Friday, October 17, 2008

The D League is not poop.

It's come to my attention that I may have been overly critical of the NBA developmental league. In my defense, I don't think I was clear in my original statements, so allow me to elucidate my point of view. I do not think that the D league is poop. In fact, I think I enjoy the NBA DL on more pure levels than I love the NBA. I've longed for a real farm system in the NBA for years and I'm happy that we finally have that (though not every team has their own affiliate). The NBA DL is a fantastic place filled with stories of hard work and a path to greater glory. Personally, I think a guy like Randy Livingston should be the first guy in the NBA-DL Hall of Fame as a player (at least on some life time achievement level at least).

Without sounding like one of those "some of my best friends are _______ (insert previously maligned group name)" after the fact apologies I do have to say that I watch NBA-DL games even when my team isn't playing. Some people love the NBA developmental league more than I do, and that's cool . . . but I wanted to say sorry if I sounded like I thought it was pointless.

Posting up . . . okay in Orem, not ok in SLC . . .

I just think that in the selfish world of making Morris Almond a better NBA player he's only going to get better by playing against other NBA players. (Like defending other NBA guys, or getting passes, screens and so forth from other NBA guys) This was the number one observation I made after watching him play in the Rocky Mountain Review a few months ago. His ceiling is pretty much maxed out in Orem.

That's my personal opinion. I know that the Jazz keep close ties to the Flash, and Jerry Sloan's nephew is the head coach down there in Orem . . . but that doesn't mean that there is complete equivalency between the two systems.

There just cannot be, because there is such a talent gap. In Orem Almond may drive the ball to the free throw line, have defenders prevent him from shooting a good shot, and have him reverse the ball to an open Kevin Kruger . . . only for him to brick an open jumper.

Photographed by someone for NBAE, I'm guessing . . . and here's is Almond posting up, when was the last time the Jazz posted up a SG (or SF, for that matter) in the course of a regular game? They almost exclusively get the ball off of screens and cuts, not post ups. Something tells me that these are plays that don't help Almond get better for Sloan's non-SG posting up offense.

Though, Kruger is a statistically accurate shooter for a guard at 43.5 fg% and 38.8 3pt%, I've seen this happen more often that I'd wish for. If Almond was playing with the Jazz a) he'd be passing the ball to NBA talent, and b) Deron would be the one driving, and Morris would be the guy with the open shot.

In some ways I get the feeling that KOC, Sloan and the rest of the Jazz brass may look at the NBADL as a chance to ship people off to (and have them improve magically) while not really developing them directly; or even worse, just a place to stash someone who is on contract and forget about unless there are injuries to the senior team. (Like what happened with Fesenko last season when Boozer and Memo went down and he had a whale of a game against the LA Lakers in a Jazz win)

When C.J. Miles went to the d-league he was 18 years old and had no college experience -- it clearly helped him both times he was sent down. Morris Almond is in a different situation has he'll be 22 this season, and had 4 years of college. (And he already spent most of the season with the farm team, so he's experienced that already)

I think that guys like Kosta and Fesenko need the farm team, because it can help them get better for playing with the senior team. The farm system has helped guys before in the past (like CJ). I just fail to see the long term utility of it for SPECIFICALLY Morris Almond.

That's just my two cents. In closing: NBA D-League is awesome, I just would rather Almond play 10 mpg for the Jazz and get into 60 games under Sloan than play 35 mpg with the Flash and end up playing in 10 NBA games this season.


Hardwood Paroxysm said...

You're still a little off. Let's go piece by piece.

Okay, first off, regarding your caption and your offense. Yes, they use a lot of cuts and curls. But with Deron they've started posting up the point guard, which is what Almond plays in Orem. He operates at the point. If you have the advantage, use it with big powerful guards. So if he's posting in the D, it's because he's been given range to do that. The D-League coaches have a very short leash with schemes and adjustments. The Flash, along with the Toros, have installed the exact same systems as the Jazz use. Any Flash member will tell you that.

From there, yes, obviously, if he's in the L, he's going to be facing stiffer competition and passing to better players. But it's not about the end result of the bucket going in. As long as he runs the play and gets the player the shot, he's accomplished what he needs to. As long as he's learning the offense, he's doing what he needs to.

The reason coaches have embraced the D, and trust me, Sloan is HUGE on the D-League, is that it gets them time to work on the things they need to instead of carrying bags and sitting around. Talk to any coach or player. If you're on the bench in the L? You're not learning much. You're just going through the motions. Practices aren't hard. Coaching is geared towards beating opponents and working on the starters and heavy rotation players. Almond would have learned almost nothing last year with DW and Price on board. He would have carried bags. That's it.

There's not equivalency in the players, but there's synergy between the coaching staffs. Flash players NEVER go under screens. Why? It's a defensive philosophy of the Utah Jazz. Period.

If you talk to anyone in the Jazz organization, they'll tell you that they don't see it as somewhere to ship people off to. Why do you think they're so involved in the process? Why do they practice in the same facility? Why is Sloan at the games on any night he has off? Why is it that they have biweekly meetings with Flash staff? They believe in the system.

They're not looking to develop a guy within a season. They're looking long term. And Morris Almond will have a better career because of the time he spent in the D. Ask him. He'll tell you.