27. Jazz (43-39). Trey Burke, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter could be part of a good team in a few years, but this season they will learn some hard lessons. Burke is going to be a lot of people’s call for Rookie of the Year.
That's a franchise player anyway. Doubt anyone has Burke as ROTY anymore. No mention of G their most proven player.
This is one of the toughest schedules I have seen. The youngsters are going to be tested early and often. The back to backs are brutal. The travel at times is horrendous and there are numerous serious tests on the schedule.
Start at the beginning. The Jazz open with OKC before playing their first road game against a poor Phoenix team and Jeff Hornacek. However, the Jazz play Friday the 1st in Phoenix and the next night at home v. Houston before flying East for a 4 games in 5 night stretch that includes Brooklyn and Chicago.
After that dip into the fire the Jazz schedule evens out for the Jazz. However, the next stretch is one of the toughest I have seen.
The Jazz play the 11th of December in Sacramento then go to Denver for one game before returning home for a back to back with San Antonio before leaving the next day to go East for 9 days. Jazz will have one night at home from Jan Dec 10th to Dec 24th and it will be a game day. Players and staff will not have dinner at home from Dec 8th to Christmas Eve.
January is pleasant with only two back to backs and 8 of the 13 games at home.
February is equally as soft as January in regards to home and road, 7 home games and 5 road but the back to backs are brutal. In Dallas with a game the next night at home v. Miami, In LA with a home game the next day v Philadelphia all in a span of 6 days. Add on an at Portland with Minnesota home the next day.
When February closes the Jazz get hit with a scheduling 2 by 4. They go on a 6 game 9 day road trip that spans Cleveland, Indiana, Milwaukee, Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
Then comes “the have these guys grown” stretch. The Jazz play the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies in a 4 games stretch from the 14th of March to the 19th of March. That will tell us if they have improved at all because all of those teams will be battling for home court in the West.
I have said this season will be interesting to watch how the young players deal with adversity. The three biggest tests will be
1 – Opening 4 games in 5 nights road trip that includes going through customs on the final night.
2 – Late Jan and Feb has home games to be won can they gain momentum - Minnesota, Washington, Sacramento, Toronto, Philadelphia, Boston and Phoenix.
3 – The aforementioned murder’s row in March. First is the Clippers, Spurs, Rockets and Grizzlies combination and then it is followed by Memphis, New Orleans, OKC, New York and Portland.
What a start- OKC on opening night and then Houston with Dwight Howard making his first appearance on Saturday night. Hello season. The two favorites to win the West in the opening two games of the season. Heck, the entire opening month of November is a rundown of the best in the West, Denver, New Orleans, San Antonio and Golden State make up the next 4 games and with the off-season moves they all made that could be 6 playoff teams in the opening 6 home games. It doesn’t slow down after that, Derrick Rose makes his first appearance in over a year in SLC and the final home game of November is Jeff Hornacek’s return. Is it possible every game in November is a must see?
Will Jazz fans see Kobe Bryant coming back from his Achilles? The first trip from the Lakers is Dec 27th and the 2nd game is April 14th the final home game of the year. Seems fair to anticipate that Kobe could be ready for both of those games.
Lots of reunions, Jeff Hornacek returns as a head coach on November 29th, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Kyle Korver make their only visit on March 10th, Al Jefferson and Charlotte stop by on Dec 30th, Deron Williams plays the first game after the all-star break in SLC on Feb 19th and Carlos Boozer and Chicago comes into town on November 25th .
LOCKE TICKET PACKAGES
One game a month that is all I have time for
OKC in the opener in October, Derrick Rose is back on the floor when Chicago comes on November 25th, December 14th the Spurs are in town and it is worth seeing in person, if you haven’t seen Ricky Rubio then my January choice is Minnesota on Jan 21st. February is easy, the Heat are in town the 8th of Feb, in March as terrific as Chris Paul is to see in person the Hawks have every Jazz fans favorite players so see Millsap, DeMarre and Kyle on March 10th and in April the Blazers and Damian Lillard are in town on the 11th.
5 games I have to see package
OKC in the opener again, the first night with the jumbotron and Kevin Durant
Nov 18th v. Golden State – the addition of Iguodala and watching Steph Curry in person is awesome
Feb 8th – LeBron and the World Champion Heat – what else needs to be said
March 14th – Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and the Clippers
April 14th – Lakers and Kobe – How many more times can we see Kobe and I don’t care what state the Lakers are in beating the Lakers is always awesome
The first three road games the Jazz play are all against NBA rookie head coaches, Phoenix, Brooklyn and Boston.
