Monday, December 30, 2013

Jazz fans might want to rethink their win projections....Jazz get another one!

  Wow, the Jazz tried to give that one a way!  Great game and great to see the Jazz close out games.  Something this team has not been able to do the last couple of seasons.  The Jazz beat the Bobcats 83-80.  Brings the Jazz record to 10-24 with the Jazz heading in to a soft portion of their schedule with 10 of 12 at home.  The Jazz are going to have a chance to tally some wins...depends on who you are if that is a good thing for the Jazz.  Lets recap.....

  • Hayward in foul trouble early, 4 minutes in the first quarter 2 fouls.
  • Richard Jefferson has been playing really well.  
  • Alec Burks had 6 pts in the first quarter.  He is a much need spark off the bench.
  • Game tied after the first at 21.
  • Kanter was passing the ball really well tonight.  Double comes and he is making the right pass.
  • Jazz offensive rebounding in the first half was great.
  • Team defense was great, active hands.
  • Jazz up 8 at the half.
  • While I don't agree with all the minutes going to Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams, both players are very good for this young team.  The leadership and game experience they bring has been huge in the wins.
  • Too bad Jefferson and Williams aren't/weren't here after this summers draft....
  • Jazz shot the 3 lights out thru 3 quarters.  Finished the night 8-21 38.1%
  • Marvin Williams was a monster on the boards, finished with 10 boards.
  • What is on Chris Douglas-Roberts head?
  • Alec Burks is a much better player with the starters, could be the additional weapons
  • Jazz really struggled the first 5 minutes of the 4th quarter.  Would like to see Trey be more assertive at times like that.
  • Coaching issues....Gordon had a mismatch with Ramon Sessions guarding him.  Jazz never went to him in the post.
  • 5 minutes left in the game, Trey hits a huge 3 and then follows it up with a big rebound on the defensive sequence....key plays.
  • Al Jefferson really wanted to beat the Jazz tonight.
  • Ty is clearly coaching to win.
  • Trey Burke made all the big plays down the stretch.  The 3, the rebound and the runner as the shot clock expired, kid has swag!
  • Gordon Hayward was scoreless in the second half, other than the 2 free-throws at the end.
  • Derrick Favors only had 4 boards but played great defense all night.  Changed shots in the paint and made Al work.
  Great win for the Jazz!  It was a fun game to watch and this team is really developing.  Interesting point tonight from Matt Harpring.  He made comments about the Bobcats and the number of lottery picks that they have had and the fact that the players they have picked are not "difference makers".  Kidd-Gilchrist and Zeller were two of the players that he named specifically.  He made the point that they were a #2 and #4 pick respectively and that Charlotte should have done more "due diligence".  I can't agree more.  Where ever the Jazz end up in the up coming draft, the Jazz will need to do their home work and find that piece that can take this team back to the playoffs and hopefully compete for a championship.  Nice win Jazz!

Welcome back "Big Al' the way, Kanter is going to "pump fake you all night!"

  Who can forget Enes Kanter's "love note" to Big Al last week!  That was classic!  To make it even better the Jazz got a nice road win in Charlotte.  The Jazz take on the Bobcats tonight at Energy Solutions Arena.  The way the Jazz have been playing, Charlotte will need to bring their A game to get a win.  That shouldn't be a problem for Al Jefferson, after coming off a 23 pts 24 reb game against Paul Milsap and the Atlanta Hawks.

  The Jazz are coming off a 98-90 loss to the Los Angels Clippers in L.A.  The Jazz played a great game and stood toe to toe with the Clippers.  Blake Griffin was a monster scoring 40 points and added 10 rebounds.  The Jazz did not have an answer for Griffin down the stretch as he scored at will and did what he has not been able to do in the past.....make free-throws 14-17 from the line.

  Possibly the biggest mistake of the night, for the Jazz, was being tied with give or take 3 minutes left and not playing the Hack-a-Jordan game.  The Clippers scored on three consecutive possessions and that sealed the deal for the Clips.  Recently, Ty and the staff have done a good job with game management and situationals, but they missed on this one.  On the positive side of things, Ty did a great job riding the hot hand, Enes Kanter and giving him some extended run.

  It was great to see Kanter get some confidence back and play with some toughness.  Kanter and Griffin battled all night in the post.  Each player trying to assert themselves and playing extremely physical.  Kanter finished the game 7-13 from the field for 17pts, 12 rebs and only 1 turnover.  That is a great game and good to see from Enes as he has struggle mightily as of late.

  Tonight's match-up will be equally fun to watch.  It will be interesting to see if Kanter can string together a few good games and build off the success and confidence he showed against the Clippers.  One thing I have notice about Kanter's game of late, he is shooting a really nice jump hook to the middle of the lane.  I would like to see him use this shot a little more than he currently is.  The shot is almost impossible to block and if the defender does try to block it, they generally will have to go through the body of Kanter.

  The match-up of the night, in my opinion, is going to be Trey Burke vs. Kemba Walker.  These players are very similar and equally matched.  Both have blazing speed and can create for their teammates as well as themselves.  Trey has been lights out with the mid-range game of late.  Look for him to use this to his advantage, as he has yet to learn how to score in the lane with contact or drawing fouls.

