the picture for the Jazz is that they need a new coach. Not because the young players aren’t better than they were 3˝ years ago, but because the team isn’t. Corbin is 111-143 since assuming the role in February 2011.
It's his fault they traded away their best player shortly after taking over the team and forced him to build around Al? It's his fault they let their best player go this past off season and played the whole year with a back-up pg and two 3rd string pgs? I think they've overachieved since he's been coach.
The strain is taking its toll, not just on Corbin, but at EnergySolutions. The place on game nights is as blank as a lunarscape. Sound ricochets off the empty seats. It’s never quite clear whether someone turned up the sound system, to simulate excitement, or it’s just louder when nobody’s home.
The Jazz should get a high pick in a better-than-usual draft. But realistically, it won’t be enough. They are 22˝ games out of the last playoff spot. Joel Embiid, Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and Dante Exum combined might not make up that much difference. The only way Corbin could keep his job is if management previously ordered him to tank. If so, he’s not doing a good job of hiding his frustration.
If they are as good as advertised they would along with a veteran pg. They were close to a .500 team in the middle of the year.
Remember when Jazz fans had a hard time digesting a No. 8 playoff position? Nowadays that spot would go down as smoothly as crčme brulee.
LOL! Most want this but still complain about losing.
For many years, the Jazz were recognizable to fans even outside Utah. That continued from Stockton-Malone to Williams-Boozer. But now it’s a franchise of no-names. When Corbin inherited the team, Jerry Sloan was gone and Deron Williams was soon to follow. Carlos Boozer left the previous summer.
Although Corbin has posted winning records in two of his four seasons, he has only made the playoffs once, ending in a four-game sweep. Of the 30 coaches who began the 2010-11 season, only six remain: Gregg Popovich (San Antonio), Monty Williams (New Orleans), Rick Carlisle (Dallas), Tom Thibodeau (Chicago), Erik Spoelstra (Miami) and Scott Brooks (Oklahoma City).
Patience is a virtue, but in the NBA it’s only a concept.
In not extending Corbin’s contract last summer, the Jazz screamed what they would never say aloud: they didn’t want to take the risk. In time, with free agents and draft picks, Corbin could possibly get his team back to the low end of the playoffs. But that’s not what general manager Dennis Lindsey and CEO Greg Miller have in mind.
The team’s failure isn’t all about coaching. Does anyone really believe the Jazz have more top-level talent than their record shows? In ESPN’s heralded new statistic called Real Plus-Minus (RPM), which measures both offensive and defensive effectiveness, Gordon Hayward is the only Jazz player in the league’s top 150 (95th).
Although Lindsey has said there would be pain in the rebuilding, and it would take time, the Jazz have an image problem right now. Selling tickets is tough business, especially if the message is “business as usual.” That’s where Corbin comes in.
The Jazz should make a place for Corbin in the organization. No one in team history has represented the organization better. His composure under the circumstances has earned him that. His experience is valuable. But management can’t expect fans to buy into a 24-win team without making a change. To do otherwise would make it hard to look anyone in the eyes.
The Jazz, already the worst defensive team in the league, giving up 109 points per 100 possessions on the year, have seen their D drop off even more. Over its last eight games, a stretch with just one win, Utah’s defensive rating is a league-worst 116.3.
And the offense isn’t keep pace, as the Jazz have the NBA’s worst net rating over that stretch: -14.2 per 100 possessions. In this stretch run, the Jazz have seen some positives. Gordon Hayward is averaging 18.4 points and shooting 42 percent over the last eight games. Enes Kanter is averaging a double-double. And Alec Burks is getting to the free throw line nearly eight times a game, en route to 16.8 points per contest.
But there have been steep declines elsewhere over the last eight games:
• Teams are outscoring the Jazz by 16.6 per 100 possessions with Burke on the floor.
• Marvin Williams’ net rating has dropped from -5.6 on the year to -19.1 in this stretch.
Following a blowout loss in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, Jazz coach Ty Corbin took exception with his team’s body language — something he hasn’t done much this year.