Of the Jazz 4 road games in LA (2 Clippers and 2 Lakers) all of them are a part of a back to back, with 3 of them have the road game on the back end of the back to back and one where Jazz play the Lakers and the next night are home against Philadelphia.
Jazz have lots of games against the same opponent without much time in between. They play Phoenix and Minnesota in back to backs. They play the Kings twice in 5 days. They play the Lakers, Pelicans and Grizzlies twice in a week, and Golden State twice in 9 days. I will keep a close eye on how are guys do in these games where teams scouting will be extra sharp. Will be interesting to see how our players adjust.
Free agent Anthony Tolliver told me Lakers have entered mix as possible team for him & he visited Charlotte Monday. Tolliver said the Lakers recently called his agent, Larry Fox, to express interest. He said talks are still preliminary but he would have definite interest if the Lakers turn out to be a serious option. “Obviously, to have a chance to play for a franchise like that, you’d have to think long and hard about that,’’ the forward told FOX Sports Florida. Sulia
While he waits to learn more about the Lakers' situation, other teams on Tolliver’s list are Charlotte, Utah and Chicago. Tolliver said the Bobcats have made a contract offer (for the minimum) and he visited Charlotte last Monday. Sulia
"John’s been around the pro game all of his life because of his dad," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said."And he’s had to fight and claw for everything he’s gotten. He’s a smart player, he’s a great worker, I think it’s the perfect fit for him."
Lucas was a safe choice for the Jazz, in as much as he won’t threaten Burke or expect to be the point guard for the long-term. But the Jazz believe they have more than a capable stop-gap and more than a positive locker room influence.
The sad part is based on what we saw from Burke in Summer League is he may be forced into a larger role than just a back-up/mentor.
To understand what John Harding Lucas III has to offer the Jazz an observer would have to go back more a decade.
To the haircut he didn’t want to get.
Changed by tragedy
It was 2003 and Lucas was freshly arrived in Stillwater, Okla., a refugee from a Baylor program shattered by the shooting of player Patrick Dennehy and the subsequent arrest of forward Carlton Dotson for his murder.
Dennehy had transferred to Baylor from New Mexico that summer, and spent time training with Lucas and his father in Houston.
"I still think about Pat Dennehy and Carlton Dotson to this day," Lucas said.
The murder led to an NCAA investigation that revealed numerous violations, and Lucas was one of four players who opted to transfer from the program without sitting out a season. Which is how he found himself at Oklahoma State in a face-off with Eddie Sutton. Lucas describes himself as "still kind of wild." He wore his hair in braids.
Lucas remembers Sutton telling him, "We want you here, but you got to do one thing: You got to cut your hair."
"It didn’t really hit me," Lucas said. "Iverson, everybody got braids. What are you talking about?"
This turned out to be a critical time for Lucas. He led Oklahoma State to the 2004 Final Four, hitting the game-winning shot in the Elite Eight to beat St. Joseph’s.
Asked how the tragedy and transfer impacted Lucas, former Oklahoma State coach Sutton said, "I didn’t give him the fifth degree asking him about it. He just epitomized what everybody looked for in a student athlete."
However, he considered for a moment more and added, "No way it couldn’t affect you some way."
While Jazz fans may be quick to look at Lucas’ numbers to support an argument that the Jazz should have made a bolder move at point guard, the number for which Lucas will always be known is the one behind his name.
He was the perfect move for a team obviously tanking. He's the clearest example of their intent.
The first John Lucas, now 93, was an important Civil Rights figure in North Carolina and sits on the board of the National Educators Association. The second was a basketball star who overcame a cocaine addiction to become a coach and personal adviser.
"I take pride in my name," Lucas said, "because I’m also named after my grandfather. I never want to do anything to let him or my father down."
That discounts, of course, the time LeBron James dunked over him. It was January 2012, and Lucas, then with the Bulls, was providing baseline help when James took a lob and went up and over the 5-foot-11 point guard.
"Our family just joined the witness protection program and changed its name," Lucas II quipped to the Chicago Tribune.
Lucas now jokes about the play, and it catapulted him to a certain level of fame, leading, he said, to being a verified member of Twitter.
"Every time I see him I’m like, ‘Thanks for the check,’" Lucas said, "‘the blue check next to my name.’"
With verification in hand, Lucas is still looking for validation. He backed up his strong two seasons in Chicago with a nondescript year in Toronto, averaging 5.3 points in 13.1 minutes per game.
Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey had a bigger pool of information from which to draw, however. He knew Lucas since he was a child, and Lindsey worked for the Houston Rockets. Lucas II ran the tennis club where the Rockets practiced, and Lindsey became acquainted with his sons.
