sports, Utah Jazz

Utah Jazz Season Update #1

All non-NBA fans, feel free to skip today’s post. NBA fans who could care less about Utah, you may pretty much do the same. The other two people still reading (Denys & Scott), please enjoy. 

 

Suns Jazz Basketball

Paul Millsap plays with the fortitude of a thousand men.

 

Everything that is said here comes with two asterisks attached. The first asterisk is: It’s still November and nobody, including many of the players, cares yet about the 2008-2009 NBA season. The second is: Deron Williams has not been healthy, and assuming his return to the line-up last night is permanent, it’s not worth wasting time fretting over Utah’s early season performance without him. Williams has essentially been out for the last five weeks with an ankle sprain. Why anyone in the Jazz organization thought he should play back-to-back nights earlier this month if his ankle wasn’t fully recovered is beyond me. 

What is also beyond me is why Bill Simmons’s (completely justified) man crush on Chris Paul has led him to slander Williams. Simmons said this in his most recent column:

I argued before the season, passionately, that Paul was in a different league and earned myself a few death threats from the Salt Lake City area. (You stay classy, Utah.) Check out their 2009 stats through four weeks:

• Paul: 20.5 PPG, 12.2 APG, 2.9 steals, 52.3% FG, 85.6% FT. 
• Williams: 7.5 PPG, 8.0 APG, 0.0 steals, 26.7% FG, 66.7% FT.

I mean, that’s a landslide! Come on! Can we all agree to stop arguing about this?

Seriously, Bill? It’s not worth mentioning that Williams has played in all of two games this year? On a bum ankle? This is like comparing how fast two cars can go from zero to 60 when one of them is in the shop with a flat tire. There are legitimate arguments for Paul over Williams, but this is not one of them.

Other observations on Utah’s 10-6 start thus far:

Jerry Sloan got his 1,000th NBA win with the Jazz. He became the first coach in league history to win 1000 games with one team. And judging from the way he left the court after the November 7 win over the astoundingly (historically?) bad Oklahoma City Thunder, you’d have thought someone just told him his dog died. “I wished I could’ve crawled under the bleachers and got out of there a little quicker,” Sloan said after the game. (This is an actual quote.)

Andrei Kirilenko thinks it’s 2004. This is a good thing. He doesn’t look like a corpse out there and coming off the bench as a sixth man has rejuvenated him. This also makes me taking him in round seven of my fantasy draft look slightly less insane. Also, I’m sure everyone has this bookmarked already, but here’s his official website.

     (Since I don’t anticipate anyone actually clicking on that link, here is a photograph from the site of Andrei during a photo shoot with the Russian girl band KuBa.)

This man is a god in Russia.

 

Losing to the Wizards is not a good thing. This would fall under the “Utah without Williams” note above, except Williams actually played in this game. As did Carlos Boozer. It was in the middle of a 1-4 road trip which included a loss at Charlotte. Those two teams are a combined 6-20. I bet this is what Kobe Bryant uses as material for trash-talking come playoff time. (“You think you can win on the road in Staples Arena in the conference finals, Deron? You can’t even win at the Verizon Center.”)

Injuries are rampant. Aside from Williams, Boozer, Kirilenko, Kyle Korver, Matt Harpring and the 76-year-old Brevin Knight have all missed games due to injury. Mehmet Okur was out of the line-up while he went to Turkey to visit his ailing father. And in the Even-I-Don’t-Care Department, Jarron Collins is considering elbow surgery which would keep him out at least two months. 

     It’s worth mentioning here that as a Jazz fan, I’m just not used to injuries. I think a sprained ankle or broken finger is the end of the world. This is what John Stockton and Karl Malone did to me. They missed a combined 66 games in their 18 seasons together. Even when you don’t include the playoffs, that’s nearly 98% of their career that they suited up together, ailing bodies be damned. I’m getting teary just bringing this up.

