Monday, January 27, 2014

Can the Bigs Keep Rolling?

  Tonight the Utah Jazz taking on the Ailing Sacramento Kings.  The Jazz are coming off a big win against The Washington Wizards Saturday Night.  The Jazz played with a lot of energy and closed out the game with the young core of Burke, Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter.  Enes Kanter and Alec Burks had big games for the Jazz. Kanter finished with 24 pts, 5 rebs, 2 asts and only 1 turnover.  Alec Finished with 15 pts, 3 rebs, 2 asts and no turnovers.  These are the kind of games that the Jazz need from these two players.  While Alec has been consistant for the last 2 months this was another bounce back game for Kanter. 

  The best part of this game was the fact that Kanter and Favors got some extended run together.  This is exactly what the Front office is needing to see from these to young players.  While it is a small sample size, the two seemed to work well together.  This morning on David Locke's Tip off podcast, there was the discussion of playing the 2 bigs together.  David brought up the point (which I have mentioned in the past as well) that if you are going to play 2 bigs together that one of them needs to be a good passer.  Exapmles of which could be, the Spurs, the Griz, the Pacers, the Blazers, all have very good passing bigs.  While this is something that still needs to be developed by Kanter and Favors I believe it is possible.

  Tonight will be interesting to see if the Jazz attempt to play the two of them together again.  The Kings may run two bigs with the likes of Aaron Gray, Jason Thompson, Quincy Acy and Carl Landry.  If the Kings deploy one of these front lines, look for the Jazz to give it a shot.  This is what we need to find out, for the future, if Kanter and Favors can play together.  Looks like the Jazz are on the way to finding out if that is possible.  GO JAZZ! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

MOTIVATION!....Derrick Favors snubbed by USA basketball

  Yesterday USA basketball announced their pool of players for this summers World Cup of Basketball and 2016 Summer Games.  The list has the usual suspects, but there was one name that was left off that I found very interesting, Derrick Favors.  The list looks like this...

Carmelo Anthony
Tyson Chandler
Stephen Curry
Anthony Davis
Kevin Durrant
James Harden
Dwight Howard
Andre Iguodala
Lebron James
Kevin Love
Chris Paul
Derrick Rose
Russel Westbrook
Deron Williams
LaMarcus Aldridge
Bradley Beal
DeMarcus Cousins
Andre Drummond
Kenneth Faried
Paul George
Blake Griffin
Gordon Hayward
Kyrie Irving
Kyle Korver
David Lee
Kawhi Leonard
Damian Lillard
Klay Thompson

  Taking a look at this list of players leaves me scratching my head a bit.  I know certain players like Kyle Korver are chosen for a specific purpose or skill they bring to the table.  But I think I have more questions than answers when it comes to the Favors snub.  Just looking at it, I would be happy to replace Cousins, Drummond, Faried with Favors.  Comparing Favors and Faried, Favs is shooting 52% to Faried 54%.  Favs is almost 2 rebounds more a game and a full block more.  Bur Faried got the nod.  DeMarcus Cousin, simply put is a bad teammate is put on this team.  I think if you look at the stats, Cousin are inflated due to the number of possessions the guy uses.  Drummond has had a great season, but he sure laid an egg going up against Favs last week.  Not sure if playing against a terrible eastern conference is helping his stats as well.

  I could sit here and pick a part this list and the player that I think Mr. Favors could and should easily replace, but I would be wasting my time.  So I am going to look at this from a glass half full perspective.  If the Derrick Favors that we have seen this season, is the guy who we think he is, this will motivate him.  He will feel that he has something to prove every time he goes up against another player on this list.  I believe it will fuel him to work on his craft and to become a better player.  I believe that he will be out to prove to himself and USA Basketball that they made MISTAKE!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Some things learned....

  The Utah Jazz fell hard again last night, losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves 112-97.  This one was hard to watch.  I fully expected the Jazz to come out with more intensity.  This was not the case.  The Jazz started the usual starters minus Derrick Favors who was out with a strained abductor. Enes Kanter was plugged in and was ineffective.