  Lastly Jazz fans, are the Jazz winning too much?  What do you think?  While I love seeing the development from this young team, I have had numerous conversations with the thought that the Jazz need to lose and secure the best draft position possible.  For example, watching Saturday's game versus the Clippers I found myself torn.  I really wanted the Jazz to beat the Clips because it was the Clips and the hype behind them.  Then again, I knew that it was better for the long term success for the Jazz to lose and continue to accumulate "ping pong balls" if you will.  So I guess for me, Saturday was a win win.....  As long as the Jazz are able to secure a top 5 pick in this summers draft I think I will be fine.  But if the Jazz are not careful and the way this team is developing currently, I would't put it past them to be in the 7-11 pick range.  Don't know if that is a good thing......but I will trust Dennis Lindsay and the front office that they have a plan.....GO JAZZ!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Picks 14-31 in the 2014 NBA Draft....Who do you want?

  The much anticipated 2014 NBA Draft is still months away.  Well for that matter, we aren't even in the year 2014 yet.  This draft has been all the talk of the NBA season for some teams, as well as the majority of College Basketball.

  I'm pretty sure we are all familiar with the names Parker, Wiggins, Randle.  As well as Embiid, Gordon, Smart and Exum. These players will be scrutinized and pick at till their name is called by Adam Silver on draft day.  It depends on who you talk to, as far as a consensus #1, thus why I am not going to get in to that debate now.  There is plenty of NBA and College season left to determine needs of teams, possible injuries and the unfortunate "tanking" of clubs in the NBA,

  So I thought it would be fun (specifically for Jazz fans, but pertains to all fans) to take a look at picks 14-31.  For the Utah Jazz, they will own 2 picks in this range.  The #14 pick is technically the final pick in the lottery and is currently owned by the Jazz thanks to the Golden State Warriors being outside the playoffs (lose W's lose)  The Jazz also have the 31st pick, which will be the first pick in the 2nd round.  I will try to highlight a few players every couple of weeks if possible.

  So without taking into account need, contracts, free-agency etc. let's look at some intriguing names.....

Doug McDermott- 6'7" 225 lbs Small Forward Senior
  McDermott had the opportunity this summer to play with the USA Select team.  The same team Favors and Hayward played with.  There were two names the USA brass said stood out, one being Gordon Hayward the other was Doug McDermott.  McDermott is an average athlete at best, but makes up for that with his unbelievable basketball IQ and effort.  McDermott is a good shooter and a good rebounder for his size.  McDermott may be the ideal pick in the 14-31 range.  Granted may not have the upside that some teams may look for, but you know what you are going to get and the kid will be a solid NBA rotation player.

Tyler Ennis- 6'2" 180 lbs 6' 5" wing span Point Guard Freshman

  Tyler Ennis is a player that seems to be climbing some draft boards.  He is a point guard with good size and great length.  His pace of play and game as a whole, remind me of a Deron Williams.  Ennis is not a superior athlete but a capable one.  Very craft with the ball, has a good stroke and is a willing passer.

Dario Saric- 6'10" 225 Small Forward

  Saric is a player that many thought last year could have been a top 5 pick in the draft.  Saric chose to pull out of the draft last minute as he could not secure a high enough pick for his liking.  This may have hurt Saric's value as he is now with such a highly touted draft class.  Which in turn will play in some teams favor that will be picking in the middle of the draft.  Saric is 19 yrs old with a good frame and a great all-around game. Currently in the Adriatic League, Saric is averaging 30 mins, 13.6 pts, 7.4 rebs and 2.5 assists a game.  May be a mistake to let this kid slip past you.....

  Other names to consider in this group include, Mitch McGary, Adriaen Payne, CJ Wilcox, Semaj Christon, Vasilje Micic, Markell Brown, Perry Ellis, Montrezl Harrell, Jordan Clarkson.

  They say that this is going to be the deepest draft we have seen in years.  I totally agree.  There are going to be a number of players that are going to be late first, early second rounders that are going to be good NBA pros.  This is the year that NBA execs need to do lots of homework as the will be able to find a guy that can help there team at almost any position in the draft.  The only thing that may weaken this draft is if players decide to go back to school.  As a Jazz fan, here's to hoping everyone declares!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Road Warrior Jazz take on the Hawks in the ATL tonight!

  The Utah Jazz are coming off another road win Wednesday night in Orlando.  It was a career night for Trey Burke as he finished with 30 pts, 7 rebs and 8 assists.  The Jazz look to keep the momentum going as they take on the "Jazz of the South" the 14-12 Atlanta Hawks.  The Hawks have 3 former Jazz players on their roster.  Kyle Korver, Paul Milsap and Demarre Carroll, so we have a bit of a Jazz reunion on our hands.

  Tonight's game has match-ups across the board.  Trey Burke vs Jeff Teague, Marvin Williams vs Paul Milsap, Derrick Favors vs Al Horford.  I will be interested in Burke vs Teague and Williams vs Milsap match-ups particularly.  Can Trey follow up with a solid outing after having career highs?  This match-up for Trey is a favorable match-up.  Both players are similar in size (Teague 6'2") as well as being extremely quick.  I think I would have to give Trey an advantage when it comes to shooting the ball.  Trey's mid-range game is really good and he is really developing that floater.  Teague shoots 40.6% from the field and seems to be more of a volume type scorer or shooter.

