Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Andrei Kirilenko to carry Russian flag in Olympic Opening Ceremony

 Andrei Kirilenko will reportedly carry the flag of his nation as the Russian delegation enters during the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony according to Leonid Tyagachev -- The Russian Olympic chief. This is a huge honor for Andrei. According to the press:

"Tennis star Maria Sharapova 'had wanted the honor,' reported, 'but was told to save her energy for the tennis tournament.'" (Deseret News, 2008)

Kirilenko accepts your offer to represent Mother Russia Sharapova is denied

Point for Point

The Utah Jazz have been lucky in some ways, and unlucky in others. One of the greatest examples of this is how they have had some pretty good point guard play over the years. Perhaps luck has nothing to do with it, and it's rather the scouting department and player development that has much to do with the apparent success of Ricky Green, John Stockton and now, Deron Williams. Of course there were some lean years along the way, specifically the capable though unspectacular trio of Carlos "Pride of Puerto Rico" Arroyo; Raul "The Hispanic Heartthrob"Lopez; and Maurice "Mo" Williams -- but those days are now gone.

Ricky Green was the reason why Stockton didn't start until his 3rd year in the League Stockton is, probably, the best player in franchise history Raul Lopez quickly became a pariah Success went to Carlos Arroyo's head Mo Williams now plays in Milwaukee Deron Williams is the most dangerous point guard the Jazz have ever had

Recently, as recent as last week, the Utah Jazz front office was able to trade Jason Hart for Brevin Knight. This type of trade may have no overt impact in the short term -- though this trade may resonate within the consciousness of fans for generations to come -- like the trade that brought Ostertag back to Utah. Or maybe not. That said, this position for the Jazz has not been this secure since the days of Stockton, Eisley and Vaughn.

Point for point -- Brevin Knight is the superior player out of the two traded. Through this measure, Kevin O'Connor won the trade. It doesn't hurt that Knight makes less money and is pretty talented for a 3rd stringer. It's also good to know that Knight is just too damn short, and not a good enough shooter for Jerry Sloan to go crazy, and contemplate starting -- like he did with that Deron Williams / Derek Fisher starting lineup in the 2006-2007 season. Neither are perfect . . . Hart was to bring defense and veteran leadership, but ended the season deep on the bench while Ronnie Price made fans and the media go wow! Brevin is good at taking care of the ball, but has made only 16 career three pointers. That is a ridiculously low number which makes me cringe at the thought of him being in the game, and the other team immediately clogging the paint and passing lanes with a super-duper zone defense.

Brevin Knight better not take Morris Almond's #22 Hart returns to the Clippers! Success!

Photo by NBAE / Getty Images

Photo by NBAE / Getty Images

At the risk of repeating myself, Knight is a solid 3rd stringer because he is frequently unable to stay healthy for any long period of time, is very short, and can't shoot. All of our sets that we run rely on the point guard being able to, at the very least, keep the defense honest. Outside shooting is a key component of the NBA today -- when Portland found out that the Jazz had spotty shooting from deep (before the Korver trade) they just zoned us and laughed. I don't want a repeat of that horrible December, 2007.

Knight is also great insurance. Sometimes players get tired. And tired players who play long minutes are at risk of getting injured. John Stockton played in the Olympics in the summer of '92 and again in '96. Each season after the Olympics he had relatively 'down' seasons in the NBA (scoring and assists went down from 1991-1992 to 1992-1993, and again in 1995-1996 to 1996-1997). [For those keeping track at home, the Jazz went to the Western Conference Finals in 1991-1992, then the next season were bounced from the 1st round of the Playoffs. In 1995-1996 the Jazz were again defeated in the Western Conference Finals, and in the next season lost in the NBA Finals.] The Jazz Brass want to make sure that if Deron needs more time during the regular season to rest that they can afford to let him have it.

"I'm happy to be coming to a winning team with very good players and a Hall of Fame coach . . . How can I be upset with that? I'm also looking forward to hearing the cheers and not the boos from Jazz fans. I see my role as being a veteran guy there to do whatever is necessary to help the team win. I'll more know about that when I get to down." (Knight, 2008, via. The Salt Lake Tribune)

It's a solid deal for the Jazz, may have had some influence on the C.J. Miles re-signing and could be good for us down the road. Great move Kevin O'Connor!

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!

Yes, I think C.J. Miles has big ears

While some other blogs may try to imitate, my blog is the one that started to bust out Shakespeare Quotes for this C.J. Miles drama from the beginning, and ran with it.

Anyway, this is the official "CJ is Back" post to notify the world (5 days after the fact). After waiting the full time period allowed, Kevin O'Connor, Jerry Sloan and the rest of the Jazz Brass have agreed to match the initial offer signed by restricted Free Agent C.J. Miles for a reported amount of $15 million dollars over 4 years. So, sorry Northwest Division rival Oklahoma City Barons, no Ceejay for you!

I'm not surprised by this news, and expected it after the whole Brevin Knight / Jason Hart trade. I also approve of this move, as you don't want to make the Utah Jazz some sort of college for shooting guards who are drafted right out of high school -- this team deserves to see some returns for this investment.