  Last nights game showed a couple of things.  First the value of Derrick Favors.  I think the Jazz should be extremely happy with the contract extension and the development of the young Mr. Favors.  He is a game changer in so many ways.  On defense, the other team is always conscious of where he is.  He may not block every shot in the paint but I guarantee you he effects every shot in the paint.  Offensively he demands a double team simply because of his size.  If he catches the ball deep in the post there are very few people in the league who are going to deter Favors.  Last night really shows how important Derrick is for the future of the Jazz.

  To go along with the Derrick Favors and his value to the Jazz, we need to take a close look at the value of a rim protector.  Rudy Gobert played 27 mins, went 4-5 from the field scoring 8 points, had 6 rebounds and 3 blocks.  The stats may look a little pedestrian but Rudy's effect on the game was not.  The Timberwolves were very conscious of where Rudy was at all times on the floor. At one point he made JJ Barea shot a runner earlier than he would like.  You could see that it was totally out of rhythm and was a floater a long way from the hoop (unfortunately some how it went in).  It was great to see Rudy get some extended run.

  Gordon Hayward did return to the lineup and played well.  No rust for Gordon.  He and Alec were really the only offensive bright spots for the team.  Hayward finished 10-17 from the field, 2-5 from 3pt for 27 pts.  Alec finished 6-14 from the field, 1-1 from 3pt for 18 pts.  The Jazz just did not get much else from anyone else offensively.

  One of the most frustrating parts of the game was the inconsistency in the calls by the officials.  I try not to bring the officials in to the game or anything that I write, but last night it could not be ignored.  So much so that even Coach Corbin made a comment or two about the way the game was officiated.  Looking at it, the Timberwolves shot 24 free-throws to the Jazz 12.  Its not very often that the home team is doubled up on the free-throw attempts.  Ty did mention early on that Minnesota was the aggressor, but I did not feel that it was that big of a discrepancy.  The Jazz also lost the rebound battle 42-41 and the turnover battle 9-14.  As far as the boards go, the Jazz did a much better job as a team in comparison to the previous game.  That was good to see.

  With the way this season has developed we can safely say that Trey Burke and Derrick Favors are the Jazz most important/valuable players.  This team flounders when missing one of these two players.  While I love Gordon and what he brings to the team, those things were filled by the other players on the team for the 2 weeks that Gordon was out.  If anything this may help the Jazz with their negotiations with Gordon this summer and will also help the front office decide how important he is to this team.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"A finesse game"

  So just came across a great piece on ESPN aka The Mothership, that I thought was so good that everyone should check it out.  Its an interview done with Kobe Bryant, and while I don't personally like him, I have to give credit to what he does on the court and the type of basketball player he is.  Check out the article here....

  He makes some great points about the direction of the league, the players today and defense!

Jazz looking for revenge tonight!

  The Utah Jazz are coming off a 3 game road trip, having gone 1-2 with a win in Detroit.  The first game of the trip, the Jazz took the Spurs to the wire, but ultimately came up short.  Game 2 of the trip, they dominated the Detroit Pistons.  This wasn't even a game.  Game 3 the roles were reversed.  As the Minnesota Timber Wolves had their way with the Jazz.  The Wolves front court of Pekovic and Love combined for 45 points and 27 rebounds.  The Jazz had no answer.  This was the second game of a back to back and I would have guessed the Jazz would have had more energy than they did, considering the outcome in Detroit.

  Tonight the Jazz are back in the comforts of the ESA and look to return the favor.  It will be interesting to see how the Jazz come out tonight.  Gordon Hayward did practice with the team yesterday but is a game time decision for tonight's game.

  Versus the Wolves, the Jazz lost the 3 key statistical categories.  They were out rebounded 60-42, free-throws 34 attempts to the Jazz 29 and turnovers 15-16.  You can't win games if you lose all 3 of these categories.

