The Utah Jazz are all-in on their #PlayoffPush. But it’s their stars, Hayward and Gobert, who are making a lot of noise in national circles. Will the team make some noise over the next 10 games? They did over the last 10, but for the wrong reasons. Also, John Stockton has a career in stand-up? Maybe? Okay, probably not. But he’s a hilarious guy none-the-less.
I honestly don’t believe the Utah Jazz won last night, but they did. Things aren’t great for the team, and tonight is going to be no picnic. Here are their last 10 games and tell me if you see a trend:
- UTA 105 - DAL 112 (OT) — Loss
- BOS 112 - UTA 104 — Loss
- LAC 88 - UTA 72 — Loss
- POR 88 - UTA 111 — Win
- UTA 109 - MIL 95 — Win
- UTA 102 - WAS 92 — Win
- UTA 106 - OKC 109 — Loss
- MIN 107 - UTA 80 — Loss
- BKN 97 - UTA 112 — Win
- UTA 110 - SAC 109 (OT) — Win
Our boys are 5-5 from before the All-Star break and today, the first week of March. During this stretch the Jazz are 2-4 against the West and 2-3 at home. Those are two troubling things because a) the Jazz play in the West, and b) need to win their home games. Looking at that set of 10 games you’d wish Utah did better than 5-5. Losing to the lotto bound Dallas in OT is bad. Losing to OKC at home by that Russell Westbrook jumper is bad. Getting blown out by the T-wolves by nearly 30 at home is inexcusable. Utah should have gone 8-2. They didn’t.
Tonight our guys will be hosting the New Orleans Pelicans. It will be a test. And the next 10 games will be as will:
- NOP @ UTA
- UTA @ HOU
- UTA @ OKC
- LAC @ UTA
- UTA @ DET
- UTA @ CLE
- UTA @ CHI
- UTA @ IND
- NYK @ UTA
- UTA @ LAC
If Utah went 5-5 when they should have gone 8-2, who knows how they will go during this stretch?
One of the craziest things is that when a professional athlete stays under the radar people don’t have much to go on when forming an opinion of them. If they shy away from the spotlight or give very few soundbite they aren’t as easily promoted. That’s kind of what we’re getting with Gordon Hayward - at least if you read that hit piece by that lady who doesn’t watch basketball. (Not even linking to it) But Hayward isn’t the first out of the spotlight star in franchise history. There was this guy named John Stockton who played a few years with the team, if you can remember back that far.
Stockton was the king of avoiding the press. We rarely saw him do sit-down interviews with NBC during his playing day (Karl Malone was much more happy to do extra ones). But because so many people didn’t see Stockton they had know idea how funny and personable he was. He was just picky — he didn’t want to make his private life public.
That’s not really an option anymore when he’s talking at Gonzaga — and being asked about his college romances.
John Stockton was in rare form at yesterday's Hall of Honor ceremony pic.twitter.com/TQ8UkdsqbB— Sarah Kezele (@SarahKezele) March 6, 2017
And kudos to Nada for being better at rebounding and passing the ball back to John when he practiced shooting alone in the gym. (Funny, Jeff Hornacek and his then college girlfriend (later his wife) used to do the same thing, and she helped him perfect his legendary shot.)
But how much of an assist hog is John? It would be direct to compliment his wife’s looks but instead goes with the bounce pass to extol the physical virtues of her identical twin sister. Hilarious.
The Gordon Hayward media blitz continues! Check out this piece from my main man Kevin O’Connor (not the Jazz exec and professional free cell player):
.@GordanHayward is the basketball player for basketball junkies. @kevinoconnornba https://t.co/DOhk1JFP2h— The Ringer (@ringer) March 6, 2017
It’s an excellent and measured piece that details a lot of the real issues we all fear as Jazz fans. The Ringer also posits the issue of his free agency. Man, read it! Also, did you cop this “Lego like” figure yet?
Lil G.— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) March 2, 2017
He's the perfect wingman for any desk (or life). pic.twitter.com/Jenv7M2Ruo
I’m waiting for the Gobert one, personally.
By the way, this is DB #2047 - and we did the Gordon part for beat #3. It’s obvious that I’m going to talk about Andrei Kirilenko here for beat #4.
I think it is absolutely fantastic that Hayward, now in his 7th season in the NBA, has worked really hard to be an All-Star. He has worked on his body and made sick gains. He can finish with contact and has become a proficient ball handler. But he’s just not much to talk about on defense and his hard work has made up for people overlooking him.
On the flip side, Andrei with his great instincts, length, and athletic ability, was ridiculous. And we forget that. Check him creating all types of havoc against the San Antonio Spurs here:
Injuries derailed his career and his obligations to The Motherland meant that he could never take an off-season off. (Contrast that to Gordon Hayward saying “no” to America this past off-season so he can work on his game in Indiana.) But seriously, rookie year Andrei finishes this game with 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 6 steals, and 1 block.
Imagine what he could have done in Quin Snyder’s offense . . . or Jerry Sloan’s offense if they saw eye to eye better.
We’re lucky to have had both Hayward and Kirilenko. We just had Andrei when it was uncool to play computer games and read. Gordon benefits from trail blazers like AK in this regard.
Who is the Defensive Player of the Year? Well, this year us Jazz fans may be a little biased in saying it loud and clear: Rudy Gobert. If you look at this as the Defensive MVP it’s pretty clear that Gobert has been one of the best. Someone we hear a lot about in national circles is the Golden State Warriors problem forward Draymond Green. Dray is talented, he’s a husky Magic Johnson. But he’s playing on a great team that’s won a championship. They may not have Andrew Bogut anymore, but the Dubs can Defend.
The jury is still out on the Jazz without Rudy, though. Behold:
I made a chart measuring the on/off court defensive rating between leading DPOY bigs Draymond Green and Rudy Gobert pic.twitter.com/jvyYWSQFvj— Preston Mott (@PrestonMottNBA) March 3, 2017
This piece of data shows that both the Warriors and Jazz are better defending teams when Draymond and Rudy are on the floor. When Draymond is off the floor the Warriors are still formidable on defense. That is not the case when Rudy is off, as the Jazz go from being a Top defensive team to being in the bottom half of the league.
I don’t think DPOY is given to the guy who is the anchor of his team’s defense. But it’s quantitatively true that Rudy is the anchor for the Jazz.