The Jazz got rid of DeShawn Stevenson, and now he's a solid NBA starting guard who can pass, score, shoot the three and be an athletic defender. (Isn't this exactly what we want, a potential mix of Brewer, Korver and Almond?) Part of the reason why the Jazz didn't let Ceejay go was because he is still the youngest SG on the roster (just turned 21), and has the potential 'upside' to become that Gestalt type of character that we need.
Deron William and C.J. Miles celebrate

Furthermore, C.J. Miles is a Dallas area product who came directly to the NBA from Skyline High. He was drafted in the same year as Deron Williams (himself a product of The Colony in the greater Dallas area as well); and sees himself as an older brother type for the young Ceejay. (He even got Lil' John to come to CJ's birthday party!)

The chemistry in the team is quite good and Miles is a part of this younger group of players who all get along with each other. If nothing else, this was an opportunity for Deron Williams (aka the face of the franchise) to flex some of his star power muscle.

Photo by NBAE / Getty Images


Miles' friendship with the star of the team may not be enough to guarantee playing time, and he knows it:

"It's been discussed that if I come in and work and show that I should play, then I will play, and that's what I plan to do." (Miles, 2008,

It's funny, though, the number of outside observers who thought that Miles would be gone, or that, perhaps, Miles wanted to go. What Miles wanted was security. He has that. He gets paid the same to run around in the shadows of Kevin Durant / Jeff Green on a virtual expansion team as he does getting to play with his friends and win division titles and play deep in the playoffs every year. Which would you take? This is what C.J Miles said on the 1320 KFan shortly after the news happened:

"I don't have any hard feelings [about what Jerry Sloan said to the media] . . . I'm in Utah, back in a Jazz uniform where I belong, and I look forward to playing [with my boys Deron, Ronnie B, and Millsap] again." (Miles, 2008, 1320 KFan)

Ronnie B and Ceejay bring their best moves off the court! Big D represent!

Both photos from Andrei Kirilenko's New Years Party (Dec. 31, 2007)


Miles also pointed out that he did not want to leave Utah, and that he does not feel like he was put in a situation where he had to leave, either. He would have to work hard, and fight for minutes on any team -- so why not work hard and get minutes on the Utah Jazz? So, now we get to see if he can be that guy that we need, a solid SG who can improve upon his work last season (48 fg%, 39 3pt%) and continue contributing where and when we need him to!

Statistical Breakdown of the RMR

This year the Jazz had only three players on their Utah Jazz roster who participated in the Rocky Mountain review: shooting guard / shooting forward (as opposed to small forward) Morris Almond, 50% prospect/50% project center Kyrylo Fesenko, and 19 year old Rookie Kosta Koufos. Our squad also featured a former NBA player in Yaroslav Korolev (a lotto pick by the LA Clippers). Following that we had two guys who had games of destiny during the 6 game review (Kevin Lyde and Tyrone Brazelton). Lastly, solid, but unspectacular back-up power forward Hiram Fuller had some good moments over the period of the Rocky Mountain Review. That said: here are their per game averages! (These may differ from the website slightly because their stats are for up to game 4, where these include all 6 game stats)

Player Pos. Mpg Ppg FGM-FGA FG% FTM-FTA FT% 3PTM-3PTA 3TP% Off. Rpg Tot. Rpg Apg Spg Bpg TOpg PFpg
M.Almond SG/ SF 28 18.5 5.8-13.0 44.9 6.2-7.7 80.4 0.7-2.0 33.3 1.0 2.7 0.5 0.8 0.3 2.2 2.0
K.Koufos C/ PF 19 8.7 2.7-7.0 38.1 3.3-3.7 90.9 0.0-0.0 0.0 2.0 5.7 0.7 0.3 1.0 1.2 2.3
T.Brazelton PG 15 7.5 3.0-6.3 48.0 1.0-1.0 100.0 0.0-1.0 0.0 0 1.8 1.8 0.5 0.0 1.3 1.5
Y.Korolev SF/ SG 14 6.0 2.2-5.0 44.0 1.0-1.4 71.4 0.6-1.0 60.0 0.6 2.2 0.2 0.6 0.4 1.4 2.2
H.Fuller PF 16 5.0 1.8-5.0 36.7 1.3-2.0 66.7 0.0-0.0 0.0 2.2 4.5 0.8 0.2 0.3 0.7 2.5
K.Fesenko C 17.5 4.5 1.7-3.7 45.5 1.2-2.2 53.8 0.0-0.0 0.0 2.3 4.8 0.8 0.5 2.2 2.7 2.3
K.Lyde C 6.5 3.2 1.5-2.5 60.0 0.2-0.3 50.0 0-0 0.0 1.8 4.0 1.2 0.3 0.3 1.3 0.8

