Tuesday, October 24, 2017

One Season Summed Up In One Week

Let's get the elephant out of the room once and for all before we move on to less interesting Jazz topics: Ricky Rubio's hair is absolutely majestic in all it's glory.
Now, back to basketball.
Seven days, four games, and the summary of 2017-18 Utah Jazz season in a nutshell.  Let me know if any of this sounds familiar:

  • Jazz are fantastic at home, 2-0.  The Jazz's plus/minus at the new and improved VSHA or Delta Center if you're over the age of 30, +19.  The Jazz's two road games...you guessed it, 0-2.  The plus/minus for those affairs, -21.  
  • Rodney Hood's injured.  Since drafted, Hood has only played in 58% of his regular season game opportunities. 
  • Jazz fans are stoked about the potential a relatively unknown rookie shooting guard with tremendous athletics but doesn't shoot very consistently at all and turns the ball over wayyyyyy too frequently has.  Other examples: Alec Burks, CJ Miles, Ronnie Brewer, and Deshawn Stevenson.  Through week 1, Donovan "Spida" Mitchell is shooting 26.7%, 18.8% from downtown and is averaging more turnovers (2) than he is rebounds (1.3).  I do love his upside though.
  • The Jazz will run a thousand million pick & rolls per game, every game and until the end of time.  
Fast forward these four games into the next 78.  Would it surprise any Jazz fan if they finished .500 and somewhere around the 8-9 spot in the Western Conference?  This is another patented Utah-Jazz-pre-Gordon-Hayward-the-All-Star.  Prior to last season, the Jazz finished between 36-43 wins in five of the previous six seasons.  
On the bright side because nobody likes a Debbie Downer of mediocrity, here are a few guesstimated, cool Jazz facts that have yet to be foreseen in the early going:
  • Ricky Rubio will lead the league in assists.  Right now, he's only at 7.5 assists per game.  Rubio finished 5th last year averaging 9.1 assists per game.  Like I mentioned earlier, Rubio is going to run a million trillion pick & rolls per quarter, every game and even during post games.  He'll get 4-5 assists just on alley-oops alone.  Rubio is also the best ball handler on the Jazz roster by far, so the offense is going through Rubio's hair hands another million trillion times.  
  • Rudy Gobert will lead the NBA in blocks.  The Jazz will probably lead the league in blocks as a team with a healthy Favors.  Gobert should win defensive POY, but the award won't go to somebody not in the playoffs.  Unfortunate because he deserved it last year.  #politics
  • Joe Ingles will lead the league in 3-point shooting percentage.  Not that cool of a guesstimation but I feel confident about it.
  • By years end, the nationally televised NBA announcers will be gushing over the Jazz's frontcourt domination.  Seriously.  They should be considered in the top-3.  The Pelicans with Anthony Davis and Demarcus Cousins, the Clippers with Blake Griffin and Deondre Jordan, and the Jazz with Ekpe Udoh and Jonas Jerebko.  Typo: I meant Gobert and Derrick Favors, stupid autocorrect.
  • The Jazz will make moves before the deadline.  A contending team (and probably Joe too) will want a clutch veteran they can rely on for a playoff push.  I like Rodney Hood to stay if healthy.  "If."  The Jazz need to move up a few spots from their usual 11-14 draft slot they always land.    
For now we get to enjoy the Jazz and Rubio's hair in all their glory.  They'll beat teams they shouldn't, like the Thunder.  Struggle with teams they should smash, like the Nuggets.  Play lock-down defense particularly at the rim.  Have one of the slowest offenses.  Finally, the coolest fact you did not already know about the improved arena; it's equipped with a meat locker behind the Jazz's bench for Rodney Hood's ice bags.  

Hello 2017-2018 Utah Jazz

The NBA season is officially under way. It sure is nice to be getting a little action again. After three games, there's still a lot left to be desired in terms of what to expect for the season but it appears that the silver lining is pervasive thus far. The Jazz have effectively exceeded expectations with Rubio bringing the passion that stifles on defense. Intriguingly, from the outside looking in, Gobert appears to be the underachiever when it comes to the defense. But I don't know. Have my expectations been blown out of proportion and I expect Rudy to make a visible impact on every play? Or is it that we've never had a backup center with the prowess of Epke Udoh that has taken my attention off of the stellar anchoring of the D that Rudy provides? Maybe it's that Rubio has been such a pest that I have tunnel vision for what's happening on the perimeter. Could it be the excitement surrounding Donovan Mitchell and his spider senses? In any event, I knew the Jazz defense would be great, I just didn't know it would be this incredible. I'm excited to see them take it to the limit.