  The match-up of Williams vs Milsap will be very interesting.  There were a number of Jazz fans that felt if any player was coming back from last seasons roster, it was Milsap.  The Jazz chose to go a different direction.  Milsap has always been a player that goes out to prove a point.  He has done so against the likes of Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Carlos Boozer etc...Look for Paul to try to stick it to the Jazz.  I believe Marvin has the quickness to stay in front of Paul and take him off the dribble as well.  Look for Milsap to work the post game and see if he has an advantage on Marvin there.  I'm not so sure he does.  Marvin has done a pretty good job defending other teams power forwards in the post.  The only place that Milsap may get the best of Marvin would be on the boards.  I have notice that Williams has had to do a fair amount of "face guarding:" on the defensive boards.  That means that other guys (Hayward, Burke, Burks) will need to help on the boards and team rebound.

  Lastly, the Jazz need to watch out for Kyle Korver.  Korver is shooting 50% from the field and 51% from the 3!  Oh and he is still riding a 95 consecutive games with a 3 pointer made streak!  Longest streak in NBA history!  Korver is on fire and the Jazz will need to run him off that 3 point line forcing him to shoot the mid-range jumper.

  Tonight's game should be a fun one.  I have really enjoyed the development of the team, from the staff to players.  David Locke radio voice of the Utah Jazz, wrote a piece yesterday on the development of players and integration of Ipad's in coaching and being used on the bench.  If you have not checked it out, do! Its a great piece and you can see how it is benefiting the players as well as the coaches.  You can check it out at  GO JAZZ!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Trey Burke = Future All-star....

  Ok Jazz fans,  been a way for the last couple of games.  Sorry for that!  Its that time of the year holidays, work etc.....all busy.  So I will work harder to keep the content coming.

  Now lets talk about the future.  That future is Trey Burke.  Just on the simple "eye test" since returning to the lineup, this Jazz team is a completely different team.  Sure you could credit it to over all team health, a resurgent Alec Burks, a number of different things.  But I think the main reason for the Jazz recent success (that has many Jazz fans worried about draft position) is Trey Burke.

  There are players in the league that have that "it" factor or superstar presence.  As I watch these games, I sense that from Trey.  He has a swagger to him and his game.  He is not afraid of the big shot or the big moment.  He looks forward to the challenge of guarding teams great point guards, and he simply never backs down.  Monday night in Miami he struggled.  He struggled so much that Ty put him on the bench.  What I like about this, is the fact that Ty is learning, as is Trey.  Ty did not bench Trey for the rest of the second half.  He let the rookie sit down, collect himself, regroup and get back out on the court.  When this happens to players, the often come back out with bad body language and do not want to compete.  Not Trey.

  Fast forward to last night versus Orlando.  Trey Burke the #9 pick overall taking on Victor Oladipo #2 and media darling pick for rookie of the year right now.  Trey, clearly a gamer, comes out with something to prove and does so emphatically!  Trey plays 40:28 minutes, shoots 12-20 from the field, 4-8 from 3, finishes with 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 1 steal and 2 turnovers!  Oladipo finished 1-12 from the field, 3 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 turnovers.  Well played Mr.Burke.

  I know that Jazz fans don't feel like the team has a "go to guy" on this team right now and that we need to get "that guy" in this draft.  Don't get me wrong, I would love to have a top 5 pick in this years draft and feel that can pay dividends for years to come.  But I can't remember a single rookie in the last 10 years that has come in to the league and been the "go to guy".  Even Lebron James missed game winners and struggled some nights.  The more that I watch the Jazz this season, the more I believe that they may have one or two "go to guys" currently on the roster.  That is why I have been impressed with Ty and the staff of late.  They are doing a great job teaching and developing these young guys.  Time and development will equal Trey Burke, the All-star and possible superstar....


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jazz taking on new look Kings and Rudy Gay tonight...

  The Utah Jazz head to "Sac town" tonight for a battle with the Sacramento Kings.  This will be a different team than the Jazz lost to on Saturday.  The Kings pulled off a 7 player trade, acquiring the rights to Rudy Gay, Aaron Gray and Quincy Acy.  Gay and Acy seem the most likely to get minutes for the Kings tonight.  This has also opened up an opportunity for BYU product Jimmer Freddett to get some increased minutes.  Jimmer was a DNP for the Kings Saturday night versus the Jazz.

  In the first game against the Kings, the Jazz were without the likes of Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams.  That stretched the Jazz thin and the did not have the size to battle with Cousins and Thompson.  Derrick Favors is said to be a game time decision.  Hopefully Favors is ready to go.  He has been a huge factor for the Jazz prior to the back spasms.  Favors offense is really developing.  He and Trey seemed to be getting into a rhythm and were playing really well.  Derrick was also showing off a nice little "pick and pop" ten footer, and we know what he brings on the defensive end.

  The last 2 games I have been impressed with Enes Kanter and his offensive game.  He is not hesitating on his 17 footer and is causing the defender to pull out on him.  Versus Portland he hit a couple of back to back jumpers, causing Lopez to close out hard.  Kanter blew by him for a dunk.  Its good to see Enes has the "green light" to shoot that shot.  He is a capable shooter with good touch.  This will pay dividends when Favors gets back in the line up.  This will help to spread the defense out some.  I would like to Enes pull the trigger on a 3pt shot or two also.  Pretty sure he does not have the go-ahead on that one yet, but I see no reason not to.  That is ultimately what the organization would like to see him develop some, so there is no better time than now to start shooting that shot.