"I didn’t like it at the end. I thought the group at the very end came back and fought. When they made some shots we acted like we were a little defeated," he said. "We can’t afford to feel sorry for ourselves and not continue to fight, and I thought the group at the end, at least they came out and tried to execute and fight hard."
"Guys get a little frustrated, as most young players do and young teams do," Jefferson added. "Veteran teams, they persevere and they push through. We have a young team and at times if they miss a few shots or the other team hits a few shots, they’re going to hang their heads. That’s just something you go through with a young team. But it changes as you get more mature and understand the game is a long process."
The process may be long, but the season has just four games left.
And Corbin expects his players to finish strong.
"These guys aren’t going to quit, man," he said. "They understand where we are. They understand if we’re going to have any chance of being successful we have to stay together and work hard to do that. Even though we’ve gone through some adversity, they seem to come back and fight."
Jabari Parker Expects Draft Decision After Meeting Coach K
Apr 11, 2014 5:35 PM EDT
Jabari Parker said he expects to make a decision by next Tuesday or Wednesday on whether he will enter the June NBA Draft.
Parker plans to meet Mike Krzyzewski to make his decision.
"It's a very tough decision especially potentially leaving behind my coach and the program that really helped me out this year, so I really have to keep them in consideration in this whole process," Parker said on Friday.
Parker does not view returning for his sophomore season at Duke as risky.
"I think there's no risk," Parker said. "I think the community at Duke has really done a good job of taking care of my safety and they make sure that everything is done by the playbook. My parents, they come from different backgrounds. They don't even value money. My situation isn't the best, but they're not complaining and I've been going on this long so why can't I wait another year? That's the mindset in my head that keeps me moving."
The Mavericks’ first quarter was out of this world. They shot 16-for-17 in the first quarter and hit four 3-pointers for an effective field goal percentage of 106%. In other words, if the Jazz gave them 17 uncontested layups it they would have scored fewer points.
Often, the Jazz are playing defense to execute the plan, but they do it without any intent to stop or without any vigor. They are so set on making sure they are in the right spots that they don’t impact the play. The defense of this team since March 1 has been dreadful.
With that said, the Jazz put together one of their best halves of defense in the second half. They started playing harder and getting into the Mavericks. They held the Mavericks to a season-low 34 points in the second half. This after allowing a Dallas season-high 39 points in the first quarter.
Enes Kanter played the best game I’ve seen out of him this season. He was a beast on the boards and made numerous plays. His energy level was fabulous. This is the strength of his game, and Enes was playing at his best. He has a long way to go to be a winning basketball player, but the first thing for him is to have impact on games in the areas where he can be terrific—and that is what he did tonight.
Richard Jefferson wasn’t bashful tonight.
Tyrone Corbin has talked a lot about lineup changes and playing the five young guys together as a starting lineup. It has never happened, but tonight in the second half he started Alec Burks in place of Richard Jefferson and Jeremy Evans in place of an injured Marvin Williams to guard Dirk.
Jazz hit just 4-for-24 from three. Trey was 0-for-5 and is 4 for his last 29.
Trey Burke has to figure out how to play defense in the NBA.
As does the rest of the team.
The Mavericks bread and butter is the Monta/Dirk pick-and-roll, and they moved away from it and went to a Calderon/Dirk pick-and-pop game simply to isolate Trey, and then when Devin Harris came in the game they let Devin go 1-on-1 at Trey. Rick Carlisle knows what he is doing. This was not by accident. He went right at Trey defensively and exploited it. Rick is not the first to do this.
The Mavericks are better offensively and defensively when Monta Ellis is on the bench.
Have to wonder if we see Marvin again this season.
We finally got to see the young 5 starting together and playing together. It last a grand total of 3:36 before Favors committed his 2nd foul and had to go out of the game.
