Friday, December 16, 2011

stomach aches

(this post brought to you by the only band full of people that never made it that finally made it.)

last night, among all the josh howard / andrei kirilenko chatter, prolific jazz tweeter clintonite33 mentioned that J-Ho isn't much of a security blanket if you're talking about injuries as compared to AK.  just last year, howard only played in 57 games while The Russian Back Tattoo played in 68.

jazz fans are, i think, pretty spoiled by their history when it comes to resilient players.  after all, the mailman had ten seasons with the jazz where he didn't miss a single game, and another seven where he missed two or less.  with all the complaining that we hear from SLC about players missing too many games, i thought it would be interesting to see how many games players are actually missing.

to make it more interesting (and to avoid my data being skewed by DNP-CD guys), i only compared the number of games played by each team's top six players.  the top six players were selected by the number of minutes each played throughout the entire 2010-2011 season, and placed within a team based on where the player was under contract at the close of the regular season.  for example, deron williams' numbers are based on his entire season's play, and is listed as a nets player rather than a jazz player.

the relevant information is entered into an excel spreadsheet, which is linked below.  all info was gathered from Basketball Reference.  the categories of data are as follows (auto-calculate equations in parentheses):

  • Games Played:  the number of games the player actually played in during the season.
  • Games Missed:  the number of games the player did not appear in (82 games minus Games Played).
  • Games Started:  the number of games the player started.
  • MPG:  the number of active playing time minutes the player averaged per game.
for each team, the top six players have their stats averaged; each category of stat was summed and divided by six.  so, the jazz's top six players averaged just over 73 games played last year, or almost missing 9 games each to injury (AK's missing 14 games--five more than the rest of the best guys--isn't so far removed from the mean here).

further, each team's top-six-players-average stats is has been averaged in with rest of the team's division (each division has its own tab), each division averaged against the rest of the conference, and a league-wide average is available as well.  finally, note that the first tab on the spreadsheet only refers to teams that made the playoffs last year; each conference's playoff teams have been averaged together as well.

the link to the spreadsheet is here.

this is a lot of data, but answering the question as to whether AK is a big wuss compared to the rest of the league is pretty easy.  on the "TOTAL" tab, note that the league-wide average for top players missing games due to injury is 10.383 games missed.  kirilenko is a little softer than the the average, having missed 14 games (but still in a much better spot than josh howard).  compared to the eastern conference only (13.233 games missed per season), AK's not looking too shabby.

while it's nice to know that andrei is a softie in the west but an average miss-16-percent-of-my-games guy in the east, the rest of the numbers here provide some interesting points.

note on the "Playoff Teams" tab that only three teams averaged higher than 10 missed games per season from their top six players.  chicago had a tough season with noah, boozer, and thomas all missing a bunch of games, but the heat and dallas each have a wild outlier in haslem and butler, respectively.  taking haslem out of the heat's equation and only looking at the remaining 5 players, MIA's numbers move to only 5.6 games missed per season.  similarly, if you drop butler from dallas' numbers, the team's average drops to 4.2 games missed per each of the remaining 5 players.  excluding the lakers' freak show of invincible players, that 4.2 number for dallas would easily be good enough for best in the post-season.  it's little wonder, from this perspective, that they were able to put together a championship run, as the best players on the team didn't have to fiddle with alternate line-ups all season.

also interesting to consider that, in what is arguably the last year of the recent era of the west having generally better teams than the east, the western conference has a slight advantage in top-six players being available per game, 73.044 to 68.767.  and, within the western conference, the division with the best star-availability sent the most teams to the playoffs: the southwest division's top-six players missed an average of only 7.533 games all year, easily the lowest in the league, and sent four teams (DAL, NOH, MEM, SAS) to the post season.

something that i found strange was that, excluding CHI, MIA, and DAL's above-ten-games departure from the other playoff teams, having a healthy core that missed under 10 games a year didn't necessarily translate to making the playoffs (or even being on the cusp of making them).  the jazz, for example, averaged only 8.333 missed games per player, the same number as portland, yet finished 11th in the west.  detroit's squad averaged a missed 9.167 games and didn't make it out of the regular season.  golden state's guys missed 7.333 games each, and phoenix--old as balls, nash/hill/carter phoenix--led the league in available talent at only 4.167 games missed yet neither of the pacific division teams earned a playoff berth.

