Friday, December 28, 2012

Take It Back

Today's post brought to you by the pride of Victorville, CA.

After Wednesday night's debacle against an admittedly fortified Golden State squad, it's hard (even for us Jazz Kool-Aid drinkers) not to wonder what pieces the Jazz need to have in place to become a more competitive squad.  Foye and Marvin Williams both had off nights, and obviously missing your starting PG is problematic.  But the most recent Jazz loss seemed to be the perfect microcosm of all the little things haunting the Jazz this season:  slow starts, lack of intensity, settling for jump shots, weak defensive rebounding, etc.

It would be nice to have another quality point guard on this team.  Frankly, if we had a better 1 than Mo, I'd be happy to have Mo off the bench and leave it at that, allowing Burks or Foye to run the offense in a real pinch.  But that's not how the Jazz do things.  Similarly, there is no real threat at the 2-3 for a take over performance.  Burks might get there someday, but he's not there now.  And our bigs...well, I think that problem has been discussed ad nauseum already so let's move on.

Who could the Jazz pick up to solve some of these problems?  ESPN's trade machine is probably breaking right now just from people with 801 area codes.  There are a million (well, 420ish) players to consider adding to the Utah roster.  And everybody wants to talk about picking up Steph Curry, Dwayne Wade, or Damon Lillard.  It's not gonna happen.

But that doesn't mean we can't speculate.  And, as long as we're speculating, let's start with the coulda-woulda-shouldas.  The list of former Jazz players spread around the league is fairly impressive, not just in numbers but in talent as well.  Assuming personnel issues and injuries aren't a factor and the paychecks are reasonable, here's a short take on the available Jazz alums and how they might affect this year's squad.

Blake Ahearn (N/A): 6'2", 190, PG.  Last season, Ahearn played four games for the Jazz, and has only played 19 games in the NBA throughout his entire career.  Blake is a terrible shooter from the field, with a career average of 27.3%.  Not a terrific threat from beyond the arc either (.298).  If the Jazz need somebody to fill in for MoW and neither Tinsley nor Watson fits the bill, Blake Ahearn doesn't seem like the answer, either.

Lou Amundson (MIN):  6'9", 225, PF.  Amundson didn't have much of a run with the Jazz, and is only averaging 8.5 minutes per game (in only 11 games) with the Timberwolves this year.  Can't imagine that we'd want this guy over Millsap or Favors; he's shooting 33.3% from the field, 23% from the stripe, and only posting 1.2 PPG and 2.4 RPG.  Snoozer.

Carlos Boozer (CHI):  6'9", 258, PF.  For all the bullocks Boozer gets from Jazz Land, the guy was an integral part of going to the Western Conference Finals with D-Will and Sloan.  His game has fallen off a bit, however.  This year, Booz is shooting at 53.4% (not bad), 68.1% from the stripe, and collecting 9.2 boards on his way to 13.7 ppg.  In contrast, Millsap shoots 51.8% & 71.6% respectively, with 8 boards and 14.7 ppg.  Sap has 2.6 assists, 1 steal, and 0.9 blocks per game, however, compared to Boozer's 2.0, 0.8, and 0.5.  I'd call this one a wash, frankly.

Ronnie Brewer (NYK): 6'7", 220, SG/SF.  If Ronnie hadn't been traded and traded in such a dickfor way, maybe we still have Sloan and Deron.  Just sayin'.  Anyway, this season, the Milkman 2.0 is shooting a lackluster 38% from the field, 30.5% from three and 44.1% on his free throws for a measly 5.1 points per 20.4 minutes (0.25 points per minute).  If we look at this purely in a Moneyball way, Hayward is averaging 12.9 points in 26.6 minutes (0.48 ppm), DMC is good for 5.3 points in 16.9 minutes (0.31 ppm), and Burks gives you 4.2 points in only 10.6 minutes (0.40 ppm).  Cue The Ataris singing the intro to "Your Boyfriend Sucks."

Derek Fisher (N/A):  6'1", 200, PG.  Let's pretend for a minute that Jazz fans don't hate this guy on principle, because we all know it would be nice to have him back on the team.  Fish was good this year for 40% from the field, 37.3% from 3, and 81.7% from the stripe.  Add in 2.1 boards, 3.1 dimes and 8.6 ppg, and it's hard to argue that he wouldn't be a better backup PG than Tinsley (39.3%/32.7%/87.5%/2.0/4.9/3.3) or Watson (29.3%/18.2%/57.1%/1.6/4.0/2.0).  Granted, Jamaal and Earl have higher assist numbers, but neither can score.  Fisher can, and he can do it in clutch scenarios.  Boy, it'd be nice to have him back.

Sundiata Gaines (N/A): 6'1", 185, PG.  Yada hasn't seen any NBA minutes this season, but last year he shot nearly 40% from the floor, 30% from the arc, 56.2% from the stripe while dishing 2.2 assists and scoring 5.1 points in 13.9 minutes.  Plus he's young and is willing to adapt to a coach's system.  Look, I love Tinsley and Earl is something of a personal hero of mine, but I have a hard time coming up with an argument that supports having two aging backup points when this guy is available.

Devin Harris (ATL): 6'3", 185, PG/SG.  Devin is coming off the bench in half the games he's played for the Hawks this year.  In 23.1 minutes, DH is shooting at a 44.1% clip, 32.4% from three and 60.6% from the stripe.  Factor in 2.5 assists and 7.7 points scored, and Harris looks like a pretty solid backup PG if the contract wasn't so absurd.  His up-tempo game would fit well with the second unit, to boot.  Stupid money.

Kris Humphries (BKN): 6'9", 235, F.  Besides being famous for having sex with another famous person who was famous for being famous, K-Hump (as I like to call him) has a 46.6 FG%, 66.3 FT%, scores 7.1 points, pulls 7.4 boards, and shows 0.6/0.3/0.7 in assists/steals/blocks per game.  These are better offensive numbers (not accounting for minutes played) than Carroll puts up, but defensively Carroll has a slight edge.  Favors scores more and is has better rebound/block numbers.  Is it worth comparing Humphries to Jeremy Evans?  Touch the Heavens is good for 2.2 points and 0.5 blocks in 7 minutes.  Given Humphries' minutes, Evans goes to almost 7 points and nearly 2 blocks.  Not sure that I'd want Humphries back on our bench.

