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All posts for the month June, 2015

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Are any Jazz fans excited about the selection of Trey Lyles out of Kentucky at #12? If they exist, none were in attendance at the Jazz’ ESA draft party Thursday evening, where apathy (perhaps atrophy?) ruled the day. No cheering and no booing after the pick was announced, just a bunch of shoulder shrugs before the crowd descended to take their shot at minor league baseball tickets (hey, this is Utah and we’re talking about free stuff – these guys would dunk their grandma if it meant a freebee). In fact, few moments were cause for any rise from the crowd on draft night. First was the selection of Frank (The Tank) Kamisnky by the Hornets at 9, which elicited cries of relief as we realized Jazz brass could no longer be tempted by yet another tall white guy (way to take one for the team Charlotte). And second (opposite reaction) was after ESPN’s Jalen Rose compared the new Jazz man Lyles to Carlos Boozer – half of the Jazz fans in attendance simultaneously choked on their snow cones.
But what do Jazz fans really know? Heck, they booed John Stockton back in 84 and more recently almost killed one Jazz season ticket holder in 2010 after he’d won the opportunity to announce the selection of Gordon Hayward – the poor guy barely got out the first syllable before he was booed off the podium, never to be heard from again.

So maybe Jazz fan has this one right – there really isn’t a lot to stand up and shout about in Lyles. He didn’t play starter minutes at Kentucky making his stat line look quite pedestrian – 8.7 p/g, 5.2 r/g, and just 1.1 a/g in the 23.0 minutes he averaged on the floor. His 49% field goal percentage is not bad but not great either for a guy who stayed close to the basket most of the game and he showed limited range with the jumper. The best that Kentucky coach Calipari could do on Thursday was to label Lyles his team’s “X-Factor” – hmmm, the X-Factor is not as good as being his teams best player or best big or best rebounder. I can’t expend a lot of energy on an X-factor. No, it would have been much more fun if the Tank had been on the board and the Jazz had taken him – bedlam, or if there had been a trade up to snag the sliding Justise Winslow, or if the Jazz had picked up sharp shooter Devin Booker who seemed to be the crowd favorite.

My take: the rising Jazz made the right pick with Lyles. I know, it’s even more boring of me to agree with a boring pick. And it’s true that Lyles is not a jump-out-of-the-building athlete and does not appear to really excel yet in any aspect of the game but he does have size and a skill set that the Jazz like and need. But what Lyles does appear to possess is that good feel for the game and an NBA power forward body still growing. The comparison to Boozer is not a bad one as Lyles is very nifty around the basket and has excellent footwork for a 19 year old. Already a better natural passer than Boozer ever was with a better handle facing the basket, and the jumper looks good going up, giving hope that his range could be extended with time. With Kanter gone, Lyles fills the need for a big who can fit into the Jazz’ motion offense and play off the pick and role – a skill he reportedly showed in spades during his Utah workout. Jazz fans may have wanted the shooter in Booker at 12 but Lyles is the more versatile pick being able to play the 3 or the 4 – the Jazz will just have to find shooters some where else.

Lyles is dull, but he’ll work.

— P-Mac

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This blurb is really the long way of addressing a recent surge in local optimism, and saying Get off Trey Burke’s back, he’s actually been serviceable, as in — wouldn’t you like a Jarrett Jack or Jamal Crawford (bit of a reach) of your own, Jazz fans?  But seriously, Zygimantas Sabonis is ALSO serviceable for such squads as practice and church ball and the Mad Ants &tc.  So let the second son of Arvydas rain down liquid skyhook bricks in a far away land or right up north in an Idaho barn-like structure, just so long as the Jazz stear clear of Wright.

Didn’t Trey Burke snag a handful of scoring leads last year?  And didn’t he hit a few buzzer beaters?  AKA, didn’t he technically win a few games by himself, or by “ flick of the wrist,” as one deadpan announcer might say?  Careful what you wish for.  Delon Wright will not solve your backup point guard problems, if in fact you have any.  Plus, how many Utes have panned-out in the league anyhow?

Cue thundering double high five — high ten? — with Andrew Bogut for becoming the all-time most actively counter-productive contribute to a championship team ever.

Over-zealous Ute-loving Burke-nay-saying Jazz fans: if you’d leave the likes of Keith Van Horn on the table, I’d leave Wright there too.

— Deej

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The names of the basketball could’ve-been’s and want-to-be’s are stacked high like so many mammoth bones held fast in the Holocene tarpit that is the tail-end of the NBA draft lottery. Hilton Armstrong, Acie Law, Jason Thompson, Tyler Hansbrough, Earl Clark… and so on and so on. Sure, you can find a few names that can be considered something better than role and bench players in the 12-14 pick range, but they are sparse among the debris in the center of most drafts. So what to do if you’re the Jazz? – a team with a very young but promising core, an inexperienced (for the most part) bench, and looking hard at breaking into the playoffs with the surprise emergence of the long/tall Frenchman Gobert.

What to do?

Check your mock drafts Jazz fans, there are 19- and 20-year-old players there that can do some good things. But many can’t dribble, others can’t shoot, and the few that can shoot can’t seem to move their feet fast enough to guard opposing players. Right now the Jazz brain trust hates them all. They’ve watched film and staged workouts ad nauseam and have noted every flaw in their subjects’ immature games. And what they’re thinking right now is exactly what they should do: draft none of them. That’s right. With the 12th pick in the 2015 NBA draft the Jazz should pick none of the players that everybody thinks they should pick – not Oubre, not Frank, not Turner, not Lyles. Instead, the Jazz should pick Delon Wright out of the University of Utah.

Wait… what?

But P-Mac, the Jazz would never pick a local kid. Too much pressure to play him right away. The old Jeff Judkins Fred Roberts dilemma. And the Jazz shouldn’t waste a #12 on a player who is not “projected” to go until somewhere in the 20’s. Look Jazz fans, I didn’t say the Jazz should pick Wright at 12, although they might as well, and I’m not saying you should bet your neighbor at the Jazz draft party your free hotdog that they will pick the Ute point guard at some slot during Thursday’s draft (get lower) – but I’m telling you it’s what they should do, and here’s why: We know that no Jazz brass in their right mind would draft another really tall white guy so Frank is out. And the Jazz don’t need another wait-three-years, one-and-done project on their bench and books either. Wright is 23, a four-year guy. A smart, versatile fella who can handle the ball, defend, get to the basket and the foul line (he’s both a stellar and clutch free throw shooter), and could actually give you a little something in 2015-16.

But P-Mac, what about spacing the floor with a stretch four?  Oh brother – you guys just like saying “stretch four.” Really, who at number 12 is going to help the Jazz with floor spacing in these playoff push years? Also, picking Wright gives the Jazz more flexibility at the point guard position (back up or third point guard) if you decide to move Trey Burke and he can play alongside other point guards if needed.

I know it’s shocking to think about – but that’s why we’re here. And I can feel you coming around to the idea. D Lindsey should too.

 

— P-Mac