The Utah Jazz are 0-8. They weren’t expected to be very good — or any good, depending on how you look at it — but they’re just plain turrible through the first couple of weeks. They’re losing by an average of 14 points per game; the last six games, they’ve lost by double digits (the last loss is embedded above). Meanwhile, the Suns — who were supposed to be historically, possibly-they’re-just-tanking awful — are 5-2 and leading the Pacific Division; their head coach is Jeff Hornacek, who is likely fairly familiar to most Jazz fans.
The Jazz were bad in 2004-2005 (26 wins), but haven’t been last in the Western Conference since 1979-80. Since 1983-84, they’ve only missed the playoffs five times. That’s actually kinda remarkable if you think about it. They contended for a playoff spot for the better part of the stretch run last year; that would mean that in almost 30 years, they would have missed the playoffs a scant four times. They do kind of have an ‘always the bridesmaid, never the bride’ vibe going on, though.
Many are already writing this year off:
The 2014-2015 Utah Jazz preview show airs tonight 5:30-10 pm on ESPN.—
Rick Aaron (@RickAaron) November 12, 2013
With the first pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Utah Jazz picks… Andrew Wiggins.
It’s true the 2014 draft is loaded, and the current Jazz roster is fairly young – Derrick Favors is 22 and Gordon Hayward is 23, for example — but how did this year’s team get so bad, so quickly? Youth is one reason. Injuries are another; Trey Burke is only now getting ready to play, and Marvin Williams and Brandon Rush are being slowly worked into the rotation. Tyrone Corbin could be part of the problem, too. They’re also woefully inept on offense — dead last in PPG (under 87) and dead last in shooting percentage (a little over 40). They’re beginning the bottom third of the league in rebounding, and have a negative (-1.9) rebounding differential as well. They’ve trailed by more than 25 at some point in half their games. Jamaal Tinsley is now gone, too; it looks like John Lucas III (6.6 PPG / 2.1 APG) is getting the PG reins for the time being.
Andre Miller — who played his college ball in Utah, mind you — is 37 and crossing up the Jazz to the tune of no one even near him in the paint. Goddamn. Apparently, Kendall Marshall or Jimmer Fredette could come in (Marshall is in no man’s land in PHX with the emergence of Eric Bledsoe; Fredette was never a fit with the Kings). Hey, Gilbert Arenas is apparently also still available somewhere.
Jazz fans are already trying to predict their first win; their schedule isn’t kind. They play an improved Pelicans team, an elite Spurs team, two against an elite Warriors team, the Pelicans again, the Mavericks … (that’s a possible win) … then OKC, the Chicago Bulls, two against Phoenix, Houston, and then Sacramento. It’s theoretically possible that their first win might not come until that SAC game, which would keep them winless through December 7th (I missed an @Portland game in there that they might also win). It’s doubtful the run will last that long, but … through eight games, this is a historically bad team.
In all likelihood, this season will go up in flames, Ty Corbin will be the fall guy, they’ll go get a hotshot young coach (or a grizzled veteran ala George Karl, who has logged time in that part of America coaching the Nuggets), have a top-three pick, get someone good, try and re-sign Hayward, and go from there. The team will likely be back in playoff contention within 2-3 years, pending moves and injuries. It does seem like the natives are restless, though: