The Bobcats are enjoying having Al Jefferson on the team this year. You guys have watched a lot of Big Al over the last few seasons and even though the organization is clearly moving in a different direction, do you miss him?
I may be in the super minority here, but I do not miss Big Al one bit. I wish him all the best, and future success in his career - and he was a great presence in the locker room - but he was not the right guy for our team. I mean he was the wrong fit for our head coach (Tyrone Corbin), our cap, our direction, and our personnel. Lovable person, but played up by the super defensive, and protected local media to be a God-like figure. Dude never averaged a double-double in Utah, let alone a 20/10 season. Even Carlos Boozer used to do that. Because the local media kept deflecting any honest criticism it left an even worse taste in the Jazz fans' mouths.
The front office let him walk, and the Band-Aid was removed, thus leaving more playing time for underused and under-developed bigs Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert (rookie). It's working out well for the Bobcats and Big Al though. He has just been a monster at times for you guys. He was for the Jazz too.
Ultimately, everything I needed to know about Big Al I learned in early July when instead of signing for less money and a smaller role within the offense to join a contender he picked the Bobcats. He's a guy who wants his money, wants his numbers, and doesn't want to win. Utah, despite our current record, wants to win down the line. And in the Western Conference, you can't win if Big Al is your defensive anchor.
I don't miss him.
What is the direction for the current team?
We're aiming for a Top 5 lotto pick. We're tanking. It's easy. The team traded for Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins, and Brandon Rush. Our starting point guards at times this season were Jamaal Tinsley and John Lucas III. In crunch time we go to a guy named Mike Harris. We're tanking. It's embarrassing. Over all this looks like the great leap back before crawling back to the land of contention. But it's necessary. If the Jazz just re-rolled the dice on a team of Mo Williams, Paul Millsap, and Al Jefferson they are a 10th to 8th seed in the West. Trying to get a Wiggins or Parker or whomever is more alluring than another #14 draft pick.
Alec Burks is getting more minutes this year and that seems like a good thing. Is that a result of him showing progress, the roster shake-up or some of both?
For Alec it's really about being so good that you can't arguably keep him on the bench anymore. Part of that is the GM Dennis Lindsey who went out there and did his best to only bring in bad players this year. The larger part is Alec. He is playing more, and being allowed to showcase his game, and get some confidence back. In his previous two seasons his role changed from week to week on the team (sometimes he'd be finishing the game at point guard - despite not playing any in the preseason). It was difficult for him, and he was in a bad spot. If a player was a veteran and in a contract year, his agent would have a meeting with Tyrone Corbin - and the next few games Alec would be getting DNP-CDs so people like Josh Howard or DeMarre Carroll can get more playing time. For the most part those type of guys are no longer on the team. (Richard Jefferson is starting every game this season, tho . . . )
Burks has done the best he could with the time he has, and I really think he should have been playing more in his earlier career. It is no secret that the head coach does not like him. The Jazz owned media has done their best to be negative about Alec as well upto the Miami Heat game where he scored 30 points. So he's got that going for him.
Do you foresee the team making a choice between Burks and starter Gordon Hayward at some point?
If it's between those two, the Jazz will go with Hayward. Hayward has been groomed to be the face of the franchise for years. He's much more marketable in Utah. There is no surprise as to why. The real issue is why isn't Burks and Hayward starting together? I don't see Richard Jefferson's single digit PER being that necessary. (Oh, I just looked, it's above 10 now)
For whatever reason Tyrone Corbin has been very hesitant to play Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors on the floor together much this season. It's like he's trying to avoid actually trying to get his best players on the floor together. (Honestly, he's either in on the tank, or a horrible coach . . . or both)
You'd think that would have been the starting lineup for a team that's a) tanking, and b) trying to develop all of the lotto picks they have on the team who are still on their rookie contracts. But I'm not a head coach, so the Jazz media tells me I'm not allowed to criticize St. Corbin.
How has Trey Burke been so far this season?
Trey Burke is straight out of Charles Dickens. He's the best of times, and the worst of times. He can make free throws and three pointers, but still shoots worse than Kenny Anderson. He knows how to space the floor and control the tempo, but at times he tries to be "The Man" on a team with guys who are open. I like his play, and am encouraged by it after how quickly he came back from a fractured bone in his shooting hand. Part of it is honestly just the relief of having to not see Jamaal or John Lucas III start anymore.
I'm a homer here, but I'm thinking Trey gets quite a few ROY votes when all is said and done.
He's just so damned inconsistent as a rook - the only thing that really is eye-popping with him is his nearly 4.0 AST:TO ratio. At the end of the day, that's not bad for a rookie playing on a team with so many guys who have stone hands.
Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter were in line for a major bump in minutes with the departure of Jefferson and Paul Millsap, are they filing the void left by those two?
Favors and Kanter are still a mystery. They only got playing time together when Trey Burke was hurt, so they had zero pick and roll point guards to feed them. Since that time Kanter, the theorized starting center, has been sent to the bench; and Favors is starting at center for the Jazz. Marvin Williams (yes, that Marvin Williams) starts at power forward. And these two guys, Favors and Kanter, aren't really meshing at all.
The Millsap/Jefferson void is legit. And still there. Our defense is better. Our rebounding (somehow) is down. And scoring is down. But, hey, at least we know now that Marvin Williams is a big part of our future.
But I guess that's on coaching, and less on development. As a tandem DF/EK aren't working. Part of that is floor spacing. And part of that is not allowing Kanter to shoot threes. So, well, that's only going to reinforce floor spacing problems. Which result in not being about to play DF and EK together. So, well done, Jazz.
As individuals, Favors is playing well; Kanter looks to have regressed.
The real test will happen next year when the Jazz have an actual NBA coach. This year is a full on tank mode, at the direct expense of developing the players we have this season.