INSIDER – Kevin Durant comments give insight to Jazz youth

This week Kevin Durant sat down for a long form interview with Oklahoman writer Darnell Mayberry.  In the interview he shared how his approach to the game has changed over the years.  T

The first paragraph below struck a cord when put in the context of where Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Alec Burks and Enes Kanter stand in there careers.

But, first coming into the league, I was a little confused because it’s so many great teams every night. It was no cupcake games like it was in high school and college. Every night, you got to come to play because these are great players. They were all something coming in. And my thoughts coming into the league was, of course, to win, but once I got on the court it was to establish myself. That’s what I thought. Grow as a player and then worry about that.

But now, I’ve played in the All-Star Games; I’ve scored 30 points, 40 points before; had a triple-double before. I feel individually, like stats and stuff, I feel like I did my job with that and I established myself. But it’s about winning championships, and the first thing I got to get out of my head is ‘I.’ It’s like, ‘I want to win a championship.’ It’s not about that because one guy doesn’t win it, two guys don’t win it, three guys don’t win it. So it’s about the whole team, the whole organization winning a championship.”

INSIDER – Favors makes Utah home

Derrick Favors sat on the podium at the Zions Bank Center just 14 days older than Karl Malone when he made his debut for the Jazz as the new cornerstone for the Utah Jazz.

Utah has become home for Derrick Favors.   Favors mom was the first to tell Derrick that Utah was going to be ok.  Now Favors has bought a house in Utah and hopes to spend his career in the beehive state.

More importantly than Utah being home, Favors is now part of the family.  Today, Greg Miller talked about how the caliber of players on and off the floor is an extension of the Miller family.   The young polite southern man Derrick Favors is a now a part of the Miller family and under those expectations.

Speaking of family it was clear that Derrick’s mom still has her influence.  Derrick talks often about how often his mom watches a game and calls him to say get a haircut.   Today Derrick was sporting a brand new haircut.

Dennis Lindsey talked a good deal about the trust factor in negotiations.  The Favors camp felt the Jazz had been true to their word communicating with Derrick and his representation throughout his tenure in Utah.   Interesting to hear this since there has been so much concern that the limited roll over the last few years would sour Favors feeling about being in Utah.

The future talk was present.   Both Steve and Greg Miller referring to  Favors as the first piece in the build toward a championship.  Steve Miller added in the first of many steps. Dennis Lindsey has mentioned on numerous occasions that to be an elite team you must be top 10 defensively and to win you have to be top 5 defensively.   Favors is that piece.

Dennis Lindsey said “We want to keep great people.”   The Jazz locked one up today who has made Utah his home.

INSIDER – The different task at hand for Gordon Hayward

This season the Utah jazz are asking Gordon Hayward to be the primary ball handler and go to guy. Last night’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers was a good example of how different a task this is for Hayward this season.

If you look at Gordon Hayward shot chart from last season he was a dominant right side player.  This may have been largely due to Al Jefferson being on the left side of the floor.

gordon last year

However, this season with the ball in his hands defenses will dictate where Gordon Hayward get his shots. If you look at last nights shot chart you an see that many of his shots in a 5 for 16 outing were on the left side of the floor.

gordon last night

Lebron James talked a year ago about the biggest improvement in his game was learning how to get his shots where he wanted to get them. This was after being the go to guy for eight years in the NBA.  The contrast in last year’s shot chart compared to last night’s shot chart is a good example of one of the things Gordon Hayward will experience this season as the go to guy.

INSIDER – How long do you miss with a fractured finger

Tonight the Jazz rookie Trey Burke fractured the index finger on his right (shooting) hand.

Not all fractured fingers are the same but from a search here are the other NBA fractured finger injuries and the time table.  We will know more specifically on Monday about Trey Burke’s timetable.

Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson both seemed to miss no games and played with broken or fractured fingers.  Here are the mere mortals …..

Kyrie Irving in November of 2012 missed from November 18th to December 11th

Manu Ginobili in Jan 2012 missed from Jan 4th to Feb 8th of 2012

Delonte West Jan 2010 missed Jan 23rd to Feb 11th

Delonte West did it again in Feb of 2012 missed Feb 17 to March 29, he had to have a pin put in his finger.

Raymond Felton Dec 2012 missed from Dec 26th to Jan 26th

Roddie Beaubois March 2012 missed from March 18th to the end of the season

Jonas Valanciunas Dec 2012 missed from Dec 21st to Feb 1st his was referred to as a broken finger.

Stephen Jackson  Nov 2012 missed from Nov 21st to Dec 17th

If you look a month from today you get to November 11th and the Jazz will have only played 7 regular season games

Insider – First Day Observations

Here are a few impressions from the first morning of practice.