on the other side of the coin, missing a bunch of games from your core was pretty much a guarantee that your team was going to enjoy a lengthy summer break.  toronto, whose dismal record was bested only by sad, sad cleveland, missed an average of 30.333 games per each of the squad's heaviest hitters.  the closest western conference number to approach the raptors part-time team was the clippers, with 18 games missed by each of the team's best (impressive, considering that blake griffen played all 82 games), which was enough to earn them dead last in the pacific division, and ahead of only SAC and MIN in the west.

the last thing that struck me up front is most apparent on the "Playoff Teams" tab.  dallas, while en route to their championship, leaned heavier on its bench for minutes than any other playoff team.  this is apparent from the "games started" column; dallas's top six (by minutes played) guys only started 48.833 games each during the regular season, the lowest average number of games started by any playoff squad.  the number is also good enough for second most bench-reliant starpower in the west, behind only sacramento.  whether or not this is something actually worth noting is beyond my limited analytics skillset, but it does seem interesting.

stern, cp3, and the united states

(today's entry fueled by badger legion)

during my final semester of law school at the illustrious seton hall university, i took a class called "advanced topics in sports law."  our adjunct professor was this big-time sports attorney in manhattan; the dude knew everything there is to know about the NBA from a technical standpoint (and from a fan perspective, also) but wasn't the most effective educator.

anyhow, for those of you familiar with ABA requirements of law schools, this class satisfied an "advanced writing requirement;" in other words, what would be a journal note or a publishable-quality article on a legal topic.  about five weeks before the semester began, the NBA bought the new orleans hornets, which piqued my legal curiosity.  four months later, i had a zillion endnotes and a few thousand words on the razor's edge the NBA owners are walking between collusion and "investing" with their ownership of the hornets.

this is the article i wrote.  for those of you in the legal field, you'll note that there are no hard conclusions other than that what the league is doing with NOH has a high potential for illegality.  stern's citation of "basketball reasons" when blocking the initial CP3 trade to LAL goes, i think, to my point.  if you're not into legal stuff, the piece is going to be pretty boring--even if you are, it's still pretty dry.  but i think it might be a point worth considering.  enjoy.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

any number can play

(today's entry powered by a song from the only post-more betterness NUFAN album i can still stomach.)

2010-2011 Utah Jazz Projected Stats (rookies listed with projected 2011-2012 stats)

2011-2012 Utah Jazz Projected Stats (rookies listed with college stats)
2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks Stats (unedited)

2010-2011 Dallas Mavericks Stats (rookies listed with college stats)

This blog's namesake tweeted this morning with a question:

, i would like to know what Jazz fans are expecting this year in terms of wins. out of 66 games, how many wins?

Among the various answers were a few suggesting that the jazz simply don't have the roster to make much of an impact. I thought such negativity was, while probably grounded in an affinity for reality, a little big of a drag given all the hype coming out of training camp so far. So I thought I'd do a little number crunching. I should preface what you're about to read with a couple of things: (1) my big statistical assumption isn't very scientific in its premises, and (2) I don't have a great brain for statistics anyway.

My thought was to compare the production numbers (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and minutes per game of each player, along with age and size) of the currently posted Jazz roster against the Dallas Mavericks championship-winning team from last year. I didn't include Elson or Fes, but I did include Kirilenko rather than speculating that Josh Howard joins the team.

What you see above are four matrices/images representing individual averages of each player of the team; two of the images are for the 2011-2012 Jazz roster as it stands right now, and two are for the 2010-2011 Mavs. In order to even attempt a realistic comparison, there is one key point you need to keep in mind. The Jazz, as they stand now, are made up of four rookies (if you exclude Trey Gilder's 7 games played last year, which I have). I couldn't very well include their college stats without making a crazy impact on the team's averages. So you see, for the Jazz, one spreadsheet labeled "WITH MODIFIED ROOKIE STATS" that represents what I anticipate each of the rookies to bring to the table this year in combination with the actual 2010-2011 numbers each player put up (except where otherwise noted); the other spreadsheet, "WITH ROOKIE COLLEGE STATS," shows the numbers each of the four rookies put up in their senior year of college along with the otherwise unedited '10-'11 stats (again, except where otherwise noted.

