Thanks for Paul George, Utah: Pacers vs. Jazz preview

By Dave Searle (@DaveSearle)

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Did you have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend? I did too, thanks for asking!

Let’s take a minute and take stock of what we are thankful for in the Pacerland. We are thankful for the 16-2 start, certainly. We are thankful for the health of all players not named Granger. We are thankful that Lance didn’t go full-on heel when he got disqualified in the Portland game, simply slamming the scorer’s table instead of (gulp) jumping into the stands.

Most of all? We are thankful of Paul George. And who do we have to thank for that? The Utah Jazz.

In the 2010 NBA Draft, there were a few certainties. John Wall was going #1, everyone was afraid (but intrigued) of DeMarcus Cousins, and the Utah Jazz needed a swingman. The Jazz had Jefferson & Millsap up front, and perennial All-Star Deron Williams holding down point guard duties. None of those guys were budging. Only a 2 or a 3 made sense with the 9th pick if the Jazz were serious about building a title contender with the pieces they had.

The Pacers were drafting at 10, one slot below the Jazz. Indiana had their eye on some small forward from Fresno State. Would Paul George be available at the 10 slot, or would the Jazz snag him first?

Look, I’m not Nostradamus. I thought Ike Diogu was a future All-Star when the Pacers acquired him in the Golden State trade. I thought about buying a Sarunas Jasikevicius jersey. I’m an idiot when it comes to evaluating potential talent.

However, on draft night, I – and many other Pacers fans – were on our knees, praying that the Jazz would take Gordon Hayward. We wanted no part of Hayward, and we wanted PG bad.

Sure, Hayward almost made this shot:

Almost-made miracle shots don’t necessarily translate into NBA stardom. Future stars need elite size and athleticism. They need explosiveness. They need hops. They need huge wingspans and “basketball IQs”. They need all of those cheap, throw-way words that draft pundits use to express one thing: This kid has the Big P. This kid has potential. Real potential.

Hayward didn’t have it. Paul George did.

The Utah Jazz didn’t feel that way. So they snapped up the Butler star, and Pacers fans rejoiced.

Thank you, Utah. Thank you.

Check out this off-linked article to CBS Sports’ 2010 NBA draft grades if you haven’t recently:

NO. 9: JAZZ SELECT: GORDAN HAYWARD, SF, BUTLER GRADE
Analysis: The Jazz’s inexperience in the lottery shows. You don’t draft winners at 9, you draft talent. C
NO. 10: PACERS SELECT: PAUL GEORGE, SF, FRESNO STATE GRADE
Analysis: Larry Bird admitted the club’s biggest need was a point guard. With another shooter now onboard, that weakness is even more glaring. F

First part? Nailed it! (Except for misspelling “Gordon”, but whatever). Giving the Paul George pick an F? Well, we aren’t all Nostradamus. How is Ike Diogu doing you guys?

Trey Burke

Reminder: Trey Burke is healthy and playing for the Jazz. He was an expected ROY candidate out of the draft. The Jazz are 3-2 with Burke in the starting lineup with wins over the Bulls, Suns, and Rockets.

Trey is shooting under 40% with 12.6 points and under 4 assists per game. Doesn’t seem like Burke is carrying the team on his back or anything. We certainly haven’t been watching any Jazz games voluntarily, so we have no insight into Burke’s influence on the team.

Perhaps the Jazz has improved with the simple addition of one extra quality player? With Burke, Hayward, Favors, and Kanter, that’s like four competent players. Thats not a lot, but it is better than three right?

Anyway, Burke is playing. FYI.

Jamaal Tinsley

Tinsley was signed by the Jazz when Burke went down. He averaged just over one point on 20% shooting in 8 games (5 starts) and was waived.

I could do a bunch of Tinsley jokes, but why bring up the past? 16-2 baby! Onwards and upwards, we say!

Instead, enjoy this lukewarm YouTube mix of Tinsley’s Top 10 Plays:

The lesson? Tinsley really likes going between opponent’s legs. And being caught in cars outside nightclubs with “his friend’s” weed.

 

Nope, nope, nope! I promised I wouldn’t! Let’s move on.

Bold Predictions

Lance Stephenson will dive for a loose ball and end up in the stands, knocking over a Mormon lady’s Diet Coke (they will hug it out). Derrick Favors will make eye contact with David West exactly once before staring at the floor the rest of the game. Paul George with make a step-back jumper that makes Hayward cry on the inside, followed by PG whispering “max contract” in his ear.

Final Score

The Blazers swatted at the hornet’s nest. The Pacers will be in full-on revenge mode in this game. Pacers 97, Jazz 79

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