Andrei Kirilenko (MIN): 6'9", 220, F.  I'm not going to bother with stats.  If AK was getting paid a reasonable amount (I'd go as high as $6 million per year) and could stay healthy, of course you'd want him on the team.  I'd have him over Marvin Williams or DMC.  Hell, even with the risk of injuries, I think I'd still like to see AK in a Jazz uni again, just to show the kids how to 5x5.

Kyle Korver (ATL): 6'7", 210, F.  42.8% from the field, 42.1% from three, 84% from the stripe, 2.8 boards, 1.6 assists, and 9.5 points per game.  Puts asses in the seats, lots of them female.  Did I mention 42.1% from beyond the arc?  Please come back, Kyle. Gordon will only play 2 from now on.

Kosta Koufos (DEN):  7'0", 265, C.  This clown sharted all over the floor in a Jazz uni for two seasons, landed in Denver a few years later and was suddenly a reasonably talented big.  This year, Koof is shooting 59.4% from the floor, 58.5% from the FT line, collecting 6.3 boards, blocking 1.8 shots and scoring 7.6 points in 22.1 minutes.  Enes, in contrast, shoots 51.7%/65.9% and scores 6.4 points in 15.3 minutes, plus 4.2 boards and 0.5 blocks per 15.3 minutes.  Favors shoots 44.7%/70.3% and scores 9.6 in 22 minutes, plus 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 blocks.  Enes is worth keeping around for a while simply because he has such enormous potential and is still so young to the game.  I'm not sure that I would be that pissed about trading Favors and some other serious assets for a package that returned Kosta and Ty Lawson.

Wes Matthews (POR):  6'5", 220, SG.  With 15.6 points per game, a 39.5% three-ball, and 1.6 assists per game, do you want this guy coming off the bench instead of Burks, Hayward, or DMC?  No, because you want him starting instead of Randy Foye, who is shorter, smaller, slower, and only gives you 10.3 ppg, 36.9% from three, and 1.8 APG.  Up yours, Portland.

CJ Miles (CLE):  6'6", 210, G.  In 19.7 MPG, CJ is scoring 10.1 points on 38.5% shooting, including 37.6 from three and 90%(!) from the stripe.  CJ's good for 2.7 boards, 0.8 assists, and 0.5 steals a game as well. I don't think you give up Gordon Hayward or Alec Burks for this proven inconsistency.

Sasha Pavlovic (POR): 6'8", 220, G/F.  If you're like me, the mention of Pavlovic in a Jazz uni will make you think, "Oh, right, I guess he was on the team for a season."  Anyway, Portland's Pavlovic is effectively a non-factor, with just 2.3 points on 37.3% shooting in 13.2 minutes a game.  Hard to see his value above that of Hayward, DMC, or even Kevin Murphy.

Ronnie Price (POR): 6'2", 190, PG.  I miss Ronnie, and you do too.  The dude wasn't on his way to being an all-star or anything, but he was a guy you were glad to have on your squad.  This year, Ronnie is good for only 2.9 points  in 14.6 minutes, an abysmal three point percentage, and negligible impacts on boards, dimes, or picks.  Sadly, while it's fun to feel nostalgic about Mr. Price, we're not missing much.

DeShawn Stevenson (ATL): 6'5", 210, G.  What to say about our 23rd pick in the 2000 draft?  DeShawn is shooting at 41.2%, including 40.8 from three, on his way to 6.9 points in 24.5 minutes per game.  He also manages an impressive 37.5% from the free throw line (seriously), 3.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, and 0.2 BPG.  While it would be nice to have Stevenson's distance, I'm happy with DeMarre and Gordon.

Deron Williams (BKN):  6'3", 210, PG.  Okay, pretend Deron never got bent about losing Wes, Korver, and Ronnie.  Maybe he never has a problem with Sloan, and he's still on the team.  Do you really care that he's having a crappy season?  Mo Williams isn't a better point guard than D-Will.  I'd take him back.  You would, too.

So who do we take back?  Fisher, Gaines, Harris, Kirilenko (sorta), Korver, Koufos (sorta), Matthews, and Deron.  Too many PG's, obviously, and I'm not sold on Koufos without it being part of a package.  Otherwise, here's how my super-alumni backed Jazz would look:

PG: Deron Williams, Derek Fisher, Sundiata Gaines (sorry Devin Harris and the existing PGs)
SG: Wesley Matthews, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks/DMC (see ya, Randy Foye)
SF: Andrei Kirilenko, Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll/Burks
PF: Derek Favors, Paul Millsap, Jeremy Evans
C:  Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, Kosta Koufos

That's a full 15-player roster.  It's excessive, but it's hard to argue that it doesn't have the makings of a better squad than what we have now.  Granted, most of the departed players who "made the cut" left as free agents.  But as long as we're speculating, right?

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Greatest Laker

I feel unclean for compiling this data and writing this post, but my curiosity was piqued.

When 1280 The Zone's Big Show posted a Facebook poll about who the greatest Laker was, I couldn't help but want to answer.  Starting with Jerry West, there have been six players wearing the purple and gold of Los Angeles who are imprinted on the history of basketball in an astounding and permanent way.  And because each of these players have been blessed with incredible natural talent in an individual way, it's difficult (if not impossible) to definitively declare the all-time best.

But, being basketball fans, the easiest way to start this kind of discussion is to look at stats.  And so I give you: AMATEUR NUMBERS IN A PILE SOME RUDIMENTARY STATISTICS.

Some of the numbers here bear explanation.  Jerry West shows a pretty miserable chance of landing the Lakeshow in a division championship, but that's because the makeup of the NBA has changed since West's inaugural season of 1960-1961.  These changes are also reflected in West's average wins per season.  But the Western Conference (formerly Western Division) and NBA Championship numbers are accurate.  The only other minor points to note are (1) I didn't include Magic Johnson's 1996 "season;" (2) the current season isn't included in Kobe's stats, but two lockout seasons are; and (3) the 1999 lockout is also reflected in Shaq's statistics.