Morris Almond: As we can see, Morris Almond played the most minutes per game, took the most shots, and finished the review with a grand total of 3 assists. (Which looks exponentially worse when compared to his 78 total shots attempted) He also managed to pull down nearly 3 rebounds per game and almost 1 steal per game. His last three games of the review were much better than the first three -- averaging 22.3 ppg (47 fg%), 3.0 rpg, 0.67 apg, 1.0 spg and 1 made three a game. (All better than his Review averages) During that span he also went to the line 29 times (a shot under 10 FTA / game), which is exactly what we want to see. Statistically speaking he had a strong showing on the scoring side of the ball, he didn't get many assists -- but that doesn't mean he didn't evolve into a guy who can cognitively percieve that someone else on his team has a better shot than he does. During the first two games he would die with the rock instead of passing it off, but as early as the game against Iran (RMR Game 3) he was passing the ball up to guys who had open shots and good looks. Unfortunately they just didn't go down, and perhaps if Almond was playing with NBA level shooting talent he would garner more assists. After all, he's more likely to pass the ball to guys that can put the ball in the basket instead of guys who suck. His defensive stats were not that great, but that said, his defense did improve over the course of the Review. I think that if given the opportunity, put in a system where he's no greater than the 4th best player on the floor, and given the ball only when open, he can be a valuable NBA player -- not unlike Rip Hamilton.

Kosta Koufos: This rookie had some ups and down in this review, looking very shaky in the opening game, then having a double double in the next, then the next one finishing with only 4 points and 5 boards, and so forth. One of the main criticisms I have of his game (as supported by statistical evidence) has been that for a guy who was touted (before the NBA Draft) to have a strong offensive game (particularly shooting the ball) his FG% was horrible. He was a killer at the Free Throw line (leading the team with a 90.9%), but from the field he shot only 38.1%. That is really bad. That's Kenny Anderson bad. What is worse is that he continued to shoot the ball at a very high rate: 42 total shots, 96:40 total minutes played -- that's 1 shot ever 2.3 minutes on the floor. For a point of reference, Carlos Boozer -- the focal point of our offense who scores over 21 ppg @ nearly 55% -- gets 1 shot every 2.2 minutes on the floor. What's the difference? Six (6) whole fucking seconds!!! Seriously dude, pass the ball a little bit, huh? After the first three games I felt like Kosta's stats were an inflated sham, as he would end up making a shot off of the work of someone else, while missing all of his shots that were created by himself (post ups, jumpers). Furthermore, his rebounding stats would get bumped up each game by a sequence where he'd tip the ball to himself, or get a cheap tip-in. He did lead the team in RPG with 5.7, and did solid work on the defensive glass -- thanks to the solid defense of Fesenko who changed many a shot that ricocheted right to the Big Greek. In the last three games Kosta played much better, shooting 47.6 fg%, being a consistent offensive force (10.3 ppg) who also made a solid effort on defense (5.0 rpg, 1.67 bpg). I was amazed at how poorly he shot (1-3, 3-11, 2-7, 3-8, 3-6, 4-7), and may have been a little biased against him, but I think that his performance indicates that down the line (2-3 seasons) he'll be a solid NBA player.

Kyrylo Fesenko: Everyone on planet earth hates this guy -- and I fail to see why. The Utah Jazz have a glaring hole when it comes to interior defense. Fesenko is a 7'1 beast who weighs over 300 pounds and is agile and strong like a Siberian tiger. He is a limited player who does not try to do anything crazy. (1 shot ever 3.8 mins on the floor) The only things he is good at is playing interior defense on guys without fouling them (or letting them score easily); changing countless shots during the course of the game; and being a big enough of a force to send back over 2+ bpg. How is this not precisely what the Jazz need for a guy to come off the bench, run around, hit people, and play big for 10-12 mpg? The major criticism of him is that he has a questionable work ethic (based upon unsubstantiated rumormongering by media members who are not privy to jazz practices, and opinion by possibly jilted ex-coaches), and that he has 'regressed'. I just don't know how true that is, unless you had unreasonable expectations for him. Compared to how he performed in last seasons RMR (2007-2008 stats can be found here), some early conclusions can be made.

2007 16.3 4.8 58.8 45.0 1.3 4.3 1.0 0.5 1.3 1.7 3.8 0.342
2008 17.5 4.5 45.5 53.8 2.3 4.8 0.8 0.5 2.2 2.7 2.3 0.956
Diff +1.2 -0.3 -13.3 +8.8 +1.0 +0.5 -0.2 +0.0 +0.8 +1.0 -1.5 +0.617

The first thing that jumps out at you is his offensive production. He's scoring at a much lower % from the field, and even though he is playing 1.2 more mpg, his over-all scoring is down. (not shown: he's getting to the line 1.2 times less per game as well) To me these all indicate that he's not playing with a good point guard. Last season the Jazz were run by Dee Brown and Brian Chase -- two guys much better than who we had running things this season. A PG is able to get his big man good shots. No point guard = no easy shots. While Fes' FG% looks horrible, do keep in mind that if you eliminate his last game (arguably his worst), his FG% for the tournament was 64.2%! His FT% went up markedly, by nearly 10% -- which shows that he put the time in and improved that. Over all, though, his offensive stats were much less than what some people expected of him. It's probably a good thing that we're not needing another scorer on the team -- especially not from our back-up center.