  The back court of Trey Burke and Alec Burks have been playing fantastic.  Alec is averaging 17.4 pts over the last 6 ball games.  He has really benefited from the return of Trey, as well as, understanding his role on the team.  Alec is getting his points by doing what he does best, attacking the basket.  When he attacks he has incredible hang time and body control in the paint, allowing him to convert numerous 3pt plays.  Trey Burke has been as steady as they get.  I am not sure we expected him to be this good this early in the season.  He is getting a great feel for the offense and his teammates and putting them in a position to be successful.  Trey is learning quickly and is not turning the ball over too much.  He is playing with in the context of the offense and is being aggressive when the opportunity presents itself.

  Tonight's match-up is going to be difficult for the Jazz.  They do have an advantage with the fact that Sacramento is trying to work in a new player.  This may cause some confusion on the offensive end for the Kings.  The Jazz will need to take full advantage of the Kings lack of familiarity.  This trade make the Kings a very explosive team offensively, thus requiring a great TEAM DEFENSIVE EFFORT.  Watch the effort in the first 8 minutes.  If the Jazz are not getting after it (defensive glass, 50/50 balls etc) its going to be hard to get a victory on the road.  Time to fight and show some toughness.....GO JAZZ!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Jazz vs Blazers 2.0....Same result Jazz fall 105-94.

  The Jazz could not put together a full 48 tonight.  Enes Kanter and Alec Burks had big games for the Jazz, but it was not enough.  Jazz fell to the Blazers 105-94.  The Jazz just didn't have enough in the tank.  Lets take a look....

  • Trey needed to be aggressive with Favors out.
  • Not sure if Gordon Hayward is the one the Jazz want initiating the offense.
  • Saw Ty do something with Kanter I have not seen him do all season, Kanter came out of the game late in the first quarter, instead of chewing him out and stomping around as Kanter went to the bench, Ty stopped Enes and took the time to teach and coach.
  • Jazz were tied at 22-22 at the end of the first.
  • Team rebounding for the Jazz was not good in the 2nd quarter.
  • Thomas Robinson is really a disappointing player. 3 teams and really no results.
  • Trey got the "rook" treatment from the officials in the 2nd. Driving to the basket, not getting any calls.
  • Slump is really affecting all facets of Hayward's game. He has not learned how to work himself out of it.
  • Jazz did not get any calls tonight. They were clearly the aggressors all night and did not get any calls.
  • Alec Burks has been killing it the last 6 games.  
  • Burks playing with all the heart for the team.
  • Burks played a lot of 1 on 5, was not getting any help from anyone else on the floor.  Portland started to collapse hard on him.
  • If the entire team played with the heart and effort that Mike Harris plays with, the Jazz would not lose many games.
  • Kanter had another good game offensively.  Still not where he needs to be on the boards.

  Couple of ideas from this game.  How long does Hayward's slump last?  Does this have any effect on what the Jazz decide to do long term with Gordon?  I think we can safely say that Gordon is not a number one option.  I find it interesting that Jazz continually run or initiate the offense through Gordon.  Trey Burke is the one guy on this team that seems to have that "it" factor.  I feel the Jazz should be running more offense through Trey.  When Favors is there I would like to see the Jazz play a little more inside out.  I think these are a couple philosophies that the Jazz should look at.  Couple guys had good nights, but for the Jazz to win it has to be a team effort.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Jazz take on the red hot Blazer tonight in Portland!

  The Utah Jazz travel to Portland, Oregon for a dance with the leagues hottest team the Portland Trailblazers.  The Jazz are coming of a battle with the Indiana Pacers Wednsday night at ESA.  They Jazz played a great game, but there is a reason the Pacers are currently the best team in the league.  They were able to get a few stops on the Jazz down the stretch and finish them off.  It was a great game for the Jazz Kanter had 20 pts 10 rebs and Derrick Favors finished with 22 pts and 13 rebs.  Tonight's match-up doesn't get any easier.  Lets take a look.....

Defensively-Tonight's defensive keys are 3 players, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Wes Mathews.  I feel tonight's game is a mater of not letting someone else beat you.  The way these 3 players are playing currently, you are not going to stop them.  All you can hope for is to play solid defense, make things uncomfortable and difficult for them.  The Jazz will need to make sure guys like Mo Williams or Nic Batum don't have big nights.  LaMarcus Aldridge is averaging 31 points and nearly 60% from the field in the 3 games this month.  Wes Matthews is leading the league in effective field goal percentage at 66%, Burks and Hayward will have their hands full with Matthews.  The match-up I will be interested in watching will be reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard vs Trey Burke.  This will be a fun one.  Trey Burke seems to be coming in to his own and seems to have an "IT" factor about him.  Lillard and Aldridge have been running the pick and roll to perfection this season.  The Jazz have struggled in the past defending the pick and roll, this will be a good test for them.

Offensively-As well as Lillard and Aldridge have been running the pick and roll, the Jazz have been have been having and equal amount of success with their pair of Burke and Favors.  Favors was fantastic versus the Pacers, going strong to the hoop when the defense dictated, but also doing a good job with a nice little 10ft pick and pop shot.  Derrick is really developing and its fun to see.  It will be interesting to see if Marvin Williams is a go for tonight.  Enes Kanter played really well starting versus the Pacers.  Granted they do run 2 bigs.  That could be the same match-up tonight for the Jazz, as Portland starts Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge.  It will be interesting to see what Ty's decision on that will be.  Gordon Hayward struggled from the field versus the Pacers.  Jazz will need a solid game from Gordon.  Look for Hayward to be aggressive early.  This seems to be a catalyst for Gordon to have a good game.  If the Jazz can win the three key stats (rebounds, Free-throws, turnovers) they will have a great shot at picking up their 2nd road win of the season.

  Looking forward to this one tonight.  I want to see the Blazers for myself.  I felt their schedule was fairly soft early on and then they went and beat Indiana and OKC back to back!  Maybe these guys are the real deal.  Lot of great match-ups across the board.  This definitely on that Jazz fans should tune in for....GO JAZZ!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Position, Greatness and how they got there....part 2 of building a championship

  In part 1 of building a championship we took a look at the importance of each position on an NBA team and gave it a hypothetical value.  The breakdown came out like this, (in order of importance) #1 Shooting Guard, #2 Power Forward, #3 Point Guard, #4 Small Forward, #5 Center.  Some simple conclusions were made, the point guard and small forward are almost interchangeable in terms of value and championship teams.  There has not been an NBA champion with a great center since Shaquille O'neal.  The value of a great shooting guard and power forward are unmatched.  These two are an absolute must if you want to win a championship.  Now lets take a look at a break down of each position and some of the players at each position that could be considered franchise changers or corner stones.

  • Point Guard-Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Kyrie Irving, Steph Curry, Rajon Rondo, Russel Westbrook, Tony Parker, Damian Lillard, John Wall
          The names on this list are the best of the best, the kind of point guard that you would want to start your franchise with.  There are only a handful of them that are considered "pure" point guards.  This position in the NBA has changed and developed into being a slashing, scoring position.  Almost a substitute for a good to great shooting guard.  There are two names on this list that have won NBA titles and both of those players played more of the "pure point" role, those being Tony Parker and Rajon Rondo.  While your team may need a point guard to grind out games and help your team tab wins, you will need a "pure point" to win you a title.  Now lets look at how these players got to their respective teams.  Eight of these players were drafted by their respective teams, two were acquired in trades.  The two that have the titles were drafted by the teams they won those titles with.  I think we can safely say that if you are looking for a building block, a team stabilizing force at the point guard position your best chance of getting one is going to be in the draft.  These players get drafted a by their teams and teams are reluctant to move them.
  • Shooting Guard-James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade
          We look at the short list of names on the list and can see why the shooting guard is the most important position.  Two of the three players on this list have won multiple NBA titles.  When Kobe won his titles, he was arguably the best player in the league.  He was a closer and a great defender.  Dwayne Wade was a tenacious defender, one of the best finishers in transition and had a knack for knocking down big shots.  James Harden is the only name on this list that has not won a title.  While Harden is a great offensive player, he is a terrible defender.  I mean pedestrian at best.  If he wants to join this group of elite talent he will need to improve his defense.  Now how did they get to their respective teams?  Kobe was a draft day trade to the Lakers, Wade was drafted by Miami and Harden was a trade.  While there seems to be many options for acquiring a superstar shooting guard, they are few and far between.  To me, it seems wise if you are building a franchise to compete for multiple titles you may want to do it in the draft.  The odds of these types of players do not come around very often.  So, however you go about getting a shooting guard you must be bold.

  • Small Forward-Luol Deng Paul George, Lebron James, Camelo Anthony, Kevin Durant
          This group has more names on this list and to be honest may be stretching a bit with the likes of Deng but the small forwards value is just not as necessary as the shooting guards.  There is only one name on the is list with a title, Lebron James.  He is the best player on the planet.  A transcendent talent.  We have never seen anyone like him and likely never will again.  There are two other names on this list that could be put in the argument for best player behind James.  Kevin Durant and Paul George.  Both of these players have unbelievable talent and length.  George is a great defender and Durant is an underrated defender.  Three of these players were drafted by their respective teams. One was a free agent and the other a trade.  Small Forward while valuable can be found numerous ways and team can actually do with a serviceable "3&D" type small forward.

  • Power Forward-LaMarcus Aldridge, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, Kevin Love, Tim Duncan
          Again the value of the power forward speaks for itself.  Three out of the five players on the list are NBA champions.  The way LaMarcus Aldridge and the Portland Trailblazers are playing early this season could put themselves in a position to make it four of five.  You have to have a big that can play with his back to the basket, can clean up on the boards and is a capable defender.  The one question I have is Kevin Love.  He does kill it on two of the three requirements but his defense is lacking.  For Love and Wolves to take the next step he needs to be a better defender.  Every name on this list, with the exception of Chris Bosh was drafted by their respective teams.  If your team has the chance to secure a star power forward in the draft, it is a must.  You are not going to see teams let these players get away.  You have to have em!

  • Center-Dwight Howard, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol, Tyson Chandler, Anthony Davis   
          This list is an eclectic one.  Many different types of players.  Back to the basket guys, defenders, fundamentally skilled players, athletes.  The one thing that all of these names have in common is defense.  By the end of the season, I'm guessing all of these players with the exception of  Anthony Davis will have won a Defensive Player of the Year Award.  That is clearly the prerequisite for this position, they have to be able to defend and be a rim protector.  There is only one name on this list with an NBA title, Tyson Chandler.  Funny how much the game has changed in the last 10-15 years.  Teams had to have a big physical presence in the middle and it was the most valuable position to have.  Not any more.....  Three of these players were drafted by their current team.  The other two were free agents.  It shows again that you can get by with a serviceable defender and you can get them in a variety of ways.

