Utah Jazz Mid-Season Grades

The NBA All-Star Weekend is upon us and the Utah Jazz have played 32 games of a 66 game schedule, so that makes it time for a mid-season report card on the Jazz this season.

Let me start with some stats:

2011- 2012 Team Rankings

Offense

Defense

96.2

97.7

11th overall

24th overall

Stats Through Feb. 24

W

L

PCT

GB

CONF

DIV

HOME

ROAD

15

17

0.469

11

10-14

3-4

12-6

3-11

The Jazz started out rough, losing 3 of 4 games all on the road.  Then January hit and the Jazz won 11 of 15 games thanks to an easier schedule and a lot of home games.  The team got fans excited and talking playoffs and “Swat Lake City” was abuzz with excitement.  But February came and it was obvious it would get rough.  And it has.  13 games this month and a 3-10 record.  One road win and a 2-2 home record.  And now the Jazz have us scratching our heads.  Is this the team we saw last month or the team we expected at the beginning of this season?  Again, the quandary placed before Coach Ty Corbin is being bandied around like a badminton shuttlecock; does he keep playing the veterans and try for that 7th or 8th playoff spot or does he give in and begin the sink or swim development of the 4 lottery picks on his team (Alec Burks, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward, and Enes Kanter)?

Part of my write up here included grades for the bigs, the guards, the defense, bench, and coaching.  Here it is:

CATEGORY

                                                                                              GRADE

Frontcourt Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap team up to be a very effective front court. Both average above the league in PER.  Gordon Hayward is progressing but he isn’t a polished player and needs to improve his decision making.

B

Backcourt Devin Harris is a shell of himself from his days in Dallas and New Jersey.  He can’t shoot or defend well consistently.  Raja Bell is staying tough on defense, but his 7.4 PPG isn’t going to scare any opponent.

 C-

Defense The change in philosophy worked for a small time but teams adjusted and with no real training camp, the Jazz just haven’t figured out how to defend well inside or out.  A clear example was the recent game at Houston when CJ scrambled to cover a three point attempt and fouled the shooter twice in the 4th.

  D+

Bench The bench is a semi-bright spot for me.  Earl Watson leads the second unit with passion and fire every night.  Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter are growing and Alec Burks is increasing his role.  Josh Howard was solid to start the season but has trailed off in recent games.

B

Coaching I think the one thing you can truly count on this year is the Ty Corbin knows what he is doing.  He’s had to play with his rotation most of the season to find what works.  He hasn’t been afraid to pull a guy for a lack of effort just because it is his turn in the rotation.  If the Jazz can right the ship in the second half of the season, I think he would deserve Coach of the Year attention.

 A-

OVERALL SCORE                                                                                                            C+

 For my part, I think I would really love to see the young guys get more playing time, but I don’t feel that just because they are young, they should be granted the keys to the team.  They will learn more by earning those minutes.  They will learn more if Corbin tries for wins and they have to watch the team struggle with grinding out wins and enduring humiliating defeat.  They will be better off in the long run if this team can find a way to the 8th seed in the west and get a playoff series against the Spurs or Thunder.  They will know what it feels like when the playoffs start.  They won’t take for granted the wins or allow themselves to stew over the losses.

I think Ty Corbin has done as good of a job with this team as anyone could have expected.  I think the players could dig in and find a little more consistency and they play so much better when you can tell they are playing for each other.  Just look back at the recent game in Memphis for evidence to that.  But they get bogged down in the motions of it all and lose focus and then the wheels can fall off just as they did the next night in New Orleans.  When this team can find its identity and hold true and consistent to it, they will take that next step.  Until then, I’ll temper my expectations, and enjoy the ride.

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