Shabazz Napier led the Connecticut Huskies to the national championship, his second title in four years. He was fantastic during the tournament and led UConn in points, assists, rebounds and steals during the season. So where will Napier go in the 2014 NBA Draft? I've talked to a number of executives tonight who still view Napier as a second-round pick, even after his impressive title run. These executives aren't sure how Napier's game will translate to the next level. His size is a concern and teams aren't sure if he can be an efficient contributor in the NBA. The fact that he's turning 23 years old in July also hurts him, as teams are more likely to take a younger player with more upside rather than a four-year college player.
The NBA is coming. Manuel knows it, Calhoun knows it, and the NBA community knows it. “Would I be surprised if he left?” Calhoun said. “I wouldn't be surprised at anything, but he’s comfortable with who he is. He’s 42 and has a bright future. He’s pretty terrific.” “It’s just a matter of time,” said one NBA general manager. “The league will come calling. He’s a great communicator and has a calm demeanor. This win alone, however, doesn't just tilt the scale. It breaks it.”
“He would be excellent,” another GM said following Monday night’s victory. “He’s a stud. He understands the NBA, he’s a leader, has faced adversity and fought through it.”
One NBA executive told me that whichever team (or teams) makes a run after Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent, “will throw the whole ATM after [Ollie].” That makes sense given the enormous amount of respect KD has for his former teammate in Oklahoma City. I remember Durant telling me a few years back, just after Calhoun convinced Ollie to join his staff as an assistant, that Ollie would be a star. Durant couldn’t stop gushing about Ollie’s character as a person, and his knowledge of the game.
My son who lives in CT just saw a Tweet coming out of Storrs that UTAH Brass are flying to Hartford to meet with Kevin Ollie about HC job. Sources says that UTAH has ALWAYS liked Ollie from his playing days when he was a PITA for the Jazz when he played with the Sixers.
Michigan sophomore Nik Stauskas is headed to the NBA, a source close to the situation told ESPN.com on Thursday. The source said the 6-foot-6, 205-pound shooting guard intends to make a public announcement soon. Stauskas told ESPN.com on Thursday that he has not yet made a final decision. ESPN.com
Nik Stauskas: Just wanted to reiterate that any reports about my future intenions are FALSE! I have NOT made ANY decisions on my future yet! Twitter
Misko Raznatovic: Nikola Jokic, will MOST LIKELY, declare himself for this year draft, during the next week. The final decision will be announced after NHS! Twitter
mid 2nd but there seems to be lots of buzz about him right now at the hoop summit. could be a top 10 now. I also read he doesn't plan to enter.
Tennessee junior Jarnell Stokes has scheduled a press conference on campus for Friday afternoon, at which point he's planning to announce that he'll enter the 2014 NBA Draft, multiple sources told CBSSports.com on Thursday night. Stokes averaged 15.1 points and 10.6 rebounds this season while earning First Team All-SEC honors and leading the Vols to the Sweet 16. The 6-foot-8 forward is expected to be drafted late in the first round or somewhere in the second round. He'll likely be the first Tennessee player selected since Tobias Harris went 19th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft. CBSSports.com
It’s hard for this cold analytics guy to admit, but maybe it’s all about confidence. It’s clear that Dirk made the leaps in his game during the summer4, but he points repeatedly to the confidence given to him by the playing time he received early in his career as important in becoming who he is today. Perhaps his confidence, gained with playing time, led him to work harder in the offseason.
As I said earlier, the Jazz young players weren’t ever going to become Dirk. But maybe they could use some confidence leading into a very important summer for their overall development. The Jazz do have some hope: it may turn out the important timeframe to consider when analyzing player development is not seasons, but age. In that case, the Jazz would still be in a good position: Favors, in his fourth year, is younger than Nowitzki was in his third, and Enes is about the same age now as Dirk was in his second year.
The other side of the coin is if you throw a guy to the wolves before he's ready he could lose confidence. Biedrins lost confidence from the same coach that helped Dirk and has never got it back.
2. Jeremy Evans’ artwork was displayed at EnergySolutions Arena. There’s no database containing information regarding a current NBA player’s artwork being shown for public consumption, but I have to believe that Jeremy Evans’ gallery at EnergySolutions Arena was a unique occurrence. Below are some examples of Jeremy’s work shown tonight and elsewhere.
