Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Just a Jimmer Away

On the heels of Spike's Sloan/Williams post-mortem, a discussion of the future of the Jazz sparked. Its a little known fact the the Jazz will likely have two lottery picks in this summer's NBA draft. The jokes have been pouring in about which white stiff the Jazz will draft or if they'll take Jimmer just to put butts in the seats. I personally think they are going to build around Gordon Hayward, flanking him with both Jimmer and Kyle Singler Spike's rebuttal to all the jokes turned out to be a very interesting observation about team building approaches. Here is a running dialogue of our Basketball Reference navigating and amatuer analysis.

5:25:36 PM Spike: I don't want to get my hopes up about winning the lottery, besides the Jazz are better at late draft picks anyway.
Maynor at #20 in the first
Millsap at #47 in the second
Ronnie Brewer at #14 in the first
CJ at #34 in the second
Mo Williams at #47 in the second
Kris Humphries at #14 in the first
Jarron Collins (yeah, I know, but still in the league) at #48 in the second
AK at #24 in the first
Padgett at #28 in the first
Nazr Mohammad at #29 in the first
Jacque Vaughn at #27 in the first
Shandon Anderson at #54 in the second
Bryon Bussell at #45 in the second
Dell Curry at #15 in the first
Mark Eaton at # 72 the same year as Dominique
Bobby Hansen at #54
Wes Matthews undrafted
And lest we forget, Malone at #13 and Stockton at #16.

5:42:49 PM Charlie T: Very interesting to say the least. Maybe the Jazz need to trade down. I would like to say that Miami has had the same draft success as Utah, but thats not the case. At least during Riley's tenure.
Eddie House at #37 in the second
Caron Butler at #10 in the first
Wade at #5 in the first
Mike Beasley at #2 in the first
Glen Rice at #4 in the first
Sherman Douglas at #28 in the first
Steve Smith at #5 in the first
Harold Miner at #12 in the first (was good for a dunk contest and the first "next Jordan" torchbearer)
Matt Geiger at #42 the same year had a longer career
Kurt Thomas at #10 in the first

5:46:27 PM Spike: Seems like Miami is really pretty good (minus Beasley) of knowing which lottery type players to get, but their late round picks are iffier.

5:46:42 PM Charlie T: Yeah...high picks they do great at but with second rounders and late firsts, they find no value.

5:49:56 PM Spike: Talent evaluation has a lot of different approaches, I suppose.

5:50:05 PM Charlie T: Sure. Riley has always looked at picks as assets more than anything, assets to trade.

5:51:22 PM Spike: It would be interesting to see how LA drafted when he was there, same with the Knicks. In Miami, he seems to gravitate towards bringing in proven commoditites.
From 81 to 90 w/ the Lakers, the only real keepers from the draft were:
Nobody in 81
Worthy as the #1 in 82 (no brainer, he does well with high picks)
Nobody in 83
Nobody in 84
AC Green at #23 in 85
Nobody in 86-87
David Rivers at #35 in 88, but he was nothing
Divac in 89
Elden Campbell in 90

5:57:04 PM Charlie T: Riley from 91-95 with the Knicks:
Greg Anthony in 91
Hubert Davis in 92
Charlie Ward and Monty Williams in 94
And he only drafted 4 players over all during his time there. No picks in 93 or 95

5:58:02 PM Spike: Everybody else was added to those teams some other way.

6:00:01 PM Charlie T: So really, Riley's offseason this year was a microcosm of his history of putting teams together. Ship off anything that isn't proven and make room for the other pieces.

6:02:17 PM Spike: Exactly. 95-96 in Miami, he cleans house after losing to the Zenmaster in Chicago and brings in Zo, Hardaway, PJ Brown, and Majerle.

6:03:12 PM Charlie T: He had Juwon Howard signed the next year but the league vetoed the contract.

6:03:49 PM Spike: Then in 2004 he traded assets Butler, Grant, and Odom for Shaq. Then added Payton, Williams, and Walker.

6:04:40 PM Charlie T: With the Knicks it was a little different. He had Ewing to build around so some of the pieces were more complimentary, and also designed to beat MJ in Chicago.

6:05:56 PM Spike: 92-93: traded Mark Jackson for Doc Rivers, Charles Smith, Bo Kimble and picked up Rolando Blackman and Anthony Mason. Started turning Starks into a defensive stopper.
93-94: Acquired Derek Harper

6:07:15 PM Charlie T: Thats Riley. Always making big moves, with the summer of LeBron being no exception. We shouldn't have been surprised that he came away with a haul. Where as the Jazz are aquiring the assets they are used to using for rebuilding.