  The Wolves were the aggressor from the tip.  They got both Trey and Alec in early foul trouble and it was all down hill from there.  The level of play dips drastically when Trey is off the court.  When Alec has to go to the bench, the Jazz lose their best penetrator and creator.  Alec's December and January have been the best 2 months of his career.  He seems to be in a great rhythm and understands his role with the team.  The best part about Alec's play has been the consistency.  He has been able to string together good games and has been effective in other facets of the game beside scoring.  Alec was the only Jazz player in double figures versus the Wolves and that was after the foul trouble.  The Jazz will need that kind of effort again tonight especially if Hayward is a no-go.

  Look for the Jazz front court to take this game personally.  Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Marvin Williams overwhelmed by Love and Pekovic.  Prior to the game at Minnesota, both Favors and Kanter had been using a quick offensive move that was very effective for both players.  Kanter spoke of this change in the post game at San Antonio.  He mentioned that Andres Biedrins and mentioned to him that the Spurs were loading up on him when he caught the ball in the post and advised Kanter to go early.  Make a move on the catch.  I have noticed this being used by both young bigs since the Spurs game.  Look for both Kanter and Favors to make quick moves in the post, trying to catch Pek and Love off guard.

  Lastly,  I have to give credit to Ty Corbin and the staff.  Since Trey's return to the line up the Jazz, as a collective, have really developed.  Favors offense, Alec Burks progression, Kanter coming out of his slump all this plus the kind of effort the staff has been able to get from this team every night has been remarkable.  I can't remember the last time I watched a Jazz team compete and compete for a full 48 minutes regardless of score.  This young team is headed in the right direction.  I really feel, baring a major injury or trades, the Jazz will play .500 basketball from here on out.  With that being said, the piece the Jazz get in this summers draft, regardless of position may just be the piece to get this team back to the playoffs.  Its good to be a Jazz fan!


Monday, January 20, 2014

How much is too much?

  Been a while Jazz Fans, but I will say, I have not missed a game since the last post.  The Jazz are playing some really good basketball right now (minus Minnesota) and I have a tendency to believe the Jazz will play .500 basketball from here on out baring a major injury.  That leads me to believe the Jazz will fall somewhere between the 5th to the 8th pick in this summers draft.  Jazz Fans are going to need the ping pong balls to work in their favor if they want a top 3 pick!

  So that brings the thought, the Jazz will need to think very long an hard about keeping the assets they currently have.  Teams with a top 10 pick in this summers draft are not going to move that pick unless it returns them a star.

  So where does that leave the Jazz?  Looking at the roster the Jazz have at least one young player that could be a core player going forward.  Lets take a look....

At the Power Forward/Center positions the Jazz have Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Jeremy Evans, Rudy Gobert.  At the Small Forward/Shooting Guard positions the Jazz have Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks.  Point guard is clearly Trey Burke, Raul Neto....and the Jazz may bring back Diante Garrett.

  Of this list of young building blocks, only one is signed to a long term extension, that being Derrick Favors.  Favors was able to sign an extension this summer that will pay him over $11 million dollars a season for 4 years.  With Favors offensive improvement so far this season and his ability to be an anchor on the defensive end, make this a great deal for the Jazz.

  So now the question becomes, where do the rest of the puzzle pieces fit?  Of the young core is there any of them that should make more than the teams defensive corner stone?  In my opinion, I don't believe, at this point, there is a player on this roster that deserves to make more than Derrick Favors.  So let's try to put this puzzle together....

Gordon Hayward was unable to come to an agreement this summer.  The rumored number was $12 million plus.  The question you have to ask yourself is, is Gordon worth that kind of money?  Having had numerous discussions and countless references, I tend to think that number is a little high.  Market value says $8-$10 million a year.  There is also the very likely possibility that a team will offer him that $12 million plus that he is looking for, that brings the question of whether or not you match?  While Gordon is a very valuable piece to the puzzle, I think the last 5 games have shown that with or without Gordon the Jazz are capable of .500 ball.