  This has been very interesting to go through these names and positions and see how these NBA champions are built.  While this doesn't go in to great detail and is not a sure fire formula for a championship, I think it gives some pretty good insight into what it takes to build that team and get there.  At this point I think I will turn my attention to this summers draft and see who and what players may be able to fill these valuable positions to building an NBA champion!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Battered and beaten, Jazz battle but fall to the Pacers....

  The Jazz took jab after jab from the Pacers and were right there before being knocked out down the stretch 95-86.  This was a hard one to watch.  Jazz played really well the entire game and wanted to see them pull it out, but knowing a loss in the long run is probably better for the team.  This was a "best of both worlds" game for the Jazz.  Hopefully they were able to learn a bit from the Pacers, how to be a gritty hard nosed team.  Lets recap.....

  • The Jazz defense and execution early was fantastic!
  • Jazz had a number of deflections in the first half.  Very active in the passing lanes.
  • Ty called a time out at the 2:19 mark in the first, Jazz were up 5 at the time but were slipping.  Well called timeout, gave the guys a quick breather.
  • Jazz win the first quarter 23-17
  • Brandon Rush checked in during the 2nd quarter, hit his first jumper from the elbow.  Good for his confidence.
  • Team rebounding in the first half was really good.
  • Lance Stephenson has really improved, but is still throwing up garbage that is going in???
  • Rudy Gobert got some run in the 2nd and there was some definite rust.  Paired with Kanter and looked a little bit lost.
  • Alec Burks had a really good first half, and a strong game over all.
  • This play stood out....Jazz on defense, 5 minute mark of the 2nd quarter, ball is above the 3 pt line on the left side, Jazz over play defensively not allowing Stephenson to go right.  Tries to go right 3 times stopped every time, completely disrupts Indiana offense.  The end up with a forced shot and miss.  Fantastic team defense.
  • Jazz close out the 2nd quarter rough...lead at half 48-47.
  • Jazz transition offense made all the difference in the world.  Indiana is not good in transition.  Bigs don't get up and down the floor well.
  • 3rd quarter the Jazz looked tired, but continued to battle.
  • All the minutes that Richard Jefferson logged early in the season have taken their toll, he just doesn't have any legs right now.
  • Kanter played the way he is expected to.  Had a really good game, finished with 20 pts 10 rebs.
  • Derrick Favors is going to be a steal at 11 million a year.  His development is really taking off.  Played like a MAN tonight.
  • Favors got "jobbed" on his 4th and 5th foul calls.  He clearly blocked Hibbert under the basket got called for his 4th.  The 5th was a box out on Hibbert, should have been a no call.
All together there are a lot of positives to be take from this game. The Jazz took everything the Pacers had and gave some back to them, they played tough.  Two things came to mind as I was watching this game, one: the talent disparity is not as bad as many Jazz fans think.  I think the first of the season not having a legit point guard made the talent that this team does have look really bad.  Now with Trey back its almost a completely different team.  If you look at the numbers for all the players and the efficiency numbers, they have increased remarkably.  Two, the Jazz may win a lot more games than people think or may want. The Eastern Conference is so bad. Luckily, the Jazz play in the west and will have to battle the majority of the season.  If they were in the Eastern Conference, I would say the Jazz are making the playoffs.  Jazz are back at it Friday night in Portland.  Not getting any easier...

Jazz look to keep PACE tonight at ESA...

  The Utah Jazz take on the leagues best team, the Indiana Pacers tonight at Energy Solutions Arena.  Jazz are riding an unexpected 2 game winning streak and the Pacers are coming of a loss to the hottest team in the league the Portland Trailblazers.  Tonight's game is going to test the young Jazz toughness.  They will have to come prepared to battle this team all night.  The match-up of the night will be early MVP canidate Paul George versus Gordon Hayward.  In the off-season, Jazz fans were upset with the Pacers for signing Paul George to a max deal.  To be honest, I thought that deal was a mistake and felt like it hurt the Jazz opportunity to resign Hayward.  Now we can see why Indiana paid George what they did.  Lets take a look at tonight's match-up.....

Defensively- The Jazz defense the last 2 games has been better.  They seem to have made a philosophy change and seem to be switching everything on defense for the most part.  It seems to be working.  This will be a different test for the Jazz tonight.  Indiana is an "old school" hard nosed team that plays inside out.  The offense will start in the paint with Roy Hibbert and David West.  I think Favors matches up favorably to Hibbert, should be able to play position defense and bother some of his shots.  Favors will have to do his work early and push Hibbert off the block as best as he can.  David West has always been a Jazz killer.  He always torched both Boozer and Milsap.  Tonight match-up plays in his favor.  Marvin does not have the size or strength to battle West.  The Jazz will have to double hard on West.  Look for whoever is guarding Lance Stephenson to be the double man.  Stephenson is not a good shooter and he is the guy that you would want to leave open.  For the Jazz to have a chance, they will need to bring their "hard hats" tonight.

Offensively- I think the only advantage the Jazz may have here is in transition.  They will need to run to be successful tonight.  And that means our bigs need to beat their bigs down the floor.  While West may have the advantage on Marvin, he still has to guard Marvin outside.  Marvin will help spread the floor and can also beat West off the dribble.  Trey Burke will be challenged offensively as he is going up against a bigger solid defender in George Hill.  Look for Trey to put Hibbert and Hill in the pick and roll and use his speed.  I am not sure that Hibbert can defend in the pick and roll, so Indiana may switch a lot, which may cause some confusion and breakdowns.  The Jazz can take advantage of this by making good off ball cuts and motion.  Gordon looked like he came out of his shooting slump a bit last game.  He was extremely effective early, being aggressive and putting the pressure on Harden.  Paul George is a different story.  He is an elite defender and is very long.  I think Gordon will come out feeling like he has something to prove.  This is a bit of a "double edged sword".  Gordon will need to play within the context of the offense as he did against the Rockets.  If he presses and tries to do too much, he will end up turning the ball over.