They ended up playing 17 minutes in the game. They were outscored 37-36. They scored at a rate of 113 pts per 100 possessions but allowed at a rate of 112 per 100 possessions. The offensive rebounding rate was 44% which is consistent with the level of rebounding they have had as a 5 man group all season. However, that is not sustainable. The Jazz only allowed the Blazers to shot 10 of 25 when this line-up was on the floor but they fouled way too much allowing the Blazers to go to the line for 15 of 18 from the line.
The line-up played with pace and had an energy level we haven’t seen a lot of recently. As the game went on some of the guys seemed to wear down. Mental mistakes allowed Wesley Matthews to get a bunch of good looks late in the 2nd quarter and the Jazz lost attention to detail defensively on Lillard late as well. I will have to review some of these plays but it seemed Alec Burks didn’t have a very good defensive night playing a career high minutes.
Makes an argument for vets and Alec coming off the bench.
Kanter was a force in the first half and the first quarter. He tied his career high assists in a game. He is doing a lot of damage on the offensive glass and rebounding with authority. He is playing with a confidence that he belongs in the game.
Kanter 2 of 7 on shots outside of restricted area and Favors 1 of 7 on shots outside restricted area.
His rebounding and passing have improved of late! Now for the D.
The Jazz bench was really weak tonight. Gobert played 10 minutes and the Jazz were -12 in those minutes. He played well but the Jazz couldn’t score when he was on the floor. The Jazz shot 5 of 14 when Gobert was on the floor.
No surprise. Kanter and Burks is their bench.
Diante Garrett’s shot has left him.
That's all he had to hang his hat on.
Jazz were much better on uncontested shots hitting 19 of 41. Kanter was just 2 of 10 on contested shots.
It felt like Gobert had an impact defensively. The Blazers shot 9 of 20 when he was on the floor.
9-20 doesn't sound like much of an impact. It looked like they've been working on his play at the offensive end. He showed improvement.
Bench numbers were ugly – Jefferson was -17, Garrett -15, Gobert -12, Evans -7.
Felt like Gordon was very quiet and sat on the bench for a strangely long time in the 2nd quarter. However, by the end of the night he had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 4 of 9 shooting. This is Gordon not forcing the game and only getting 9 shots. This is the player he is naturally.
Yep and hopefully the player he'll be allowed to be next year for them.
It was nice to see the 5 youngs on the floor together. It would be nice if their was a larger sample size to see all of them play together. However, let’s not confuse this with whether or not they have had a chance to develop. Development does not have to be with the 5 of them on the floor. The 5 youngs have played 5 of the 6 most amount of minutes this season. Favors probably learns more and has more success with Marvin on the floor. Richard’s ability to spread the floor very well may help Trey. Alec being on the second unit as the primary scoring punch is better for his development and learning than playing with the starters off the ball. So, it is nice to see and it will make the final games more interesting but the 5 youngs playing together and their development are not intertwined.
The lineup played 17 minutes together and was outscored by 1 point. In those 17 minutes, the group shot 46.9% (15-32), including 3-7 from three, accumulated 16 rebounds, garnered 11 assists, and turned the ball over 5 times. Somewhat worryingly, they drew only 3 fouls while committing 11 against Portland. All in all, though, that’s a pretty good performance against a team the Jazz have lost to by a combined 51 points so far this season.
Hayward and Burks should draw fouls. Burke needs to learn how to with his high %.
On the positive side, it was nice to see Alec Burks play a career high in minutes. On the negative side, he played a smaller role when he was in the game: Alec actually received only one more touch of the ball in 42 minutes tonight than he did Tuesday against Dallas in 29 minutes.
One downside of the move, though: it weakened the bench. Indeed, all but 12 of the Jazz’s 99 points tonight were scored by players born in the 1990′s. That’s a new story for the Jazz, who have dedicated many of the minutes at the forward positions to Marvin Williams and Richard Jefferson. Corbin refused to say if this starting lineup would finish out the rest of the season, but I would bet that it would: with only three games left, why make a change back? The new lineup did seem to infuse EnergySolutions Arena with a new energy, especially during the 1st quarter when the Jazz went on a run to steal the lead from Portland.