Surprisingly, you don't see a different player leading in each category:
  • Wests numbers are a little wonky as the league was developing.  3rd in ppg, 5th in game availability, last in average Laker wins, last in division champion probability, 3rd in conference champion probability, and waaay dead last in championships per year. 
  • Chamberlain:  1st in ppg, 4th in game availability, 1st in wins, 2nd in division probability, 1st in conference probability, and 5th in champ odds.
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 4th in ppg, 1st in game availability, 3rd in division probability, 4th in conference probability, and 3rd in championship probability.
  • Magic: 6th in ppg, 2nd in games, 2nd in wins, 1st in division probability, 2nd in conference probability, and 1st in championship probability.
  • Kobe: 2nd in ppg, 3rd in games, 5th in wins, 4th in division probability, 6th in odds to win the West, and 4th in championship probability.
  • Shaq: 5th in ppg, 6th in game availability, 3rd in wins, 5th in division odds, 5th in conference odds, and 2nd in championship odds.

If we look at the average rank, Jerry West (with the shakiest of mathematical underpinnings) is dead last at 4.833, which I don't feel that bad about since he only won a single championship.  The fifth-greatest Laker is Shaquille O'Neal with a 4.333.  At 4.000, fourth goes to the Black Mamba.  Third place is Kareem with a 3.167.

There's a tie for first and second, with both Wilt Chamberlain and Earvin averaging 2.333.  But these numbers include career-average point-per-game numbers, which doesn't favor a point guard like Magic.  Drop ppg from the metric, and Wilt averages 2.600 while Johnson drops to 1.600 (Kobe and Shaq switch 4 and 5 spots).

So you see, using some probably-not-good-enough-for-seventh-grade statistical analysis, Magic Johnson remains the greatest Laker to ever play the game.  Sorry, Kobe.

Actually, I'm not sorry.  SUCK IT, MAMBA.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wish List

[Author’s note:  Since I’m now cross-posting much of my content to/from, I guess it’s finally time to abandon my intarwebs-friendly all-low-caps typing style.  What a sad, sad day.]

Today’s post brought to you by Jets to Brazil.  They’re not that punk, but the lead singer was in Jawbreaker, so there’s a tie-in to my normal theme in a long-winded way.

As of this afternoon, December 6, 2012, the Jazz are back to .500 after dropping two in a row on the road, and posting ESA’s first loss.  The loss in Oklahoma City wasn’t terribly surprising.  The loss in Houston might have ended differently if not for some questionable officiating that really killed Utah’s momentum.  And the loss against the Clippers, while also featuring some, ah, interesting whistles, still comes down to the Jazz blowing a 14-point lead.

David Locke has mentioned during some live broadcasts that, despite losing three in a row and still showing a lack of resolve on the road, the Jazz are improving as the season progresses.  The problem, from a fan perspective, is that they’re not improving quickly enough.  After yesterday’s ugly-but-we’ll-take-it win over miserable Orlando, I was reminded that, while the Jazz are improving, most other teams are still improving as well.

After all, we’re still only a quarter of the way through the season.  Teams are still gelling after major personnel shake-ups in most big NBA towns.  You can bet that Tyrone Corbin isn’t the only coach still tinkering with line-ups.  Players are returning from injury or getting injured.  Every team in the league, as far as I can tell, is still making adjustments for the better.

What does this have to do with wishing?  There are two things on my Utah Jazz Wish List right now.  First, I’d like to see a team that can hold onto a lead, a team that simply puts its foot down on the gas in the third quarter until all 48 minutes have been played.  I think a lot of fans really wish we could do that.  I also think we would see a lot of fans give the team a pass for losing to superior squads if we could just crush the games that we’re “supposed” to win.

But, when you lose games to New Orleans and Washington every year, I’m not sure that you can ever have a “supposed to win” game.  Eventually, this team will likely get to that point.  Assuming minor improvements continue throughout this season, Utah should stop losing those head-scratchers.  And once the team begins regularly winning games it’s supposed to win, that boosts confidence and increases effort against teams that you might not normally beat.

So what’s second on my wish list?  I hate to alienate anyone here, but it’s that fans would calm the hell down.  Nearly everyone I follow (Jazz-wise) on Twitter was all fire and brimstone after the Houston and Clippers losses (including, admittedly, me).  This is still a young team, both in average age and in intra-team relationships, with a young coaching staff, a brand-new GM, and a young(ish) owner/CEO.[1]  The team is going to suffer some embarrassing losses, but that’s how you learn.

This applies to both the Trust In Ty faction of online Jazz Fandom and the Core Four Forever folks.  Jefferson has only been to the playoffs one time in his entire career, and he’s having to learn how to be on a team that wins more games than it loses.  Even if you think the sun rises and sets by Favors and Kanter’s future, they are still learning a lot from Big Al and Millsap (arguably more than they’d be learning if they were doing it by themselves for 30 minutes a night, but I digress).

While nobody likes waiting around, the Jazz are going to have to be patient.  But that’s always been the name of the game with this franchise:  steady, reliable soldiers who are willing to do things the hard way because it’s the right way.  Maybe it’s time some of us take a cue from the team we love so much.

[1] I am aware that Gail Miller, and not Greg Miller, is the legal owner of the Utah Jazz.  Don’t miss the forest for the trees here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

at the bottom

today's post brought to you by brand new, who is kind of growing on me but i also kind of hate.

it's been a little while since i've updated the ol' HoD.  it's not because i haven't wanted to.  in fact, i attended all the preseason games and haven't missed a regular season game yet (regretfully, only on television thus far).  but things are a little busy on my end, with some personal and professional upheavals that have kept me from banging out any respectable (for this blog) content.

one tricky thing about getting really into the jazz intarwebs content this season has been that i'm starting to feel like everything is already covered.  there's definitely some statistical work that i could drudge through, but frankly it's such a pain in the ass to put those things together without having access to synergy or something similar that i can't bring myself to get into it.  i suppose i could string things out over a few days rather than spend 6 hours putting raw data together from a bunch of websites, but by then the numbers have changed and the whole thing is next to pointless.

and, as far as coverage goes, i think it's common knowledge in jazz twitter land that fans are starting to divvy into two factions:  those who want something to happen this season, and those who are looking to the future. for the former, there is cause for grumbling about some of coach corbin's substitution patterns.  while this new sit-millsap-through-the-fourth trend suggest ty is willing to ride hot hands, until last weekend we could expect sloan-style substitutions.  three minutes left in the first?  mo and al come out.  four or five minutes into the second?  mo and al back in.  nobody had a problem with that when it was stockton and malone, because they were all-stars hall-of-famers immortal gods, but it's pretty obvious that mo williams and al jefferson aren't walking through that door.  it's a little frustrating to watch earl throw an alley-oop off a pick, have sacramento call timeout, and see earl sitting on the bench when play resumes.

