INSIDER—Philly becoming a wild card for draft night

Orginally, it was the big three in the 2014 NBA Draft—Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid. With the injury to Embiid, we are down to two.

The Philadelphia 76ers, in a game of musical chairs, has had the music stop without a chair. It’s clear that general manager Sam Hinkie has been forced to hit the reset button.

Last night, reports surfaced (that I have not confirmed) that the Sixers were willing to move Michael Carter-Williams to the Lakers for the #7 pick, giving the Sixers the #3, #7 and #10 picks in this draft.

Now today:

spears smart

Sixers head coach Brett Brown has a relationship with Dante Exum from their time together in Australia. Smart at #3 is a new possibility. Orlando is supposedly desperate for a point guard but may have soured on Marcus Smart. If Smart were to go #3, most people believe that Exum would go #4.

However, a throwaway line in a Bleacher Report story about Aaron Gordon’s workout today in Los Angeles throws the Sixers plans into even more doubt.

gordon to philly

Is Aaron Gordon a possibility at #3, or is this a sign they may make the trade with the Lakers for the #7 pick, therefore making it almost certain the #3 pick would be Smart or Exum?

Much of how Utah’s night on Thursday develops will be predicated on what happens in Philly.

INSIDER – CBS Sports Zach Harper Mock Draft

Another mock draft is out post the Joel Embiid injury.  CBS Sports Zach Harper places Embiid in Philadelphia and this means the Jazz are still playing off Orlando pick at 4.

Under this scenario the Jazz are deciding between Smart, Vonleh, Gordon and Randle

Zach Harper mock draft

zach harper

 

LOCKE TAKE:  Vonleh is impressive and the national media seems to have zeroed in on this as the draft pick.  I think it is still a large discussion inside the Jazz office about Vonleh, Gordon, Smart or Randle.  No way is this a done deal in the Jazz front office

Zach Harper has the Jazz are #23 going with 3 and D Cleanothy Early

harper 23

LOCKE TAKE:  Interesting names around 23.  Early, Harrison, Wilcox all worked out for the Jazz.  Wilcox is the best shooter of the group.  Early is ready.  He and Wilcox are both older and both can shoot.  Wilcox is a natural 2 and Early is a 3

INSIDER—Basketball Insiders’ new mock drafts—who’s most likely to take Embiid

The news of the foot surgery for projected No. 1 pick Joel Embiid has rocked the NBA Draft. Mock drafts are being re-done everywhere.

The crew at Basketball Insiders re-did their mock drafts—and look who is most likely to take Joel Embiid.

basketball insiders

LOCKE’S TAKE—I have a hard time believing the Jazz can afford this type of risk. There is no question that a healthy Embiid is a franchise changer. However, an Embiid that never gets healthy for a franchise that must hit on the draft because free agency is not an option seems to be too big of a risk. This is also the first time we see the name Julius Randle lined to the Jazz. It’s worth nothing that Aaron Gordon is on the board for the Jazz pick and according to these men the team passes on Gordon every time.

INSIDER—Draft Express releases its latest mock draft

Draft Express released another mock draft after the stunning injury to Joel Embiid.

NBA Draft Express says ..

draft expressLOCKE’S TAKE—Same as below, I’m surprised that Orlando goes with Embiid. Focussing on the Jazz, the decision may come down to how the Jazz want to play. If they are going up-tempo with Quin Snyder and playing a lot of early offense, do they believe that Vonleh can run? If they are concerned, then the question becomes: Do they think Aaron Gordon can shoot enough to be an effective player? A stretch 4 is not only on the offensive end, it is also on the defensive end. Gordon may move more naturally for a defensive stretch 4, but at this point he doesn’t have the offensive skills that Vonleh does.

Marcus Smart is the wild card.

INSIDER—Latest mock draft by Chad Ford has the Jazz taking Vonleh

Due to the incredible news that Joel Embiid has a stress fracture to his foot, ESPN’s Chad Ford has updated his mock draft.

Here is Chad Ford’s latest mock draft

Here is his result and summation for the Jazz:

chad ford mock

Click here for the Video Breakdown of Noah Vonleh 

LOCKE’S TAKE—I would be surprised if Embiid is taken at No. 4 by Orlando. Unless they think No. 12 gives them enough security to do it. Orlando can’t afford a miss, and there is a real chance that Embiid is Bowie, Oden, etc.

If Vonleh is on the board, the Jazz will strongly consider the mammoth 18-year-old with a versatile skill set.

INSIDER—Is Utah’s slow pace contributing to Gordon Hayward’s slump?

Gordon Hayward, one of Utah’s cornerstone pieces for the future, has hit a tough stretch. Over the past 10 games he is shooting 29.7% from the field and has gone 6-for-34 from 3-point range.

Looking at Gordon’s recent shot chart, a few items jump out. In the restricted area he is 8 for his last 24 after hitting 22 of his previous 35 shots.

Last year, his best shooting spot was the angle-right three. Recently, he has gone just 1-for-11. Prior to that he had gone 8-for-17.

Why does Gordon go through these swings? One of the issues may be how much the Jazz play in the half court.

The Jazz use 43% of their possession in the final eight seconds on the shot clock (via 82games.com). Putting that in perspective, Memphis and Chicago (two of the slowest-paced, most half court heavy teams) only use 42% of their possessions in the final eight seconds of the shot clock.

Throughout the year, Ron Boone has pointed out how terrific Gordon in is in the open floor. However, when he has been trying to make plays in the half court he has struggled.

The numbers bear this out. In fast break situations, Gordon is shooting 70.2% (3.6 ppg) whereas in the half court he is shooting 35.5%.