Today’s morning session was primarily conditioning with a focus on a defensive conditioning. Coach Corbin and his staff did begin to institute some of the early offensive sets with slight variations from years past. Karl Malone was present working with the other coaches and after practice held a session with the Bigs of the far courts working on various moves and positioning.

The talk after practice was about Gordon Hayword’s increased role as a ball handler this season. Coach Corbin talked about altering some of the offensive and defensive sets this year to better match the personnel.

Coach Corbin was really pushing guys today. You could see a bounce in his step and the excitement to be back out on the floor coaching his guys.

Two highlights stood out from the morning practice. Enes Kanter hit 21 of 23 jumpers from 15 feet during one drill. And in the final conditioning drill of the day Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke had a nice little friendly competition be to see who could get to the line first. Both giving huge effort at the close of the conditioning drill.

INSIDER – Utah Jazz and Dennis Lindsey excited about data on steroids

The NBA announced on Thursday that motion tracking cameras will be installed in every NBA arena. An excited Dennis Lindsey called it “data on steroids.”

The Utah Jazz General Manager has extensive background in camera tracking technology. The San Antonio Spurs have been using this technology over the past season while Lindsey worked with the Spurs. Moreover, while working for the Spurs, Lindsey was sent on a camera scouting mission to Europe to investigate how the cameras were being used in European Soccer.

The possibilities are endless, Lindsey says they are only limited by “good ideas and financial resources.” The Jazz need to make numerous decisions on how they will use this new wealth of data. The Jazz could use the standard information that will be supplied by STATS or they could hire their own developers to try to decipher their own findings out of the information.

The exuberance from Lindsey was obvious as he talked about the agreement between the NBA and STATS. Teams will be able to look at players load, how much they run, how fast they run, the average speed as well as fatigue zones and optimal performance models.

Offensively and Defensively the new system can be used in many different forms. The cameras will give a bird’s eye view to each play as well as having the technology for the teams to overlay data on the screen. The bird’s eye perspective will let teams look at how players are guarded, closely or loosely, and they perform in those circumstances. In addition, each spot on the floor will have xy coordinates.

Lindsey admitted that much of this information simply becomes “atta boy coaches” as it reconfirms what coaches have already implemented into their game plans.

Lindsey became tight lipped on some of its specific uses and areas where it can assist the franchise. The key he said was to “make sure the data base is serving you instead of just constantly feeding it.” The data is robust and the ability to see beyond the initial research into what other areas the data is yielding results will be vital to making this information effective.

In its simplest form Lindsey said “anything that helps you auto-mat tracking is helpful.”

INSIDER – Reasons to be excited about the Utah Jazz

Today I got asked for 5 reasons to be excited about the Utah Jazz. I came up with 8 and could go for more. Here are the 8 I came up with.

1. Engagement. The franchise needed players who are engaged in the future of the franchise. It needed a group of players who viewed themselves as the franchise and view themselves as the core group moving forward. When we played the Rockets last year it was clear Harden, Parson, Lin and Asik felt they were building something for the future. When we played the Warriors Curry, Lee and Thompson were clearly engaged in the their future as the Warriors. The Jazz have told Hayward, Favors, Kanter, Burks and Burke it is their franchise. They will bond and beginning the building for the future. It is their time to lead and their time to establish what is acceptable and what isn’t in this franchise.

2. Fan Engagement. As much as the players needed engagement so did the fan base. The last few years for many fans felt like we were in a holding pattern and as classy and professional as many of our players were you knew in the back of your mind they were likely gone, now the fan can engage in the future pieces of the puzzle.

3. Defense. Young teams are not usually good defensively but as the Jazz build the core of Jazz 4.0 (the Jazz next generation) this will be a group capable of defending. Favors and Kanter can anchor the middle. Burks and Hayward are active on the wings and Rudy Gobert in years could be a major defensive force in the NBA.

4. Over the last three season’s Gordon Hayward has gone from 5 pts a game to 11.8 pts a game to 14 pts a game. Now it is time to see if the member of the USA Elite Team is ready to become a leader of a franchise. Let’s get a little geeky, last year Hawyard used 24% of his possessions to shot a three (hitting on 42%) and he got to the line 12.7 of his possessions. The two most efficient ways to score are shooting a three and going to the line. Only 3 other players in the NBA who played more than 10 minutes a night did what Hayward did last year – James Harden, Danilo Gallinari and Gerald Wallace and none of them shot the three better than 37%.

5. More Gordon Hayward. Last year Gordon Hayward averaged per 36 minutes on the floor 17 pts, 3.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The players who have done the same playing on the wing in the last 20 seasons are Le Bron James, Carmelo Anthony, Richard Jefferson, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, Kevin Garnett, Antoine Walker, Grant Hill, Juwan Howard, Anfernee Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn. Solid company.

