Thursday, October 16, 2008

Things to look for this season: Morris Almond

If you've been following this blog for a while (perhaps by some court ordered mandate or potential Gitmo torture method) you may have noticed that I associate C.J. Miles' trials and tribulations to that of the works of Shakespeare. (And really, it's almost apt!) Morris Almond (or 'Mobe' as I like to call him) requires a whole other author to describe him -- probably Charles Dickens. Most specifically the whole "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" bit from A Tale of Two Cities. For Almond the two cities are -- obviously -- Salt Lake City, Utah and Orem, Utah. These are the respective homes of the NBA's Utah Jazz and the NBA-DL's Utah Flash franchises.

Orem, Utah Salt Lake City, Utah
Between the legs jump shot, why not? Hustle? What is this hustle you speak of? (Oct 9 2008 [Steve C Wilson AP Photo] )

Morris Almond is the star player for the Utah Flash, the NBA-DL's Impact player of the year who gave teams 50 twice that year and was involved in everything from the All-Star game, H.O.R.S.E. and set league scoring records.

In the Salt Lake he is a guy who only gets burn in garbage time, and seems to be unremarkable in any distinct way . . . save for his lack of hustle on defense and below average quickness and court vision. (3 assists last season, total)

Morris Almond is coming off quite the 'tale of two cities' Rookie campaign in 2007-2008 -- if it wasn't made absolutely clear by now already. This season his Rocky Mountain Review Summer League ball had ups and downs, but over all it showed us that he is a dynamite scorer with NBA ready moves -- but does not really grasp the team game yet (hence the name "Mobe", like "Kobe"). His work so far in the Pre-Season has been -- pretty much -- more of the same of what we expect of him -- just in less minutes.

  • 8 points per game
  • 12 FGM - 29 FGA (41.4 FG%)
  • 7.25 Field Goals Attempted per Game
  • 1 Shot for ever 2.45 minutes played
  • 1 - 3 from the three point line (33.3 3pt%)
  • 7 - 9 at the free throw line (77.8 ft%)
  • 1.5 rebounds per game (RPG)
  • 0.25 assists per game (APG)
  • 0.50 steals per game (SPG)
  • 1.25 turn overs per game (TOpg)
  • 17:45 average minutes per game (MPG)

Ideally he'd have more than 1 assist in 4 pre-season games -- but let's not forget that is probably better than what he was getting in Summer League this past season. Some of his troubles must stem from the fact that he is essentially two different people depending on if he's with the Jazz or the Flash. In Orem his role is that of 'The Man' and he knows that on every offensive possession his team has the best chance of making a bucket if the ball goes through him. It's pretty much a continuation of what he had to deal with his last two seasons at Rice in the NCAA's. When he's wearing a Jazz uniform it's completely different -- he's at the bottom of the totem pole and his role is completely different. The offense doesn't run through him, it's his job to be a cog in the larger Utah Jazz offensive machine.

In some ways we kind of know who he is, and what he can do -- there's very little benefit to having him run in the NBA-DL anymore because it's not like that improves him as a player, nor does it better prepare him to play with the Jazz (as what the Flash need out of him is pretty much the opposite of what Jerry Sloan wants to see from him). That said, what three things should we look forward to this season from Morris Almond?