This squad may be the deepest team Utah has ever had. The bright side of all these injuries is that everyone is getting some experience, most of all Ronnie Price, C.J. Miles (averaging over 10 ppg) and Kosta Koufus, while Paul Millsap is averaging 11 and 6 and shooting 55% from the floor in just 26 minutes a game. As a result of this…

I am considering picking up Millsap in my fantasy league. I should not need to add here that “Utah’s Starting Lineup” is not a threat to come in anywhere near first place, as I have put most of my focus into acquiring the entire Jazz roster (completed last week when I got Okur off waivers) instead of picking a team that could actually win. This explains why I would seriously consider adding Millsap and dumping, say, Brad Miller or Jermaine O’Neal. I’m the guy everyone wants in a fantasy league because he’ll always pad the bottom third of the standings. I am beginning to understand what running the Clippers must be like.

A few other NBA-at-large observations:

Derrick Rose is good. This doesn’t need further explanation. Scott, I am happy for you.

I love watching the Spurs lose. I am comfortable with the fact that wishing continued physical harm on a collective group of individuals makes me a terrible person. I’d love it even more if Gregg Popovich got a really nasty face rash or something.

Allen Iverson will not help Detroit win anything. Joe Dumars is not dumb. But him saying that Iverson “allows us to be very competitive and have a chance right now” is hogwash. At least Joe D likes to roll the dice. (And yes, I know that the Pistons won in L.A.)

     On the other hand…

Chauncey Billups will help Denver win a lot. I think Billups has always been overrated, but the native son is a great fit for the Nuggets. It almost makes up for Denver shamelessly trading Camby for cap space. Conversely, this is not good news for the Jazz. If there’s a bright spot in all this, it’s that George Karl knows how to steer a team off the rails. That helps me sleep easier at night.

Stephon Marbury is a total absolute headcase. This has been well known for quite some time, but it’s impressive how Starbury can take it to new levels. Thank you, Mike D’Antoni, for reinforcing that what every Little League/Youth Soccer/Biddy Basketball coach teaches about attitude and teamwork applies to professional athletes as well. The best part is that Marbury is still on the books for $21 million this year. Who doesn’t love to hate the Knicks?

My brother should be going to Blazers games every night. Quiz: Which two teams are still undefeated at home? The Cavs you might guess, but who would’ve picked Portland? What’s more, three of those wins were overtime or one point victories. I hereby publicly declare my man crush on Brandon Roy.

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8 thoughts on “Utah Jazz Season Update #1

  1. Ben, I apologize with all that I’ve got for not commenting on your previous NBA post. I didn’t understand the backlash it received. Yes, it was long, but what a read! I breezed through it as if peddling a tandem bicycle with Hubie Brown through a bunny-filled Park of Awesome. It was that good. And, oh! the SI Preview Issue. Our vaunted tradition.

    I was actually going to email you the other day to apologize for the Bulls beating the Jazz in Salt Lake City. “Apologize” because it was Larry Hughes making the winning shot. Oh, Larry Hughes. Dear, sweet Larry Hughes. He of the myriad neck tattoos and the undiscerning shot selection. Oh, oh, Larry Hughes. Oh.

    I clicked on AK47’s website. Um…apparently this thing is 1) written by mentally debilitated Russian dogs, who 2) inhabit a universe a solid SIX YEARS behind ours. This is from the MAIN PAGE:

    Andrei Kirilenko’s club the Utah Jazz signed a contract (the details of which are not knows) with the point guard of the national team of Puerto Rico, the best passer of the World Championships-2002 in Indianapolis (5.7 assists/game) Carlos Arroyo who played last season for Toronto and Denver.

    Wow.

    Two more things: I’m pretty sure Simmons was baiting Jazz fans with those stats. He knows they were cooked. He’s just trying to get your goose. Don’t let him, Ben. Keep fighting.