6. Trey Burke. At age 14 Burke’s AAU team was the national runner up, at age 15 Burke won the AAU U16 national championship, at age 16 Trey Burke lead his high school team to the state championship title in Ohio. At age 17 his high school team with Jared Sullinger was #1 in the country. At age 18 Burke was Mr. Ohio Basketball. He went 97-5 in high school never losing a city league game. At 19 he was the Big 10 Freshman player of the year and set the Michigan all time assist record for a freshman and at age 20 he was the national college player of the year and the runner up for the NCAA title. In his first ever post-season college game he dropped 30 on Minnesota in the Big 10 tourny for a new career high. His run in this year’s tournament is legendary.

7. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Both of these players are still very young but the prospects are very exciting. Favors has a chance to be the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He will have to learn a lot about how to play entire games. His workouts with Karl Malone has been awesome and hopefully can allow him to develop a basis for an offensive game. Enes Kanter got a two chances to start against lesser teams, Cleveland and Toronto, and he killed it averaging 21 points and 15 rebounds. In the 16 games Kanter played 20 or more minutes he averaged 13 pts and 8 rebs while shooting 59.7%. He has a legitimate chance to be a go to offensive player in the NBA. Neither of these players are completely ready, but now is the time for them to develop and learn how to become better NBA players.

8. Lastly, I will steal a note from former Jazz great and now Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek. When a player comes to the arena and knows he is playing 20 minutes a night no matter how much he tries to avoid it he is not as engaged as he is when he knows he is playing 30 minutes a night and the team and fans are relaying on their performance. We get to see how Hayward, Favors, Burks, Kanter and Burke react when they come to the arena knowing it is on their shoulders and I am very excited to see that.

INSIDER – Thoughts on Free Agency from the Grand Canyon

Sorry for the lack of news for those of you unaware my family and I are on a cross country RV trip and the internet connectivity has been limited. If you would like more on the trip you can get it here

Jefferson to Charlotte
Al is wonderful man and was a great teammate to Enes Kanter and a super member of the Jazz community but 13.5 million a year for Jefferson is not something the Jazz wanted to do. With the NBA CBA you can have 3 players that earn 40 million or 4 players that earn 45 or you will be in serious jeopardy of going over the luxury tax. No need for the Jazz to put 13.5 million toward Jefferson under those constraints.

It will be interesting to see how the Jazz are defensively without Jefferson. Zach Lowe of Grantland wrote a critical piece on the coaching staffs defensive structure and systems. However, almost everything the team was doing defensively was trying to cover for Jefferson and preclude teams from isolating him. The defensive numbers with Jefferson on the floor were awful and when he was on the bench were ok. If you look at our worst defensive line-ups all of them had Jefferson on the floor and the same groups of 4 without Jefferson were not bad defensively.

On the other hand, Jefferson was the Jazz low post go to scorer. He was remarkable over the last few years late in games and that will be difficult to replace. However, not to the tune of 13.5 million a year.


I have never been a fan of Caron Butler, he is an inefficient player and I am not totally sold on Eric Bledsoe as a point guard. The addition of Jared Dudley and JJ Reddick two efficicent players to the Clippers are going to make them an offensive beast.

Bledsoe was a good defensive player and that is going to be missed and the Clippers must find a defensive player and a point guard to complete their roster.

This is a nice move by the Clippers. The Suns have now started their franchise Bledsoe and Len. I am not sold on either player but what they do with Gortat and Dragic will determine their rebuilding project.


New Orleans becomes interesting. I am not sure if they are good but they are interesting. Holliday, Gordon, Evans, Anderson and Davis. Their guard line can’t shoot from the outside but Anderson can stretch the floor. Evans has a chance to be a good player outside of Sacramento but Holliday was very inefficient in Philadelphia and can’t shoot from the outside either.

I love what Portland did here. Robin Lopez is a nice player who could be a good starter or a terrific thrid big. With the roster the Blazers have Lopez makes for a nice center where Meyers Leonard is not ready.

Sacramento’s new ownership is doing everything they can to restart their franchise but it is going to take lots of time and defensiveless point guard is not the answer but they have little choices.

* OJ Mayo wants the ball not wins
* Love the Spurs move to get Marco Belinelli
* 6 million for Korver, wow
* The Knicks were screwed by the Luxury tax and had to over pay JR Smith because of it. Interesting how that hamstrings a luxury team.

Lastly, let me be on the record that the Clippers had no choice but the Chris Paul contract is going to be a major problem at the end of the deal.

Would you really be willing to let Dwight Howard have his hands around the neck of your franchise?