Bill Simmons on the Jazz Tanking
In Tuesday’s B.S. Report (click here to listen), Grantland’s Bill Simmons and TNT’s Steve Kerr discussed the first few weeks of the 2013-14 NBA season as well as college basketball.
At around the 17:00-minute mark, Simmons touched on the Utah Jazz “tanking” which led into a discussion about Jabari Parker.
Simmons: “I think the one team that has definitely played it the right way, and maybe ‘right’ isn’t the right word but umm…if the goal was to get one of those three guys they’ve done the best job at getting toward that goal was Utah.
Simmons: “Everything they’ve done has just been…you know from that terrible trade they made that – and it was a very smart trade on paper but just cripples your team, they don’t sign Jefferson and Millsap umm…just they-they don’t sign Hayward to an extension, and they keep their coach who’s obviously in over his head and just…you know that’s a team that’s going to win 15 games and if they don’t get one of those top three guys I think it will be devastating for them. Umm…especially Parker.”
Kerr: “Yeah Parker would be an unbelievable fit there, I mean he’s so good and the fact that he’s Mormon he would be such a star in Utah and he’s…I mean just having watch that game last week – last Tuesday uhh…he’s the guy I like. I mean I haven’t seen enough over you know a number of games to really get a feel for Wiggins but, Parker…you can just see the skill and the feel, I mean he just…that guy has it – he’s-he’s bigtime.”
Simmons: “So Parker is number one on the Steve Kerr power rankings right now?”
Kerr: “Right now yeah in week 2. In week 2 of the college season he’s number one on my board.”
Simmons: “Have you seen him in person yet?”
Simmons: “I was shocked, I had awesome seats too – cause it was an ESPN event which enabled us to have really good seats but umm…I couldn’t believe how big he was. I mean, the best way I would describe it was if you breeded Carmelo Anthony’s body and Rudy Gay’s body…and that was the body that…that’s basically Jabari Parker. He looks like he’s about 6-9 so he’s got the Rudy Gay size but he’s also thick like Carmelo is, but moves like both of them and I described it afterwards it was like watching Carmelo if Carmelo was fun to play with.”
Kerr: “Yeah, yeah I think that’s a great call. I saw Grant Hill a month ago, uhh we had a TNT event I think we were filming ‘Open Court’ or something and I asked him I said ‘How’s Jabari Parker’ and – said he was down at Duke and they were all playing pickup and he said he couldn’t believe how strong he was. He said you just don’t expect a freshman to have that kind of strength but he was like bullying people – and you know NBA guys – in these pickup games at Duke so, yeah I’m with you and when you combine that with the skill and he’s…you saw the athleticism when he went up and caught that lob in transition…so now he can jump too – it’s like what can’t he do. He’s special.”
Simmons: “Yeah people are wondering like if he’s a 3 or a 4, to me he’s – in this day and age he’s unquestionably a 4. Like he’s almost like the perfect 4 for-for this 21st century basketball that we’re watching now that tends toward a little bit small-ball. Umm, they have him playing center which I think is really interesting…umm I don’t think by choice I think for whatever reason Duke doesn’t have that uh…that one 6-11 white guy they always have who can play 30 minutes a game at center. Coach K forgot to recruit that guy this year.”
Kerr: “Wait isn’t there another Plumlee on that team.”
Simmons: “Yeah I think he was counting on the third Plumlee to be that guy.”
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There’s a ton of basketball left to be played and I have no intention of declaring Parker, Wiggins or anyone else the best option for the #1 overall pick in November, but Parker’s build is definitely intriguing. Having both the skillset, frame, and strength to play multiple positions and develop an effective NBA post-game is extremely valuable – and that’s something that can even vault a good athlete past a great one when a lot of things are close. Just one of many things to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Sidney Lowe on Scoring
Yesterday in a radio interview on Jazz PR station 1280 The Zone, lead-assistant Sidney Lowe made an interesting statement about the makeup of the current 2013-14 team
Question: “How can the Jazz, with their current cast of characters, score more points because scoring has been a problem with this team?”
“We don’t have that one guy, you know we don’t have that guy you go and you just put it in his hands and he scores. There’s several teams that have that – we don’t have that we have to do it collectively and I think when you watch us play if you see the ball change sides two or three times we’re going to get a pretty good shot. If you see the ball change sides two or three times then we’re going to get a pretty good shot. Meaning if we start on one side and swing it to the other side which we call playing weakside basketball and then maybe even get it back to the strongside again then what we’ve done is we’ve made the defense shift, we’ve made the defense move and we can get a good shot at it.” -Sidney Lowe.
Lowe finished the question by saying,
“We have to move the ball, we have to draw and kick, get to the paint and kick for shots or kick fo r alayup that’s how we have to play we’re not a 1-on-1 team and we certainly can’t come down and run the pick&roll and take the first shot right off the pass we just can’t do that.” -Sidney Lowe.
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I fully agree with Lowe that the Jazz need to score as a collective unit – but they are far from the only team in that situation. Last night the 5-5 Suns took the Kings down to the final buzzer despite playing without Eric Bledsoe. Do they have “that guy?” Everyone understands the Jazz do not have elite talent or experience, but that doesn’t excuse an offense nearing record-breaking franchise lows for futility or a defense that’s also regressed and suffered innumerable breakdowns.
Not only have the Jazz struggled to make shots, too often disorganization, flawed design and failed execution have sabotaged offensive possessions. Coming out of a timeout not knowing how to attack a zone resulting in a shotclock violation in front of your own bench is not scoring collectively. Running pick&rolls where you settle for contested off-the-dribble jumpers one step inside the three-point line is not scoring collectively. Abandoning sets (such as the UCLA set they now run only 1-2 times per game at the most) that get you high-percentage looks in the paint is not scoring collectively.
Hayward is a gifted player who can make plays off the dribble, and has also shown the ability to score in the post on favorable matchups. While he can score 1-on-1 in certain situations, overall he and the Jazz should be at their best when he’s getting the ball on the move and making plays coming off screens both with and without the ball. In 2003-04 the Jazz switched to more of a two-guard front where they created a ton of open looks running variations of floppy along with elements of their UCLA and flex sets that they executed to perfection.
Simplistically, give a good coach 10 dimes and he’ll give you more than $1. Give an average coach 10 dimes and he’ll give you exactly $1. Give a bad coach 10 dimes and he’ll give you less than $1. The Utah Jazz coaching staff may not have a full complement of dimes to work with, but their exchange rate and resulting on-court product is not matching the initial value.
Sidney Lowe is right when he says the Jazz need to score collectively – but it’s the coaching staff’s responsibility to get everyone playing cohesively in a system where they can best succeed. That isn’t happening now and it hasn’t happened often in the past three seasons.