2. Enes Kanter had a really nice game.
Enes Kanter and I have had a fun little back-and-forth this season in the postgame interviews. He’s made it known that he’s reading my Twitter feed (@andyblarsen)1, and this week, I posted some bad news about him: that he was ranked last in the league in adjusted teammate PPS. That led to this exchange after the game2:
Me: “You’ve had a couple of good rebounding games in a row now, is there anything that you’ve been doing different recently?”
Enes: “Just reading Tweets, reading your Tweets.” *I laugh nervously* “You know I’m just being more focused. Coach told me ‘We know you can score, but we want you to be out there getting some defensive rebounds’, so that’s what I’ve focused on the last games, getting those rebounds.”
Me: “But you’re getting the offensive ones too.”
Enes: “Offensive ones, it’s natural. Defense, I’m just trying to work hard.”
Yeah offensive boards haven't been his problem.
Whether it’s me (unlikely) or Coach Corbin (significantly more likely) inspiring Kanter to work hard on the glass, he’s showing big production down there. His rebounding had slipped from his rookie season, so it’s great to see him continue to battle for the boards in multiple ways: he’s both getting his body to where rebounds will land and then doing a fantastic job grabbing them once they come his way.
Kanter’s game tonight also displayed some important skills that will really help that PPS stat above. He had 4 assists tonight, finding open teammates, and nailed his open jump shots, hitting 4 of 6 uncontested looks tonight. If he keeps doing that, he’ll start to productively shift the defense towards him, making things easier for those around him on the floor.
Good on you, Mr. Kanter.
3. Derrick Favors against LaMarcus Aldridge
On my appearance on ABC4′s Real Sports Live last Sunday, host Bill Riley asked me to rate the Jazz young guys on a 1-10 scale. While I didn’t commit to a number for each of the players, I did say that the Jazz’s young core weren’t going to be ranked 9 or 10, in short there are no franchise cornerstones in this group.
SCH reader Aaron, though, had an interesting comparison for the type of player Derrick Favors could become: LaMarcus Aldridge. They are similar sizes and play similar positions, but right now Aldridge has a much more advanced skillset than Favors does. Prompted by Aaron’s response, I asked Favors if Aldridge was someone he looked up to: “Yeah, I love his game. He’s one of those guys, man, you know he can take you outside, take you inside. I love his game. Every time I go against him I just try to play against him as best as I can, and just try to learn something from him.”
It’s cool to see Favors (who still is just 22!) take such a liking to a guy with Aldridge’s skillset. While it will be very difficult to get there, Aldridge’s game provides Favors with a model to improve offensively while still being a rebounding and defensive force. If Favors does develop to be like Aldridge, Dennis Lindsey and company will be very pleased.
Can't see him ever being like Aldridge. Tyson Chandler seems more reasonable.
of 125 rotation guards in the league this season, Burke ranks dead last in Defensive Rating (points against per-100-possessions while a player is on the court) according to NBA.com.2 The Jazz have been nearly five points-per-100 better when he leaves the court, the largest drop-off for any regular rotation player on the team besides Enes Kanter.
No where to go but up! With Enes and Burke it's hard to imagine them becoming a defensive team.
The reasons for this are varied, with some tying back in to his pre-draft forecast. Burke isn’t particularly quick or explosive for his position, and in fact is likely well below-average for many athleticism-related areas at a position littered with names like Westbrook, Wall, Irving and many more. He’s also a tad short, though his slightly extended wingspan makes up for some of that.
