02 May 2012
What Did the Utah Jazz Learn In School Today?
What did you learn today? It’s a small twist on the old question “What did you do today?” that parents have been asking...well, since forever. The typical answer from the child is, “Nothing.” Which either leads to more questions, or a satisfied shrug from the parents.
Like many Utah Jazz fans, I crave more than just a “nothing” answer. The Utah Jazz’s answer to this question can be divided into three parts: What did we learn about ourselves, what did we learn about our opponent, and what did we learn about our situation.
What did learn about ourselves?
First, we learned that we have a lot to learn. I am not saying this tongue and cheek either. We have a long way to go as a team and organization before we can/will reach the Western Conference Finals or NBA finals. Our mindset is something that needs to evolve. This year the mindset was make the playoffs. Which we did. I don’t think that fans (thinking realistically) or anybody with knowledge of basketball thinks that we will win this series, which is O.K. The Spurs are a better team than us.
Second, we learned that Favors IS fantastic on the defensive end, and that he has to start next year. Hopefully the FO learned that he should be getting 35+ minutes a night. There have been many fans saying this all year. I think there is no doubt that he is a 20/10/3/3 guy with those type of minutes.
Third, We learned that Ty Corbin still has lots to learn. This is in no way a diss on what he has done this season. I think overall he has been great in a very delicate situation (Too many players for minutes). Ty will be just short of 100 games when this series ends. Which is approximately a full season including preseason and a playoff series. Has he made mistakes? Yes. Has he learned from those mistakes? I would like to say, "yes." However, the decision to start Howard because of his previous playoff experience and simultaneously mess with the starting rotation was not a good decision.
Fourth, credit this to Amar, we learned which players are not afraid to back down from a challenge or a seemingly dire situation. After consideration, I don’t think that any of our players quit, I just feel like some may have not been prepared mentally. The Spurs are a better team than us. It is that simple.
Fifth, Al Jefferson is improving on a game to game basis. In his post game he mentioned that he enjoys playing against Duncan stating,”Everytime I go against him I learn something new.” At this point, it will be hard to identify just exactly what Jefferson is learning from Duncan. However, based on Jefferson’s growth this year, it is safe to assume that he will incorporate the Duncan knowledge soon. This is information is exponential. Al has turned into a great mentor for our two young bigs. His influence has been noticeable many times throughout the year, both on and off the court. What he learns from Duncan can be taught to Favors and Kanter.
What did We Learn About our Opponents?
First, Pop knows what he’s doing at all times. I have now doubts that he one of the best coaches the NBA history. He knew our moves before we did.The ultimate chess coach.
Second, the Spurs are good, really good. They are methodical, concise, patient, disciplined and can play any type of game they want to play.
Third, the Spurs culture is very similar to what we need to REbuild in Utah. Every player puts the end goal first. Every player knows their role, and stick to their role unless their role is changed or they asked to expand their role. The culture starts from the top down and is visible throughout every stage of the organization. The coach runs the team, not the players. They draft extremely well. They develop young talent better than any other team in the league. Period.
Fourth, having a number one draft pick is amazing.
What did we learn about our situation?
First, making the playoffs is a helluva lot better than not making the playoffs. Ask Wesley Matthews who has been tweeting “would you rather” tweets for the past week and a half, “Lion King or Toy Story 3.”
Second, We are getting better. We have made progress. We have learned from some of our mistakes.
Third, Gordon Hayward was not scared of the playoffs. I didn’t think he would be, but let’s be honest ,he played a good game in what is usually a bad situation for young players.
Fourth, our situation will get better. Assuming that Favors gets 35+ minutes a night, and we don’t have any major injuries, we will be better next year and should makes the playoffs. I can’t see a scenario where Favors gets less than 30 minutes a night. Part of building a winning culture is allowing young players to grow within the culture and be part of the winning and building.
Fifth, we have seen the last of CJ Miles. There will be more on this soon. I often wonder how we could have played this situation differently.