Utah Jazz Biggest Draft Need May Surprise You

By Ben Anderson:

The NBA draft is roughly six weeks away, and the Utah Jazz organization needs help, and they need help everywhere. As of today, there are zero point guards on the roster. There are two shooting guards, assuming the Jazz decide to allow Kevin Murphy to sit on the bench next year, one and a half small forwards, a corner piece in Gordon Hayward, and a piece the Jazz would love to have opt out of the final year of his contract in Marvin Williams. There is one power forward in Derrick Favors, and there is a powerless forward in Jeremy Evans, springy as he may be. The Jazz also have one center, a goofy albeit uber-talented Turkish fellow named Enes Kanter.

That is seven players ready to suit up for the Utah Jazz next season, barely more than half of the NBA minimum requirement for a roster, not enough to build a true rotation. As the draft approaches, the question I get most from Jazz fans is this–what position do the Jazz need to fill most? Looking at the roster, the easy answer is all of them. They need a starting point guard, they may still need a starting shooting guard, and center if Burks and Kanter can’t offer the Jazz full time minutes, and truthfully they need backups at both the small, and power forward position. Again, that is the easy answer, the real answer is this.

The Jazz need to draft a leader.

Since the acquisition of Gordon Hayward in 2010, the popular assumption is that Hayward, when given full time minutes would naturally assume the leadership role. After all, he led a cinderella Butler Bulldogs team to the NCAA Championship game as a sophomore; he’s well spoken, cordial and gifted. He’s a willing team player, and he’s a nice guy. Bad news Jazz fans, Hayward might be too nice. Before this latest season, I asked Gordon Hayward if he was ready to take over the role as the vocal leader of this team, this is what he told me.

“Overall I’m not extremely vocal as a person,” said Hayward. “You know I’m more of a leader by example, and uhm… you know, I think a lot of us younger guys are that way. Uh, so we have some good vocal leaders as veterans anyways and so, uhm… when the times comes and I need to say something I will, but a lot of times like I said I’ll just lead by example.” Not extremely vocal as a person? A lot of us younger guys are that way? We have some good vocal leaders as veterans anyways? Not exactly inspiring words from the Jazz young star.

The truth of the matter is this, NBA locker rooms are full of ego’s, and if Gordon Hayward doesn’t step up and take the leadership role, someone else will, and Jazz fans better hope it’s the right guy. From the sound of it, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Alec Burks don’t seem poised to take over the role of the vocal leader either. This should be a huge concern for Jazz fans. The belief that the coach should be the voice of the team is a novel one, but there is a reason the coach isn’t assigned a jersey number at the start of the season–he never checks into the game. The Jazz need a player who not only expects the most out of himself, but expects the most out of his teammates as well, and isn’t afraid to let them know when he didn’t see it, every time he suits up.

Deron Williams was a jerk. He called out Andrei Kirilenko for making vacation plans before the end of the season. He told the media he’d refuse to pass the ball to Kirilenko because he’d seen Matt Harpring shoot more jump shots in practice. He threw the ball at Gordon Hayward for failing to run a play correctly in-game. It’s something Gordon Hayward will never forget, it’s something he shouldn’t ever forget. Sometimes being a leader means putting your own reputation on the line when your team fails, sometimes leading by example means you’re afraid your vocal leadership will fail.

The Jazz need a player who believes he knows not only what is best for himself, but what is best for his team. When David Stern says the Jazz are on the clock to make their first pick in the NBA draft, this organization needs to hope the player whose name they call, won’t then be afraid to call them out in return.

Denver Nuggets 113 Utah Jazz 96: Danilo Gallinari With An Italian Celebration

By Ben Anderson:

The Denver Nuggets are a prime example of the modern NBA. They have a few extraordinary athletes (JaVale McGee, Andre Igoudala, Kenneth Faried), they have tall shooters (Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler), they have dedicated role players (Kosta Koufos, Corey Brewer), and one ultra-savvy veteran who can control the pace, and make the right play each and every possession (Andre Miller). Mix those guys together, and subtract Ty Lawson, arguably their best player, and you have a team capable of rolling into Salt Lake City with confidence, and running out of town with a 17 point trouncing over the Utah Jazz.

The only similarity between the Nuggets and the Jazz is that at one point not long ago, they were two franchises trying to rebuild after trading away a disgruntled superstar. For the Jazz, it’s a daunting shroud they find themselves still saddled with, while battling for the last seed in the Western Conference Playoffs. The Nuggets looked poised for an appearance in the Western Conference Finals, assuming either the San Antonio Spurs or Oklahoma City Thunder can slow them down once they get there.

Three years ago the Jazz defeated Denver in a six game series to end the Nuggets playoff run on the floor of Energy Solutions arena. Last night, the Nuggets may have returned the favor, with six games remaining in the regular season.