The two Dallas spreadsheets are my attempt at finding a reference for the Jazz's numbers. The first Dallas image, "ACTUAL STATS," shows the real numbers the Mavs players put up last year. The second, "WITH ROOKIE COLLEGE STATS," shows how last year's Mavs would have stacked up had Dallas' only rookie, Dominique Jones, put up his college numbers.

In short, the only spreadsheets that I'll actually be comparing are the Jazz "MODIFIED" matrix and the Dallas "ACTUAL" matrix. But how do I adjust for rookie performance, you ask? Good question.

For the sake of comparison, I’m going to start by using the same ratio of productivity change from Dominique Jones. Jones’ college averages are represented in the Dallas matrix labeled “WITH ROOKIE COLLEGE STATS,” and his actual numbers are in the Dallas matrix labeled “WITH ACTUAL STATS.” Jones, like all other rookies in these spreadsheets, has his numbers contained within a red box.

In order to explain the ratios I’m using for the Jazz rookies, let’s compare Jones’ college averages with his rookie year production straight up:

Jones scored 12.17% as many points per game with Dallas as he had in college, pulled in 25.93% as many boards, dished 31.43% as many assists, stole 20% of passes, blocked half the shots, and played 20.55% as many minutes in his rookie year with Big D as he had throughout college. For the sake of comparison, let’s run the same numbers on Derrick Favors:

I realize that I’d need a much bigger sample to compare these two sets of numbers. But simply to provide something of a control, in order to make a very rough, finger-in-the-wind estimate, I’ve averaged the two percentage drops in each category and applied them to this year’s Jazz rookies (excluding Kanter, as I’m just using his Euroleague numbers, and including Trey Gilder, who might as well be a rookie). So, the average drops are as follows:

So, if we extrapolate this (almost useless) set of percentages against, say, Alec Burks’ college numbers, we wind up with the numbers you see in the Jazz’s “WITH MODIFIED ROOKIE STATS” matrix:

So that's my very unprofessional attempt at accounting for rookies. Take it for what it's worth.

What does all of this mean? The most ego-inflating numbers to compare are the average total points per game scored by last year's champs (142.4) versus the projected Jazz total points per game (151.6). But that's not a very useful yardstick to judge the potential of this year's Jazz team.

The average Mavericks player last year scored 7.28 points in 19.04 minutes of play, 0.382 points per minute. At five players for 48 minutes, that puts the Mavs at 91.76 points per game last year. This number doesn't reflect the Mavs actual regular season average of 100.2 points per game because not all players included in my mock-up roster were on the Mavs team for the entire season (at least, that's my best educated guess on the discrepancy).

The average Jazzman, after adjusting for my guess as to rookie performance, put up 8.92 points in 21.99 minutes of play. That's .406 points per minute played, considerably higher than the respective Mavericks number. If each Utah player was playing with those kinds of numbers for a full 48, that's 97.44 points per game--almost six points per game higher than last year's league champs.

The picture gets more complex when looking at individual box scores.
  • REBOUNDS: The average Jazz player last season (after the rookie index) had 0.155 rebounds per playing minute, for a team total of about 37.12 per game. The average Mavericks player had 0.168 rebounds per playing minute, for a team total of about 40.38 per game.
  • ASSISTS: The average Jazz player last season (after the rookie index) had 0.091 assists per playing minute, for a team total of about 21.94 total per game. The average Mavericks player had 0.089 assists per playing minute, for a team total of about 21.35 per game.
  • STEALS: The average Jazz player last season (after the rookie index) had 0.031 steals per playing minute, for a team total of about 7.47 total per game. The average Mavericks player had 0.030 steals per playing minute, for a team total of about 7.21 per game.
  • BLOCKS: The average Jazz player last season (after the rookie index) had 0.022 blocks per playing minute, for a team total of about 5.29 total per game. The average Mavericks player had 0.018 blocks per playing minute, for a team total of about 4.41 per game.
The Jazz only fall behind the Mavericks in rebounds; all other categories favor the Jazz. And the assist margin is pretty low, considering these numbers don't include any numbers from Deron Williams.