Jeremy’s artwork is really impressive in person: he’s clearly actually good, not just NBA player good. Perhaps most interesting is how his talent stretches across multiple mediums, quite the accomplishment for someone who also has a full-time “getting better at basketball” job.
3. One high note and one low note on Enes Kanter.
I’ll start with the good. Enes Kanter recorded his season-high in rebounds today, garnering 19 total, including 9 valuable offensive rebounds in just 28 minutes of play. SportVu indicates that he had 21 rebound chances tonight 5, so it’s impressive to see him accumulate over 90% of those opportunities6. We’ve talked about Kanter’s declining rebounding earlier this season, so it’s good to see him get back to what was called his “NBA skill” in his rookie year.
On the other hand, there’s some worrying longer-term statistical evidence that Enes Kanter has a negative influence on his team’s offense when in game. Jeremias Englemann, the man behind ESPN.com’s new Real Plus-Minus numbers, recently released a new statistic indicating how much impact a player has on his team’s PPS when in the game. 7 Enes Kanter ranks very last in the entire NBA in this stat with a -3.0. This means his teammates’ PPS goes down by 3 points per 100 possessions when he’s in the game; the Jazz get lower quality shots when Enes is on the floor. This makes intuitive sense: Enes isn’t yet a passer from the post, and doesn’t exactly draw defenses with his long-range shooting. But it’s still worrying to see from a player who right now needs team offense to improve while he’s on the floor, given his defensive production.
Back in August 2013, I laid out some predictions for the 2013-14 Utah Jazz season. Some were bold, while some were the exact opposite. With four games remaining in the waning season, it’s safe to take a look back and see how accurate or how off these prognostications were.
Gordon Hayward will lead the team in assists: This one was close. The honors go to Trey Burke, whose edged out his back court partner, 5.5 APG to 5.2 APG. If it helps any, Hayward currently has 379 dimes for the year, while Burke has 361.
Burke has him in ass/to to I imagine but as the pg probably should.
Hayward will also lead the team in scoring: This fits into the less-than-bold category, but Hayward is indeed pacing the Jazz in scoring at a 16.0 PPG clip. That said, his efficiency is lacking, as the role of go-to scorer does not seem like an exact fit.
Alec Burks, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will finish second: The athletic combo guard is right behind Hayward with 14.0 PPG. Back in August, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors may be think hard about this one, but I felt Burks ability to slash and get to the line, coupled with a gradually improving jumper, would position him to be a solid scoring threat.
Burks and Kanter are scorers as I've said. G is an all-around player.
Utah will be represented well at All-Star Weekend: Another safe bet, as Burke represented the franchise in the Rising Stars game, while winning the skills challenge. Jeremy Evans was denied the opportunity to regain his slam dunk crown.
Trey Burke will be the second Jazz player to win the Rookie of the Year award (Darrell Griffith being the first): This will be known in a few weeks. It’s clearly a three-man race between Burke, Victor Oladipo and Michael Carter-Williams. Chances are it will go to MCW, but it will be close.
No way does he deserve it not that the other candidates are that impressive either. Weak class.
The Jazz will honor Jerry Sloan this year: Check. And the Jazz did an absolutely masterful job in honoring the one and only Coach Sloan. It was certainly a highlight of this season as it allowed the fans to look back to some glory days with fondness.
The Jazz will be a top three shot-blocking team: Way off. At a collective 4.4 BPG, Utah is just 2oth in the league. I was banking on Favors improving on his gaudy 1.7 BPG in 23.2 MPG mark the previous season. Despite increased playing time, he dipped to 1.5 BPG. This prediction was also based on some solid playing time for Brandon Rush (who was solid his last full season) and Rudy Gobert (0.9 in limited action).
Favors was playing against starters and had to exert more energy elsewhere.
Favors will earn some All-Defensive team mentions, but won’t make it this season: This one could be in jeopardy. While he has had strong individual efforts, being the anchor of one of the NBA’s worst defenses won’t garner many votes, if any.
Shouldn't garner any. He's been disappointing.
A lot of teams will be beating themselves over not drafting or signing Ian Clark: Probably a negative at this point. Clark is starting to get a few minutes here and there, but it’s highly unlikely his performance is causing opposing GMs to lose sleep. That said, he could be a very solid find. Clark has a good stroke and gives a lot of effort when on the court.
