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Utah Jazz Back To The Future Day Downbeat #1753

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Okay, so the Utah Jazz lost another preseason game, this time to the dastardly Oklahoma City Thunder when their coach re-inserted their best players at the end of the fourth quarter in order to ensure victory. Is this where I cry? Or care? I don't. The wins and losses at this stage aren't anything to get too worked up about. That said, the actual play of the players does matter. Last night Quin Snyder went with a more normative rotation where Gordon Hayward (33 mins), Rudy Gobert (32), Alec Burks (32), Trey Burke (29), Rodney Hood (28), and Derrick Favors (26) all played significant minutes. And at times they didn't look so hot. OKC is on a mission to re-assert their Western Conference dominance. But the Jazz have something to prove too, but are now 0-2 at home. (But again, does that matter?) There's much to unpack today, so let's get at it.

Okay, one of the most overt 24 hour news cycle talking points is going to be Quin Snyder's post game 'rant' during an answer to a Tony Jones (SLTRIB) question. Jody Genessy (DN) tweeted it after transcribing it in full here:

For those who can't see what was tweeted, Snyder essentially explains that expectations and perception do not equal performance. Such that, if certain players on the squad, or the team as a whole, are getting a sense of accomplishment from media fanning then they are missing the point. This team, and the players within, have not yet accomplished anything at the NBA level. And that hard work, the work that gets you to have either team success or individual success, is the only path to that elite level most players aspire to join.

It's the right thing to say as I believe Snyder knows this team can be better, but their on court performance so far is not up to his expectations of them. And his expectations are based upon seeing them everyday. He's not a Jazz fan, or a paid member of the in-house media. He's their coach. And part of coaching is motivating them, praising them, or in this case, scolding them. Personally I think it's better than just brushing the comment off, being belligerent with the media, and saying "young legs."

So go Quin. Do you. Make our guys better. They need to be.



Moving onto less combative things, the Jazz are apparently not worth watching this season. Well, at least that's what the data shows from Nylon Calculus:

Their guy Matt D'Anna crunched the numbers and by his count, and measures, the Jazz don't have the "freshness" or "squadability" to make up for their very high score in "rarity". With the formula of giving equal weight to all three characteristics the Jazz ended up with a 0.40 value, good for a 24th place tie. What really sunk the Jazz happened to be their year-to-year stability. The "freshness" rating was 0.05, while teams that had more massive year-to-year overhauls of their roster (like the Sacramento Kings (0.77), or Denver Nuggets (0.73)) killed it. If we delve deeper into freshness D'Anna explains:

"Freshness is newness. The degree of a team's freshness should be based on how different they are from last year. But not just different through trades and free agency - different from youthful change. Thus, freshness consists of three equally-weighted criteria: a) new coach (six total this offseason); b) new logo, uniform, or court (partial points for alternates); c) 2015 lottery picks (actively playing). A new coach brings a new playbook, and likely a new culture. New gear brings a visual appeal; the oft-hard-to-quantify aesthetics of the game. A lottery pick brings youthful hope. These three factors combine to make you want to watch; a fresh team is new and fun."

- Matt D'Anna, Nylon Calculus, 2015

That's still objective enough, and I accept it. Until the Jazz reclaim their heritage and bring the note logo back as the primary logo we're not going to get very fresh. After all, the roster is going to remain more stable than not going forward; and while Snyder is a rolling stone, I don't expect him to be gone anytime soon either.

The less objective thing, in my mind, should be "squad-ability". Yet this is a mix of the hyper non-scientific use of "All-Stars" added with a hyper specific concept of predicted win totals for the roster. Here the Jazz get absolutely sunk, and I think it's really perception / subjective. All-Stars are based on perception ("has he been a snub long enough that he deserves a spot?") more than they are on actual ability or capability. For example, when Team USA is having their summer camps they bring in a lot of people who aren't regarded as All-Stars, players like our Jazz guys. I think having that kind of talent is more important -- but there's no effective enough way to rate these guys. The deeper you drill down with numbers it still gets infected by subjective rankings at some point.

I reverse engineered his results and found that the Jazz (0.25) have a squad-ability that's immediately behind the Detroit Pistons (0.26), but ahead of the Charlotte Hornets (0.23), Milwaukee Bucks (0.23), and the Los Angeles Lakers (0.23). All in all, there are 20 teams with a higher "squad-ability" than our crew. As a frame of reference the Spurs are tops at 0.57, the Warriors 3rd with 0.50, and the Thunder are 9th at 0.42. Those could be the Top 3 teams in the West this upcoming season.

Where the Jazz shine is in rareness. They are just not on national TV a lot (tell us something we don't know), and are in the 90% range for rarity along with the 76ers, Pistons, Nets, Nuggets, Magic, and Hornets). Unfortunately, all but one of those teams have a much higher "freshness" rating than the Jazz and that helps put all but one of those teams ahead in the overall league pass rankings.

Are there other categories besides freshness, rarity and squad-ability that matter? Perhaps. I think overall age of roster should come into play. Also, in addition to rarity, we should look at franchise momentum. Age is very objective and easily something we can calculate. Momentum is not. I would rather watch a young team where you don't see their best players on TV every week, a team on the upswing, over the Hawks. I've seen a lot of the Hawks. I really love some of their players. Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver are universally adored in Jazz circles. Still, I'd rather watch the Bucks (who clock in at #20 overall) over the Hawks (#11 overall).

These rankings are fun, but I would think that Suns (dead last) and Jazz (24th) could argue that they aren't that unwatchable. The one solace we have is that the Clippers and Lakers are both in the bottom third as well. Hooray! Anyway, I'm not bagging on Matt, or his fun post. It generates discussion. Which is what this is!



Is it getting spammy in here? A little bit. Check out SB Nation's NBA Preview! There are team sections, which are boring, but also cool player snapshots too!

Oh, that's just SB Nation's stuff. That's not nearly spammy enough. Very well. Here's something I wrote for Sheridan Hoops that was a collaboration with The Shums. It turned out so good that we're going to form a Pet Shop Boys synth group to see how long this partnership can last. (He's got the looks, I've got the brains, or he has the words, and I'm a twitter loudmouth, something like that. We'll make it rhyme. Don't worry about it. Let us worry about it.)

In that piece we look at some of the more important things on all of our minds . . . like what we're doing to see in a post- Dante Exum world; how will Quin Snyder get the offense on track; and what's the deal with airline food the Jazz' love of counter-culture?



So here's Mehmet Okur just dad-ing it up now that he's a retired multi-millionaire.

Yogurmaca baslasin #mertmehmetokur

A video posted by mehmetokur13 (@mehmetokur13) on

Wouldn't mind seeing him hit a few more threes in a Jazz uni though.



Today is "Back to the Future" Day.

So, we need to look at this in relation to the Utah Jazz. Back in the 1980s, when I first became a Jazz fan for life, I would have expected by now that we would have won at least one NBA championship. The team may yet do it if we go deeper into the future. But if you could go "back", what one thing would you have rather slightly changed the outcome of? This can't be big things, but small thing . . . so no "Utah Jazz don't trade draft rights of Dominique Wilkins", but perhaps something like "David Benoit hits 2 of the threes he misses in that playoff game against Houston in '95." For me it would have to be going back to the future, and somehow making sure Memo doesn't get hurt in that series against the Nuggets.

Or alternatively if you could go back in time and change the outcome of something in your life, within the rules from Back to the Future, what would it be? I'd probably go back with the intent to do better on some important exam, but end up convincing the janitor to run for mayor or something . . .