My biggest take-away? Even if you can think of some reason why the Mavs numbers here are lower than they should be, you could modify the Jazz's numbers to reflect only the final few weeks of the season for Gordon and Favors to reflect their increased productivity late in the season. Or you could plug only the first-half-of-the-season numbers for last year's players; do you recall that at this time last year, the Jazz were third in the West? I suppose my conclusion is that the Jazz obviously don't have the kind of perennial all-star firepower you get with guys like Dirk and The Jet. But the numbers don't lie: this year's Jazz team has the potential to knock off last year's best squad.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Lakers schedule

what with all the "lakers get preferred treatment" shit we jazz fans love to talk, i figured i'd take a look at their schedule the same way i broke down ours yesterday:

NORTHWEST (18 games total)

Oklahoma City Thunder: 1 @ OKC (2/23) 2 @ LAL (3/29, 4/22)

Denver Nuggets: 2 @ DEN (1/1, 2/3) 2 @ LAL (12/31, 4/13)

Portland Trailblazers: 2 @ POR (1/5, 3/23) 1 @ LAL (2/20)

Utah Jazz: 2 @ UTAH (1/11, 2/4) 2 @ LAL (12/27, 3/18)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 2 @ MIN (1/29, 3/9) 2 @ LAL (2/29, 3/16)

Total Northwest: 9 Games played away 9 Games played at home

  • The Lakers play the exact schedule against OKC as the Jazz, 1 game away and 2 at home.
  • The Jazz play DEN twice in Colorado and once in SLC; LAL plays DEN twice in each city.
  • The Jazz play POR twice each home and away; LAL plays POR twice in Oregon and once in L.A.
  • LAL plays MIN twice at home and twice away; UTA plays them once in Minnesota and once at the ESA.

PACIFIC (14 games total)

Phoenix Suns: 2 @ PHX (2/19, 4/7) 2 @ LAL (1/10, 2/17)

Golden State Warriors: 2 @ GSW (3/27, 4/18) 2 @ LAL (1/6, 4/1)

L.A. Clippers: 2 @ LAC (1/14, 4/4) 1 @ LAL (1/25)

Sacramento Kings: 2 @ SAC (12/26, 4/26) 1 @ LAL (3/2)

Total Pacific: 8 Games played away 6 Games played at home

  • UTA plays PHX once in Phoenix and twice in Utah; LAL gets them twice at home and away.
  • Both UTA and LAL play GSW two-and-two.
  • UTA plays LAC once in in L.A. and twice in SLC; LAL plays them twice "away" and once "at home" but it's the same arena so what difference does it make?
  • The Jazz play SAC twice home and twice away; LAL gets the Kings twice in Sac-town and once with Jack Nicholson.

SOUTHWEST (16 games total)

San Antonio Spurs: 2 @ SAS (4/11, 4/20) 1 @ LAL (4/17)

Dallas Mavericks: 2 @ DAL (2/22, 3/21) 2 @ LAL (1/16, 4/15)

New Orleans Hornets: 2 @ NOH (3/14, 4/9) 1 @ LAL (3/31)

Memphis Grizzlies: 2 @ MEM (3/13, 3/25) 1 @ LAL (1/8)

Houston Rockets: 1 @ HOU (3/20) 2 @ LAL (1/3, 4/6)

Total Southwest: 9 Games played away 7 Games played at home

  • UTA and SAS each play two games in the other's city., while SAS plays LA twice in Texas and once in SoCal.
  • Two-and-two for the UTA/DAL and LAL/DAL matchups.
  • The Jazz play twice in New Orleans and once in SLC, just like how the Lakers play NOH twice in LA the state and once in L.A. the city.
  • UTA/MEM matchup is two in Memphis and one in Salt Lake; LAL/MEM is the same story, with the Lakeshow playing the Grizzlies three times, only once at home.
  • UTA plays HOU twice in Texas and once in Utah; LAL plays HOU once in Texas and twice in California.


