Okay Utah Jazz fans, the season isn’t over because of a one point loss at home after Quin Snyder sat all the good players. There’s more to look forward to and also fret about. So let’s get right into it!
Only 12 days until 2016-17 @NBA season begins!— NBA.com (@NBAcom) October 13, 2016
Relive the best from last season here: https://t.co/xDIBkn5dnF pic.twitter.com/r7ogWrCUtE
Get hyped! We’re a John Stockton away from games that matter!
Okay, now about what happened last night? That game. You know, the Phoenix Suns (2-2) beating the Utah Jazz (2-2) 111-110? That was like 2.5 different games. Or at least, it appeared that way with the 106 combined free throws. Moni said it best:
So it was Suns 111, Jazz 110, Refs 106— moni (@monilogue) October 13, 2016
Also, visit her site. It’s the best Utah Jazz site on the entire internet. And I’ve felt that way for many years now. As for the game last night, we did a lot of game coverage. While the team may be in Preseason mode, we here at the blog are trying to get into game shape ourselves. The Jazz though? I think this come from behind loss cancels out the come from behind victory against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Clearly, there are huge differences in the game flow. But the main point is that the losing team got back into it after the leading team pulled their best players. Two nights ago Doc Rivers took control of the game with big runs (with players like Chris Paul) on the court in the second half. Midway through the fourth he saw what he needed to from his guys, and pulled them. Last night Quin Snyder saw what he had to see by halftime, and players who previously had not played got a chance to show the coaches what they got.
Let’s not pretend that the Suns didn’t fight back in the fourth to win a game they shouldn’t have. Props to them. But let’s not pretend that they could do that against line-ups that did not star Chris Johnson and Joel Bolomboy.
Speaking of our cousins in Phoenix, SLTrib’s Aaron Falk had this to write:
Suns coach Earl Watson on Jerry Sloan, hiring ex-Jazzmen and building his team in the desert: https://t.co/b1IDcM5yld pic.twitter.com/hbVswwTA0M— Aaron Falk (@aaronfalk) October 13, 2016
As his team finished its morning shootaround Wednesday in Salt Lake City, Earl Watson's gaze was drawn to the rafters and a banner commemorating Jerry Sloan's 1,223 wins as coach of the Utah Jazz.
"Coach Sloan, what he meant to basketball, what he meant to my career … is everything," Watson said.
Watson has ways to go to catch up to his mentor. The new coach of the Phoenix Suns has nine wins as an NBA head coach, taking over interim duties after the Suns fired Jeff Hornacek last season. But at age 37, and now with the security of a new three-year contract in Phoenix, Watson is looking to take his lessons from playing for Sloan and the relationships he made as a Jazzman to build something in the desert.
Former Jazz head coach Ty Corbin, who took over for Sloan after his resignation in 2011, was hired this summer as one of Watson's assistants. Mehmet Okur, one of Watson's teammates during his stint with the Jazz, was brought on as a part-time skills coach.
"One thing about playing here under Coach Sloan's regime is that it's family," Watson said. "When you leave, that family stays forever, those relationships are forever. Them coming with me, I just brought my family with me."
On Wednesday, Corbin was back at Vivint Arena, smiling as he worked out forward Jared Dudley. Okur, meanwhile, spent time working with big men Alex Len and Dragan Bender at the end of his team's shootaround. But he also worked with 6-foot-3 guard Brandon Knight.
"Whoever wants to get better, I'm here for them," said Okur.
Read it. It’s worth it. It dove tails nicely with what we’ve been saying at the site as well about Utah and Phoenix. But moreover, it’s actual meat and potatoes quotes from our former player Earl Watson on some of the guys we admire the most.
Getting back to our club, what do we feel about Boris Diaw? I think he’s amazingly skilled, but it’s going to take a while for people around him to catch up to his speed of thought. We’ve seen some great passes by him to team mates who were not ready to do things with the ball, if they caught it. It’s going to be a transition for him for sure after playing with all those geniuses down there in the San Antonio Spurs franchise. Diaw is special. I just don’t know how much he’s going to help THIS team in THIS season.