A few notes from the games thus far:
The first game of the season was a thriller. Denver controlled most of the game up until the end of the third quarter and it appeared to be a Jazz fan's worst nightmare. The stellar offense of the Nuggets was outshining the defense of the Jazz and many fans became anxious waiting for something to happen. Then came Joe Johnson and Alec Burks. If the Jazz are going to be effective on offense this season, somebody is going to have to step up every game. This time, it was Alec Burks, showing what he is capable of after Joe Johnson got the ball rolling. Burks showed glimpses of his former self that has had Jazz fans hyping for years. Can he continue to shine or will he break out only on rare occasions? We will see. This game, he took control and led the Jazz to victory.
The game in Minnesota was exhilarating. It went back and forth as a game of runs. Toward the end, Rubio gave the T-wolves fans a bit of seller's remorse as he single handedly brought the Jazz back from down 5 to take the lead with only a minute left to go. Unfortunately, Father Time let Jamal Crawford off the hook for a quarter of basketball where he torched the Jazz with a load of 4th quarter points and a dagger three, right at the end when the Jazz were a possession away from a 3-0 season kickoff. Ultimately, the Jazz couldn't overcome.
A thought on the last play of the game...I worry that with Joe Johnson, the rest of the team becomes too reliant on his late game heroics to create any of their own. The last play of the game, when the Jazz were down by 3 with five seconds to play, Joe Ingles (who has been phenomenal from 3 so far this season and all of last) had a fine look from behind the arch but was determined to run the play to Joe Johnson, only to lose control of the ball, essentially squabbling the opportunity. I wonder what would have happened if he were able to make the read and take the shot. Could we all have been praising the $52 million man?
Finally, the Jazz gave the latest version of the Big 3 a thorough whooping. The Jazz were successfully doubling the score of the Thunder for most of the first half. It was a joy to behold. I came away from this one wondering where to give credit. Obviously, the Jazz defense was outstanding yet again but Westbrook was utterly pitiful. Just pitiful. He scored 6 points. Probably as few as he's scored in years but there's no way of knowing for sure. He went 1/4 from the free throw line. It just felt like he may have been off of his game but we can certainly give credit where credit is due to Rubio and the Jazz for knocking him off his rocker. I think the strategy of the game was to let Mr. Inefficient Carmelo have whatever he wanted and play white on rice with Westbrook and George. It was very effective. The garbage minutes were all the Thunder had to keep the game within 10. The Jazz dominated. 

Tonight, the Jazz face off against the Clippers and this will be another test. The Clippers without Paul seem to be a much more cohesive unit and potentially a bigger threat with the additions of Beverly, Gallinari, Teodosic and Lou Williams. All they need to do is rid themselves of the gaping hole who is the coach's son and they could really be scary. I love watching the face off of giants between Gobert & Favors and Jordan & Griffin. It should be fun.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Cowhide Globe is Back!

For several years now, Jazz fans have been deprived of one thing more than any other.

Sure, we've had our ups and downs. We've gone from the playoffs to the lottery and back to the playoffs again. We lost a legend, traded an all-star, struggled through mediocracy, polished anew the Jazz Brass, replaced the Milkman to start from scratch with a Mad Scientist, pushed and pulled assets with many names in many directions, picked in the lottery, pulled off a coup in the draft at the end of the first round, developed an all-star just to see him walk, and we're hardly scratching the surface!

All the while, we've missed the priceless commentary that would have magnified the intensity of each of those moments, only available via the Cowhide Globe. But, alas, the baton has been passed.

That's not to say that the insights of Draft Guru, Pasty Gangsta, Booner and the like could ever be replicated. We do hope that their contributions may continue to grace these pages. We've missed the perspective that is true to Hot Rod, John, Karl and Jerry. However, we will do our best to keep the commitment to the tradition alive. 

It's high time for some unadulterated perspective on the Utah Jazz. A narrative for the most avid of fans, from the most avid of fans. We don't pretend to have the inside scoop. Only that which is available to all. We are the Utah Jazz basketball outside/insiders. 

Long Live the Cowhide Globe!