26 Games played away, 22 Games played at home

ATLANTIC (7 games total)

Boston Celtics: 1 @ BOS (2/9) 1 @ LAL (3/11)

New York Knicks: 1 @ NYK (2/10) 1 @ LAL (12/29)

Philadelphia 76ers: 1 @ PHI (2/6) 0 @ LAL

New Jersey Nets: 0 @ NJN 1 @ LAL (4/3)

Toronto Raptors: 1 @ TOR (2/12) 0 @ LAL

Total Atlantic: 4 Games played away 3 Games played at home

  • LAL gets Beantown twice, one game on each end of the country. The Jazz play them once in Boston.
  • LAL also gets the Knicks twice, while the Jazz only play them once away.
  • UTA plays the 76ers twice, one-and-one. The Lakers only get them once in Philly.
  • The Jazz also get two shots at D-Will and the Nets, while LAL only see them once in L.A.
  • UTA plays TOR once in Utah; LAL plays TOR once in Canada.

CENTRAL (5 games total)

Chicago Bulls: 0 @ CHI 1 @ LAL (12/25)

Indiana Pacers: 0 @ IND 1 @ LAL (1/22)

Milwaukee Bucks: 1 @MIL (1/28) 0 @ LAL

Detroit Pistons: 1 @ DET (3/6) 0 @ LAL

Cleveland Cavaliers: 0 @ CLE 1 @ LAL (1/13)

Total Central: 2 Games played away 3 Games played at home

  • UTA plays CHI once in Chicago; LAL plays them once at home.
  • UTA plays IND once in Indiana; LAL plays them once at home.
  • UTA plays MIL once at home; LAL plays them once in Milwaukee.
  • UTA plays DET once in Utah; LAL plays DET once in Detroit.
  • UTA plays CLE twice; LAL plays them once at home.

SOUTHEAST (6 games total)

Miami Heat: 1 @ MIA (1/19) 1 @ LAL (3/4)

Orlando Magic: 1 @ ORL (1/20) 0 @ LAL

Atlanta Hawks: 0 @ATL 1 @ LAL (2/14)

Charlotte Bobcats: 0 @ CHA 1 @ LAL (1/31)

Washington Wizards: 1 @ WAS (3/7) 0 @ LAL

Total Southeast: 3 Games played away 3 Games played at home

  • UTA plays MIA once in SLC; LAL plays them twice.
  • UTA plays ORL once in SLC; LAL plays them once in Florida.
  • UTA plays ATL once in Georgia; LAL plays them once in Califas.
  • UTA plays CHA once in Charlotte; LAL plays them once in L.A.
  • UTA plays WAS once in Utah; LAL plays them once in D.C.


9 Games played away, 9 Games played at home

So what's the takeaway here? The Western Conference matchups are almost identical, while the Jazz have a notably easier time against the East. I'm sure those whose lives revolve around abhorring the Lakers can point to the back-to-backs or home/away game balance late in the season. But putting the Jazz against the Lakers this way--actual matchups--doesn't show the much-speculated special golden toilet the NBA supposedly reserves for LAL to shart all over the rest of the league.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Jazz 2011-2012 Schedule

I think I've seen the schedule broken down a million different ways already (view the official schedule here), but not like this:

NORTHWEST (13 games total)

Oklahoma City Thunder: 1 @ OKC (2/14) 2 @ UTA (2/10, 3/20)

Denver Nuggets: 2 @ DEN (12/28, 1/15) 1 @ UTA (3/23)

Portland Trailblazers 2 @ POR (4/2, 4/18) 2 @ UTA (1/30, 4/26)

Minnesota Timberwolves: 1 @ MIN (2/22) 2 @ UTA (1/21, 3/15)

Total Northwest: 6 Games played away 7 Games played at home

PACIFIC (18 games total)

L.A. Lakers: 2 @ LAL (12/17, 3/18) 2 @ UTA (1/11, 2/4)

Phoenix Suns: 1 @ PHX (3/14) 2 @ UTA (4/4, 4/24)

Golden State Warriors: 2 @ GSW (1/7, 2/2) 2 @ UTA (3/17, 4/6)