On the defensive side of things everything went up, expect for steals (which stayed the same -- but how many more spg do you expect from +1.2 mpg?). He boarded more, and probably would have had more if he wasn't the primary defender for: bigmen, anyone driving, and people taking any shots in the paint. (He would have to run out to challenge shots, preventing him from getting easy boards) Two big facts happen to be that he fouled a lot less, while playing more minutes, and his blocks went up. What does this mean? That his block to foul metric is much better than it was.

Last season he accrued only 0.342 blocks : 1 foul -- which means that he'd have to foul 3 times in the span it would take him to get 1 block. This season it was a completely different story, as he was getting nearly as many blocks (13 total) as he did fouls (14 total). This is an improvement of +0.617, which is pretty huge. What is this metric all about? Well, David Robinson (a pretty good blocks guy in his career) blocked 2954 shots in his life, and fouled 2835 times. This gives him a score of +1.042. By comparison, this RMR Fes' score was +0.956. David's score is for 34.7 mpg, while Fes' score is for 17.5 mpg.

34.7 / 17.5 = 1.983. If you take that modifier and enhance Fes' stats by it you get a kid who with that kind of playing time is capable of blocking over 4 shots a game without fouling out. You know, something that is ridiculously Mark Eaton-esque. Do the statistics indicate that Fesenko has regressed from last season? Absolutely not. Therefore, idiots who look at differential stats and not inferential stats should shut the hell up. Additionally, for anyone that cares to look at who's better (Fes or Kosta), one is clearly a better offensive weapon. The other is a much better interior defender -- and my metric supports this:

Fesenko (0.956 blocks/fouls) > Koufos (0.428 blocks/fouls)

RMR Game 5 & 6: Wins and Losses

Almond swoops in for 2 vs. the Mavs The Jazz Coaches conspire to keep their best players on the Bench Kosta Koufos made a average first impression  Fesenko struggled with almost everything save for blocks
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Rocky Mountain Review has finished for yet another off-season, and all had a good time. Well, some had a better time than others. The Jazz finished 3-3 after beating the Atlanta Hawks in Game 5, and then losing to the Dallas Mavericks in Game 6. The true winner in these types of things are the fans, who get a chance to see the stars of tomorrow -- today! (or something to that effect) Over-all the Jazz played their regular style of RMR, where wins and losses are ancillary towards playing 16 people every game and not giving your younger prospects any real chance to get better.

"Given the Jazz's investment in Fesenko, there's no way he should only be playing 13 minutes in a summer-league game. These are opportunities for game experience that won't be there come November and probably won't be there in October, either.

It's also difficult for the Jazz to criticize C.J. Miles for skipping the Revue when Fesenko is playing so little. If it's so important to the development of their young players, then the Jazz's young players need to be playing 25-plus minutes right now." (Siler, 2008, The Salt Lake Tribune)

That, however, is a tangent. First the games! (and their long overdue reports!)

Game 5: Utah 83 - Atlanta 78

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Utah 20 18 25 23 83
Atlanta 14 21 26 21 78

The Jazz avenge their Game 2 loss (Atlanta 72 - Utah 63) in a game where the Hawks played their bench guys much more than previously in the review, essentially handing this game to the Jazz. Coach Corbin only played 9 bench guys for this game, and Kosta Koufos actually came off the bench to play 21:48 of game time. (Fesenko only played 12:48, but hey, no one on the Jazz bench seems to have a good reason for that, so we'll stop talking about it.) While this game did not have the spectacle of the game vs. Iran, or the sense of dire urgency as the New Jersey game, this game was entertaining enough for the fans of the home team. The Hawks were pretty much a four man wrecking crew of Acie Law IV (21 points, 5 assists), Thomas Gardner (11 points, three rebounds), Olumide Oyedeji (9 points, 7 rebounds), and the dangerous Luke Jackson (16 points, 4 assists). Only Law started for the Hawks, and played over 30 mins.

On the Jazz side of things it continues to be the Morris Almond show (29 points, 50+ fg%, 3 rebounds) and whomever happens to be on the floor with him. Almond and Law both went 8/10 from the FT line and were attacking relentlessly. Almond suggests that it was the 4th game of the review, and hints as though he has to play his game, furthermore,

"My game is not going to change over night," (Almond, 2008,

This is obvious, as in this system and with his quality of team mates he's not going to ever become a distributor. Ultimately, the Jazz would win ZERO games if Mobe doesn't end up taking the most shots for the team. Sure, he's not 'getting his team mates involved' (according to the guys on the Internet), but I've seen him pass the ball countless times to guys who botch the play and rob him of assists.

