Monday, April 23, 2012

The Most Important Day of The Season

Tomorrow (or today on the East coast if I don't finish this post in the next 7 minutes) is the most important day of the season for the Utah Jazz.  The team is playing the Phoenix Suns.  Currently the Jazz are a game ahead of the Suns and just barely in contention for the playoffs.  If the Jazz win this game they are guaranteed a playoff spot as both teams only have a game left after tomorrow.  If the Jazz lose they could still get into the playoffs by beating the pathetic excuse for a northwestern team the Portland Trail Blazers.  For this to work the Suns would have to lose their final game to the Spurs.  That's pretty unlikely, as the Spurs clinched the top Western conference seed tonight and are highly likely to kickback, relax, and let Cory Joseph and Kawhi Leonard do the heavy lifting necessary for a 60 point game.  Since the Jazz have already lost twice to the Suns, the Suns have the tie breaker.  So tomorrow the Jazz, in front of a fully charged and terrifying home crowd, will likely play the game that will determine whether or not they will have the honor of losing in 5 to Joseph and Leonard.  But due to the whims of a mad, Caligula like despot, the Jazz owe their draft pick to the Minnesota Timberwolves if they make the playoffs.  This being a year that pretty much everyone agrees is ripe with draft talent, this might not be a trade worth making.  Although the playoffs would shore up this young Jazz team and provide them with some maturity on which to build, maturity can only get you so far.  What the team needs is a point guard and with both Kendall Marshall and Damien Lillard potentially in play, I'm not sure if a brief trip to the playoffs now is worth losing out on this golden opportunity.

Fear not, Jazz fans/others who come to join in my wisdom!  The Jazz still have a shot at a draft pick, and one significantly higher than the 14th or so that they would get based on their own mix of skills and ingenuity.  By some twist of fate too crazy for the Marvel Universe, but barely comprehendible in a universe with this, the Jazz also have the Golden State Warriors' draft pick.  The Warriors, you say.  They're terrible.  Ah, but hopefully they're not too terrible, as this pick is, my uninformed friend, protected if the team gets any of the first 7 draft picks.  Currently the Warriors are the 8th worst team in the league.  But two of the teams with worse records than them are the New Jersey Nets and the Toronto Raptors.  These horrible teams will play each other on Thursday.  Although everyone who watches this game will lose, one of the teams will have to win.  The Warriors are currently only one game back from these two teams, and they lose the tie breaker to both teams.  The Warriors have currently been on a tanking tear, which shows little sign of slowing down, despite their accidental win yesterday against the Timberwolves.  But the unstoppable momentum of this gleeful tanking may soon come up against the immovable object that is the New Orleans Hornets, playing in Oakland.  The Hornets are truly awful this year, and it is not at all clear to me that you can lose to them on your home court even if you try.  That game is also going down tomorrow.  It is possible that the Warriors could lose it, but still come away as the 8th (or even 9th, as they win [or for them lose] the tie breaker with Detroit) worst team in the NBA.  The team also plays the Spurs on the last day of basketball operations.  This Spurs team will be resting its starters and playing off of a back to back in Oakland.  But still.  I feel like with the Warriors with their tanking tanks on full can still outlose the Spurs, who won't be trying to lose just, you know, to nap.

So I think tomorrow is make or break for this Jazz team.  They could end up going to the playoffs AND getting a great draft pick.  They could go to the playoffs with no draft pick.  Or they could miss the playoffs and get the crummy remnants of a once deep draft.  Of course, the Warriors could always win tomorrow and then win the luck of the draw and end up as one of the teams with a top 3 draft pick.  But barring any unforseen insanity, like Joseph and Leonard overperforming against the Suns or underperforming against the Warriors, tomorrow will determine the fate of the Jazz's future.

And wouldn't you know it, it takes me too long to type.  Tomorrow is already today.  It will likely be one of the most important for the Jazz since they traded Deron Williams and for many years to come.  Let's hope it's a kind one.

1 comment:

  1. According to John Hollinger, here is how things would go down if the Warriors are able to end their wretched season with a perfect tank:

    "The Warriors are currently No. 8 from the bottom in the win column, but will end up in a tie for No. 7 because somebody has to win the Toronto-New Jersey game on Thursday. If the lottery goes to form, that means the status of the Warriors' pick will come down to a random draw at the league office, which I believe would be held on Friday."

    This means that, even if they allow Eric Gordon to score 40 points, they still may have to surrender the pick. Which would be awesome. A quick note about tanking and why I do not think it is as big of a problem as others do: it is not really rewarding teams who intentionally fail. Rather, it is offering them the potential of reward (reward being more wins and more money for the franchise). Most of the teams that decide to tank are so bad and so poorly managed that they will inevitably screw up, even if they are given some nice pieces from the draft. So in the end, while it still hurts the league, the real problem is not tanking but horrible ownership/management. For this I blame David Stern, as I do for most problems in America today.