6:08:26 PM Spike: Fascinating. I'm sure this pattern exists with a lot of other franchises as well, but its interesting to see how it continues to manifest itself in Utah and Miami.

Monday, March 21, 2011

What A Short Strange Trip It's Been

This is not an edited post. It's not even thought out, at all. I will be vomiting thoughts, thoughts that I may deny before posting, thoughts that I may only half believe. But I've digested for long enough that I thought it might be nice– even just for my own mental health– to purge.

A lot has changed in the relatively short time since my last post about The Utah Jazz.

Back then, we had Hall of Famer Jerry Sloan and All-Star Deron Williams. Now we have Ty Corbin, Devin Harris, rookie Derrick Favors, and some off-year first round draft picks. Even after that notorious Bulls game, I was sticking with D-Will. I was loyal. Hearing later, from a very inside source (like, IN the locker room inside source), that Sloan leaving was "100% Williams" couldn't completely sour me on the guy. Even now, watching him dig in with the Nets (and improve his hair situation!) makes me pretty sad. But I guess he had to go. He wasn't staying.

Now what?

Injuries. Mehmet Okur played, what, a fittingly lucky 13 games for the Jazz this year and was finally relegated to Out For The Season status last week. Memo is no MVP, but he changes the lane and the opposing defense quite a bit. And this might seem way out in left field for those of you who think he's a slow white bomber, but I think he's an underrated, gutsy defender. There, I said it. He's no Bill Russell, but he's no matador either (ahem, Boozer...Amare...). And Memo is just one of many recurring, cursed injuries. Every team has them, but this year has seemed especially injurious to me.

Corbin. Give the guy some time. I don't love what's happening, but I don't know that it's his fault. I know there were some players who said that Corbin had plays that Sloan wasn't incorporating into the game plan, but it's hard for me to think that Sloan wouldn't have won more games with this lineup. That's the curse of following up a hard-working, blue collar, tenacious legend, Ty. Get used to it. Jazz fans will give you time and support, but the Statues are always there.

Sloan. There is absolutely nothing I can say about Jerry Sloan here. He coached the team for most of my life, ever since I cared about basketball. When kids were calling for his head and wanting "new basketball" to start in Utah, I defended him and called them idiots (still do). The guy deserved better. He is one of four people in the history of the Jazz that stand above the rest– two of the others are legendary players and the fourth is an owner who kept the Jazz in Utah. I'm rambling a lot for a guy who has nothing to say, but still, there's nothing I can say about Sloan that his history of old school grit and toughness and heart don't already show you.

The New Jazz. This is a new era, no doubt about it. We are rebuilding. The Nuggets left their trade with new life and playoff hopes. We left ours with a ton of question marks. But, while the trade made me mad (i have since come to peace with it) and I'll never really think that Sloan left like he should've and the initial games were hard to watch just from an emotional standpoint, I am still a Jazz fan. I love watching this team, even with the hard losses. I enjoy this team much like the early AK-47 years– getting to see rooks like Hayward, Favors, and even Jeremy Evans start to get the pro game, getting to see a PG like Harris start to find footing with this team and this crowd, still loving the heart that guys like Milsap show, the mutant martian that AK is, and the beast (and leader) that Al Jefferson has become. These storylines, yes, have to temporarily take the place of winning. Winning just isn't happening right now. But what is sportsfandom if you're only EVER winning? Then you're a Lakers fan. And we all know how douchey and bandwagony that is. Though, you do save a lot of time only having to watch 2 quarters of basketball per game.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I Can't Quit You

Spike has been trying to be angry at Deron Williams. His moratorium on all things NBA (including this blog) has been impressive and consistent, but it turns out that its all a rouse. He was outed Monday night in the highlights of the Nets/Celtics game celebrating a big 3-pointer by D-Will in the 4th quarter. (He's the one in the red and white striped polo)

Monday, March 7, 2011

I'll Go Along With The Charade, Until I Can Think My Way Out

Wednesday Spike and I had the following exchange:

Charlie T: The "W" word that ends in "inning" hasn't even been going around for a week and I'm already tired of it.

Spike: Is this a heat reference?

At the time it wasn't, but as the weekend went on I wasn't so sure.

I originally wrote it to declare my departure from the Crazy Train of Sound Bites and Video Clips coming from He Who Shall Not Be Named. (both to be referred to as CTOSBAVC and HWSNBN from here on out) Thanks to this deluge of pop culture fodder, certain words have instantly lost their meaning. One is a flavor of Sno-Cone and the other is a word used to descibe what happens when you have more points than the other team at the end of the game. The Sno-Cone reference is less relevant here. I'm more interested in the word that starts with "W" and ends with "inning".