  1. Pass the Rock more -- Being a good offensive player is more than just being able to give other teams' buckets. If he's not going to get on with the hustling, rebounding and defending -- the least he can do is learn the playbook and make passes. I'm sure it's quite discouraging to actually pass the ball to an open guy in the NBA Developmental League, only to have him clang the shot. I watched every Summer League Game and I saw Morris passing the ball, only for his team (and his boxscore) to be rewarded with nothing. Pretty much he's been somewhat classically conditioned to dislike passing. Here I am being all Mr.Psychology and getting past the FA-err and try to figure out why he's seen as an offensive black hole. Whatever the cause, he has to break out of it. My solution would be with the Cognitive-Behavioral therapy of systematic desensitization. Basically, the more time he plays with other guys who can make shots the more and more he'll understand that positive results can happen when he passes the ball. He hasn't really played with good players (even in garbage time he's running out there with Jarron Collins, and not Mehmet Okur), so it's not like he's had good targets. If he's running around against second string guys with Korver, AK and Millsap I'm sure we'll see some more passes -- after all, passing is contagious.
  2. Get caught up in a numbers game -- See what I did there? I put him on the bench in our team in Salt Lake City . . . I guess assuming that a) Brewer and Miles start and b) Harpring is still out for part of the season. The grim reality is that there are too many talented people for too few minutes. (96 total at the wings -- Brewer and Andrei need at least 30, and Kover needs around 20, so that leaves 16 TOTAL to be divided between C.J., Morris and Harpring) If you just take out guys playing small forward there's only 48 minutes to go round for four guys -- which is just insane any way you slice it. The time Morris does see on NBA courts are going to be high pressure situations for him as he tries to make a name for himself and earn more playing time. Basically this could just lead to him jacking a lot of shots as that's probably what he does best. That's quickly not going to fly with the Jazz brass, and even though it doesn't make him better, makes it harder for him to adjust to his role on the Jazz, and reinforces bad habits -- eventually may lead to him playing the majority of this 2008-2009 season in Orem . . . just like last year.
  3. Take it out on the NBA-DL -- And that's just going to make him angry, and cause him to go all Hulk like on the NBA-DL out of frustration. (After all, he can audition for other teams that way, as it's filled with scouts, and after he drops 50 a few times next year some Shooting Guard anemic teams may drop Kevin O'Connor an e-mail or two).

I may be in the minority here, but I really think that the bad parts of the NBA-DL outweigh the benefits of sending Morris down there. I don't know what they do down there in Flash practice, but when it's game time they want to win, and they do that by having Almond shoot a lot. I only watched about 5 or 6 Flash games last season, and it doesn't look like they do anything but post him up, or run plays for him. Jerry doesn't call those plays in Utah -- so it's not like sending him down there makes him any better prepared for playing for Jerry. The best way to make him earn playing time with the Jazz is to -- I dunno -- have him be on the active roster? And for the record, he had more asissts per game with the Flash than Harpring did with the Jazz (and with better shooters) . . . I just say put Harp on the IR, and have Almond and others take his place. (unless we are playing Ron Artest or Carmelo Anthony -- he completely takes those guys out of their games)


Hardwood Paroxysm said...

This isn't entirely accurate.

While it's true that some D-Leagues are a complete and utter waste of time for the players there on assignment, the Jazz have a much heavier hand in the process. Flash players practice after the Jazz, at the same facility. They work closely with the coaching staff. The reason they gave Almond free range in the D was not because it didn't matter, it's because he needed to get used to playing at that speed. Learning to be a distributor is something he'll learn in practice as he gets put into the rotation.

When you're watching the games, bear in mind that it's not necessarily that they're asserting the offense for him, they're running the same offense and defense the jazz use. The coaching staff is primarily made of people from the Jazz system, and all aspects of the Jazz are used. They run the same pick and rolls, they use the same tactic of never going under screens defensively, and they use the same tactic of attacking with their highly talented guard.

If he returns to the Flash it would be because, if you ask the majority of players and coaches at the bottom of the rung? Being on roster sucks from a basketball standpoint. The nice hotels are awesome and the good meals, but practices aren't as tough in the L as they are in the D, and and he won't have the opportunity to learn the things he needs to, like passing and working inside a system. Just because he's lighting up the D-League because he's a terrific scoring talent doesn't mean the League is useless. You just have to know enough about it to understand its value.

O'Connor and Sloan do. Maybe you should to.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Matt from Ridiculous Upside and Hardwood Paroxysm

Other than that,have loved your coverage and the blog style.