The Doctor is IN: Who are the Utah Jazz?
Editor: Kate Jourdan currently lives with her autistic daughter and enjoys music, history and storytelling. She writes urban fantasy, thought-provoking blogs, and Utah Jazz observations. She has been a fan of the Utah Jazz for over twenty years, and relishes going toe-to-toe with conventional sport thoughts. You can find her on twitter @JazzyTameKate
My boyfriend recently got me interested in Doctor Who. For those who don’t know, it’s a British television series that has spanned numerous years and Doctors. Not one ‘Doctor’ is technically better than another — as long as you don’t ask fans — yet each of them make up parts, or facets of the sci-fi time traveler that handles situations through the universe in an attempt to protect humanity. He is really fascinated with humanity.
Watching the various podcasters, bloggers, news and radio personalities argue their points of what this Utah Jazz team has, that will make them better or worse than what NBA analysts predict, made me realize that this team is at the same point I was in August when I asked my boyfriend ‘Doctor Who?’
In this case, it is ‘Swat Lake City Who?’
I don’t think that there is a single answer that can complete the question. There was a decided lack of commentary from Ty Corbin and the front office this summer. With Dennis Lindsey and Kevin O’Connor playing secret service agents and only letting out information after a player leaks it via twitter or other means, it falls on us to piece together what will happen ourselves and hope we are right. It makes me want to jump up and down on the couch and scream at Salt Lake City going: These are too the players we are looking for, quit trying to play Jedi mind tricks on us, it doesn’t work.
Since stats tend to make my eyes cross as much as hydrothermal chemistry I can only answer it by what I see and feel. I have compiled a sizable list of things I found uniquely telling that helps me define the ‘pre playing’ Jazz team.
This week is Media Day and training camp. The Jazz have a free scrimmage for fans on Sat, Oct. 5th, and everyone will be putting their two cents in. So, here is a little fun for you to get your mind going.
It is up to us, Jazz Nation 2013, to dispel the decided lack of believers and assist ‘Swat Lake City Jazz’ by squashing their enemies in an attempt to dethrone the current evil ruler: Darth Bryant.
Lets face it, King James has a squadron we are not equipped for; however, we can take out his western support staff who forgot their throne in favor of territorial rule in the Western Conference. A move that cost them their sector.
To do this, you must not only believe in them, support and cheer for them, but you must also realize their unspoken potential. When they make their moves you will be able to help them by recognizing the signs and supporting the mission.
If you choose this mission, there will be decided opposition from fake deity worshipers, covert bases who have already moved to ban as many games from network television as they can get away with legally, and random mercenary commentators who have graded the Jazz poorly, near last in the league or Western Conference, because they are blinded by their alien dollar signs and lack of starting with a good foundation.
Here are your clues to watch out for, good luck, and may the force of ‘Swat Lake City Jazz’ be with you:
1- Rookie draft pick Rudy Gobert seemed more productive in Orlando Summer League with Jeremy Evans on the floor. They combined for 17 blocks and six steals just in those games at Summer League. When they were both on the floor, they rarely got in each others way. Gobert also seemed to frustrate the opposing players without showing signs of frustration himself.
2- From a fan point of view, if you subtract the fouls, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter seemed to have better movement with the rest of their new team. When they were on the floor together, with proper facilitation from their point guards, they were also less inclined to free movement as when they were teamed up with Paul Millsap or Al Jefferson on the floor last season, more often than not resulting in fouls.
3- Favors and Kanter both spent more than one workout session with new Jazz big man coach Karl Malone. Some interview highlights included talking about how big men should be able to beat their point guard down the floor and be aware for a possible facilitating shot at the rim on the run.
4- John Stockton and Karl Malone were both very competitive teammates. As a result, not only did Malone and Jazz president Randy Rigby give radio interviews imparting that Malone was telling Favors about how important it was to beat his point guard down the court in transition, but Stockton had a similar talk with Trey Burke and Alec Burks in Spokane, making sure that they had the speed to spot the floor.
5- The Jazz’s preferred summer training facility, P3, in Santa Barbara, California, helps more than you might imagine. Gordon Hayward has spent time not only training with new Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, but also with former Jazzman sharpshooter Kyle Korver at P3, then also at St. Vincent Sports Performance Center in Carmel. Horny was here to instruct him last year on not only the squaring of his base for long shots, but also for the fluidity of motion. P3, and affiliates, helped Hayward (as they did Korver I am sure) with his Lower Extremity Hypertrophy and Jump Plyometrics. This, in turn, could be a key to why Hayward was back at P3 before training camp with none other than Andris Biedrins — a perennial P3 attendant — and Gobert.