as for the latter crowd, they've been bitching about ty pretty much since the lockout ended.  the problem, for these folks, is what's referred to as the "OKC model," and means you hand the keys to your rookies and hope things come together in four seasons.  looking at where durant and westbrook are now, it's hard to argue that there isn't some merit to the way the thunder have handled their inception.  however, given the minutes favors and kanter are getting, i don't think it's very reasonable to anticipate that either of them are going to develop into the next kevin durant--the guy is a once-in-a-generation player.  similarly, hayward is showing flashes of being a solid role player, and burks (in absurdly limited minutes) isn't showing shit; neither of these guys is going to develop into the quality of guard you'd get with westbrook (or arguably even harden).

interestingly, both camps are starting to blame ty corbin for all of the team's shortcomings, in the same week that western media is decrying john embree's canning from colorado after only two seasons.  the thought on embree, as i've understood it, is that you can't give a brand new coach two years to turn a starting-over-program around.  gee, that sounds awfully familiar.  two years ago, the jazz were cruising along at the top of the northwest division until the wheels just totally fell off the whole program.  sloan and johnson quit, deron got traded, and a couple of months later, the only guys left from a western conference run were millsap and CJ miles.

yet, while the new school/old school debate rages on twitter and the jazz blogosphere, both sides seem to be ignoring the real core of what ty's biggest problem seems to be.  corbin is running effectively the same system that sloan ran for 20+ years, and everybody recognizes that the biggest problem is when the pick and roll offense/defense isn't clicking, your team is going to blow chunks.  the old schoolers won't admit that, while jefferson is a great offensive weapon, there is no pick and roll defense while he and millsap are on the floor.  on the opposite side, the core four crowd doesn't seem to acknowledge that burks and favors simply aren't stockton and malone, and even if they turn into all star-level role players, that still only gets the jazz into the playoffs, but not out of round 2.

the heart of this (rambling) post is this:  jerry sloan's system was so successful not only because of the design itself, but because of the players.  neither the vets nor the young guys on this team are going to be statues outside the solution, that's a simple fact.  and it's unreasonable to expect a coach trying to blend that old-world system with the new NBA to be wildly successful roughly two years into his first tenure.  while the debate rages on about new versus old and both sides blaming corbin, i have to think that the only person in the jazz organization who has a realistic chance at blending old and new is the man from south carolina.  call me crazy, but the biggest complaints from both sides seem to be dissipating, and criticism of individual players is also beginning to subside.  could it be that ty is actually improving?  i'm thinking yes.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

league pass

for those of you wondering how league pass works, this was my experience.  i don't know if things have changed since last year, so keep that in mind.

when i was living in new jersey, it was difficult to catch any jazz games at all, so league pass seemed like a logical choice.  i still had a blackberry, so i didn't get the mobile option, but i think it was free if you were paying for the cable (TV) and broadband (computer) services.  i was able to watch multiple broadcasts of games not in the greater NYC market--in other words, as long as i wasn't trying to watch the knicks or nets, i could get the home and away broadcasts of other games.  there were many (if not most) nights where i could choose between the FOX/ROOT broadcast being called by boler and harpring, or the opposing team's play-callers.

the only time i couldn't watch the jazz on league pass in newark was when a local or national station was airing the games.  if the jazz were playing the knicks (in NY or in UT) and the game was televised on YES or ESPN, there was no jazz game on league pass on my TV or my computer.  similarly, if the jazz were playing miami and the game was on TNT, there was no league pass broadcast.

unquestionably, the biggest drawback of league pass is the local blackout.  if i was visiting family in utah, jazz games were unavailable on league pass, period.  while you could suffer through missing the 7-12 nationally televised jazz games (likely via streaming the games illegally or going to the bar) and watch the rest of the season on league pass, there would be no reason to have cable at all for some of us.

Monday, October 8, 2012

mass nerder 2

it took a little longer than i anticipated (partly due to the fact that i spent the weekend being a total sot winning the second quinquennial ultimate raingutter regatta), but i finally got around to fleshing out last week's schedule comparison for the rest of the teams in the bottom of ESPN's predicted western conference playoff seeds.  the images i'm uploading are huge, so it will likely be challenging to read this on a mobile device.  but, as you'll see from the amount of data in each image, i couldn't really go much smaller without losing the ability to read what's happening.

here's the jazz schedule.  light green blocks are short homestands (3 games in a row at home), kelly green blocks are longer homestands (4+ games in a row at home).  conversely, pink blocks are short road trips (3 consecutive away games) while red blocks are long road trips (4+ road games in a row).  back-to-backs are noted via outline boxes.

for the sake of including a modicrum of organization, here are the "existing" (as far as is concerned) rankings for teams 5th through 8th in the west (the jazz were ranked 16th overall, 9th in the west).

it's difficult to compare these five sets of data against each other in such a large format, so here is just the conclusory goodies from the bottom of each squad's chart:

as i explained last time, the "trends" listed are based on divvying up the season into 73 ten-game blocks (starting with games 1-10 and concluding with games 73-82).  a "home trend (6+)" means six or more games out of ten consecutive games are played at home; "home trend (7+)" is the heavier extension, with seven or more home games played in a set of 10.  "away trends" are the same for away games.

if this still isn't make sense (and i'm not surprised if it doesn't), look at the jazz's info:
  • back-to-backs: the number of back-to-back series the jazz will play.  for 2012-13, the jazz have 17 B2B sets (34 games).  the percentage refers to the number of regular season games that are in back-to-back sets.  34/82 = 41.46%
  • home blocks (3+): this refers to the number of home stands (three or more consecutive games at ESA) the jazz will play.  this year, it's a total of six.
  • home blocks (4+): refers to the number of long home stands (four or more consecutive games at ESA) the jazz will play.  this year, there's only two long stretches in salt lake city.
  • home trends (6+): the number of 10-consecutive-game groups that feature more than six home games.  the jazz have 25 total.  25 of the 73 season blocks is 34.25% of the 10-game blocks.
  • home trends (7+): the number of 10-consecutive game groups that feature seven or more home games (nobody in this group has more than 8 out of 10 games at home or away in any 10-game stretch).  the jazz have 14 of these almost-always-at-home blocks, which equates to 19.18% of the blocks.
  • home trend runs:  the jazz start block 36 (games 36-45) with at least six out of ten at home; block 37 also features at least 6 home games, as does block 38, all the way through block 51.  in all, from game 36 to game 60, the jazz play 16 of 25 at home.  similarly, from game 66 to game 82, the jazz play 10 of 17 at ESA.
the opposite side of things holds true for the away numbers. as you can tell, super annoying and possibly not very informative.  take a moment to ponder everything and head back when things start to click.

back to backs

good?  then let's get started.  the easiest numbers to compare are the number of back to back games, being fairly straightforward and without any 10-game run bullshit involved.  when i started compiling this info last week, i thought playing 41.46% of your games as part of B2Bs was an astronomical number.  at least from this extremely limited sample, playing twice in two nights seems to be about the median value.  the t-wolves are the worst-off team of the bunch, with 22 B2Bs over the course of the season.  that's a lot--over 50% of their games will be twice in two nighters.  brutal.

minny doesn't get much rest anywhere either, with 11 B2Bs coming in each half of their season.  on the plus side, 3 of the doubles are being played in minnesota, so ricky rubio will get to sleep in his own bed between games.  but that still leaves 19 nights where the timberwolves have to play a game, get on an airplane, sleep for a few hours in a hotel, and repeat the next night.

memphis has the most favorable number of one home/one away B2Bs (13 of 18), with the bulk of their B2Bs coming with one game in front of their home crowd, where everybody else is evenly or nearly evenly split.  but the grizzlies are also the only team that has to play the bulk (10 of 18) of their B2Bs in the second half of the season, when injuries are sapping players and energy is running low.  minny has to play more in the second half, though, so again a rough draw for Kevin Lovetown.

my conclusion on the back-to-back numbers is that these teams battling for 5th-8th in the west aren't going to be able to use this part of their schedules as an excuse.  everybody is facing almost the same demons, with MIN carrying a moderately heavier load to DAL's barely-easier assignment.  if, somehow, the number of two-in-twos ends up being the sole differential between these teams, jazz fans should feel content knowing that the #8 spot would wind up ours.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

mass nerder

today's entry brought to you by the title-track from the descendents classic, mass nerder.

with the free scrimmage days away, the pre-season in under a week, and regular NBA season games resuming before the end of the calendar month (anticiperections, anyone?), it's time to dust off my attempts at breaking down numbers for the Utah Jazz.  to make things easy, i figured i'd just start off with THE ENTIRE SEASON.

this is, hopefully, going to be an ongoing project.  according to the september 28, 2012 power rankings, the jazz are in the top 16 teams in the league, but aren't making the playoffs.  the teams to beat, according to marc stein, to land a post-season spot are presumably the t-wolves or memphis.  dallas and denver round out the postulated 5-8 seeds in the west; getting a first-round home court advantage means playing up with the clippers or the spurs (no funny images for them because, well, they're both going to be tough to beat).  so, my goal is to post this same breakdown for at least MIN, MEM, DAL, and DEN in the next few days.

what am i rambling about, you ask?  the teams individual schedules themselves.  since this isn't last last/lockout year, everybody is effectively on the same playing field in terms of the number of home/away games and opponents faced.  but that doesn't mean every team has to deal with the same balance of home and away games.  that balance involves stretches played at home where the players (hopefully) have a fan base, they sleep in their own beds, eat where they know is good, see their families, and generally have more time to rest, as compared to the opposite side of the spectrum where teams might go two weeks living out of a suitcase and sleeping on a chartered jet.  it's arguable that, for a team like the jazz which likely sits on the playoff bubble, having a rough schedule full of away trips could be the deciding factor for the season.  alternately, having a relatively cushy road last january landed the jazz in the west's number 3 spot 5 weeks into the shortened season.

so how does 2012-2013 shape up for coach ty's squad?  besides featuring 17 back-to-back sets (34 games, a whopping 41.5% of of the season's matchups), the jazz can expect 6 home stretches (3 or more games played at home consecutively) versus 7 road trips.  of those stretches, 2 of the stay-at-homes are 4 game runs, while 3 of the away kicks feature 4 consecutive contests.  fortune does not seem to be smiling on the beehive state just yet.

to make things particularly insipid to calculate (and unnecessarily difficult to interpret), i also looked at the season in 10-game blocks (i.e. games 1-10, games 2-11, games 3-12, etc.).  there are 73 of these slices,starting with 1-10 and concluding with 73-82.  looking at the season this way, things remain slightly gloomy:

  • home game trends (6+/10 at home): 25
  • home game heavy trends (7+/10 at home): 14
  • home trend runs
    • games 36-60 (16 of 25 at home)
    • games 66-82 (10 of 17 at home)
  • away game trends (6+/10 at home): 29
  • away game heavy trends (7+/10 away): 8
  • away trend runs
    • games 1-19 (12 of 19 away)
    • games 28-41 (8 of 14 away)
    • games 59-71 (8 of 13 away)
the season begins rough for the jazz, with 12 of the first 19 games on the road (game blocks 1-10 through 10-19).  a brief reprieve of splitting time evenly ends on december 22, when the jazz play 8 of 14 on the road (blocks 28-37 through 32-41).

but the second half of the season sees much more action at energy solutions arena.  in particular, beginning with game 36 (january 7 vs. the mavs), utah plays 16 of 25 on its home court.  games 59-71 see the jazz playing 8 of 13 away, but the season closes with the jazz playing 10 of their last 17 at home (10 of 15 if you discount the season's final two games).

if these ten-game blocks can be used to analyze anything (and i'm not sure that they can), it's a little frustrating to see that only 34.25% (25 of 73) of the blocks are home-heavy, compared to 39.73% (29 of 73) of the blocks featuring 6 or more road games.  however, note the "heavy" trends:  only about 11% (8 of 73) of the blocks feature seven or more away games, versus 19.2% (14 of 73) of the blocks featuring 7 or more out of ten at home.  in fact, only one 10-block of games features eight road contests (games 2-11), while five blocks have eight of ten at home, including three consecutive blocks from 1/14 - 2/8!