  So that leaves us with Alec Burks and Enes Kanter next on the extension list.  I feel pretty confident in the market value for Alec Burks.  Whether starting or being that elite 6th man, Alec's market value falls in at $5.5 million a season.  His comps being Lou Williams and Jamal Crawford.  Both explosive offensive players and the type of player that every franchise want to have.  Enes Kanter is a different story.  Bigs simply get paid!  Kanter is a resource the Jazz have yet to fully tap and that may be to their favor.  But because of the lack of quality bigs, Kanter is going to get something in the range of $8-$11 million.

  That leaves the Jazz with Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert on rookie contracts for the next 3-4 season and rookie contracts are always favorable to an organization.

So quick recap....

Favors- $11.5..... DONE
Burks- $5.5.....?
Kanter- $10....?

              $26 million for those 3....add Hayward.....

Hayward- $12....$

              Puts the Jazz at $38 million for those 4 players.

This seasons salary cap is $58.69 million.  Personally I feel these are all reasonable numbers for each player according to market value.  It will be interesting to see the front office approach this summer with the contracts of Hayward, Burks and Kanter.  Not to mention the draft and all the possibilities there.  Not a better time to be a Jazz Fan.....PERIOD!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Expanded Look.....picks 7-32 2014 NBA Draft

 Back for part 2!  Here is a quick look for Jazz fans or NBA fans of some intriguing names to consider with these picks.  The purpose for the expanded look, the Jazz are winning!  They are winning more games than expected and the are hitting a soft stretch in the schedule through the month of January.  So I figure Jazz fans ought to be aware of some of the possible picks at the tail end of the lottery.  Lets take a look....

Noah Vonleh- 6'10" 242 lbs 7'4" wing span Freshman Center

  I have watched a couple of Indiana games and the one thing I noticed was how long they are.  If that is the only thing that stood out to me, that is exactly what the scouts are saying about Noah.  He has all the tools to be an absolute star, but is still trying to find himself.  He seems to be a quiet shy kid who likes to play basketball.  So far this season, he is averaging 12.3 pts 9.5 rebs 1stl 1blk a game.  His last game against Illinois he posted 16 pts 9 rebs 4 blks 2 stls and was 2-3 from 3.  You have to love his length and ability to defend multiple positions.  When this kid realizes how good he is, he should have a problem filling that expectation of star. 

Rodney Hood- 6'8" 201 lbs Sophomore Small Forward

  Batman has Robin....Jabari Parker has Rodney Hood.  Rodney Hood has been the perfect fit along side Duke's phenomenal freshman.  Hood is a "do it all" small forward.  He has a good handle, great athleticism, a solid shooting stroke.  But the thing that may be the most overlooked is his ability to defend.  He has the lateral quickness to guard most shooting guards and the size and strength to guard the small forwards.  On the season, Hood is averaging 17.2 pts 5 rebs 2 ast.  He has also had five 20+ point games this season.

Wayne Selden- 6'6" 223 lbs 6'10 wing span Freshman Shooting Guard

  Wayne Selden is another star freshman on the Kansas Jayhawk squad full of super freshman.  Selden is the most overlooked of the bunch, but according to Coach Self, has been the most impressive of the bunch in practice and the hardest worker.  Yeah its practice, so he needs to perform in real games.  Selden is a physical specimen for a freshman.  He is a man!  He has excellent athleticism and length.  He is a southpaw which does give him a bit of an advantage.  On the season, Selden is averaging 8.7 pts 2.9 rebs 2.3 ast.  Looking at Selden, his size athleticism and game, may be better suited for the pro game.  Strange hunch tells me he will be a better pro than college player.

  Looking at these 3 prospects Noah Vonleh has the most potential or highest ceiling.  If Vonleh does not fulfill that potential, Selden may then be the best prospect of the 3.  Picking an of these 3 will not hurt your team as all will be solid peices/NBA rotation players.  Stay tuned....Will highlight more prospect soon!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Jazz take on the Bucks tonight...who really wants to win?

