The Utah Jazz are winning some games. Let that sentence filter through your mind for a minute, like sands of time in some hourglass that fans thought had ceased to exist a week ago. Now smash that hourglass against your forehead, because the more games the Jazz win the less chance they have of grabbing a potential superstar at the 2014 NBA Draft.
That's right, mojito, the Jazz are actually winning more often now. They punched teams in the face twice in a row instead of being the team who was punched like Glass Joe for 48 minutes. Sure, the Jazz still lose -- like they did Wed. December 4 at home to Indiana. But, they're winning. Cue the foreboding music.
For Jazz fans, however, this season is not a game. It is about life or death. It is about losing more games than any other NBA team to get the very best college basketball player they can -- which is a very good thing.
So for crying out loud, what are the Jazz doing winning all of a sudden? And why is everyone excited about a two-game winning streak -- when that means that if the Jazz win big, they may lose out on a big-time talent like Andrew Wiggins? Thank God they lost to Indiana tonight, because who knows what would have happened if they had won.
Let me tell you something; the difference between Wiggins high-flying like he's Michael Jordan's long lost relative from Canada and the projected No. 20 pick is like comparing genuine Canadian maple syrup to Mrs. Butterworths.
For starters, Wiggins is the No. 1 projected pick according to Chris Mannix of SI.com -- whereas Sam Dekker of Wisconsin is No. 20.
Wiggins looks like he is barely breaking a sweat at Kansas and he's STILL scoring as many buckets as Dekker, a guy who looks like he's Gordon Hayward's taller long lost brother from another mother.
Besides, at least you can make up cool rhymes with Wiggins' last name (or even Jabari Parker). Like, for example, the Jazz are "Wiggin for Wiggins" or "Parking for Parker" while "Schmecker for Dekker" just doesn't jibe. (There are other names one could use to rhyme with Dekker, but this is a rated PG column.)
Speaking of PG content, no matter what way you say it, the Jazz are playing better and it's freaking out the Believer and Non Believer. At this point you might hear the Believer drop a Frig-Bomb while the NB will probably crack his favorite bottle of brewski over the Believer's melon.
So I ask you, what would you rather have, a middle of the road team capable of barely making it to the first round of the playoffs and losing to a 1 seed -- or having the chance to win it all?
You can trace the Jazz recent success back to the majority of their starting five scoring points as a unit -- because it's true.
Of course, you can't say squat about Enes Kanter because he's been demoted recently from his starting role -- which smacks directly against fan philosophy, which is this: lose, lose, LOSE.
But, other than that friendly reminder from the real fans who know what losing plenty means, the Jazz are playing better across the board and sharing the ball like they know each other now -- and Enes seems happy coming off the bench. It's time they stop the shenanigans already and start losing...big-time!
Here's what else the Believer and Non Believer have to say about the Jazz recent upswing...Their name and 2013-14 salary will follow -- Dennis Lindsey wouldn't want it any other way...
Enes Kanter ($4.05 million)
Something, a voicemail perhaps, has reached Enes Kanter recently perhaps, and it went, "Hi, this is Dennis Lindsey, and I'm wheelin and dealin the Jazz entire future for a title! Bahahahaha!!" Or, something like that, and then there's a thunder clap over the horizon. Whatever it was that someone said to Enes, it hasn't worked.
He is playing like absolute crap as indicated by his numbers and he's been benched. If this keeps up, he WILL be traded by season's end -- or earlier. Somebody get him some Turkish gourmet or a WWE Best Of DVD already!
Non Believer Says:
Kanter has the ability to be the best scorer on the team. He has the size and speed to average over 20 a game. Problem is, he doesn't seem to know it. In a year when it is very important to establish who you are and why your position doesn't need to be upgraded in the upcoming draft.
You would hope to see the team's leading scorer take that next step. The more Kanter can score in the post, the easier the rest of the team will have getting open looks. Kanter must learn to take over games. He must learn soon. Or the Jazz will draft a big man in the upcoming draft.
Derrick Favors ($6 million)
Derrick is not doing the Jazz any favors (pun intended) by averaging just over a double-double every night. With the money he's getting they need him to be scoring at least 20-10 or close to it every night -- and he's not even coming close to that number.
That said, and I will reiterate it, now that he's playing center in place of Kanter, his success at that position could make the Big Turk expendable and as we've seen already, Lindsey will trade you for two mules and a box of dish soap -- so long as he gets a "trade exception" in return.
