Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What We've Learned....

Confession. I listen to probably 4-6 hours of sports talk radio a day. Call me a junkie, addict, whatever. I'm okay with it. There are far worse things to be addicted to, and while I have been known to mumble Jim Rome drops in my sleep, I feel like sports radio has in some ways, made me a better person. At the end of every show, Dan Patrick, (after whom The Dan Patrick Show is aptly named) goes around the room with his "Danettes" and asks what each of them learned. A typical day can be filled with little nuances or insignificant facts, but the point that I think Patrick makes, whether he means to or not, is that there are things that can be learned by looking back at something as a whole, and recognizing what it is that did or did not happen, be it small or large, normal or unusual. I can't think of anything that this may apply to more than this years' Jazz season. With all due respect to the amusement park juggernaut that is Lagoon, the ups and downs of this year in Utah Jazz Basketball were the almost like a perfect storm; interesting roster mix, shortened season, first full year for Head Coach Ty Corbin, an unexpected return to the playoffs, and a roster overhaul in the off-season that also has included the front office. Arguably with a shortened season, you don't want to base too much of what we know going forward on a schedule that for practically every team included three games, in three nights, in three different cities, but what good would we be as fans if we didn't dissect every moment, analyze it, and spend the entire off-season determining how it relates to next year? Consider it your off-season workout as a fan. And don't be surprised if you find out a few things you didn't notice right off the bat....

The Youth Movement has Arrived

Okay, so it wasn't fair to build up into a tease like that, only to start off with perhaps the most obvious fact of the season, but let's break it down like so; this might be the most important thing to take from this season. The at-times superb play of Gordon Hayward, and the playoff emergence of "Beast Mode" aka Derrick Favors hulk-like alter ego (I submit Tiago Splitter as exhibit A and B) made this a pretty obvious fact to everyone, including the players. Paul Millsap stated in his exit interview that he felt he had proven that he could play the three, clearly trying to sell either Coach Ty or Management on the fact that he still has value as a starter, because Favors play against a still-productive Tim Duncan was nothing short of awesome. Raja Bell made it clear that he wanted out, deep down probably knowing that Burks' play throughout the season had relegated him to little more than a bench role, and even third year guy DeMarre Carroll threw his hat, (dreads?) into the youth movement ring with a heart and hustle-filled performance in game four that undoubtedly had many Jazz fans penciling him in as their under the radar all-star pick for next season, something I say only slightly tongue in cheek. Bottom line, as we move forward, it stands to reason that success the next few years rests more on the shoulders of Hayward, Favors, Burks and Kanter than it does on the good, solid veterans that Corbin relied on often to guide this team to the postseason. If they improve like Kanter's body has this off-season, I predict Amar's meltdown from excitement to win an Emmy.

Motor City meets Salt City

In several interviews since the end of the season, Kevin O'Connor has referenced the Detroit Pistons when asked about how he was trying to build the team. One of the most widely accepted methods of thought in the NBA currently is the need for a Superstar to win a championship, something that we can effectively confirm all the way back into the eighties, with one exception. Detroit. Clearly O'Connor and Jazz brass have come to the conclusion that staying competitive while recruiting a superstar is an unlikely occurrence, and O'Connor's magic iPhone app has locked in on a few traits for all the players he's brought it this off-season. Almost universally, every player turned Jazzman was described by outsiders as tough, defensively capable, with the ability to shoot decent from the outside. Not surprisingly, those Motor City teams were constructed similarly, with Chauncey and Rip Hamilton being the dead-eye shooters able to get it done in late games. Will Mo Williams take that role for Chauncey? Who will become the scorer for the Jazz? Hayward? Burks? Randy Foye? Can Marvin Williams become the lockdown defender that Tayshaun Prince was known for? Can Utah be the blue-collar, Dudley Doright version of the Pistons? If nothing else, with a young roster of talent and loads of cap space, it's worth figuring out right now, so you can fine tune a championship run in a few years, after Kobe, Lebron, and Kevin Durant have left each other dead like the closing scene of The Departed. Timing is everything, after all.

The Jazz are smart(er?) than fans give them credit for.

I'm not much for trolling, and for the most part I try not to debate too much over twitter, but I also do keep up with a lot of what the fans have to say, and for the most part, it isn't always good. There is an itis that seems to be spreading amongst sports fans in general to doubt whatever it is that their team says in the media, or to

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