This predictably hurts his abilities as an on-ball defender, though surprisingly not nearly as much as one might think, especially if one were to only look at his defensive numbers in a client like Synergy Sports3 – over a small sample size, Burke reads out as a very bad isolation defender on finished plays. But an examination of the individual plays involved showcases much of this data as somewhat spurious, a series of difficult makes and questionable foul calls against Burke (and, to be fair, a percentage of plays where Trey simply got beat) that’s completely unsustainable over a long time period. He plays above-average on-ball defense on this play, but all that gets recorded is a made basket against him after his mark converts a tough look:
Instead, the area that’s been hurt most by Burke’s physical limitations is his play off the ball. He’s going through many of the predictable struggles young guards face, but he’s without the recovery speed many of his peers can look to when they make an error. So when he has trouble navigating a pick, as he and many rookies are prone to, it’s hurting his team’s defense more than average. Rotate incorrectly? It’s going to cost him more than many. There’s even an excellent example of the differences here showcased by another Jazz player (one with a very similar name) – I’ve documented Alec Burks’ tendency, in contrast to most young defenders, to over-help rather than under-help off the ball, and Burke often displays the same habit:
Just like with Burks, there are both good and bad elements at play here; that Trey is focused and eager to try and execute the defensive system is great for his age and experience, but the fact that it combines with his as-of-yet incomplete knowledge of NBA offense to create frequent mistakes like the one above is obviously a big negative. And unlike Burks, who has the acceleration and foot speed to recover more quickly, Burke finds himself often unable to even get up challenges in situations like these.
This can explain some of why Burke, and his teammates while he’s on the floor, give up far too many good looks from deep. Opponents are shooting 38.3% from distance with Burke as their primary defender, per Synergy, an unacceptable number, and are attempting more of them with Burke on the floor than any other Jazz regular. Utah allows the third-highest percentage from three in the league partially as a result of their porousness in this area with Burke and the starting lineup.
Unfortunately, the issues for Burke thus far haven’t been limited to his physical abilities. He’s also having difficulty grasping the nuances of NBA defense, though he’s got much more company among his peers here. He’s had a very hard time jumping passing lanes or generating steals, something of a surprise for such a heady player offensively. Of those same 125 qualified guards I mentioned earlier, he’s just 101st in steals generated per game despite being in the top 40 for minutes per night. The Jazz also generate a lower number of turnovers per-possession with him on the floor than any other roster member besides Malcolm Thomas.4
Screen navigation has been a problem, albeit an expected one, and the same goes for certain bits of positioning, both on and off the ball. Watch him here leaning in anticipation of a coming screen (again, this awareness is good in a vacuum but can become negative in situations where it’s acted on the wrong way), but instead giving up an open look:
Given that Burke still got a hand up to pseudo-challenge the shot, it seems like a pretty small nitpick – and it is. But it’s meant to illustrate the subtle differences between good defense and porous defense, because the extra half-beat Burke gives up by switching to his “ice” stance5 makes all the difference here.
Perhaps the largest knock on his defensive acumen in his first season, though, has been another issue we can examine within that last clip: his recognition of opposing personnel. In the play above, Burke’s mark is Brandon Jennings – not a sharpshooter from distance necessarily, but capable and not someone you want to leave unguarded. But far more importantly, Burke overlooks one major element: Jennings is left-handed. Against a typical righty, Burke’s jump to his “ice” stance might have left him enough space to challenge, but against a lefty going to his left in rhythm? He has no chance.
This is again a nitpicky example, but far larger ones abound. And while many of these sorts of mental errors are quite understandable for developing players without much NBA experience, a little more worrying has been Burke’s seeming lack of improvement in this area as the year has gone on. This clip is from this past weekend against the Warriors:
There aren’t many unbreakable rules within NBA defense, but one of them absolutely is, “Never go under a screen against Steph Curry unless he’s at least 40 feet from the basket.” This lack of recognition from Burke, particularly since he could see the screen coming for several beats before it arrived and therefore had plenty of time to prepare, simply won’t fly beyond this season6. Coaches can’t teach every little thing, and this is one of those areas where players are expected to develop on their own or risk being left behind.
Overall though, while there are certainly several areas that will need major improvement for Burke to be an acceptable defender in this league, he’s not in the dire shape his overall numbers might indicate. Utah’s defense as a whole has been miserable, and this contributes in no small way to his bad rating – it’s highly unlikely he’s really the worst rotation guard in the league on defense.
Why not? Someone has to be.
