1320 KFAN Sports Reporter Ben "Napoleon" Wilson (@napoleonKFAN)
The Utah Jazz will play game 2 of a 3 game road swing tonight. Jazz Coach Tyrone Corbin has described this 3 game road trip as a "business trip" for the team. They certainly took care of business in game 1 on Wednesday as they took it to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Atlanta Hawks will be a better challenge for the Jazz, but don't be fooled by their 20-14 record, which has them sitting in the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference standings. Atlanta has lost 4 in a row at the hands of Detroit, Boston, Minnesota, and Cleveland. Those 4 teams have a combined 56-84 record this season (.400). Atlanta has struggled to find offense in the 4 game skid, scoring more than 84 just once in the losing streak.
Atlanta forward Josh Smith said, "Things aren't going too good for us right now. You're going to have struggles like this throughout the season. We've got to get back to playing beautiful basketball."
Just don't expect Atlanta "to get back to playing beautiful basketball" vs. the Jazz tonight. The Jazz are finding their stride behind solid play from the developing core of younger players. Sixth Man of the Year candidate Gordon Hayward is blistering the nets from behind the money line as he's 8 of 10 from 3 in the last 2 games. Add to that the solid play of Jazz big men Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors who combined for 55 total points in Charlotte, and you have a Jazz squad that seems to be finding their stride.
It is odd that the Jazz' success has come on the heels of a thumb injury and surgury that has Mo Williams sidelined for at least 5 more weeks. The Jazz have found an interesting change of pace by playing the long 6'6" swingman, Alec Burks, at point to backup Jamal Tinsley. Burks is averaging 20 minutes of playing time per game in January and is making the most of his opportunity with 9 points and 3 boards per game in the 5 January games. He does have an ugly assist to turnover ratio that will need improvement if Burks wants to see meaningful playing time at the point against good competition.
1320 KFAN personalities Kevin Graham, Kyle Gunther, and Sean O’Connell have told you on the air that Tyrone Corbin needs to be getting the younger players more playing time. I asked all 3 if they were satisfied with the recent rotation and if they feel like Corbin is playing his younger talent enough. Here are their takes:
Kyle Gunther, "The 2011 season showed us why the Jazz need to move on from their veteran core. The youth of this team has potential to develop into a solid group of NBA players but they cannot continue their growth without a significant role on the Jazz. Developing Favors, Hayward, Kanter, and Burks is the only way to advance the Utah Jazz as an organization. If the Jazz continue to invest in B list players, we will continue to see the Jazz flounder in irrelevancy." Follow Gunther on Twitter: @guntherKFAN
Kevin Graham, "I firmly believe the younger guys should be playing more. I thought that a year ago as well. The sooner these guys develop the sooner the fanbase of this franchise can start believing that this team can become a legitimate contender. The problem as I see it is the Jazz are still trying to balance the business side (make the playoffs and make money) with the future. If they would commit to the youth, and allow Ty Corbin to play them more the business side will take care of itself as this team grows. Until then, you get what you see—basically a .500 basketball team." Follow Graham on Twitter: @KevinGrahamKFAN
Sean O'connell, "Even with the increased time for Hayward and Burks in January, it's still not enough from Corbin. Favors and Kanter aren't playing nearly enough. Play the young guns. 'Old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do to survive.' Tupac" Follow Sean on Twitter: @OCkfan
Notes: Marvin Williams is OUT for this game with inflammation in his right knee. Williams was drafted by the Hawks in 2005 and played there for 7 seasons before being traded to the Jazz for Devin Harris....Atlanta has won five out of the last six matchups including the most recent matchup when the Hawks defeated the Jazz on 3/25/12 in quadruple overtime....Atlanta native Derrick Favors will be home for his mother's birthday thanks to the schedule. "I get to go back home, see her, do something for her real quick, so I'm happy about it", said Favors of the provident scheduling.