Hasn't shown much. The fact that they didn't cut him tells me they see something in him.
Dennis Lindsey will orchestrate at least one notable mid-season trade: Sure there were rumors (Richard Jefferson for Andrew Bynum; Marvin Williams for a first-round pick and the implausible Gordon Hayward to Boston rumors), but it was a quiet deadline. This year was less disappointing than the previous one, as the bevy of expiring contracts figured to be potential trade bait.
Hard to believe the Marvin one. If true Lindsey is an idiot!
Despite the growing pains, this will be an exciting team for Jazz fans to rally around: This is a purely subjective prediction. It has absolutely been a season of struggle, ups and downs, highlights and low-lights (great piece the other day by Clint Johnson about this sordid season). There have been some positives, such as Burke’s recent game-winning 3-pointer. For me, it has been exciting, as we caught glimpses of the future.
And lastly, here were my quick hits.
To help with the whole Burke and Burks thing, Craig Bolerjack and Matt Harpring will be electrically shocked every time they use the wrong name: Clearly did not happen. Imagine the fun if the Jazz draft Aaron Gordon and Tyler Ennis…Burke and Burks, Enes and Ennis, Gordon and Gordon.
Favors will average a double-double. Kanter will not. But watch out the following year, world: Favors leads the team with 8.7 RPG, but many were predicting a few more boards per outing. Kanter has turned it on of late and is averaging that double-double the past six weeks.
Gobert will win the rookie dance-off, performing the Snake. The video will go viral that night: Oh, Rudy…
Biedrins will show he can still be a serviceable back-up big man: I will now cower in the corner, full of shame and embarrassment. Biedrins did earn $3.0M per point scored, so there is that.
No one expected Kanter to be benched or Biedrins might have been. His injury to start the year hurt too.
Hayward will enlighten us with another full slate of Fresh Market ads that will dazzle and entertain. There
will be immense rejoicing in the land: Yes, indeed.
Jeremy Evans will prove to be more than a highlight dunker. With an improved jump shot, Evans will show he belongs in the league: This has been one of the key developments of the season. At 5.9 PPG and 4.6 RPG, Evans definitely showed that he is a very viable rotation player. He started the year on a torrid pace, tailed off in the middle, but is coming back around. Utah has him locked in for another season at a mere $1.7M–a pittance compared to his productivity and his electric dunks.
Tyrone Corbin will finish the season as the head coach: And he will. But we will know soon if he is the head coach moving forward, as Laura Thompson highlighted.
He's gone. Not much doubt is there?
Gobert’s wingspan and/or standing reach will be mentioned 7,653 times, most of them by the Jazz broadcasters: We got one right!
For the third straight season, Utah fanatics will watch the Golden State situation with eagerness. An injury will curtail the Warriors’ season a bit, but not enough to bring the Jazz a second lottery pick. Late teens would be my guess: This is one that many wish was not accurate. While the Warriors flirted with that elusive ninth place spot in the Western Conference, they seem secure in their postseason positioning and the Jazz will mostly likely be left with the #23 pick. Sadness.
Hayward, Favors, Kanter, and Burks will all receive Most Improved Player votes, but none will win it: Burks will probably get the most attention out of this quartet.
Burks should get some 6th man consideration.
Kevin O’Connor will sign an extension, but will continue to take a gradually smaller role: He still has an influence on the team, but that seems to be dissipating as Lindsey is clearly at the helm.
We will see a sharp increase in Jazz fan Twitter etiquette: Twitter definitely can enhance one’s fan experience and it has for me. That said, there is still a long ways to go here. One day, all of us should just Kumbaya-it out.
Not too great, but not too shabby. How did other Jazz fans fare with their personal crystal balling?Pretty soon it will be time to make some more predictions for what will inevitably be a very eventful offseason for the Utah Jazz.
The Jazz will conduct their annual end-of-the-season locker cleanout and exit interviews next Thursday, and then it’s vacation season.
I'd expect Corbin to be gone shortly after that. I'm sure the decision has already been made.
Spring fever’s gotta be creeping in pretty hard now, right?