He’s done well with his on-ball positioning and has improved at staying in front of his man as the year has gone on, and he should be capable of cracking average or even nicely above-average if he can continue to improve.
This is mostly conjecture, but to my eye he’s looked timid at many points this year, like he doesn’t want to screw up or go out-of-system7 – if this is the case, it’s an easy fix for a coaching staff going forward. Burke is smart and has great character, and this should foster a resolution to many of his issues once he gains more experience and confidence (and hopefully is able to play in a slightly better defensive culture) going forward. This season may be nearly over, but a long and productive career is only getting started for the young Jazz point guard. It’ll be exciting to see where he’s able to go.
“You've just got to keep believing. Last year, we had a lot of new players on the team. We were a really young team, and we were trying to put it together. We won 33 games, but it takes time. Even the best teams, they had their time when they struggled.”
Portland guard Damian Lillard
SALT LAKE CITY — Sure, Damian Lillard is only 23 years old and is winding up just his second season in the National Basketball Association.
But the Portland Trail Blazers' All-Star point guard is wise beyond his years and level of NBA experience, and he has some sage advice for the Utah Jazz and their fans who have suffered through an awfully tough season:
Just keep believing. Yes, just keep believing in your team and, eventually, they'll turn it around.
"You've just got to keep believing," Lillard said Friday morning at EnergySolutions Arena, where the playoff-bound Trail Blazers were preparing for their fourth and final matchup with the Jazz this season. "Last year, we had a lot of new players on the team. We were a really young team, and we were trying to put it together. We won 33 games, but it takes time.
A little easier when you have 2 all-stars though!
"Even the best teams, they had their time when they struggled. Oklahoma City, with KD (Kevin Durant) and Russ (Russell Westbrook), their first year together, I think they had the worst record in the league. And now they're like contenders every year. So it just took time for them to grow. And once they had that time to grow, now they are who they are.
"And I think that goes for everybody — you need that time to grow, and you need that time to build chemistry and experience," he said.
That philosophy, Lillard said, certainly applies to the Jazz, whose starting lineup features 21-year-old point guard Trey Burke, shooting guard Gordon Hayward, who just turned 24 a couple of weeks ago, and 22-year-old center Derrick Favors, along with top reserves Enes Kanter and Alec Burks, who are 21 and 22, respectively.
"Trey's a rookie, Gordon's really young, Favs is really young," Lillard said of Utah's young 20-something starters. "They've got a really young team and, I think, add some pieces and things could change as soon as next year.
I expect big things next year based on their play in the middle of the season.
"The biggest thing is just keep believing. Confidence is a huge part of this league. They keep believing, there's no telling what you can do.
"Our team believed and now we're 23 games above .500 and in the playoffs," he said, "so having that confidence in your team is a huge thing. ... Everybody went home this past summer and came back better. And we all bought into what the team needed us to do individually. We brought in some vets and it's really paid off for our team. We've had a great season and we're just trying to finish it the right way and just try to make a push in the playoffs."
Lillard, in just his second NBA season after a stellar collegiate career at Weber State, has been impressed with what he's seen out of Burke thus far this season.
"The biggest thing with him is I think he improves every time," said Lillard, who has gone up against Burke three times this season but teamed up with him to win the skills challenge during the NBA's All-Star weekend in February. "Every time I see him play, he's getting better.
"And to be a rookie point guard, I know I made mistakes and I was allowed to play though 'em and so is he. But to be a rookie, he doesn't make a lot of mistakes. I think he has one turnover to every three assists, and you know that's big time, especially on a team that's not in the playoffs.
"He's in his first year of running the team," said Lillard, who's averaging 21 points and 5.6 assists per game. "I remember being out there and not being so sure of everything that was going on, being a point guard and being in control of the team. So he's had a really good season and I think he's a really good point guard."
In their first three head-to-head matchups this season, Lillard averaged 22.3 points and 5.3 assists compared to 14.3 points and 4.3 assists for Burke. But their last two matchups before Friday night's game had been much more of a statistical standoff.
