contest effort. There were no gimmicks. He made both of his dunks on the first try, but you figure they were exciting ‘in-game’ dunks.

Today it’s a whole big show that takes forever, and guys seem to get unlimited tries at dunks with questionable difficult levels. I kind of miss the more focused and competent dunk contests of the past. But I am a dinosaur.

I’m totally on board with this:

I’d love a 30for30 on John and Karl, they deserve one. So this tweet from Chappy made me really happy, and then really bummed out as well. When Larry H. Miller passed away I felt like I had lost a grandfather - and I’m not even FROM Utah. I’m not ready to theorize about the blubbering mess I will become if Frank Layden and/or Jerry Sloan move on.

Perhaps all the Jazz fans around my age +/- 15 years feel the same way. Perhaps we should cherish the time we have and these icons of the #801 now, and not wait to do it later? Also, more propaganda from Dear Leader:

This looks like a slam dunk to me, I don’t know why we’re not hearing any progress on this front.

Mandatory survey time:

For me, in no order, it’s Rudy Gobert, Alec Burks, and Raul Neto.

  • I also do love Joe Johnson, Derrick Favors, Boris Diaw (off the court), and Joel Bolomboy.
  • Joe Ingles is a ‘hoot’ as well.
  • And if I could, I’d adopt Dante Exum.
  • Furthermore, Trey Lyles is invaluable for his on the bench celebrations after big plays.
  • Also, I have a soft spot for Jeff Withey who was dating a psycho lady. I know what that’s like.
  • Rodney Hood can just make the game look so easy when he’s feeling it.
  • George Hill gives this team a much needed dimension.
  • And Gordon Hayward is making people all over the world #TakeNote of his play this year.

This is just such a fun team to root for. But we all have our favourites. And that’s part of what being a fan is all about. (The other part is reading opposing team’s game threads after Jazz wins.)