another factor making the early season even tougher for the jazz is the number of games played in calendar periods.  i'm not going to get too crazy about this, but the jazz play seven games in the first eleven days of the season, nine games in sixteen days starting 11/16, and six games in ten nights (including five games on the road, four of them in a row) starting 12/14.

it's difficult to make much of a conclusion about this data so far.  once we can compare it to the other teams in the middle of the west, things will be more interesting.  but, for now, it looks like we can expect a pretty haggard team through the first week of 2013.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

dream on

"It'd be a tough one, but I think we'd pull it out."

and so kobe bryant inflamed an entire generation (or two) of NBA fans when he told reporters that the 2012 US men's olympic team could defeat the '92 squad.  yeah, that 1992 squad.  the dream team.  the team some people refer to as "the greatest team ever assembled, in any sport."

a lot of discussion has ensued, peaking (for me, anyway) with a very interesting story passed around twitter this morning by ESPN blogger's henry abbott.  CNN's shayne lee argues, in effect, that the nature of competitive sports (or even scientists) lends to ever-increasing performance.  lee points to historical moments in figure skating, baseball, and dance to support his point, cementing his argument with the intimation that were joe namath in today's NFL draft, he'd sink right to the bottom of round 5.

lee ignores, of course, that yesterday's players grew up with yesterday's technology, nutrition, and historical knowledge.  it's one thing to say that joltin' joe doesn't get on base today because the quality of players worldwide has increased tremendously, but it's another to suggest that dimaggio would never had been able to hit 100 mph fastballs even had he grown up with them along with everyone else.  in other words, who is to say that steffi graf wouldn't be crushing the williams sisters' asses all over the globe had she risen through the ranks with all of the perks of modern training?

kobe stated himself that his team is at something of a physical disadvantage in the paint, what with the dream team featuring the likes of the admiral (7'1"), the mailman (6'9"), and the beast of the east (7'0").  these three guys are the very best, or at least in the top 4 players, to ever play their positions.  none of the league's prominent big men are on Team USA.  today's team's elite players are all guards and small forwards.  well, i don't know if kobe checked, but the guards and small forwards in barca included, among others, these guys named jordan, magic, stockton, and pippen.

and further, the numbers just don't play out in favor of bryant's brash prediction.  compare the dream team members' 1991-1992 NBA season performance to that of the 2012 crew.

(you'll note i didn't include anthony davis with the current squad.  this was for two reasons: (1) the barcelona team only had 12 players while the london squad has 13; and (2) davis' college numbers probably wouldn't provide a valid comparison against a bunch of NBA vets.  either way you slice it, davis isn't likely to be a major player at the games this summer, a theory supported by his DNP-CD in last night's game against brazil--a game which, in my humble opinion, showcased how wrong kobe really is.)

because the length of the two seasons was different, it's hard to compare some of the stats straight up.  but in terms of the most basic per-game averages, the Dream Team spanks today's clowns all over the court.  each 1992 player averaged 1.6 more rebounds, 1.3 more assists, 0.4 more steals, 0.6 blocks, and (most importantly?) 1.6 more points per game than today's guys did this season.  the average dream teamer also made it to the line almost half a trip more often than 2012ers did.  chuck & friends had higher field goal percentages and took more shots.

the only advantages this year's USA basketball team can claim are at the three-point line, where the average modern player takes more than twice as many shots at a nearly 5% improved efficiency level.  but, as the points per game numbers suggest, this lonely area of superiority doesn't make up for shooting less and poorer overall and from the stripe.

i'd like to postulate as well that lee missed something else that has changed in 20 years that kobe didn't take into account.  the dream teamers wanted to win with whatever team, market or coach they had been given.  in contrast, today's silver-spooned all-stars twist the proverbial nipples of ownership to land bigger and bigger contracts in huge markets along with other elite players.  modern superstars are amazing athletes, but they're too busy trying to buy their way into chemistry instead of making it happen on the court.  disagree?  see the miami heat in the 2011 NBA championships.

i'm not a stats genius (haven't taken it since high school, where i don't remember excelling at it), and these simple numbers obviously don't begin to tell the whole story.  for the record, i'm not sure that kobe was 100% serious when he made his comment.  be that as it may, i take solace in knowing that chuck was likely 100% correct when he responded: "[they] weren't going to beat us.  that's a no-brainer."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

when i get old

today's post brought to you by the erstwhile descendents and a song i'm identifying with more than i'd like to.

today on KFAN's "people's court" segment, ben bagley and tony parks asked jazz fans who they'd rather see utah face in the first round of the playoffs, the spurs or the thunder.  i got out of the car and walked into my house while they were tallying votes and missed the final count.

but before i left my trusty subaru, bags addressed the several fans who were burning the spurs for being "geriatric" and "one broken hip away" from being totally irrelevant.  he mentioned that the spurs aren't really as old as everybody thinks they are.  and he's right.

as you can see, the average age of san antonio's squad is a whopping 8 months older than the average jazzman.  and it's not like san antonio is a bunch of really old guys balanced by a bunch of young guys while the jazz have a more balanced spread of birthdates.  the median year of birth for jazz players is 1985; for the spurs, it's split between 1984 and 1985.

even if you consider a player's peak to be age 28, the spurs only have six such "over-the-hill" types (a/k/a "veterans" and/or "multiple-time champions and all-stars") while the jazz have five--not exactly a gigantic difference.

so the next time somebody says "the spurs are too old to win a championship," tell them that if they're right, the jazz are only about a year away from being in the same position.

Friday, April 13, 2012

tell the truth

today's entry brought to you by the best track on hot rod circuit's final album.

things have changed, ever so slightly, in the bottom of the west.  see for yourself.

obviously, two big things have changed since my last post.  one is the 5-6-7 spots shuffling around, what with dallas having beein sorking a cork the last two weeks.

more important is the fight for the 8 spot.  the jazz still have work to do, but in an upset-free next 13 days, guess who's making the playoffs?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

eating it up

i love eating well.  one of the things i hated about moving to new jersey was that i left behind 25 years of compiling an impressive restaurant go-to's list.  and, now that i'm back, i find myself missing newark's one or two secret gems, plus the plethora of cullinary orgasms housed in hoboken and new york city.

normally this blog is utah jazz only.  but this season, several of the jazz-twitter community types have been trading restaurant tips.  i'd been meaning to actually put a list together of my favorite spots, so i took advantage of a recent tweexchange about SLC lunch spots and did just that.

the information below was compiled with two things in mind:  (1) in salt lake city proper (with a few well-deserved exceptions) and (2) lunch spots.  most of the joints listed here are also available for dinner, and i've noted those that serve breakfast/brunch as well.  my rating is totally from the gut and meaningless, out of five stars.  i only listed restaurants i've been to three or more times.  the rest should be fairly self-explanatory.