Well, Tom West of Today’s Fast Break may have some answers:
Up at #TFB - @TomWestNBA on how Boris Diaw will help #Jazz, and what he's already shown in preseason. https://t.co/FtEiVSZcvC pic.twitter.com/XbspuRbFAB— Today's Fastbreak (@TodaysFastbreak) October 12, 2016
If you aren’t on board the Utah Jazz hype train already after their impressive summer, in which they added George Hill, Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw (while also having Dante Exum return), you might want to do so now. Sure, Gordon Hayward’s finger injury is a setback, but there are still plenty of reasons to like this team’s potential.
One of those reasons is Mr. Boris Diaw, the passionate coffee lover and cool, calm, collected player we enjoyed watching for many years with the San Antonio Spurs. He won a championship with them in 2014 and served as the ideal Spurs role player for just over four seasons, willingly bringing his veteran IQ, exquisite passing, post play and character off the bench.
Now the Jazz get to enjoy all those things, and they won’t have to wait long to see everything come to fruition.
Diaw may not be as athletic as he was in his younger days (you might be surprised just how athletic he was if you haven’t seen footage of him), and he isn’t exactly the leanest guy on the court, but don’t underestimate how simultaneously smooth and strong he is.
He’s an ideal fit for the Jazz. Joining the frontcourt of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, Diaw has a great combination of passing and shooting to bring a dynamic off the bench that Favors and Gobert can’t provide.
Neither can pass like Diaw can.
Stats? Videos? Analysis? And it’s not just about passing! Read it immediately. And then bask in the warming glow of Bobo. Diaw has all the tool to make a good team great. And while in a few preseason games he seems a little out of place, let’s try to focus on how the little bumps in the way right now will lead to a path of smooth play off the bench that confounds and takes advantage of other teams nightly.
Oh, the Boston Celtics want Gordon Hayward. That’s news still? Okay. Since we’re sharing obvious-isms right now, I want a time machine to 1998 so I can abduct Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen and feed them to dinosaurs. (You have to beat Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls to get the respect from beating them.)
But back to Gordon here, this shouldn’t be news. Somehow it became news thanks to an ESPN Insider article that listed a number of nice things, and a few insane ones.
Regrettable annual column: 30 random, crazy, and (some) not-so-crazy predictions for the NBA season: https://t.co/T3nVIHqEIR— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) October 12, 2016
Because it’s an Insider article, I think, here are some of the goodies:
- No lockout
- No one from the Golden State Warriors wins MVP
- Despite the injury to Gordon Hayward, the Jazz will win 50 games this year
- San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leondard is DPOY, again.
- Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies both miss the playoffs
- Giannis Antetokounmpo and Karl-Anthony Towns are first time All-Stars
- Utah Jazz extend Derrick Favors
- Utah Jazz extend Rudy Gobert
- Gordon Hayward still goes into Free Agency as a Free Agent, but re-signs with the Jazz.
There are many, many more predictions in the piece -- but that’s where we stop caring, right? Jazz Big Three will remain in Utah? That’s the story, right? Nope. It’s about Hayward and the Boston Celtics.
From Lowe’s piece:
Locking up Favors would also be a strong signal to Gordon Hayward ahead of his free agency: "We are serious about winning, so maybe stick around?"
. . .
There is probably more buzz surrounding Hayward's impending free agency than about Paul, Griffin, Kyle Lowry and other starrier names. Hayward is 26, in the meat of his prime, killing it at the thinnest position in the league. Utah waited for Charlotte to max him out last time around, and Hayward has a long memory. The Jazz have a ton of guys to pay, and if they down enough beers (just kidding, it's Utah!), they might convince themselves they have the wing depth to withstand Hayward bolting. His beloved college coach runs a rising team with an easy roadmap to max-cap space -- and real interest in Hayward, per several league sources.
Emphasis added by me there. Those throw-away lines is what the national media ran with. And why not? It’s not like Lowe continues on in the same bullet point:
But if Utah makes a leap, the smart money is on Hayward sticking. The Jazz can offer a winning young core, an extra fifth season and if the new CBA breaks right for them, a little more cash than home teams can dangle under the current deal.
I don’t know if Lowe can see in the future, but after 82 games it’s going to be clear that the Utah Jazz have a really bright one. One that Gordon Hayward built. That’s a level of prestige that’s different from JOINING a pre-existing club on the brink.
But what do I know? I thought the Jazz would beat the Suns last night.