today's title brought to you by fatty & crew
perhaps my post after friday's game against boston was a bit rash. well, being rash wasn't really the problem with the entry - i was a little buzzed and highly disappointed that the reason for my trip to beantown had unfolded in such an ugly way. in any event, i could have put my thoughts more clearly. here's my more reflective take on what's happening with the jazz right now.
first, the wizards have proved that on a given night, any team in the NBA is capable of beating the league's best. by defeating the celtics last night, DC illustrated that every team is made up of professional athletes and, while an entire season will eventually separate the wheat from the chaff, is more than able to put on a show (or just hit a 3 - off the glass - from baltimore) when things are clicking. while this kind of reasoning doesn't exculpate jerry and his players from the collective cork-sorking (that link is definitely NSFW) they've been up to lately, it made me feel a little better about losing to washington.
second, and this was something i only realized after reading a post from jazzbot randall harris, deron has been getting off pretty easy through all of this. there are dozens of posts on the UJ360 boards from the recent weeks calling for starting lineup changes, rotation remixes, trades, and (the perennial-if-not-asinine) firing of sloan. mr. harris noted something important: the jazz made all the moves deron has been asking for in the previous few seasons. he wanted more length, and he got it (boozer is 6'9", al is pushing 6'11"). he wanted more poise and veteran leadership,and he got it (wes matthews and ronnie brewer have played a combined 442 games, raja has played 644). he wanted improved eastern europeans, and he got it (fes dropped 15 pounds and had some impressive-for-an-oaf spin moves early in the season, AK kept the muscle mass he gained during the 2009 summer and hasn't broken anything yet, and memo was back sooner than i figured he would be).
the biggest detriment to the jazz, and one that d-will has been comfortable pointing out, is that they don't have a shooting guard that can shoot. what, you ask? deron's never said that, you retort. he has, he is just couching it by insisting that players "don't know the plays" or "aren't getting around screens." the problem is that shooting guards get open looks only when the offense is clicking - and the offense hasn't been clicking, so there haven't been a lot of opportunities for mid-range jumpers from raja or cj. and it's easy to blame those guys for being lazy on offense and settling for bad outside shots when the scripted play doesn't happen the way it should. hence, when deron says people don't know the plays, he's suggesting (among other things) that his shooting guards aren't effective shooters.
which is only half-true. if deron was passing better, there would be more open shots. if deron were pushing the ball better, the rest of the offense would be forced to be a step faster down the court and thus better able to get around screens and have time to square up before shooting. kyle korver was brilliant at catching off the curl because he hustled, and his half-step advantage on his defender meant he could use the extra quarter-second to get his body in the right position rather than chucking up a brick over the hand in his face.
so when i say "whoa on the woes," i guess i mean that perhaps the problem with the jazz isn't really so wide-spread as to begin questioning the integrity of the entire organization. everybody on the team needs to step their game up - watching the boston game was a painful experience for those expecting anyone on the jazz to hustle (even ronnie price, normally a spark plug, seemed to know he was beaten before he even stepped on the court). but a big part of the problem right now is deron; he needs to figure out how to avoid getting bogged down in frustration and elevate his game, as well as take randall's advice and get in the driver's seat as far as being the team captain and leader is concerned.
and, in the interim, maybe the fans and media could be willing to criticize deron a little more when he's not doing his job.
despite how terrible things look right now, thanks to the modern nature of the western conference, we remain within a game or two of third in the west and only a handful of W's out of second (although i doubt we're going to catch up to san antonio). and things are going to get better. everybody on the team is slumping a little bit right now, and slumps don't last forever. this jazz squad is simply too talented and too well-coached to have all aspirations slip away this early in the season. i'm anticipating a few more mediocre games before we finally catch a break and watch two or three jazzmen get hot in the same 3rd quarter. that should breath some new life into an otherwise flat squad. i know my record of jazz predictions isn't exactly stellar (still waiting on jefferson to punch in a single triple-double since i called him having 5 or more this season), but i think that after a couple more cringe-inducing losses against (hate to say it, but the odds aren't in our favor) the lakers and tim duncan, the team will get it back together enough to win a few in a row before playing in denver on february 4th.
i just finished watching happy gilmore for the first time in maybe 8 years. still hillarious.