Burke, who has averaged 12.4 points and 5.5 assists in his rookie season, had plenty of complimentary things to say about Lillard as well.
"It's definitely always a competitive matchup when I go up against a guy who's a younger guard in this league. I definitely measure myself up to guys like him," Burke said. "He's a couple of years older than me, but I definitely feel like he's a guy that we kind of have similar games. He's strong as well, a strong point guard.
"He's a really good shooter, runs his team really well and can get in the paint as well, so he pretty much has the whole package as a player.
"We have a pretty cool relationship," Burke said. "I didn't really know him before that (teaming up in the skills challenge), but we got an opportunity to build a relationship during All-Star week, talk a lot off the court instead of just competing so much on the court."
And despite all the losses and frustration the Jazz have had to endure this season, Lillard would be the first guy to give Burke some much-needed encouragement and tell him:
As it currently stands, the Jazz have the fourth-worst record in the league. Utah, loser of four straight, is 24-56 with two games remaining in the 2013-14 season. Milwaukee is sitting at the bottom of the NBA at 15-65, followed by Philadelphia (17-63) and Orlando (23-57).
Boston, which has actually won two in a row, and the Lakers, losers of seven straight, are nipping at the Jazz’s heels with 25-55 records.
Which brings us back to this Monday night marquee matchup.
One team (the winner) will boost its pride.
One team (the loser) will boost the amount of pingpong balls it gets on May 20 when the NBA determines its drafting order for the first 14 selections.
The team with the league’s worst record (the Bucks) will have a 25 percent chance of winning the top pick, the second-worst has a 19.9 percent chance and the third-worst has 15.6 percent.
The Jazz will fall somewhere between fourth (11.9 percent), fifth (8.8 percent) and sixth (6.3 percent).
Looks like they could still be third but unlikely.
If this draft really is five deep when it comes to superstar potential — Joel Embiid, Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker (if he enters), Dante Exum and Julius Randle — dropping to the No. 6 spot would put the Jazz in an unenviable predicament.
The Jazz have beaten the Lakers in two of three meetings so far this season, so a Utah win would give L.A. the lottery tiebreaker. A Jazz loss would make it a two-team battle (with Boston) for the fourth spot.
Utah wraps up the season in Minnesota on Wednesday, while the injury-plagued Lakers end that night at San Antonio. The Celtics play at Philly on Monday and host the Wizards on Wednesday.
It’s worth noting that the Jazz will also have the Warriors’ first-round pick, which is currently in the 23rd spot. Utah picked up that asset — and a 2017 first-round selection — last summer by trading for Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Brandon Rush.
Pride and/or pingpong balls aren’t the only thing on the line for this game.
The Jazz need one more win to avoid ending up tied with the first team in the Beehive State for the worst record in the franchise’s 35-year Utah era. That 1979-80 squad, led by Adrian Dantley and Pete Maravich (for 17 games), finished that campaign at 24-58.
The Jazz have only finished with fewer than 30 wins three times since then. Utah was 25-57 in 1981-82 when Frank Layden replaced Tom Nissalke as head coach during the season; 26-56 in 2004-05 when Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko had injury-plagued seasons; and 28-54 in 1980-81 despite big seasons by Dantley (30.7 ppg) and Darrell Griffith (20.6 ppg).
My first year following them. Right back where it all began!
Monday's home-finale could also be the final time Tyrone Corbin coaches the Jazz team in Utah. His contract is up after this season, and management hasn’t made an indication of whether it will re-up the longtime Jazzman, who has had a variety of challenges and mix-and-match rosters since replacing Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan midway in February 2011.
Although Utah wants him back, it’s possible this could be the final time shooting guard Gordon Hayward suits up in a Jazz uniform at EnergySolutions Arena. The team’s leading scorer becomes a restricted free agent this offseason.
Veterans Richard Jefferson, Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush will also potentially be wearing Jazz uniforms for the final time at ESA. They’ll all be free agents this summer.
Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Enes Kanter are the only players with guaranteed contracts with the Jazz for next season.