And that’s part of the undeniable truth about John Lucas III, which is no different from any story about a son following his father’s footsteps into business. For all that Lucas III overcame on his own and accomplished through his own hard work and dedication, it was on a trail previously blazed by the men in his family.
"It was a gift and a curse, too," Lucas said, "because people would be like, ‘He’s just there because his dad was in the NBA.’ But it’s not like that. I knew a lot of coaches’ kids and players’ kids who don’t have that shot."
Lucas is known for being a fearless shooter, even to a fault. But that doesn’t necessarily equate to being selfish.
"I know in Chicago all his teammates loved him," Thibodeau said. "I think his confidence comes from his work."
And that is Lucas’ defining characteristic.
"At the end of the day," he said, "I want people to know I worked hard. My dad didn’t pull any strings for me. He never did, he never would."
"It made me feel so good that there's a team out there that has so much belief in my game," Jefferson says of his dinner with Higgins and Clifford. "I was like, 'Done deal.' And then when they started talking money, it was like, 'Oh my god!' It was icing on the cake."5 Grantland
"They used to call me The Black Hole, and that's really who I was," Jefferson says. "But going to Utah just matured me in so many ways. I'm past the stage in my career where I feel like I have to take all the shots." Grantland
Good luck to Al and the Bobcats with that. Pretty sure they'll need it.
No team has had a more interesting offseason than the Utah Jazz.
General manager Dennis Lindsey passed on re-signing four starters, traded up to the No. 9 pick in June's draft, acquired three veterans who rarely played last season, signed a journeyman point guard, and grabbed the MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League championship.
He was like one of those guys in your fantasy league that unceasingly adds and drops just for the sake of it.
Now here's the $55 million question: What will these changes result in?
To make a decent guess, I used Basketball-Reference's 2013-14 per-36 projections to estimate win shares for each player on the Jazz's roster. Check it out:
Enes Kanter (31 min.): 4.0
Derrick Favors (35 min.): 5.2
Gordon Hayward (37 min.): 5.4
Alec Burks (28 min.): 2.2
Trey Burke (28 min.): 2.2
Rudy Gobert (10 min.): N/A
Jeremy Evans (10 min.): 2.2
Marvin Williams (16 min.): 1.9
Brandon Rush (17 min.): 2.1
John Lucas III (10 min.): 1.1
Ian Clark (10 min.): 0.7
Richard Jefferson (5 min.): 0.6
Andris Biedrins (3 min.): 0.4
Yikes. Last year, 28 wins would've tied Utah with Sacramento for the third-worst record in the Western Conference. (Note: I realize my guesstimate on minutes won't be perfect -- who knows how much time Ty Corbin will give to any of these guys, especially veterans like Williams and Rush -- but I think it's a decent approximation.)
28 is pretty optimistic I'd say.
Here's the good news: When compared with the ex-starting five, the new lineup looks pretty strong. They combined for 19 wins -- just seven less than what Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Gordon Hayward, Randy Foye, and Mo Williams collected last season. Not bad for group that has an average of just two years of experience per player.
Exactly. Very optimistic!
Based on the same numbers, we can expect some solid per-game averages from Utah's collection of lottery picks.
Gordon Hayward, for instance, would up his scoring from 14.1 points per game to a team-leading 16.7. He'd also grab 4.2 rebounds and hand out 3.7 assists.
I'd hope to see more assists from him.
As for the bigs, Derrick Favors would collect a double-double -- 14.5 points, 10.6 rebounds -- and block 2.2 shots per contest
About what I figure based on his numbers last year but as his number of shots has went up his FG% has went down so who knows what he'll do playing against starters and not bench players.
while Enes Kanter's averages would jump from 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds to 13.8 and 9.0, respectively
And, although they come from the smallest players of the bunch, Burks' and Burke's stats would be big: No. 10 would average double figures for the first time with 11.8 PPG, while the rookie floor general would gather 4.7 assists an outing.
stats for Derrick Favors are predicted to jump from 9.4 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks to 14.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks. Although these numbers are estimates calculated by one guy, the projections at least look hopeful.
Hopeful for the supposed franchise player would be closer to 20/12/3.
Another hopeful prediction is the NBA success of rookie point guard Trey Burke. A recent article by Purple and Blues predicted the Minnesota T-Wolves, who drafted Burke then promptly traded him to Utah, will be kicking themselves for giving him up.
The article suggested if Burke can get a way from his 3-point shooter mentality, he can become a versatile NBA guard. It also referenced a highlight video in which Burke didn't make a single 3-pointer, yet was still effective. Purple and Blues believes Burke will be the next big thing for the Jazz if he allows himself to grow and improve each year.
Minnesota will be sorry for giving up a guy they drafted for another team? Did anyone else see the summer league?