Game 6: Utah 70 - Dallas 82

  1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
Utah 18 9 19 24 70
Dallas 24 21 21 16 82

The Jazz break their three game winning streak by getting rounded up by the Dallas Mavs in, pretty much, the ugliest possible way. Despite winning the points in the paint 44 to 26, *and* winning 2nd chance points 16 to 4 the Jazz still managed to dig themselves into a 20 point hole after three. How? It's pretty easy when you go 26 for 73 (35.6 fg%) as a team, and 1 for 12 (8.3 pt%) from deep. Morris Almond and Kosta Koufos (both starter this game) finished the game with 14 points a piece. While Fesenko played almost 10 more minutes than last game (this time coming off the bench), he only finished with 4 points off of really poor shooting (2 for 8) which ended up destroying his fg% for this tournament. (from 57 fg% down to 45.5 fg%) The only good thing from this game is that Morris Almond showed us that he can do more, getting a couple of assists and locking determinedly locking down Gerald Green into an 11 point (3 for 11) night. Kosta has his best shooting game and played quite well. (4 for 7 shooting, 6 for 7 at the free throw line, 2 blocks, 2 steals and 1 assist) Contrasting that, Fesenko put up one of his most frustrating games, and emphatically finished the night with an impressing dunk to end an unimpressive Rocky Mountain Review for the Ukrainian giant. To add insult to injury, not only does this last game resonate loudest in our memories, but with Kosta's good play, and Kyrylo's poor play, the big Greek finished the tournament with some better looking numbers.

W5 (5 factors that influenced the last two games):

  • Who: Morris Almond -- He's the only guy on the team who has played close to 30 minutes every game, and the only guy who shoots the ball more than 10 times every game -- no wonder he's our scoring leader!
  • What: Improvement -- This is something (outside of Almond's better all-around game in the loss to Dallas) that no one has shown except for the 19 year old Rookie Kosta Koufos. He has had his ups and downs, but he really came on strong in the last two games (averages of approximately 12 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.0 bpg, 54 fg%, in 22 mpg).
  • Where: The Three Point Line -- No wonder our team had to score in the paint and at the line so frequently? The Jazz team went 2 for 20 over the last two games from deep. 
  • Why: Talent Level -- This year's Rocky Mountain Review team was one of the least talented squads in recent memory. The three best players on this team were two late 1st round picks and and mid 2nd rounder. Back on the 2006-2007 Rocky Mountain Review our team had Deron Williams (starter, All-NBA 2nd team, Olympian), Ronnie Brewer (starter), Paul Millsap (could start on our team), C.J. Miles (has started for our team, just signed his 2nd NBA contract), Dee Brown (The Cousy Award winner in his Senior year of NCAA ball) and Rafael Araujo (a Top 10 lottery pick). How this team won 3 games amazes me, and probably is just a testament of Morris Almond's raw scoring ability.
  • How: Internal Development -- Jazz GM Kevin O'Connor has pretty much made the roster pretty solid, and lots of talented guys probably don't want to try out for the Jazz summer league team. Probably this is because the Jazz have 15 guys under contract (now...) and most of the young guys have been developed internally -- leaving little incentive to try out for the senior team. That said, I wouldn't be surprised to see guys like Lyde, Paulding, Korolev, Fuller and Brazelton be asked to come back in October.


    More on this in the next post!

    What's next? Veteran's Camp in October!

  • Tuesday, July 29, 2008

    Unexplained Hiatus

    Hey readers (readers . . . readers . . . readers . . . echo . . . echo . . . echo . . .) -- sorry for the unexplained hiatus. What can I say? My Clark Kent Job needed some extra attention these last, uh, million years. What has happened in the time period? Well, the RMR finished, CJ's offer sheet by Oklahoma City was matched and . . . uh . . . stuff. I'll get right to it!

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    RMR Game 5: Initial post-game thoughts

    The Utah Jazz came back from their disappointing loss at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks (RMR Game 2, loss 72-63) to win game 5 83-78! It was a back and forth game where the Hawks gave their bench some more run, and the Jazz (this game coached by Ty Corbin) continued to play 14 guys. Kosta Koufos came off the bench and he had a really strong 2nd quarter and played well in the 2nd half. He was active, he got some playing time alone on the court playing center, with Fes on the bench, and the Ohio native looked waaay more comfortable playing the 5, instead of the 4.  He and Fes both had strong games (combined: 13 points off of 5-8 shooting, with 8 boards and 5 blocks) for the limited minutes they continue to play -- Koufos with 21:48 and Fesenko with only 12:48. [Btw, in games where Ty Corbin is the coach, Kyrylo gets about 14 mpg; alternatively, when Scott Layden is the coach, and Ty the assistant, Kyrylo gets about 20.5 mpg.] Aside from the young prospects, it was really the "Acie Law IV vs. Morris Almond show". They combined for 34 shots and 20 free throws -- fueling the offenses of both teams. Almond had 29 points -- and for those keeping score at home: so far in 5 games he has played 140:22 minutes, taken 63 shots, has 97 points (19.4 ppg) and a grand total of 1 assist. One. Uno. Ekh. Une. He has 12 turn overs though, so that makes him a very special player.

    Sheeeet, you don't score 50 by passin' the ball!
      Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    "Those aren't pillows!"

    For those who don't know, that's a quote from the great movie "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" which stars Steve Martin and the late John Candy. What does this quote have to do with anything? Well, at the point in time when this quote happens the protagonist (Martin) is lulled into a false sense of security, only to have his entire world shook from their foundations. Shortly after there is a reference made to the Chicago Bears. That's a tangent though.

