SALT LAKE CITY — After a miserable road trip where the Jazz pulled out just one win, the Jazz are back in action tonight against Paul Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks. But first, we get commentary from the Jazz blogosphere and discuss the week that was.
This week the questions are about what the bloggers learned from the road trip and how they would approach different scenarios this season if they were standing in Tyrone Corbin's shoes.
What did you learn about the Jazz this week after watching them nearly go winless on this road trip?
Amar: I honestly wish there was something new to learn about this team, but that would actually require testing out different variables. We've only continued to confirm that Utah doesn't play well on the road - which has been somewhat of a hallmark of the Jazz for decades. The last winning season on the road was 2009-2010, before that it was 2000-2001. It took John and Karl nearly a decade in the NBA before they had a winning road season. So I'm not upset with our performance this week in the big picture. Historically, wins are rarer outside of the 801. At least in this way this seasons Jazz are just like the good-old-days Jazz.
That the Jazz are worse than we thought. Before the road trip, the Jazz had a 17-9 record with their chosen starting lineup healthy, evidence that the team's talent, when allowed to play together, offered a lot to build on for next season. The road trip changed all of that: Utah struggled on both sides of the floor against the worst teams the NBA has to offer. Marvin Williams didn't contribute at all, going just 10-42 on the trip. Even the one win wasn't particularly encouraging: the Sixers are throwing out a D-League lineup right now, and the Jazz still struggled to win at the end.
Josh: The first thing I thought of after watching this past road trip is it is very difficult to win on the road when nothing is on the line. The Jazz were motivated against Indiana since it is Gordon's hometown and motivated in Philly since they didn't want to go winless on the road trip. I'm not saying if the Jazz are motivated then they win, but it was clear they had no desire to compete in any of the other 4 games. The bright spot from the week was G Hay looked like his earlier season self and the whole team never put their heads down.
Moni: I'm not sure there was anything to learn from the Jazz just barely escaping a winless road trip. It felt like it was just more of the same of what we've seen all season long, only with more tired players and more frustrated faces on the court and on the bench. At some points in some games, it seemed like everyone was just waiting for the final horn to sound. On the bright side, from the players' interaction with one another on Twitter and Instagram, the locker room clearly remains close.
If you were Ty Corbin and you believe you are coming back next season to coach the Jazz, what changes would you make, if any, for the remaining games this year?
Amar: I'd buy a lot of lip balm and start trying to kiss up to Hayward, Favors, Burke, Burks, and Kanter. That means more than just playing them; it means actually running plays forthem in an attempt to maximize their talents. Post up Gordon on SGs. Let Kanter test his range. Get the ball to Alec when he's on the move. More than that, it means actually not throwing ‘the youth' under the bus after every loss, or use that as the standard go-to reason why anything bad happens.
Some of those guys are in their fourth seasons in this system. In contrast to that, Tyrone had played for four different teams in his first four seasons. As job security is obviously always on his mind it would be wise for him to recognize that now, more than ever before, it is a player's league. Don't hate the players.
There's much to be accomplished. It's probably time to see if Rudy Gobert's incredible defensive impact is for real or just a fluke of small sample size and garbage minutes. Finding out if Alec Burks can be successful in a starting role is probably more valuable than extending Richard Jefferson's career. The defense of Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors together needs to be sorted out: is there any way to get these guys to play defense well together? They did well on D off the bench together in 2012-13, but can they do it against starters? Given how much has been broken this season, it's time to experiment a little to try to find what could work.
Josh: Knowing I'm back next year would first make me think about who else is back. Knowing most likely RJ is not going to be back, I'd want to resemble what I think the starting lineup would be next year. I'm not saying that's the core 5, but if it is, then I'd insert Alec over RJ and Kanter over Marvin. I'd also like to see if Alec can get the ball at the top and make something happen on most plays (a la James Harden). If he can then the off season turns into how to compliment Alec including who the Jazz look at it with their draft picks.
Moni: If I'm Ty Corbin and I want even a shot of being back next year, and I've been told by the front office that the top priority is development and defense (rather than wins), I've arrived at the point in the season where I realize I've still been trying to go after wins, it's not working, and it's time to start "developing" (playing) the young guys more, and more together. Which is what I think we've seen in the last week or so.
If you are Ty Corbin and you don't believe you are coming back next season, what changes would you make, if any, for the remaining games?
Amar: I would start Andris Biedrins, but that leads to a domino effect where Corbin wins over Latvian fans; becomes the head coach of their National Team; and then rides Kaspars Berzins to Top 15 place in the next FIBA EuroBasket tournament. Soon after, Corbin would obviously develop a surprising friendship with Latvian cinema legend Laila Pakalnina. And the ultimate outcome would be of him agreeing to play lead role of "Tyronje" in Kurpe 2: Steampowered Boogaloo.
Or I would ask Andy Larsen for a primer on analytics. A lot of the traditionalist coaches who pooh-pooh the discipline as a "numbers game" end up playing the "unemployment game." Unless he wants to have a lot of lonely, late night phone calls with Lionel Hollins, it would be okay for Corbin to evolve on some of his stated positions. That's the big change I would make over the next few weeks if I knew I'd be looking for a job for next year.
Corbin has to find some way to make the team care again. Without a contract for this season, Corbin needs to have his resume in mind, right now, he's looks like at least a decent offensive coach and a poor defensive one. His main accomplishment has been keeping the locker room together in difficult circumstances, but that means nothing if the team stops trying on the floor. In particular, the Jazz showed no fight on this road trip, getting blown out of games against terrible teams. If Corbin gets a reputation as a coach who has teams quit on him, it will be nearly impossible to get a head coaching job again in the NBA.
Josh: This is a tougher scenario, since if I knew I wasn't coming back my whole philosophy would be to win as many games as possible. If the Jazz end up winning over 30 games it might get other teams to notice and ultimately get me another job sooner than later. I'd continue to use RJ and Marvin as they really do give the Jazz the best chance to win on most nights and the development of the young guys would be an afterthought. I'd probably even make the rotation 8 guys deep to ensure the best players were on the floor to get the team a W. On a side note, I really believe Corbin gets another three-year deal, as I believe he has grown exponentially over the time as the head coach.
Moni: I'd be trying to squeeze out every win I can — and that means continuing to have veteran presence in my starting lineup and getting a larger share of minutes. At this point I'm, as DeMarre Carroll was fond of saying, coaching "for 29 other teams" and trying to show teams I can win games. Right or wrong, Corbin has shown he thinks his best chance for winning is with veterans, so I think we continue to see Richard Jefferson and Marvin Williams starting. Meanwhile, lower-down-the-bench guys like Rudy Gobert probably won't get much beyond garbage minutes for the rest of the year.