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Monson: Jazz will win a title this year (just kidding)

Published October 9, 2013 9:17 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Anybody give a flying fat burrito about a Jazz preseason game?

I never have — until now. But not for the outcome and not to draw any lasting conclusions.

Eighty-two regular-season games typically are more than enough. Who cares about games that are treated differently, games that don't feature minutes dispensed the way they'll be doled out for real, games whose final margins matter about as much as a Miley Cyrus twerk up against a white rapper nobody over the age of 30 has ever heard of?

Sorry. I took that point one disgusting freeway exit too far.

You get the deal: Show me an outfit that places much meaning in winning preseason games, and I'll show you … wait, no outfit places much meaning in winning preseason games.

Gordon Hayward said it right: "You can't read too much into it."

"It" was the score on the board — Jazz 101, Golden State 78 — at EnergySolutions Arena on Tuesday night. Everybody knew it carried little weight. "It's an exhibition game," coach Tyrone Corbin said. But he also admitted his excitement over his team's performance, calling it "encouraging."

Preseason Game 1 was the launch of a project and a first glimpse at a few things, such as … how the Jazz's young players moved, how the young players had polished their games during the offseason, how the young players ran the floor, how the young players fit together, how the young players D'd up, how the young players worked.

They moved and polished and ran and fit and D'd up and worked pretty well. And, yeah, they won … not that it mattered.

"We competed," Corbin said. "Everybody gave us something."

A few early observations, in limited minutes all around, from what took place here, some of them not all that surprising:

Derrick Favors played some wicked low-post defense (three blocked shots) and rebounded (14 boards). Rookie Trey Burke looked calm, but inefficient (12 points, 9 missed shots, 3 assists, 1 turnover). "I just played," he said. Alec Burks was an offensive spark off the bench (14 points). "I hope so," he said. Jeremy Evans showed some board work and nice touch on his shots (13 rebounds, 12 points). John Lucas replaced Burke and led an early comeback (16 points). The Jazz played decent team defense (Golden State shot 32 percent).

In a game that didn't … well, you know.

"They outworked us," Warriors coach Mark Jackson said.

In truth, even when the games do count, victory this year is just a bit more than semi-optional, but not much. That's right. Welcome to 2013-14, the season that winning forgot, the season of development and discovery, the season that is an extended preseason, a season of seasoning.

The over-under out of Vegas on total number of wins the Jazz will get this time around is 27.5. That's one-and-a-half games more than the club won during 2004-05, a modern franchise low point, a season during which most of the marginal talent on the team had various body parts fall off, and a huge departure from the Jazz norm.

But this entire new season is an anomaly. The preseason is an anomaly.

It's the Jazz channeling a backward step or two in the specific and a forward push in the comprehensive.

It's a glimpse at the Jazz's future. Forget about the past, forget about the present, forget everything you once held true about the Utah Jazz. The whole win-now thing is history. This is about winning tomorrow. This is a rebuilding job unlike anything since the season after Stockton and Malone walked out the door.

But this is different, more organized than back then.

It's not as though the Jazz are starting from scratch. Tuesday night, they had five lottery picks on the floor who are 23 or younger.

"We'll grow this year," Corbin said.

It's growing season, then, not winning time. Although, maybe the Jazz won't have quite as many pains as some are projecting them to have. It's a season for them to find out which of those youngsters are worth keeping, which are worth paying large sums of money, which are worth forming into what next year's team — along with another lottery pick — will be expected to be: winners.




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