L.A. Clippers: 1 @ LAC (3/31) 2 @ UTA (1/17, 2/1)

Sacramento Kings: 2 @ SAC (2/28, 3/22) 2 @ UTA (1/28, 3/30)

Total Pacific: 8 Games played away 10 Games played at home

SOUTHWEST (17 games total)

San Antonio Spurs: 2 @ SAS (12/31, 4/8) 2 @ UTA (2/20, 4/9)

Dallas Mavericks: 2 @ DAL (1/27, 3/3) 2 @ UTA (1/19, 4/16)

New Orleans Hornets: 2 @ NOH (2/13, 4/13) 1 @ UTA (1/2)

Memphis Grizzlies: 2 @ MEM (2/12, 4/14) 1 @ UTA (1/6)

Houston Rockets: 2 @ HOU (2/19, 4/11) 1 @ UTA (2/29)

Total Southwest: 10 Games played away 7 Games played at home


24 Games played away 24 Games played at home

ATLANTIC (7 games total)

Boston Celtics: 1 @ BOS (3/28) 0 @ UTA

New York Knicks: 1 @ NYK (2/6) 0 @ UTA

Philadelphia 76ers: 1 @ PHI (3/9) 1 @ UTA (12/30)

New Jersey Nets: 1 @ NJN (3/26) 1 @ UTA (1/14)

Toronto Raptors: 0 @ TOR 1 @ UTA (1/25)

Total Atlantic: 4 Games played away 3 Games played at home

CENTRAL (6 games total)

Chicago Bulls: 1 @ CHI (3/10) 0 @ UTA

Indiana Pacers: 1 @ IND (2/7) 0 @ UTA

Milwaukee Bucks: 0 @MIL 1 @ UTA (1/3)

Detroit Pistons: 0 @ DET 1 @ UTA (3/12)

Cleveland Cavaliers: 1 @ CLE (3/5) 1 @ UTA (1/10)

Total Central: 3 Games played away 3 Games played at home

SOUTHEAST (5 games total)

Miami Heat: 0 @ MIA 1 @ UTA (3/2)

Orlando Magic: 0 @ ORL 1 @ UTA (4/21)

Atlanta Hawks: 1 @ATL (3/25) 0 @ UTA

Charlotte Bobcats: 1 @ CHA (3/7) 0 @ UTA

Washington Wizards: 0 @ WAS 1 @ UTA (2/17)

Total Southeast: 2 Games played away 3 Games played at home


9 Games played away 9 Games played at home

The only thing that strikes me as odd is the relatively small number of intra-division games on the schedule. But as I'm unwilling to do this for the entire league, that may not be an anomaly.

Monday, December 5, 2011

wore out the soles of my lockout boots

(Today’s entry brought to you by an obscure reference to one of the least tolerant front men ever to own his own punk rock record label)

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last week, the NBA lockout is all but over. Preseason ball begins with an absolutely riveting DC/Philly matchup on December 16. Jazz fans get to wait until 8:00 P.M. MST on Monday, December 19, to catch a glimpse of what the season might hold under Coach Ty and his three-headed dog (see below) against Portland. We see the Blazers again in SLC on the 21st, and that’s it for the “pre-season.”

Fun fact about Portland, I went to the Blazers-Nets match-up last year in Newark and yelled at Wes to go back to the Jazz. He totally looked at me and shook his head either in disgust or, more likely, indicating his approval to do exactly that.

Much like most of the former NBPA itself, I haven’t been doing much actual basketball-related work since the Mavs slapped the Lakers and the Heat around a few months ago. Fact is, I don’t know enough about the subtleties of the game to have been making serious predictions about where I thought the Jazz would be at the (delayed) start of the season. If you’re like my cousin, you probably don’t need to read any further. But if you’re in my shoes, having been moderately confused by the lockout because both sides were dominated by maddening asshattery, and letting that confusion glaze over your desire to make contingency after contingency for predicting how a new CBA might affect the Yutah Yazz, let’s work things out together.

First things first: Enes Kanter. Hard to think of a good nickname for a guy whose name rhymes with “penis.”