“It can be. It’s a little easier for them to get a little distracted now,” Corbin admitted. “But we’ve got to make sure that we try to keep focused on the job at hand. We want to try to make sure we’re working to get better with these last four games and see what we can improve on in this situation and get the guys ready for the summer work to be ready for next year.”
It remains to be seen whether Corbin will be back after his contract expires this offseason, but he’s hoping the Jazz can finish this rough, rebuilding project strong like the team did during the turbulent end of the 2010-11 season. Months after the departures of Jerry Sloan (resignation) and Deron Williams (trade), the Jazz followed an eight-game losing streak by winning their last two contests and three of their final five to go into that offseason on a positive note.
“You always want to play with a purpose and that’s to be as good as you can be,” Corbin said. “That’s what we’ve always tried to focus on, and we’ll continue to try to focus on those things.”
More specifically, the Jazz spent parts of Thursday’s practice working on how to defend the Blazers. Corbin’s wary of Portland's transition game, how the Blazers are increasingly using All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in post-up situations, how All-Star point guard Damian Lillard impressively pushes the pace, and the physicality of ex-Jazzman Wesley Matthews.
“We have to make sure we’re ready from the beginning,” Corbin said.
That wasn’t the case Tuesday when the Jazz watched the Dallas Mavericks shoot 94 percent in the first quarter en route to an early 38-24 lead in their latest lopsided loss.
Utah is also trying to help recently acquired forward Erik Murphy become acquainted with the system, perhaps even getting him up to speed enough to play a few minutes. Otherwise, Murphy will likely see extended action during the Las Vegas Summer League.
“It’s a difficult transition for him. We don’t have a lot of practice time,” Corbin said. “We can’t bang the other guys a lot. He’s happy to be here. He’s been working one-on-one a little bit, trying to get him a couple of plays, get him the feel for those couple plays if we have the opportunity to get him on the floor.”
With four games in the next six nights, it's possible the Jazz won't practice again. If they do, Tuesday would be the next and final official workout before they wrap up the season Wednesday in Minnesota.
“One-hundred percent. The league has definitely been hurt by the age limit (currently 19). The one-and-done is so terrible. There are certain guys that should be able to come out of high school. LeBron (James) and Kobe (Bryant). … At the end of the day, this is professional sports. They’re going to weed out the people that aren’t good enough.”
— “That type of mentality — (going to college for) one year or two years — it’s affecting college basketball, it’s affecting pro sports, and it’s just not good. … Why can’t they come straight out? Because the colleges want some of them (top players) so they can get some money. …
"But it’s tough on the colleges because you get these kids in there for one year and all of a sudden they’re gone, but, yeah, it’s all about money. No one really cares if anyone comes straight out of high school for baseball. No one cares if people turn professional straight out of (high school for) tennis. No one cares about that. Why? Because they don’t make money for the colleges. It’s simple. Who makes money for the colleges? Football, basketball.”
— “It’s America. It’s free enterprise. You should be able to do whatever you want. But because it’s about money, it’s about generating revenue, the NBA and college are all in it together. (New commissioner) Adam Silver … said, ‘Yeah, the NBA wouldn’t mind giving money to the NCAA.’ They’re all in it together.”
— “I respect the NBA. I respect the NCAA. I think the NCAA should come up with a different program. Not saying they should pay athletes, but the program is flawed. You can’t have the same program for 50 years, for 60 years (with) TV revenues … all of the jersey sales, all of the ticket prices, million-dollar coaches, million-dollar ADs.”
— “The person that runs the NCAA makes almost $2 million a year and it’s a nonprofit organization. Well, if it’s nonprofit, give yourself three-hundred grand or go somewhere else. If you’re working for a nonprofit, you shouldn’t get paid millions of dollars, not including all of the perks that you get from traveling and going places, all of the free tickets that you get. Not saying that the guy doesn’t work hard and is not qualified, but why don’t you put the money back into the organization if it’s really a nonprofit organization?”
Need a minor league. NCAA and the NBA need to work together. NCAA makes money regardless. Their product is much worse now but people still watch their teams rather it's freshman or seniors.
INJURY UPDATE: Forward Marvin Williams (left knee bone bruise) did not participate in practice Thursday and is listed as being doubtful to play Friday night against the Portland Trail Blazers. Williams tried to play on his injured leg in Tuesday’s game, but left after an eight-minute stint.