    Finally: I would accept your well-wishes re: Rose if it weren’t for the total turd fest that is the Vinny Del Negro era. Holy Flux Capacitor. I CANNOT BELIEVE THE BULLS ARE COACHED BY SOMEONE INTENTIONALLY SPORTING A MULLET WHO NEVER COACHED SO MUCH AS A FATHERS-SONS GAME IN HIS LIFE.

    Here’s how many Bulls fans feel about THAT:

    http://www.blogabull.com/2008/11/20/666015/bulls-blazers-post-game-th

    Love you, buddy. Happy Thanksgiving

  2. As for my fantasy team, I’m on par for a top 3 ranking all season. Especially now that Deron Williams is back. You know my team runs deep when the guy that got my 15 assists last night was my third round pick.

    You’ll also be happy to know that I have both Okur and Korver on my team. Scratch that, just dumped Korver for Eric Gordon. I feel like that’s a solid move. Thanks for the tip, Sports Guy!

  3. As one of the two people to actually read this, I am expected to respond- so I will drop my wisdom with the enthusiasm that Lamar Odom displays when he fires up a bong after a home win.

    I really have nothing to say about the Jazz because the fine minds that run TNT and ESPN have seen it fit not to broadcast any of Utah’s games. So I am stuck watching reruns of “Cold Case” and the African-American Christmas Dramedy, “This Christmas.” Therefore, my mancrushes have centered more around Idris Elba (Stringer Bell of The Wire) and Chris Brown (the guy who’s hooking up with Rihanna). I will however call shennigans on Utah being a contender unless they are contending for most white guys on the court at one time (which, really, they have a lock on for the past 20 years.),

    Therefore, I’ll address whatever I want to talk about.

    1) Warriors. Extremely entertaining squad so far that will probably not make the playoffs. Their defense is more overmatached than when we put LB on Joe DeLong when we play for shits and giggles. To call them a sieve would be a disservice to sieves everywhere. I hope the addition of Crawford will get some stability/leadership to the lineup. Undrafted Anthony Morrow has been a revelation, but I still think our bigs are useless. We have two “bigs” who weighs less than me (well at least less than me after dinner tonight) in Brandan Wright and Anthony Randolph. We have a big that we pay $54m to who is a career third-stringer in Turiaf. And we have Biedrins who looks like a real-life Bart Simpson and has a shot that makes Bill Cartwright look like Ray Allen. Arrggh.

    Alright I am spent – and we didn’t even discuss the LeBron-NY speculation. Another time, another post my friends.

  4. Gentlemen,
    Thank you each for dispensing your NBA wisdom. (Matthew, forgive me for failing to include you as someone who actually cares about the NBA.)

    Scott — I never cease to be amazed by your ability to link to posts that include the words “turd sandwich.” Reading it brought back awful flashbacks of Monday night though. Larry Hughes! Game-winning jumper! This is more trash talk material for Kobe. (“Hey Carlos, remember when Larry Hughes hit the game-winner in your house? Now watch as I rip Kosta Koufos’s heart out and eat it in front of you.”)

    Matthew — Even I would not sign Korver to my fantasy team. I draw the line someplace. Good move picking up Gordon.

    Coach — Who doesn’t have a man crush on Idris Elba? And thank you for updating us on the Warriors. Do you really think Crawford will bring anything else to the table other than crappy shot selection? And $54m on Turiaf? Is this a joke? I think Turiaf should have testified on Capitol Hill this week along with the auto CEOs. That’s criminal.

  5. I really don’t see how Simmons would be baiting Jazz fans – why would he appeal to an audience roughly similar to the number of people who preferred watching Warren Sapp on DWTS more than Brooke Burke? Not that I watch that show . . .

  6. It didn’t occur to me that Simmons would be baiting us proud few as I was so filled with indignant rage that I put a chair through the wall. But I can see it now. And by “now” I mean, now that there’s a hole in my wall.

    Denys, we have learned a lot about your recent TV viewing habits today. The word I will use to sum them up is “disturbing.”

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