Favors is quickly becoming a top defensive talent in the entire league. His stat line should be about 16 points 15 rebounds every night. He is a beast on the boards. Out of all the big men on the team his role is easiest to define: Kill anyone that enters the key.
When Jerry Sloan takes over after the All Star break as Head Coach again, Favors will have a coach that not only wants Favors to play physical -- he will demand it. Favors is going to man the middle of this team for years to come. Do not expect him to score 20-plus. That is simply not his role on this team, nor should it be.
Gordon Hayward ($3.45 million)
Gordon Hayward said everything he needed to say to Jazz brass by having his agent stall on an extension. Did Favors do that? Nope. But hey, let's just see how the rest of the season plays out, right?
So far, here's how the season is shaking out for the Jazz' best player. He is averaging 16.9 points per game, leading the team for the time being. He did go Kobe-style on Houston on Monday, December 2 scoring 29 frigging points (!!!) -- but before that scored 13, 11, and 15 points in his previous three games.
Not exactly All-Star material. But, he is doing the most with the 3rd least yearly earnings as a Jazz starter. Perhaps that counts for something to the GM Lindsey.
If I hear one more person tell me who was drafted after Gordon in that draft (budding superstar Paul George) I might punch this person in their respective face. There is no way anyone can say that one player would be doing what they are doing in Indiana for this Jazz team. It simply isn't the way that works.
Gordon is under more pressure than anyone on this team. It's not fair. This team is only going to win about 20 games. It's not Gordon's fault. He does need to improve his cold shooting streaks by getting to the foul line. Simply attack the hoop. This will get him the points he needs even when in a shooting slump.
Alec Burks ($2 million)
Alec Burks is the new Devin Harris. He is way too careless with the ball, he gets into hot streaks and just when you think he's going to be a team player -- he throws a fit when things aren't going his way. And when things don't go his way, he does something like score two points in a game.
Two points? From a starter? On the flip side, he did score 21 points in Utah's win over the Rockets so he is capable of getting his buckets. The main problem with him is that he cannot play defense -- especially when his shot isn't falling. Then again, he doesn't really play defense even when it is. In fact, he hasn't had one steal in over a month.
Alec is not a starting shooting guard in this league. He is simply not part of the core. He should be coming off the bench. The only reason he gets as many minutes as he does is because Brandon Rush hasn't returned to playing form yet, and when Rush does, he will start.
This is also the position the Jazz will draft next year, as long as the ping pong balls fall in their favor. If Alec can't figure out how to stay focused during an entire game, he will be wearing a new jersey by next season. He isn't ready to play in the NBA. He isn't even better than Richard Jefferson. Who starts? Again, this is Brandon's spot when he is ready to take it.
Trey Burke ($2.45 million)
Trey Burke has proven in a very short time (seven games) that all the hype surrounding his arrival in Utah is warranted. He's already broken the 20-point barrier twice since his return from injury in mid-November, which is more than I can say for a few Jazz starters.
And the really good news is that even when his shot isn't going -- as was the case vs Indiana tonight -- he is getting the ball into other Jazz players for good looks. He's averaging well over 12 points per game and that number is likely to increase as he becomes more comfortable with the offense.
Also, the great John Stockton is beginning to resemble a clairvoyant after predicting that Trey Burke's injury has become a blessing in disguise for the rookie from Michigan.
The little finger that went snap. At the time it seemed like a huge break. In fact it seems to have given Trey time to watch. Learn. And step right in as the most important player on this young team. Since his return, the Jazz are winning. The Jazz are a must-watch, young team.
Trey is quickly becoming my favorite player on the team. All the criticism about him being too small is absurd. Kid can play. I know there is another young point guard playing very well in Philly. Again, that doesn't mean those stats translate to this Utah team.
That's not the way it works. Trey is the perfect point guard for the Jazz. He is the reason they will go from a 13 winning team to closer to the 20 something wins that was predicted by the Non Believer before the season.
Our guest columnist "Non-Believer" is actor/comedian Jim Stevens. You've seen him on Arctic Circle commercials playing the "dorky astronaut", and as one of the infamous "Stevens Brothers" in Adam Sandler's cult classic "Punch-Drunk Love."
Jim also teaches acting, and more information is available at: http://thesugarspace.com/classes/actors-anonymous-with-jim-stevens/