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.