  Tonight's game will show what kind of toughness and fight the Jazz have gained over the last week or so.  I have been pleased with the progress of both the team and the staff.  They both have made strides in areas they were suffering previously.  Ty is making some good time out decision and substitutions have been solid.  The Jazz have also shown more fight and toughness, not backing down from anyone.  I have also enjoyed the poise this team has developed over this 2 game win streak.  Both games had a chance to go either way and the Jazz were able to execute and not get lost in the moment.  Development!  That's what its all about.....GO JAZZ!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Jazz may have found their leader....

  What a game!  The Jazz beat the Rockets 109-103 tonight at Energy Solutions Arena.  If you weren't at the game or didn't get a chance to catch the broadcast, you really missed out.  This was a total team effort across the board, both offensively and defensively.  Hopefully this recap will do it some justice....

  • Dwight Howard is overrated.  The Jazz doubled and really didn't need to.
  • The Jazz offense was really good.  Ball movement and player movement was excellent.
  • Jazz did a good job running the Rockets off the 3 point line....
  • James Harden is a great OFFENSIVE player.  Plays Jimmer-esq defense.  No wonder Houston sold out to get Howard.
  • Trey Burke was killing Houston on the pick and roll
  • GORDON HAYWARD....welcome back!  He was aggressive the entire game, but did so in the context of the offense.  Did not force too many shots.
  • Jazz won the first quarter 36-23, and lead at the half by 5.
  • 2nd quarter and the 2nd unit struggled....looked a little lost.
  • Houston plays no defense.  
  • I could not figure out why the Jazz don't force "lefties" to the right.  Harden goes left as much as Tyreke Evans goes right.
  • Finally, the end of the 2nd quarter Alec Burks forced Harden right twice.  Harden did not handle that well.
  • Richard Jefferson had nothing in the tank tonight.  Heavy minutes early may be taking a toll on the vet.
  • Alec Burks played a great game.  Also played within the context of the offense and the team.  Made some really nice passes and plays down the stretch.
  • Team rebounding was decent in the first half, Jazz struggled on the boards in the 3rd.
  • Harden gets away with a lot of travels.  Always takes 3 steps.  Also, a habitual flopper, especially on offense.  Dude really sells it.  Wish someone would show him what a "real" foul is.
  • Jazz's "help the helper" was really good tonight.  Rotations solid, only missed on a couple of plays.
  • Jazz were up by 2 with 4:40 left in the game.  Ty called timeout.  I felt this was a good timeout.  Jazz come out of the timeout, execute well and end up with a good shot, a Favors offensive rebound and sent to the line.  Best part, he knocked down both free-throws.
  • Trey Burke loves to close games out.  He is not afraid of the big shot or big moment.
  • Marvin Williams sealed the deal with a steal for a dunk putting the Jazz up five, then knocking down a 3 pointer the next possession putting the Jazz up 8.

  This was a fantastic game.  They Jazz played the full 48 minutes and did not let the moment get to them.  This game is one example where the Jazz did not win the "big 3" categories (rebounds, free-throws, turnovers) but were close enough to give themselves a shot to win.  The difference really was the defense.  The Jazz shot 54.4% from the field compared to the Rockets 48.2%.  They also bested the Rockets from the 3 point line shooting 58.8% to Houston 32.1%.  The Jazz made life difficult for the Rockets on the offensive end.  Yeah James Harden had 37 pts, but the Rockets didn't get much else from anyone else. 

 Watching this game made me really think about the importance of defense.  The Rockets have all the offensive firepower in the world.  That being said, they couldn't stop the Washington Generals from scoring on them.  I am not sure that kind of basketball is going to get you deep in the playoffs.  The game really slows down in the playoffs and I am not sure that Houston has the horses to be a defensive ball club.  They have two players on their entire roster that can play any D, Dwight Howard and Patrick Beverly.  Not sure where this Rockets team goes from here.  

  What I do know, the Jazz are ballin' and Trey Burke is a major reason why.  Toughness, grit, effort, leadership, all qualities that this young rookie is showing and will just get better.  Jazz fans, I think we found our leader!

Jazz look to ground Rockets tonight!

  The Utah Jazz come in to tonight's game feeling good after securing their first road win of the season.  Time to temper your excitement, the Houston Rockets are in town and they are riding a 6 game winning streak!  The Rockets are hot and will be a difficult match-up for the Jazz.  The Rockets come in averaging 111.6 pts a game, 51.2% from the field and 44.1% from three, with a league leading True Shooting percentage of 59.4%.  This will be a huge test for the Jazz team defense and defensive rebounding, as the Rockets are 2nd in the league in offensive rebounding.  Lets take a look at tonight's match-up....

