Posted by: KCJones on January 2nd, 2013The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
So I was perusing the ESPN website as I am wont to do, trying to find any scrap of Jazz-related news I could. All I could find was an article on Rubio not traveling with Minnesota tonight to face the Jazz. How sad, he’s an exciting passer to watch. Anyway, I headed on over to John Hollinger’s Playoff Predictalator page and I’d like to share some interesting things. It’s here if you want to take a look yourself.
First off a quick look at our team. We’re two games under .500 at 15-17 after two months. We’ve had a fairly rough schedule, with two four-game road trips and two three-game road trips, but only one three-game stretch at home. Nineteen road games to just thirteen home games. We’re currently at 11th place in the west, and Paul Millsap is looking like he tore all his MCLs and ACLs this offseason and didn’t tell anyone or get treatment and he’s wishing he had signed that extension the Jazz offered. Meanwhile, our one position where there was a huge drop from starter to backup (PG), is our one position where we’ve suffered a major injury in Mo Williams’ thumb. There’s no official word, but people estimate he’ll be out until after the all-star break or longer. We HAVE seen flashes of defense from Al Jefferson and a new-found attempt to take the ball to the hole, which is exciting to me. It doesn’t make him great at defense, or drawing the foul, because he’s not, but the effort and attempt isn’t un-noticed by me! Defenses have honed in on Randy Foye, and his spectacular shooting start has dropped off too. He’s a defensive liability against good SGs (who happen to be a lot taller than Foye), and teams are staying close to him on the perimeter, which makes him basically worthless except that it draws his guy out further from the paint. Things are trending downward for our team.
Playoff hopes are not looking great. I titled this post ‘Out of the Playoffs?’ for a reason. We lost our PG and are relying on Tinsley and ‘pick-up-my-dribble’ Watson, Paul Millsap is MIA and showing hints of dissension, and we’re 11th in the West. So what is our chance of a playoff appearance? According to Hollinger’s formulas, we have a whopping 22% chance of making the playoffs. He also shows a clear-cut separation between four groups of teams. Here’s the tiers:
Top Tier (~60 wins):
San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City Thunder
Second Tier (~50 wins):
Golden State Warriors
Third Tier (~40 wins):
Los Angeles Lakers
Fourth Tier (~30 wins):
New Orleans Pelicans
Look how close we are to the bottom of the West. In the top two tiers there are seven teams. Jazz are in the third tier, and ranked at the bottom of that tier as it is. Only one of those teams will make the playoffs IN THE EIGHTH SEED. If this is how the season ends, I’m going to be extremely disappointed. I’m going to be doubly disappointed if the Jazz don’t make any trades, Ty keeps rolling out the vets, and we end up with a team of under-developed young guys who don’t want to be here because they’re obviously not getting playing time when they should, and a bunch of guys on expiring contracts who don’t want to be here and will only stay if we offer more money than another team.
We’re currently projected to win 39 games this year. Now, that might go up as we now will have 6 more home games than road games over the rest of the season, but we have to beat out Minnesota, Lakers and Trailblazers just to get the EIGHTH seed. Anything less than a 5th seed and your playoff chances are basically dead. And while it’s fun to be in the playoffs, because Jazz teams in the past have had legitimate possibilities of going far, its not so fun to get embarrassed and swept out in the first round.
I’m not as excited about the Jazz’ future as I was last year. This team needs a trade, a coaching change, a philosophy change. I can endure some losses, Jazz FO, if I’m seeing effort and development from young players. What I can’t endure is watching veterans on one-year deals steal development time from our future who watches from the bench, all to get a 8th or 7th seed in the playoffs. Losing’s not so bad if you have some promising players in the pipeline! Get the ping pong balls to bounce your way at that point, and you become a future powerhouse! Imagine if we had gone young, let the young guys take the reins last year, traded vets for future draft picks, and had gotten Damian Lillard, or Harrison Barnes, or even won the lottery and gotten Anthony Davis. I’m not saying I don’t like Kevin Murphy, but if I had my choice of getting one of those three rookies I mentioned versus watching our vets scrape into an eighth seed…well the choice is easy.
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