    The point is (yes there is one) the Utah Jazz have been reported (via KFan 1320 when I was on hold with them for 30 mins trying to talk) to have traded Jason Hart to the LA Clippers for Brevin Knight. Yes, I know what you are thinking.

    Steve Martin feels just like I do right now . . . kinda . . .
      "Wait . . . what? Hart for Knight? Those aren't pillows!!!!"

    Does this deal matter? You better bet your black ass it does. It matters plenty, maybe just not in the way you'd think. Deron Williams, aka: he who makes Utah so Jazzy, plays a lot of mpg. Last season he played 37.3 mpg, and the season before, 36.9 mpg. At the least, he's going to play around 35 mpg (But in reality, more like 37 mpg again). The NBA game is 48 minutes total. 48 - 35 = ???

    Yup, 13 minutes to fight for between Brevin Knight and Ronnie Price. (At the most, not including games where there is foul trouble or, knock on wood, injuries) Last season Hart averaged 10.6 mpg, and Price 9.6 mpg. Brevin clocks in at 23 mpg. He's not going to play that much, if he plays at all. He is slightly injury prone, but that may not even be an issue. Hart played in 57 games last season and his play on the court hurt the jazz more than his availability to play. I think that this move (which gives the clippers a $2.5 million dollar contract for 1 season, and the jazz that a $2 million dollar contract for 1 season) does nothing useful for us but saves us $500,000.00.

    This means that this trade alone makes little sense, but there is something else happening in the big picture. We're saving half a million for something. KOC let loose that there was some numerical contract hiccup in C.J.'s new deal. I would think that these two issues -- the trade for Brevin and C.J.'s contract -- to be slightly related on some level. The Jazz could be making space to sign C.J., while fitting him under the cap a bit more in the future.

    Back to the Clippers, Hooray! Look at that jersey, he's been playing since the days of Mark Price and Craig Ehlo! Still our 2nd string PG? Oklahoma, I yearn for thee!
    Photo by NBAE / Getty Images Photo by some card company Photo by NBAE / Getty Images Photo by NBAE / Getty Images

    Maybe I'm all wrong about this, but what needs to be clearly stated is that, on its' own, this trade makes no sense in the big picture as both contracts expire this 2008-2009 season. Brevin is an upgrade for sure, but he may not even have to play a single game to make an impact for us this season. Money is a big deal, and every team has to maneuver around to maximize it. This could be a deal that makes more sense in the big picture -- once the big picture occurs.

    At the very least, this is a slight upgrade at face value . . . as long as this is talking about the 3rd PG spot, and not upsetting the depth chart to make space for a 5'10 guard who is horrible at shooting, doesn't have three point range (the Jazz sets rely on a PG who can hit the three), and never is healthy.

    The Associated Press and are also carrying this story.

    RMR Game 3 & 4: Wins vs Iran and Nets

    Ty takes it in for 2 in the 4th quarter! Kofous . . . with the SHOT . . . again! (1 shot every 2.4 mins) Almond throws it down with surprising Athleticism Fess blocks shots, changes others and defends the basket -- while getting a 1:1 block / foul ratio. That's Huuuge!
    Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/ NBAE via Getty Images Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/ NBAE via Getty Images Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/ NBAE via Getty Images Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/ NBAE via Getty Images

    The Jazz Rocky Mountain Review squad won these last two games coming from behind both times. Is this because the starters for the Jazz are that much worse than the other guys? I don't really know. The Iran game was filled with a very great, festive atmosphere that is more akin to other International sporting events than a summer league game. I was surprised at the strong showing by Iranian fans, and had no clue that there were so many Persians in Utah . . . then again, they are pretty much an invisible minority.

    Their national team really brought it strong early, and had hot shooting to thank for. They were much quicker than the Jazz and their starting center (Hamed Ehadadi) was straight up 'housing' anyone that defended him. Eventually Fesenko got fed up and had to start blocking his shot. Thankfully he was not a major concern for the Jazz in the 2nd half as Morris Almond injured him in the 2nd quarter. USA! USA! USA!

    The game was a celebration of sport, and the Jazz fans (usually called mean names by players of other teams) were very classy and the Iranians threw roses into the crowd after the game. Somewhere dark and evil, David Stern smiled -- the seeds for a globalized NBA were being planted that evening in Utah.

      1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
    Utah 14 24 23 21 82
    Iran 22 7 16 12 57

    As for the other game, the game last night vs. the New Jersey Nets was very entertaining -- but mostly for basketball reasons. Early on Jaycee Carroll (who has some Utah roots) was playing like Leon in Above the Rim, just shooting everything and being unstoppable. Thankfully, Carroll has no defense to speak of, and when it counted our guards Tyrone Brazelton and Morris Almond were just too much for the one man show. The Jazz were down by 14 but scraped their way back and won it thanks to the stellar play of Brazelton, Rickey Paulding and others. The Nets have a lot of talent on their squad (at least on paper), but Brook Lopez (#10 draft pick, 2008), Sean Williams (#17 draft pick, 2007), Chris Douglas-Roberts (1st rounder on some mock drafts, 2008) and crew did not do much.