Jeremy Evans Of The Utah Jazz Spectacular Dunk Versus The Portland Trail Blazers

Every time he enters the game a highlight is made. Monday night former dunk champion Jeremy Evans of the Utah Jazz was at the three-point line when Jamaal Tinsley threw the ball up for an alley oop. The three point line! He grabbed it in midair and slammed it home. With the 112-102 win over Portland the Jazz have won five straight for the first time this season. However, I think there is more excitement for dunks like this than a mythical playoff run for the eighth spot in the playoffs.

Video: Enes Kanter Of The Utah Jazz Separates Shoulder

In the second quarter of Wednesday nights victory Utah Jazz center Enes Kanter fought and then dove for a ball with Phoenix Suns big man Hamed Haddadi. Kanter came out on the losing end when he separated his left shoulder. It’s one of those cringing injuries that will most likely keep him out for awhile. The positive is the continued toughness and hustle Kanter displays and the fact after the game he was in good spirits willing to do whatever it takes to get back as soon as possible. He’s also excited for the amount of texts he got from his lady friends who want to take care of him. Classic!

Memphis Grizzlies Marc Gasol Uses Shoe To Commit Foul Against Utah Jazz Derrick Favors

Memphis Grizzlies center Marc Gasol lost his shoe Saturday night against the Utah Jazz and then lost his head. In the fourth quarter Gasol lost the shoe after he was stepped on by Derrick Favors of the Jazz. A teammate picked it up, gave it back to Gasol as he ran down the floor and then he swung it at Favors committing the foul. Not only did he lose the shoe but his Grizzlies lost the game as well 90-84.

As for the Jazz victory it was impressive from the standpoint they shared the basketball, attempted to play defense and assist each other in that regard. Also Ty Corbin finally decided to try some things like start Gordon Hayward and play a big lineup at the end of a game. Too bad he waited this long because as I wrote in my KSL column I still think this season is over.

Utah Jazz Organization Deserves Credit for Core Four Elite Play

By Ben Anderson:

It’s time to give everyone in the Utah Jazz organization credit for the recent play the core four, even if they aren’t playing as often as they should.

Since 1985, five NBA players have recorded 20 points and 20 rebounds in a single game by the age of 20. Former No. 1 overall pick Dwight Howard did it in his 89th career start. Former No. 1 overall pick Joe Smith did it in his 39th career start. DeJuan Blair did it in his 14th career start. Former No. 1 overall pick Shaquille O’Neal amazingly did it in his 4th career start. Move over everybody, Enes Kanter did it in career start number two.

Using his current averages, spread out to 36 minutes a game, Derrick Favors would average 15 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks a game. Only Dwight Howard currently averages those numbers in the league. He started for the Western Conference All-Star team this year, his sixth start in seven career all-star games.

Gordon Hayward is one of eight players this season averaging 14 or more points per game, shooting better than 40% from the field, and 39% from behind the three point line. Of those eight, five are all-stars (L. James, K. Durant, D. Nowitzki, S. Curry, K. Irving.) Of the two others; Kevin Martin has nearly 400 career starts under his belt, and OJ Mayo has started every game for the Dallas Mavericks this season.

Since February 4th, Alec Burks has played 25+ minutes in all but one of those games. During this stretch, he’s averaging 11 points, 4.5 rebounds, three assists, and one steal per game. He’s also shooting lights out, 46% from the field, a whopping 48% from the three-point line. Yet Burks is the only lottery pick from the 2011 NBA Draft who has yet to start an NBA game.

Friday, March 1st was the first time each of the Jazz “core four” had played 20+ minutes all in the same game. The Jazz held the admittedly awful Charlotte Bobcats to 68 points, the low for any Jazz opponent this year, and the lowest scoring output by the Bobcats this season, including a season worst nine point opening quarter. The Jazz had been outscored in the first quarter of eight of their previous 10 games.

While it’s easy to complain about the lack of playing time seen from these former lottery picks, especially considering the Jazz mediocre play as of late, it is time to give credit where credit is due. President of Basketball Operations Kevin O’Connor turned Deron Williams, Ben Handlogten, and Keon Clark into Favors, Kanter and Hayward. It’s nearly impossible to get equal return when trading a superstar, but O’Connor proactively moved on a potentially disastrous situation, and the results have been all positive. Coach Tyrone Corbin, who’s made the decision to limit the playing time of these four young players, has found a way to keep each ready to perform when their number is called, and has placed each of them in positions to succeed when they do get a chance to play.

But most importantly, credit must be given to each of the Jazz four youngest players. Despite their lack of starts, and overall minutes, each of these up and comers has kept any frustrations private, shown a commitment to Tyrone Corbin’s game plan, and done nothing but make the Jazz a better team when given the opportunity.