During Weekend Update, Seth Meyers ran down the Winners and Losers of the whole CTOSBAVC coming from HWSNBN. The biggest loser was the "W" word. According to Seth, it just doesn't mean the same thing anymore. I thought it was a very valid point and it gave me a clue as to what was going on with the Heat.

Back in August, LeBron completely changed the way NBA players handle free agency. He collaborated with ESPN to have a one hour special to announce his intentions. You may have heard about it. This set off a chain reaction with Bosh and Wade both opting to join him in Miami, which set off another chain of events that led to Mike MIller and Udonis Haslem taking huge discounts to join as well as a bunch of other veterans and 3 pt specialists to join the Heat for the minimum. By themselves, these were not new ideas. But all together, now that was something new. The Heat became the first team to completely strip their roster down to the league minimum of one player. They also became the first team to have 3 of the top 5 draft picks of a single draft. The firsts continued for this trend setting team. They were ahead of the curve, transforming the way things are done in the NBA on the fly.

Now back to the "W" word. The Heat had to stay ahead of the curve. The word had lost all meaning and significance. They wanted nothing to do with this bandwagon. Almost instantly the world shifted its view from "W#%&ing is Everything" to "Everything is W#%&ing". So like all good trend setters, the Heat decided that they were done with the "W" word. Even if it was painful and might come with some sad eyes, there would be no more W#%&ing.

And so it was. They settled in trying out as many different methods of not W#%&ing as they could. Close games, blowouts, last second decisions, against good teams, against contenders, blowing big leads. It has proven to be a fairly difficult task, requiring creativity at the end of games and poker faces during press conferences. We know this is some of the best talent in the NBA, so I have faith that they will be able to keep this up as long as they need to. If I could be on how long the CTOSBAVC will last versus the Heat's counter-culture movement, I would be the farm on the Heat.

While I don't doubt the Heat's resolve in standing up to HWSNBN, for my sake I hope HWSNBN folds. And soon.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Tale of Two Trades

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. It was the end of a life-long saga, it was the end of a week-long surprise. We had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going to heaven, we were all going directly the other way. In short, it was Carmelo and Deron, it was Axl and Thom.

It’s the best of times in Manhattan. It’s the best of times in the house of Melo and LaLa. Oddly enough, it’s also the best of times in Denver. Denver can move on. They have played a tiresome role throughout this saga. I would like to liken them unto the studio engineer who got stuck working on “Chinese Democracy” with Axl Rose. A thankless job in more ways than one. But that’s not where the similarities end between Carmelo to the Knicks and “Chinese Democracy”. Just like Axl’s final opus, we knew it was coming for so long that, when it finally happened, we didn’t even care. Collectively, as sports fans, we were more relieved that it was over. You can see this relief on the faces of Nuggets fans as well as the players. I don’t think the fans will remember this trade beyond the end of the season, much in the same way we don’t remember that “Chinese Democracy” finally came out.

Across the river, something different was happening. New Jersey somehow landed a guy who was candidate numero uno for the NBA’s version of a franchise tag. This was about as unexpected as Radiohead dropping a new album just days after announcing it (and then releasing it a day earlier than that). The world seemed to stop and jaws dropped when Williams got traded. Likewise when ‘King of Limbs” hit. It consumed everyone with ears to hear and twitters to tweet. But that’s not where the similarities end between Deron to the Nets and “King of Limbs”. Nobody knew what to make of either happening. We figured “King of Limbs” was a big deal, but opinions were across the board. It was too much to digest without fair warning. Same with Deron to the Nets. It had to be a good thing. He’s the best PG in the league going to the richest owner in the league and eventually to Brooklyn. But it didn’t seem to instantly energize the Nets. Or their fanbase. But it should be a big deal. I think ultimately both “King of Limbs” and Deron as a Net will matter and we will figure out how to understand them. It’s going to take longer than a week or two, heck, it might even take a couple years.

When we can finally wrap our heads around Deron the Net and “King of Limbs”, we will realize that Deron as a Net is to Carmelo as a Knick, just like “King of Limbs” is to “Chinese Democracy”. One will have a lasting impact, and the other will become a catch phrase for players refusing to sign extension and instead wanting to be traded. That’s an incredibly long phrase that desperately needs some help.
I can’t wait for next season when Dwight Howard starts pulling a Melo. Wake me when that’s over too.