6- Anyone else notice the stealth that Andre Iguodala trained some this summer with Coach Lucas?
— Andre Iguodala (@andre) August 8, 2013
A week later John Lucas III was in California passing on the points with the rest of the A squadron of Jump In and dance early team:
— P3 (@P3sportscience) August 19, 2013
7- Even with NBA professional-level prediction stats unavailable for Burke and Gobert, this year’s starting five predictability factors come in within ten or so of last year’s starting five, without working together in the off season.
8- Did you know Ian Clark, Rudy Gobert and others went to a haunted house together the weekend before Training Camp? How often did we — pardon the pun — scream for players to work together off the court and on last year? Yet, we are getting some of it now.
9- If you look for clues, the possible offensive changes that should happen are all over the news.
Hayward said the Jazz are going to need Kanter (7.2 ppg in 2012-13), projected starting shooting guard Alec Burks (7.0 ppg) and champing-at-the-bit Jeremy Evans (5.8 ppg) to fill the offensive void created by management’s new direction.
Key words: Management’s new direction.
Also, there are numerous hints throughout summer articles about Hayward doing a double pick for a pick & roll now that there are more diverse ball handlers in the rotations, as well as his ability to power out the three by leaning on a cover defense rotation by solid pairing bigs in the paint.
I do not know how to explain it as I am not technically minded, but to a fan this hints at a move away from basic pick and pop and the half-hearted pick and rolls that were attempted last year to a more solid pick, to rotating players working in teams of two across the areas of the floor, depending on what team we are playing. In other words a faster facilitation and more speed in rotations.
10- Brandon Rush came out to Utah, house hunted, asked fans opinions, and went to training at P3 before September even started (and kept up a decent communication on Twitter over the summer once the trade was announced).
11- Biedrins was in Utah, not only working on advanced corrections for his gaps of play but also working with other players since the Jazz opened the Zions Bank Center Court for players to freely get together before training camp.
12- Evans beat Dwight Howard’s vertical jump this year, a new facility record at P3.
13- If you weren’t shuffling your deck fast enough, the Jazz added:
A- Brad Jones, promoted to Assistant Coach from Player Development after moving up last year from a D-League coaching position.
B- Alex Jensen at Player Development Assistant (Coach of the Year in D-League)
C- David Fredman promoted to Director of Pro Player Personnel
D- Richard Smith to Executive Director of Basketball Operations
E- Bart Taylor as Coordinator of Scouting
F- Isaiah Wright hired/promoted as Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach. (Warning: I believe this to be a rogue agent, or promotion from intern to open up an internship to work for P3 Peak Performance in conjunction with our own Jedi of Player Health, Gary Briggs.)
G- And last, but not least, Justin Zanik as the team’s Assistant General Manager — who early spy reports state could be not only an operational matter, but may have insight into the pesky over-payment of other teams to key players in an attempt to strip the Jazz of franchise players by forcing us to try to pay max deals for players who have not performed at top levels yet.
14- Have you noticed the dynamic duo’s? These are players that either end up being lumped in together, or have trained various parts together through the summer. Jazz should be looking for a new system, or how to enhance their system. I think its a string of clues:
a- Kanter and Favors with Karl Malone
b- Burks and Burke with John Stockton
c- Hayward with Biedrins and Gobert
d- Hayward and Favors not only in USA camp together, but able to work together in the scrimmage.
e- Burks and Favors (At P3 together back in June)
f- Burke and Lucas III (Rumored to have sessions together before Sept)
g- Burks and Evans (Fans screaming desperately for them to have more time)
h- Evans and Marvin Williams (Possibly training for better 4/stretch 4/ power off the shot to get Jazz away from the ‘Need a huge PF’ mentality)
I- Clark and Burks possibly trained as combo guards.
J- Jazz Bear and the new Jumbotrons of the E.S.A.
And to prove that I am a supreme Jedi master: The Jazz picked up two guards pre-training camp. I asked a couple people on Twitter, are they moving Burks and Clark towards combo guards? Either way they have to trade Clark or remove McNeal. One hour later, they waived Jerel McNeal. (Although I do not wish him ill, it was simply a matter of schematics.)
I picked 42 wins but hold my right to change that after the first full month of play, when I see what the ever mute, and immune to torture, Ty Corbin has changed in his plans.