      1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
    Utah 13 22 27 25 87
    New Jersey 22 23 18 16 79

    The game was tight in the 4th quarter, and the Jazz were able to pull it out, winning by 8.

    W5 (5 factors that influenced the two wins):

    • Who: Morris Almond -- he has been the only guy on the team that has shown that he has a solid future as an NBA player, this may be his last off-season playing Summer League
    • What: Game of Destiny -- the Game of Destiny is basically the best a player will ever play, it's a single game that vastly outstrips their true playing ability. It's a maximal score, and not a typical one . . . it's a Game of Destiny. Kevin Lyde had one against Iran (6 pts, 14 rbs, 2 ast., 1 stl.), and Tyrone Brazelton had one against the Nets (16 pts, 7-9 shooting, 4 ast., 1 stl. -- all the money baskets down the stretch going 1 vs. 5)
    • Where: The Paint -- over the last two games the Jazz have gone for 34 and 32 points here, and that accounts for 40% of the scoring. Is this a high number or a low number? It's the largest slice of the pie (FT is 25% of our points the last two games, and 35% have been points outside of the paint), and as a result, the only place this team is consistently scoring in.
    • Why: The Playbook -- The coaches Ty Corbin and Scott Layden are reading directly from the script that Jerry Sloan, Phil Johnson and the rest of the Jazz Brass hand down to them. Every play attempts to dump the ball inside and go from there. This has been effective with Fess (1st play or so of the game he backed in on Lopez and scored on him), but less so with other guys. The desire is to get points in the paint, and not take jumpers. Part of this is the playbook, the other part is the talent level. This isn't a RMR team that includes Deron Williams, CJ Miles and other shooters . . . the only real NBA player right now is Almond, and his 17 ppg cannot off set the fact that no one else is really an outside threat. (Save, perhaps, Korolev or Paulding)
    • How: Bench Play -- 13 guys have played in at least 3 games (out of 4 so far) for the Jazz, and they continue to go deep into the bench every game. This makes some guys have less than stellar stats, but the talent level drop off does not appear to be so huge -- and when the other team's bench comes into the game against ours, the Jazz bench goes on a run or two. If it was not for them, the Jazz would be 0 - 4 right now.


    Here is the official boxscore for the game vs. Iran, the game vs. the Nets, and the combined stats for the first four games (scroll to the last page on these sheets for the most updated info on the Jazz). I want to talk about the stats in a later post, so I won't get too into it. Quickly though, in the last two games: Almond has 34 points and 0 assists; Fesenko has 5 combined blocks and steals in 30 mins of action; Kosta has gone 5 - 15 and continues to get lauded in the press for his solid play. He's 19, sure, but he's also trying to play in the NBA. Let's not bring age into it and talk performance.

    What's next? The Atlanta Hawks, RMR Gm. 4 on Thursday!

    RMR Game 4: Initial post-game thoughts

    Twin Pillars of Futility ! Don't worry, I'll combine the full thoughts of Game 3 and 4, but I wanted to get this out there . . . the Utah Jazz summer league team is now 2 - 2 after defeating the New Jersey Nets squad which I thought was more talented than ours. It was an exciting game where the Nets, lead by Jaycee Carroll, went up by 14. The tide turned with solid bench play by point guard Ty Brazelton and others. Eventually this game became Carroll vs. Almond -- both guards scoring on a variety of moves. Down the stretch Brazelton took over and made baskets. The 10th pick of the draft, Brook Lopez, was outplayed by Fesenko -- though the stats show things slightly differently. Lopez had 11 boards, and played over 30 minutes -- but Fesenko locked him up and helped him shoot 2 for 11. Lopez also had 5 turn overs and 6 personal fouls. Almond was stellar, shooting a shot under 50% and getting to the line 18 times on aggressive moves to the basket -- especially in transition. He finished with 24 points and 0 assists. The media continues to go nuts over Kosta's production -- you know, 3-8 shooting is an improvement actually.
    Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images  

    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    RMR Game 3: Initial post-game thoughts

    The jazz finally win a game, and defeat the mighty Persian empire . . . or something like that. It was a blowout, and it always looked like one. After the first quarter with their amazing fans cheering them, Iran looked like they were going to destroy the Jazz. Eventually their lack of familiarity with playing at that altitude; their lack of depth (after injuries); and their shooting that finally cooled off allowed for the Jazz to tell them, once and for all that . . .

    This . . . is . . . UTAH!

    Image created by me . . . so yeah . . . kinda silly, I know

    Yeah . . . something like that at least . . .

    I'd like to say that the Jazz 82 - 57 win over the Iranian national team was because of Morris Almond, Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos . . . but it wasn't. It was pretty much Kevin Lyde's game of destiny. Hiram Fuller also had a solid game, and Kevin Kruger (of the NBA D-League Utah Flash) and Yaroslav Korolev had supporting games as well. The games that are coached by Ty Corbin feature many players, 15 total guys played tonight, Almond didn't even play 20 mins in this game. I'll post more later on about this game as more information is available.