Price My Rating Neighborhood Alcohol Breakfast

9th South Delicatessen
$$ **** 9th and 9th N/A No
NYC-style sammies, complete with matzo ball soup and Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray soda.  But NYC pricing, so order big to feed two.

Ahh Sushi
$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Shares space with O'Shucks bar.  Try the Funky Charlie if you don't like raw sushi.

Al Forno's
$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Hit or miss.  Really great when it's on, sub-par when it's off.

$$ **** U of U Yes No
Greek doesn't have to be gyros and souvlaki.  Try the skordalia.

Atlantic Café, The
$ *** Downtown Yes No
No-frills mediterranean fare.  Relaxed, neighborly atmosphere in the evenings.

B & D Burgers
$ *** U of U No No
Cheap burgers and shakes.  2-for-1 Tuesdays!

$ **** 9th and 9th No No
SLC's original, local-first burrito joint.  Better than Chipotle.

Bay Leaf Café
$$ ** Downtown Yes Yes
Decent lunch, tastes way better when you're hammered and they're still open at 2 am.

Bayou, The
$$ ** Downtown Bar No
Always packed and slightly overrated, it's still the best jambalaya in town.

Big Daddy's Pizza
$ *** Downtown No No
Do yourself a favor and order this pie: chicken, onions, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, on pesto sauce.

Blue Plate Diner
$ ** Sugarhouse No Yes
Somehow people love this place for breakfast.  I prefer it for lunch.

Bombay House
$$ ***** Sugarhouse Yes No
I've eaten better Indian once in NYC.  Enough said.

Boston Deli
$ ** Downtown No No
Blue-collar lunch for SLC's white-collar workforce.  Good sammies.

Busy Bee
$ *** Midtown Bar No
Garlic burgers on garlic toast that will give Cotton Bottom a run for its money any day.

Café Med
$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Yellow curry pasta is amazing.

Café Rio
$ ** Downtown No No
I loved this place, then I found out about Barbacoa.  Still pretty good if you don't want actual Mexican food, I guess.

Café Trang
$$ ** Downtown Yes No
A Utah institution, I can't eat here because they bought out Xiao Li's (SLC's last great Chinese spot) space on 3rd and 3rd.  But great food.

Café Trio
$$ *** 9th and 9th Yes Weekends
A good way to try your hand at semi-fancy dining.  The balsalmic/goat cheese appetizer is bloody amazing.

$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Classic Italian.  Reminds me of Lady and the Tramp.

Canton Village
$ ** Downtown No No
Dragon Grill is disgusting, both in taste and hygiene.  Order in from these guys instead.

Cedars of Lebanon
$$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Mmmmm.  Schwarma and lentil soup.

$$$$ **** Downtown Yes No
If you need to impress a wealthy client or just want a perfect steak.  Not really a lunch place but one of my favorite SLC steakhouses.

$ **** Downtown Yes No
Sort of a weird place (pink neon lighting?) but the salad is worth every penny.

Citris Grill
$$ ** Millcreek Yes Yes
My friends love this place.  I think it's mediocre at best.  Try it if you want.

Copper Onion, The
$$$ *** Downtown Yes Weekends
Not revolutionary but pretty good foodie spot.

Crown Burger
$ ***** Downtown No No
There is no better burger in the United States and I will fight you if you disagree.

Curry in a Hurry
$ ***** Midtown No No
I have no words.  I love Curry in a Hurry and you will, too.

Desert Edge
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
Great sandwiches and it's a pub, so great beer too!  Try the balsalmic chicken with a Latter Day Stout.  Also, great french onion soup.

Dodo Restaurant, The
$$$ *** Downtown Yes Weekends
Bunch of hipster clowns serving you overpriced food.  But it's delicious, so if you don't mind idiots, stop on in.

DP Cheesesteaks
$ *** Downtown No No
Pretty good cheesesteaks, lots of options if you're already in the middle of downtown.

Eggs in the City
$ * Sugarhouse No Yes
Worst breakfast in SLC.  Just awful.

El Chihuahua
$ ** Millcreek Yes No
Food here is nothing to write home about.  The Deathstar is (you can only order 2).

Em's Restaurant
$$$ *** Downtown N/A Sunday
Good foodie grub in the Marmalades, who knew?

Este Pizzeria
$ *** Downtown Yes No
The closest thing you can get to a New York slice in Utah.  It's not Grimaldi's good but it's tasty.

$ *** Downtown No No
Seems kind of dicey, but this is a great get-it-done sandwich shop.

Fiddler's Elbow
$$ ** Sugarhouse Bar Sunday
The 21+ side of SLP&P, this place is totally overrated and (excluding the prime rib for brunch) the food is rarely tollerable.

Finn's Café
$ * Sugarhouse No Yes
Another breakfast place I don't care for but always has a line on Sat/Sun mornings.

Gandolpho's Deli
$ *** Downtown No Yes
A zillion sandwiches.  Not crazy good, but I've been eating there since high school.

$$ *** Downtown Bar Sunday
Pretty good pub grub.  No-pay shuffleboard!

Greek Souvlaki
$ **** Downtown No No
Best gyro in Utah.

Green Pig
$$ *** Downtown Bar No
So-so food, great rooftop patio.

Happy Sumo
$$$ **** Downtown Yes No
Really good sushi at the Gateway.

Hector's (Molcasalsa)
$ ***** Millcreek No Yes
Formerly Molcasalsa, they should have changed names to "Hector's Super Delicious Mexican Food."

Hector's Miramar
$ **** Midtown Yes No
This place used to be a used car dealership, now they have amazing enchiladas suizas.

Himalayan Kitchen
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
Fantastic weekday lunch buffet, plus a great evening menu as well.

$ ** Downtown No No
Pretty good burgers, shakes, and fries.  Eat here; the food doesn't stand up well in "to-go" form.

$$$ ***** Downtown Yes No
My favorite SLC sushi.