Second, the Jazz court is a little front-heavy right now. Evans, Favors, Hayward, Jefferson, AK, CJ, and Millsap are all currently tagged as forwards on the Utah roster and will be battling for minutes. At the 5, we have Elson, Fes, Dong-Joke and Memo (along with Al “Duality of Man” Jefferson), leaving the backcourt with 5 guards (Raja, Harris, Ronnie and Earl, and draft pickup Alec Burks) to the frontcourt’s 11. Obviously not all these players are under contract, and it seems inevitable that Memo, barring his having implanted T-1000 ankles and knees over the offseason, will get paid to walk under the new CBA’s one-time amnesty provision. In order to get the team down to 11-13 players, obviously some of these guys aren't going to be suiting up once regular season play begins on Christmas.

The obvious-according-to-the-internet solution is trading Paul Millsap. He had a monster year in 2010-2011 and would be an asset to nearly any team that doesn't habitually spend over the salary cap, and the Jazz could theoretically live without him. It's hard to think of a better trading piece than Millsap, and the Jazz are still in need of a real 2-guard (or, at the very least, more than one shooting guard on the roster--AK doesn't count).

Yet losing Millsap creates a big problem for the Jazz, particularly if they decide to drop Memo and let Fes go. That would leave the Jazz with: (A) a rookie and Francisco Elson, who last season was looking only about a half-step faster than a 54-year-old Mark Eaton, at center; (B) Jefferson and Favors at power forward; and (C) Evans, AK, CJ, and Gordon Hayward scrambling for small forward minutes. True, CJ, Hayward, and AK can all play a 2-guard in a pinch (Miles in particular), but there's no sense in getting dogged down in the 2-3 position logjam the Jazz have allowed to build up. More important is that without Millsap, the Jazz have a shaky pair of players at 5, neither of whom can spread the floor (prove me wrong, Johnson Kanter), and only two other true big men even available in Jefferson and Favors. Millsap might be considered undersized for a power forward, but at 17 points and 8 boards a game, he seems to be working out most of the time.

Given the size of the Denver (current roster lists 11 players over 6'8") Lakers (current roster lists 8 players over 6'8"), the Mavericks (7 players over 6'8"), Portland (7 players over 6'8"), and OKC (7 players over 6'8"), the Jazz would be rolling some serious Western Conference dice by dropping Paul to pick up another guard. As the roster currently stands, the Jazz employ 10 players standing at or above 6'8". Losing Memo, Fes and Millsap drops us down to 7 bigs, one of which is Gordon Hayward, who might actually be 6'8" only when he wears platforms. So what are the Jazz to do? Trust in Rigby and O'Connor? They generally--generally--make the right moves. But I'd like to see a starting 5 with Millsap, Favors, and Jefferson and perhaps a flash of all the lessons Ty Corbin has learned from losing games to Phil Jackson's triangle offense.

Also, I just got my autographed Millsap jersey framed. They can't trade him before I even hang the damn thing up.

My third point should be some ruminations on what to do with the stack of small forward/shooting guards we have that don't really have a handle on playing either position consistently well, but I think I'm just going to say this: I have been a stalwart AK defender since Deron Williams made everyone realize exactly how much money was getting pumped into the skinny Russian. And as recently as a few weeks ago I was hoping the Jazz would lock him back up for another 4 years at a much more reasonable salary. But now I'm rethinking that strategy. Evans has way more energy and Hayward strikes me as having the potential (read: work ethic) to show Andrei a thing or two about consistency. Losing AK frees up a spot to bring in a pure shooting guard. It seems foolish not to do it, or at least to sign him to anything longer than a year or two. I will miss his intense love for the filet-o-fish once he's gone though. C'est la vie.

Fourth and finally, as a reward for making it to the bottom of my insufferable nonsense, I remind you that the Jazz are hosting a free scrimmage at the ESA on Saturday, 12/17. I'ma be there, come and tell me how wrong I am and I'll either buy you a beer for being a good sport or pour mine all over your girlfriend. Unless you're a woman with a girlfriend (that link is totally SFW), then I'll illustrate my serious commitment to supporting your ability to live your own life. Just kidding, I'll pour my drink over anyone if they insist.