Utah Jazz Assistant Coach Sidney Lowe’s Mugshot After Being Arrested for Tax Evasion

Here is the mugshot of Utah Jazz assistant coach Sidney Lowe after he was arrested Monday on suspicion for failing to pay taxes. Apparently Lowe failed to pay North Carolina State taxes for three of the six years when he was head coach for the Wolfpack. Of course Lowe is innocent until proven guilty but clearly, like most coaches of state schools, he was one of the highest paid public employees. Did he think no one would notice?

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook Not A Fan Of A Reporters Question After The Loss To The Jazz

After the Utah Jazz beat the Oklahoma City Thunder Tuesday night 109-94 our reporter Ben “Napoleon” Wilson asked Russell Westbrook a question that ended the interview. He asked if the Thunder lost the game or did the Jazz win it and it’s safe to say Westbrook wasn’t very happy about the question giving this hilarious response. The unedited NSFW audio version can be heard at 1320KFAN.com.

Utah Jazz General Manager Dennis Lindsey Says Tyrone Corbin Is King

February 9, 2013; Sacramento, CA, USA; Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin reacts against the Sacramento Kings during the fourth quarter at Sleep Train Arena. The Kings defeated the Jazz 120-109. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Utah Jazz general manager Dennis Lindsey joined our radio show Gunther and Graham on 1320 KFAN Monday to discuss a wide range of topics. One of which is we asked what power coach Tyrone Corbin has in the balancing act of minutes between the veterans and younger players. Lindsay said Corbin has full say:

“In the Jazz organization the coach is the king.”

Lindsey went on to talk about how they cannot allow players to go straight to management and that right or wrong it all has to funnel through the head coach. He did admit they talk about rotations etc. much like Lindsey would ask Corbin for input on trades and the shaping of the roster. But in the end, according to Lindsey, Corbin is the one determining the rotation and the amount of minutes the younger players deserve.

So if you buy it, I guess that means it’s Corbin who is deciding to give Derrick Favors just 21 to 22 minutes per game. It’s Corbin who elected to not play Alec Burks at the beginning of the season. It’s Corbin who is giving limited minutes to Enes Kanter. And it’s Corbin who is playing to win as opposed to fully developing the younger players for the future. You buying it?

Yes he does deserve some of the blame if you are one that wants to see the younger players play more but really he is following his marching orders set forth by Lindsey and Kevin O’Connor. As Lindsey essentially said the Jazz are sticking to the plan of trying to do it all–winning, making the playoffs and developing younger players. So Corbin is the one to decide how to make all that happen. Clearly it’s almost an impossible task to please everyone–even for a so-called “king.”

Utah Jazz 98 Sacramento Kings 91 in Overtime: Three Thoughts On One Of The Worst NBA Games You’ll Ever See

1. DeMarcus Cousins is an absolute idiot. First off, it’s one thing to get ejected from a NBA game at halftime which I have never witnessed before. But secondly, who admits afterwards what they said to the referee particularly when it’s offensive to women? That would be Cousins who said he told the ref to stop acting like a “effing woman.” Maybe someone should tell Cousins he should stop acting like a “effing child.” After playing a solid first half with 10 points and six rebounds the Kings might have won this game if he wouldn’t have gotten tossed. To the Kings credit they seem to rally perhaps to stick it to Cousins before falling in the end.

2. The Jazz played like they were recovering from a Super Bowl hangover. I mean how lackluster of a performance can you give? And I’m not sure what was more ridiculous–Al Jefferson taking a three at the end of regulation, airballing it or Jazz coach Ty Corbin saying after the game it was a “good shot.” Positives included Alec Burks second half/overtime play where he scored 14 of his 16 points. He finished playing 31 minutes. See what happens when you give these young guys significant playing time? And speaking of that Derrick Favors continued to prove why he should be playing more finishing with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, 3-for-4 from the free throw line, nine rebounds and one turnover in just 24 minutes of action. Compare that to Jefferson–15 points, 7-17 shooting, 1-2 free throws, 12 rebounds, four turnovers in 38 minutes. Hmm…pretty sure if you give Favors 38 minutes he would have much better production and he probably wouldn’t have launched a three to try to win the game.

Kings Director of Player Development Fat Lever on Jimmer Fredette.

3. You almost have to feel sorry for Jimmer Fredette. The former BYU star just looks absolutely lost. His performance was borderline embarrassing playing just 13 minutes, shooting 0-for-5 from the floor, 0-for-3 on three’s with just two points and three turnovers. We talked to Kings Director of Player Development Fat Lever on Gunther and Graham on 1320 KFAN who pointed out that one of the reasons for Fredette’s struggles is that he’s playing out of position–that he’s not a point guard. He also said unlike at college where everyone played off him he can’t do that in the NBA. He needs to play off others and on a bad team like the Kings where everyone is out for themselves that is proving to be difficult. Whatever the case he appears to be just a shell of the player he was at BYU and that is just sad.