Trey Burke has taken care of the ball all season long. He doled out eight assists in 38 turnover-less minutes Saturday, the third consecutive game without a miscue. In fact, Burke has now played 130 consecutive minutes (dating back to the third quarter against the Golden State Warriors) sans a turnover, while handing out 31 assists during that span.
That is impressive!
- Only six players on Denver’s depleted rotation scored.
- Alec Burks encountered foul troubles early on which dampened his return to Colorado. He had just five points, his lowest output since Feb. 1.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops (ESPN's Jazz affiliate). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
Hayward and former WNBA great Tina Thompson will coach young hopefuls trying to become Jr. NBA/Jr. WNBA All-Stars during the Philippines 2014 national training camp.
The camp, sponsored by the NBA’s international youth development program, will include the top 50 boys and top 24 girls from that country and will take place from April 25-27 in Manila, according to The Philippine Star.
Hayward said he’s never been to the Philippines, so he’s excited to take on a new adventure, which includes some fun travel and hoops.
“It’s kind of like a little vacation to go over there,” he said, “and then at the same time you get to do something for basketball.”
Hayward will also travel to Las Vegas in late July to try out for a spot on Team USA’s squad for the 2014 FIBA World Cup tournament.
The 6-8 swingman, who’s averaging 16.0 points, 5.2 assists and 5.0 rebounds in his fourth season, will become a restricted free agent on July 1.
The case of Hayward is … curious. The Jazz were hoping he’d be more than he is.
Why I'm not sure?
As mentioned, he was on the floor more than any other player and was asked to do more, probably too much. He’s led the team in scoring — averaging 16 points — and got 5.2 assists, along with five rebounds. But he also turned the ball over the most — 2.7 times a game — and shot 41 percent, 31 percent from three. In each of his four seasons in the league, as Hayward has squeezed off more attempts, his shooting percentage has dropped, from 48 percent to 45 percent to 43 percent to this year’s low.
He’s taking too many shots outside his range, and he’s making bad decisions as to when to fire away in traffic. Hayward can still be a fine player. He might even become a fringe all-star. But the load of carrying a team is too much. He’d make a terrific third-option on a contending team.
Favors is the closest thing the Jazz have to an emerging elite player.
He is? Burks does to me. Kanter offensively. Favors defensively. Hayward all-around. Burke a lot to work on.
His defense has always been his priority, and he could become a great rim protector. He averaged 1.4 blocks this season — that number will go higher — and he also averaged 13.2 points and 8.7 boards. At the offensive end, the Jazz should have gone to Favors more this season because he already improved enough to make nearly 52 percent of his shots. Still, he ranked only fifth in attempts. He has to get the ball more and he must hit more than 67 percent of his free throws.
That's not a bad FT % for a big.
Burks showed the most improvement, doubling his scoring — to 14 points — and making 46 percent of his shots, despite ratcheting into the ionosphere their degree of difficulty.
His aggression at the offensive end rewarded him with more trips to the line than any other Jazz player. He made 75 percent. It will be interesting to see how the Jazz use Burks moving forward. Do they see him as a trusted go-to guy from hip to hop, or as a kind of mercurial, situational force off the bench?
Could depend on the draft, G and Burks own contact.
Kanter should have played more this season. It was wasteful that he didn’t. In his 26 minutes, the Jazz player who benefits more than any other from his time put up 12.1 points and hauled down 7.3 rebounds. He’s a gifted offensive presence, with evolving moves and a soft touch. His defense at times was a laugh a minute, but Kanter is capable of a better effort there than he showed. He needs strong coaching and court time. He’s a unique talent the Jazz should make more use of or trade for whatever it is they’re looking for.
Trade looks likely.
Either way, the forceful fact remains.
The Jazz have young players all around who can be good, a couple who can grow to be real good. But they still need what they don’t have: a player who somewhere in his bones can be great. With luck, and a few more losses, maybe they’ll get him from the only place they ever could, from the place this season was always — or always should have been — about.
Yeah, you know where.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.