In classical mechanics, momentum is the product of the mass and the velocity of an object. We’re talking direction and magnitude. Newtonian stuff.
If we were to observe and to measure the Utah Jazz’s momentum using their 2011-12 roster (with individual player PPG, MPG, years in the league, etc.) and 2010-11 stats, what could we hope to expect for the current season?*
In the Northwest division, the Utah Jazz collectively rank 4th in average player points per game, with 7.3 points. Denver ranks highest at 7.9, and Oklahoma lands last, not far behind the Jazz, at 7.2.
The Jazz’s leading scorers are center Al Jefferson (18.6 per game) and forward Paul Milsap (17.3). Surprisingly it is guard Devin Harris, a late season transplant via the infamous Deron Williams trade (with rookie Derrick Favors), who rounded the third spot with 15.2 points per game. Harris beat out forwards C.J. Miles and Andrei Kirilenko, who posted 12.8 and 11.7 ppg respectively.
In the Northwest, the Jazz tie the Nuggets for the most veteran squad. Both list a team average of 6.1 years. Utah’s elders are Raja Bell (11 years), Andrei (10), and Earl Watson (10). They average 27.2 minutes per night, but only 8 ppg. Utah’s youth and promise consist of rookies Alec Burks (guard) and Enes Kanter (center) and last season’s freshmen class with Gordan Hayward, Derrick Favors, and Jeremy Evans. The freshmen combined for an average of 66 games, 15 mpg, and 5.3 ppg.
In short, statistically speaking, it appears that the Jazz will provide us with a mediocre, middle of the division season. With that said, let’s not forget that Newton’s Third Law assumes that an object’s momentum will remain unchanged only in a closed system. In the real world, or in the N.B.A., there are forces at work/variables that will counteract the numbers, for better or for worse. The freshmen class, the new editions, the finally healthy (can I get an ‘Okur’?!), could alter the dynamic.
*Note: The above assertions rely on 1) an actual season, and 2) an unchanged roster for all Northwest teams during the 2011-2012 season. Although two weeks of the regular season have been canceled and at least two more are expected to go soon, commissioner David Stern believes he can still deliver an 82-game season even if starts in December. (The ol’ back-end approach.)