Recently, the Jazz have been playing slower and slower, and it has impacted Gordon negatively. Through January, Gordon was scoring 4 ppg in the fast break; since then he has dropped to 1.7 ppg in the fast break.

In November, Gordon either shot or assisted on 2.3 fast breaks per game. In December, that increased to 3.3 shots or assists on fast breaks. In 2014, however, the numbers have been on a startling decline. In January, Gordon only contributed a shot or assist on 1.5 fast breaks a game, and then this month it was been down to 1 per game.

Since January, Gordon has played almost exclusively in the half court. Accordingly, the Jazz pace of play has decreased every month of the season.

At Michigan, Trey Burke played one of the slowest-paced games in the NCAA. Michigan was a half court pick and roll team that used every second of the possession. Burke is a spread floor player not a fast break player.

This may also be why Gordon Hayward is the one Jazz player who didn’t get a bump from playing with Trey Burke. Every other Jazz player’s EFG% has taken at least a 5% jump with Burke on the floor (as we discussed in the PODCAST with Kevin Pelton).

For the season, Gordon’s EFG% when Trey is on the floor is 45.6% and when he is off the floor is 42%. However, if you dig deeper and look at Gordon and Trey since Jan. 1 when the fast break began to diminish, it tells a different story. Since Jan. 1, Gordon’s EFG% with Trey on the floor is 45.6% and with him off the floor is 47.6% (via nbawowy.com).

Hopefully it will take just a few open-court opportunities for Gordon to get back on track.

INSIDER—Jazz use of iPads on bench creating on-floor success

As Alec Burks inbounded to Trey Burke with the Jazz leading 82-80 with 1:16 left in the game against Orlando, Gordon Hayward started his route from the left side of the floor along the baseline to the right side of the floor. Hayward’s defender (Tobias Harris) wasn’t following him he was shooting the gap. Hayward realized he had seen this before. He had seen it on the iPad with coach Brad Jones during his in-game film session earlier in the fourth quarter.

“We saw the way they are playing the weak side pin they were just cutting up the middle, so I started inside a bit more and faded and got a wide open shot,“ Hayward explained.

Hayward nailed the jumper and gave the Jazz an 84-80 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

This season the Utah Jazz coaches are using the iPad as a teaching tool during games. When players check out of the game after their first stint in the first or third quarter, coach Jones and coach Alex Jensen have a pre-loaded the iPads with anywhere up to five video clips from earlier action in that night’s game to share with the players.

Three players—Hayward, Burke and Derrick Favors—have been using the iPad scouting the most, and each in a different manner. For Hayward, it has been about seeing the floor and how teams are playing him. For Burke, it is about executing a new offense. And for Favors, it is more about the fundamentals of his game.

Hayward has been an enthusiastic adapter. “I think it is really good,” he said. “You can see how they are guarding you how they are  guarding different plays—what is open and what is not—and you can adjust the next time.”

For Hayward, it has been mostly about vision. “It’s hard to see all five guys when you’re playing, so if there are little things you can pick up on [the iPad] this allows me to see where all five guys are. I can see if they are going under the screen or I can see if the other big on the other side is really sagging in so I can hit him. Or if they are really sinking in on the weak side then the skip pass is open. Different things like that so when I go back in there I see it and make the pass.”

Hayward was originally only watching plays after his first stint on the floor, but after his first game using the iPad video he asked to watch plays after he checks out in the third quarter as well.

Understanding all the aspects of the Jazz offense has been the biggest challenge for Trey Burke, and the iPad video technology has allowed him to have a better understanding. “My biggest issues I see on the iPad are going off screens and setting my man up to go off screens. I see those things,” he said.

It seems strange to hear a 21-year-old hip kid get excited about new technology, but that is exactly how Burke was when explaining the system. “Every time I come out, coach Jones comes to me and shows me different things—from cutting to screening, to my pace on the pick and roll. I think it really helps me out. It’s me watching myself  two or three minutes after I did it. It helps me going back on the court. It’s really beneficial—it’s like new technology to me”

On one level, a lot goes into getting these cuts ready. On the other hand, Jazz video coordinator Jefferson Sweeney says, “It is really incredibly easy.” Particularly when you consider that Sweeney started with the Jazz 14 years ago when he was still editing deck to deck, and that was only if it was really important for the playoffs. Otherwise, it was all by hand.

The coaches tell Sweeney before the game what players they will be coaching with the iPad and what specific plays they are looking to show. Sweeney sets up on his laptop in the locker room and logs the game. When one of the specific plays arrives he marks it, makes a quick edit, turns it into a movie and puts it on the app.

Once he has the plays, he syncs it to the iPads before one of the Jazz strength coaches comes back to the locker room to get the iPad so the teaching session can take place on the bench. The league prohibits live video on the bench or video being transmitted to the bench, so the iPad has to be delivered to the bench.

The trick for Sweeney is getting the different plays for different players. Hayward and Burke talk about certain plays, but for Favors the coaching has been more fundamental.

“They show me most of my post ups and my jump shots,” Favors shared. “They will show me how I’m rushing or how I had a guy one way but decided to go the harder route. On my jump shots they show me body position if I am leaning back too far.”

While Favors says “it’s mostly fundamentals,” they have also shown him specific coverages from opponents that have helped him later in games.

“In Miami, if I got the ball on Bosh in the post, it showed me where they had the guards—they were right here instead of out on their man—and helped me get a read on it,” he said.

Favors has embraced the immediacy of the iPad sessions and the individual focus. “It’s like having film session at halftime, but you have it during the game. It’s helpful. I like it.”

Helpful indeed. Because last night when Tobias Harris cheated the route, Gordon Hayward was prepared to change his route and knocked down the game-clincher. Bench technology from the Jazz coaching staff is helping the immediate gratification generation receive on-floor gratification.