Defensively- Number one, is going to be the defensive glass.  This is not something that should be left to the Jazz bigs.  This will need to be a team effort.  Trey Burke has been really good on the boards, considering size and position.  Again, goes to show rebounding is about effort.  If the Jazz are getting beat on the boards early, it could be a long night. If you look at Houston's road shot chart,, they shoot two shots, the 3 or in the paint.  This team does not take any long twos, and they don't take that many corner threes. They actually have more makes from the 3 from the wings and the top of the key than they do attempts on the corner 3.  The Jazz wings must run the Rockets shooters off the 3 point line and the big's will need to stay home and clog the lane.  Easier said than done....The majority of Houston's offense comes out of the draw and kick.  They will run some pick and roll with Harden and Howard.  The Jazz bigs don't need to worry about the pick an pop game with Houston as they don't really have player that is capable or consistent enough to cause problems.  Houston is full of shooters, this one will be tough for the Jazz, although the first match-up of the season the Jazz dominated the first half and were right there in the 3rd quarter, Jazz will be looking for redemption.

Offensively- Trey Burke is really emerging as a leader and good point guard on this Jazz team.  I think the offense will go as Trey goes.  He has been playing really well the last 3 games.  He is not afraid of the big moment and is showing some toughness that the Jazz had been lacking.  I also feel that the offense is transitioning a bit with the bigs getting more post-ups and shots in the paint.  This could be do to the fact that Hayward is still struggling mightily with his shot.  I think this is a good strategy for now and the future.  Teams have to double Favors and Kanter and that is creating open shots for Marvin, Jefferson and Hayward.  Houston will be a little different as they can match-up Howard with Favors/Kanter.  Houston has been starting Terrence Jones at the power forward, so the Jazz could have an advantage there if the run 2 bigs.  Also Marvin is quicker than Jones and should be able to get to the basket.  Against Phoenix, I felt Ty did a great job with his rotations and situationals.  There will need to be more of that tonight from the staff.

  Jazz will need to win the 3 critical categories (free-throws, rebounds, turnovers) if they want to give themselves a shot at their first 2 game winning streak.  Effort and toughness are a must for tonight.  Bring it.....GO JAZZ!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Holiday weekend recap, Jazz Style....

  Thanksgiving is now in the books and Jazz fans can be thankful for another win in the books.  That came last night in Phoenix as the Jazz beat the Suns 112-104.  This was the second game of a home and home with the Suns.  The night before, the Jazz looked like a team that couldn't defend, shoot or even show up.
This was a totally different team Saturday night.

  The Jazz played with a purpose, they played with toughness and a knowledge that they could get a win if they just executed.  Ty and the staff did a great job with adjustments from the night before and also in game.  Friday night the Jazz were killed in the pick and roll, Saturday was a different story.  The Jazz rotations were solid, there was a "help the helper" mentality and the Jazz were active.

  On Offense, the Jazz tried to dictate the situation as well.  Friday night, having clear size mismatches versus Phoenix guard line, the Jazz failed to get Gordon or Jefferson in the post.  Tonight the Jazz put both players in the post and made Bledsoe and Dragic defend the bigger, stronger Jazz.  It caused some foul trouble for Bledsoe specifically.  The Jazz also had the advantage in the post with their bigs.  They did a much better job of getting looks for both Favors and Kanter in the post.  Favors finished 5-7 from the field 14 pts, 8 rebs, 1 stl, 1 blk.  Kanter only logged 14 mins but finished 3-6 from the field 8 pts 4 rebs.

  The Jazz had some solid contributions off the bench, as well.  Jeremy Evans 12 pts, 3 rebs, 1 ast, 1stl.  Alec Burks had a good game with  5-9 from the field 13 pts, 3 rebs, 5 ast.  These two brought energy to the floor and were effective.  So much so that Ty closed out the game with Alec in the line.  Alec's size and length made it possible for the Jazz to move Trey Burke to the smaller Bledsoe.  Diante Garret also had a similar effect with his long reach.  He was able to deflect a number of passes and made life a little more difficult than John Lucas did the night before.

  There are 3 stats that I always look at that I feel are a great indicator of a win or a loss.  Those being, rebounds, free-throws, and turnovers.  The Jazz won two of the three categories.  Rebounds 39-35 Jazz, free-throws 25-29 86.2% Jazz, 18-25 72.0% Suns, turnovers 14-13 Suns.  I think that these 3 categories show a direct link to effort, execution and concentration.  Rebounds are all effort, turnovers are both execution and concentration and free-throws are clearly concentration.  Its rare that if you win two of the three categories, that you don't give yourself a great chance to with game.

  The talk of the night had to be rookie Trey Burke.  Burke finished 6-15 from the field, 4-6 from three, 20 pts, 6 rebs, 3 ast and 2 stls.  The stat line looks great, but it was Trey's toughness and his will down the stretch.  There was a point in the 3rd quarter, Trey was battling with Dragic for a rebound, Dragic clearly trying to give the "rook" the business, and Trey wasn't buying.  They both went to the ground and were called for a double foul.  Love the effort he had specifically on that play.  The second was the finish, in the last 3:30 of the game Trey hits 2 clutch threes!  Now I know its only one game, and we need to see Trey do that on a consistent basis.  But if the last couple of games are any indicator of the potential of Burke, the Jazz point guard of the future is going to be just fine.

  This is a bit of a tough one if you are the Jazz fan looking for the best draft position.  Losses are a good thing this season.  But it is nice to see the Jazz progress and improve from one night to the other.  I have to say that I was impressed with Ty and the staff's adjustments.  They did a good job dissecting the game film from the night before and putting these guys in a position to succeed.  That is the kind of improvement that we need to see from both the staff and the players.  The good news is Milwaukee Bucks won last night also!  The one negative, it helped Golden State out having Phoenix loss.  But a wins a win!  I will take it!