I always read national columns on the Utah Jazz with grain of salt. I find it interesting to see the national perspective of the team, but at the same time most of these writers don’t follow the Jazz like we the fans and the local beat writers do. You could make a case that most teams in the west have that same problem unless you’re the Lakers and more recently, the Clippers. It’s just a fact of life with following a small market team and I’m ok with that. Many of these writers are based out of the East Coast and they follow more closely the Eastern Conference teams, which is fine because that tends to happen in most of professional sports. What I’m not ok with is when the analysis of the Jazz offseason goes something like this: “The Jazz didn’t trade Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap at the deadline getting nothing in return and letting them walk. They got rid of all their veteran players, made a trade with Golden State receiving nothing in return but a lousy late 1st round pick in next years draft and in 2017. The Jazz are in full tank mode.” Everytime I read something along those lines I think to myself “Wow? Really? How long did that analysis take you? 5 minutes?” The consensus is the Jazz are tanking and it’s going to be a long year.
There are a few exceptions of course. Zach Lowe of Grantland does a great job with the pieces he writes. It’s quite obvious he takes the time to really research the team he is writing about and that is very true when it comes to the Jazz. He’s thoughtful, insightful and makes great points to his arguments. I may not agree 100% of the time but for the most part I enjoy reading what he has to say. ESPN also has a pretty positive outlook on the Jazz. I have a lot of respect for the work that Chad Ford does especially with the draft. Yesterday he posted his first mock draft for the 2014 NBA Draft. ESPN’s projected win-loss record for the Jazz is 32-50. I for one would be very ok with that record. That record gives the Jazz the 8th pick in Ford’s mock. To me that does not say “tanking” at all. It’s the type of effort I expect from the Jazz.
The effort the Jazz organization expects from their players is what will set them apart from other teams that are going young this year. Let’s be very clear that there is a BIG difference between going young and tanking. The national media thinks the Jazz got a bad deal in their trade with the Warriors? How about the Celtics gift wrapping Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to the Nets? What did they get in return? A few players that were not happy AT ALL to be traded that’s for sure. The players the Jazz received from the Warriors are looking at this opportunity with the Jazz in a very positive light and are excited for the chance to contribute to a team again. Brandon Rush wants to prove he can stay healthy, Andris Biedrins wants to prove he’s still a productive big man, and Richard Jefferson probably wants to prove to a contending team that he’s worth trading for at the deadline.
The young players on this roster have been biding their time, learning from veterans and waiting for their opportunity. Now they have it and I expect them to seize it and give it all they have. Are there going to be growing pains? Absolutely. Are there going to be some blowouts to veteran teams? Of course. This team will most likely lose more games than they win and that’s ok. The winning culture of the organization can sustain a season of losing as long as the effort being put forward is a winning one and it builds the foundation for future success. This is what Dennis Lindsey and Coach Corbin will be working toward this season. These young players are going to be giving maximum effort. Teams will have to play hard to beat them. The 32-50 projection by ESPN is a very fair assessment because I believe it takes into account these factors. This is why we as fans can continue to support this team and be proud of them. We may end up with a bad record and a high draft pick but it won’t be due to quitting or a front office mandate. We’re going to be watching a lot of young players and young veterans wanting to prove their worth and it’s going to be fun to watch. We know this because we follow them but it is nice to know there are others outside of Utah that can see it too.