  The 10-24 Utah Jazz take on the 7-24 Milwaukee Bucks.  The Jazz are coming of an 83-80 victory over the Charlotte Hornets Monday night at the ESA.  The Jazz got good performances from Trey Burke 21 pts, 5 rebs, Alec Burks 14 pts, 6 rebs 2 stl and Derrick Favors 13 pts, 4 rebs, 2 stl, 3 blks.  Derrick Favors was instrumental in holding Al Jefferson to a 8-23 from the field.  Favors always made it difficult for Big Al and limited him to getting to his spots.  Great individual defensive effort from Favors.

  Tonight the Jazz take on a Milwaukee team that is in the same position as the Jazz.  Both teams are developing young players with the hopes of a bright future.  Tonight's game may not be about who wins but more about who loses.

  There was a great discussion over the holiday about the Utah Jazz and the direction of the season.  The "meat" of the discussion is whether the Jazz should continue to play veterans Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson or start playing the "youth".  With the strides the Jazz seem to be making of late, playing the vets could be a costly decision for the franchise long-term.

  The Jazz have been just better than .500 the last 15 games or so.  That record was through a very difficult stretch in the Jazz schedule.  The Jazz have now hit a stretch in their schedule that is pretty soft and forgiving.  Through January the Jazz have only 4 road games, 9 games versus teams that are .500 or worse!  Looking at this month the Jazz very easily could go 7-5 or better.

  Now here is where the dilemma comes in.  Do you want the Jazz to be 2 games better than .500 through this stretch?  There is a number of Jazz fans that are happy with playing the vets and continuing on the path that the team and franchise is currently on.  If the Jazz finish the season with 30+ wins this season they are looking at no better than a #10 pick in this summers "Super draft".

  While this summers draft is consider to be the deepest draft since 2003 the 10 pick or worse may not provide the Jazz a "franchise changer".  Is it possible that that player could be?  Yes, but chance would be slim.  So moving forward, the Jazz can continue to play .500 or slightly better ball, play the vets, Kanter Gobert and Evans continue to get limited minutes, the team beats the sub .500 teams in the league (which thanks to the eastern conference is a lot) and end up with a #10 pick, a pick in the 20's and the one of the first few picks in the 2nd round.


  The Jazz can start now!  Develop Kanter, Evans and Gobert.  See what 5-man units are effective with the young players and which are not.  Look at the opportunities to improve in the areas that those units and players individually can develop and start building now.  The Jazz need to find out what these pieces they currently have can help them going forward.  The Jazz know what Marvin and Richard bring to the table, "They are who we thought they were".  If the Jazz still win with the young guys they have double their reward in all honesty.  They have had the chance to develop those pieces, they have an idea of what they can do and regardless of where the pick in the draft they have a better understand of the piece or pieces that they will need to bring this franchise back to relevance.

  Now I have my opinion and I have shared it in the past.  I am not a fence sitter, I believe that option 2 is the best option for this team to get back to relevance as quickly as possible.  Now that is not to say that the Jazz don't possibly have pieces now that can do that as well.  Derrick Favors improvement this is has been remarkable.  We all knew he could defend, but there was a lot of question about his offensive game and the lack of a so call "go to" move.  From what I have seen, I'm not worried about his offense.  The Jazz also have a point guard in Trey Burke that I feel is a budding star.  He has elite quickness, does not turn the ball over, has the long forgotten mid-range game and is not afraid of the big stage or big moment.  I also think the Jazz have one of the top 6th men in Alec Burks.  He fills a roll very similar to Jamal Crawford and Lou Williams.  The kid is a flat out scorer.

  I love this team, and have enjoyed watching them this season.  In a dream sequence I wish the draft was now and that the Jazz had secured a top 5 pick and then acquired Marvin and Jefferson.  Only in a perfect world right?  GO JAZZ!