Koko Kitchen
$$ ***** Downtown N/A No
I could eat the chicken curry udon noodle soup every day forever.

$$$ **** Sugarhouse Yes No
My second favorite SLC sushi.

La-Cai Noodle House
$$ **** Midtown N/A No
Above-average indochine cuisine at a reasonable price.  Great pho.

Lamb's Grill Café
$$ *** Downtown Yes Yes
Lamb's has been open since the Mormons got to Utah, I think.  Good BLT, so-so french onion soup.

Little World
$$ ** Midtown No No
It's hard to find good Chinese downtown, and Little World isn't a blockbuster.  But it works.

Lucky 13
$$ **** Midtown Bar Sunday
These guys smoke their own bacon and it is AMAZING.  Really great burgers.

$$ **** Sugarhouse Yes Weekends
The "Irish" fare here is pretty tasty.  But Sunday brunch is where MacCool's really shines.

Market Street Grill
$$$ **** Downtown Yes Yes
Grill/broiler, whatever.  Boring but consistently delicious.

$$ ***** 9th and 9th Yes No
Everything at Mazza will blow your mind.  Seriously.

$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Solid tapas joint for pre-Bees conversing.

Mill Creek Café
$ *** Millcreek No Yes
Pretty solid breakfast/lunch joint across the street from Milosport.

$ ***** Downtown No No
Wow.  Cheesesteaks.  Meatball parm subs.  Go now.

$$ **** Downtown Bar No
SLC's best reuben sandwich, great staff.

My Thai
$$ ***** Midtown No No
The best Thai in SLC, rivaling only the Thai joint in Tooele for the state title.  Thai fried rice 4EVAR.

Oasis Café
$$$ **** Downtown Yes Weekends
Great foodie spot, try the lavendar flan for dessert.

$$ **** Sugarhouse No No
Kind of overpriced for what you get, but good falafel (surprise) and decent schwarma.

Other Place Restaurant, The
$$ *** Downtown N/A Yes
I used to go here when it was too busy at George's Café (now defunct).  Typical Greek/American greasy spoon with a decent breakfast.

$$$ ***** 9th and 9th Yes Sunday
Go on a date here and impress your significant other with your knowledge of SLC's sneaky but amazing elite restaurants.

Park Café, The
$ ***** Midtown No Yes
Best breakfast in town, bar none.  Great biscuits and gravy, good bacon, good potatoes.  Solid lunch lineup as well (try the chili).

Pat's Barbeque
$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Nationally famous for a reason.

Pie Pizzeria, The
$$ ***** Downtown Yes No
It's not NYC thin crust, and it's not Chicago deep dish.  Once you get past the labels, it's just so good.

$$ ** Downtown Bar Weekends
Less-than-amazing lunch, and there's no Uinta beers on tap.

Red Butte Café, The
$$ *** Sugarhouse Yes Weekends
Best fish tacos in Utah?  Fight it out with Lone Star Taqueria, I guess.

Red Iguana
$$ ***** Downtown Yes Weekends
I had dreams about the Iguana while I lived in New Jersey.  Regularly.  Try all the moles.

Red Rock Brewing Co.
$$ *** Downtown Bar No
Great mashed potatoes, my friends don't seem to like this place as much as I do.

Rich's Mighty Fine Burgers
$ **** Downtown No No
These guys exist solely for the business lunch crowd, but I bet they expand in the next two years.  Great burgers, amazing blue cheese fries.

Robin's Nest
$ **** Downtown Sort of No
Awesome sandwiches, and you can order from Cheers to You next door if you want a pint with your lunch.

Ruby River Steakhouse
$$ ** Downtown Yes No
One step above chains like Outback, I don't know how these guys perpetually win "best steak" in CW when Spencer's is 1.5 miles away.

Rusted Sun
$$ **** Midtown Yes No
Really fantastic pies and calzones that are generally traditional but not always (try the Mediterranean).

Ruth's Diner
$ **** Sugarhouse Yes Yes
Half the point of eating here is driving out of the valley to escape the summer heat.  Great biscuits and corned beef hash though.

$ ** Sugarhouse N/A No
Another of SLC's mediocre Chinese spots.

$$ *** Downtown N/A No
I thought this was SLC's best Thai until My Thai came along.  Still pretty good, definitely better suited to formal/romantic occasions.

$$ ***** Downtown Yes No
It's not New York pizza, it's Neopolitan, which apparently is the traditional pizza form.  Either way, it's f-ing fantastic.

Siegfried's Delicatessen
$ *** Downtown No No
Got Spaetzle?  It's the best German deli in SLC.  But I think it's the only one, so that's not saying much.

Squatters Pub Brewery
$$ ** Downtown Yes Weekends
Decent beers (I prefer Uinta), pretty good food.  Another place all my friends love and I don't think is that amazing.

Star of India
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
I rate only Bombay House higher.  Saag aloo FTW!

Su Casa
$ *** Downtown No No
Barely mexican food, this is more or less straight from the Old El Paso can but the chile verde isn't half bad.

Sugarhouse Barbeque
$$ ***** Sugarhouse Yes No
Pat's might be famous, but SHB is my preferred source for mac n cheese, collard greens, oh and also brisket.

Tasty Thai
$$ *** Midtown No No
Near my house, I want this joint to be amazing every time I eat there.  Yet it's constantly only pretty good.

$$ *** Downtown Yes No
Good sandwich selection though a little pricey.  Real Boar's Head meat and cheese though!

Training Table
$$ *** Sugarhouse No No
Hickory burger and an order of cheese fries.

Tres Hombres
$$ ** Millcreek Yes No
So-so mexican food.  Mucho mas bueno margaritas.

Trolley Wing Company
$$ **** Downtown Yes No
A zillion different kinds of wing sauce.  Well, 120+.

Uinta Brewing Co.
$ *** Midtown Yes No
Just cold-cut sammies at the Uinta facility, but there's Cutthroat.  Lots and lots of Cutthroat.

Yanni's Greek Express
$ *** Sugarhouse No No
On the weird, non-perpendicular intersection of 1300 E & Highland resides this quick gyro gem.

$$ ** Downtown Yes No
Some folks "love" this place, including the Radio from Hell staff and numerous sports radio people (all of whom to get paid to say so).