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Pushing the envelope

    Now that the margins allow for more stuff I'm going to post something that tests the capabilities of our newly operational battle station. . . or something to that effect.

    Depth Chart:

    Point Guard

    Shooting Guard

    Small Forward

    Power Forward



    'Zo . . . how does my @$$ taste?'




    Deron Williams

    Ronnie Brewer

    Andrei Kirilenko

    Carlos Boozer

    Mehmet Okur

    Luke Walton's Nightmare

    Secret Agent Man, according to Hot Rod


    The Paperboy

    Why yes, this is an action shot of Jarron Collins

    Ronnie Price

    Kyle Korver

    Matt Harpring

    Paul Millsap

    Jarron Collins

    The $2 million dollar mistake


    White Shaq / Big Fess

    Jason Hart

    C.J. Miles

    Kyrylo Fesenko


    My Big, Fat, Greek Draft Pick

    Morris Almond

    Kosta Koufos

    Housekeeping . . .

    The previous layout, while easy to look at, was not efficient. Function trumps form here at All That Jazz . . . hence, this new layout.


    RMR Game 2: Hawks 72 -- Jazz 63

    The Jazz lost their second straight game, mostly due to the fact that the Jazz felt like showing off many of the individuals who will not be asked back to attend training camp in October. This loyalty usually affords these fringe NBA players to get enough development time and exposure to be picked up by teams in other leagues (Europe and Asia mainly). There should be some cuts made sometime soon. Onto the game then, where the Jazz had another 3rd quarter collapse.

      1 2 3 4 Final
    Atlanta 16 8 27 21 72
    Utah 17 14 9 23 63

    While the defense took it up a notch and only allowed the Hawks to score 27 points (as opposed to San Antonio scoring 28 the night before in the same quarter), it's still not good. Utah won every other quarter, and when the coach for this game, Scott Layden, took out our three draft picks (Almond, Fesenko and Koufos) the offense screeched to a halt and the other team drove to the basket whenever they desired. Late in the 4th when Layden put those three back in, it was too late and the Hawks just kept burying the Jazz with long distance jumpers as the clock wound down. (Clock doesn't stop in summer league?) Acie Law IV was just killing it, marginal to good point guards are torching the Rocky Mountain Review team the Jazz assembled. Additionally, Othello Hunter was the player of the game, doing everything he wanted because Koufos doesn't know how to box out.

    I was able to catch the Internet feed for this game, and watch it in full screen on one of my computer monitors thanks to this link. It's the same link for each game, so if any of you other non-SLC residing basketball fans want to watch, copy that link and open it in your media player of choice. The Boxscore for this game is finally up and I can involve some empiricism in my analysis this time around!

    W5 (5 factors that influenced the game):

  • Who: Kyrylo Fesenko -- if he wasn't in the game, ATL would have won by 30
  • What: 3rd quarter collapse -- 2nd game in a row, this time the lead went from +7 to -11
  • Where: The Offensive Glass -- Jazz are strong here even in the summer league, Fesenko had three less than the entire Atlanta team
  • Why: Atlanta fastbreak -- Jazz got so many offensive boards because Atlanta leaked all night long, and quickly won fastbreak points 14 to 4
  • How: Rotation -- Atlanta went 10 deep, with all the starters getting over 20 mins of run, Utah played 14 guys, when Atlanta went on their run, the Jazz had Adriatic League benchwarmers in the game.


      Mins Pts FG 3pt FT Rebs Off A St Bs Pf TO
    Morris Almond 30 17 (6/13) (1/2) (4/4) 4 (1) 0 0 0 2 4
    Kyrylo Fesenko 23 9 (4/6)   (1/2) 9 (7) 1 1 3 0 1
    Kosta Koufos 22 12 (3/11)   (6/6) 10 (5) 1 0 0 2 0

    How did the guys with NBA contracts do?

    The jumper always looks good, imagine how much better it'll look when he's the 4th guy off the bench, instead of the first option in the D-League! Shaqlike . . . This was one of Kosta's 3 made baskets, another was a tip in, and the first was a great pass from Fess

    Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

    Photo by Scott G. Winterton/Deseret News

    Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

    Morris Almond had a Morris Almond type of game, being an offensive force who really needs to learn how and when to pass the ball, his 4 turn overs were bad, two of which should have been easy assists to Fess for dunks. In a system where he only touches the ball off of screens and doesn't have to create he'll be good -- like a Rip Hamilton.

    Kyrylo Fesenko was the player of the game for Utah. He was a defensive force, playing good solid post defense and making life hard for guys who posted up or drove, often making them take contested shots without fouling them, and allowed for Kosta to swoop in and collect the defensive boards

    Kosta Koufos played much better, and had nice stats (12/10 out of a 19 year old is always nice), but he only started to play well in the last part of the game and had a couple of hustle points (tip ins, and tip rebounds) that make his stat line look much better than the game he actually played. If shooting is his strength, then give me more Fess.

    What's next? The Iranian National Team, RMR Gm. 3 on Monday!