In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell discusses the time and repetitions needed for someone to master his or her craft. The Beatles played for years in Germany before their British Invasion. Bill Gates was exposed to computers at a young age when the rest of the country had limited access, giving him a head start in the programming world.
The Jazz, with their young core, is learning how to win basketball games. Late in their Monday night loss to the Boston Celtics, head coach Ty Corbin went with a young lineup made up of inexperienced players. The moment proved to be a great lesson for the younger Jazz players. Paul Pierce was their master, however, and put a dagger in their hearts in overtime.
One could go back to the overtime and rehash the mistakes made, the timid attack in the face of Boston’s aggressive defense, but the main point made Monday is the Jazz have the talent to compete with any team in the league on a nightly basis. The key will be learning how to get over the hump and make winning plays, the plays that ultimately determine an average NBA team from a contender.
Fans look at the players on the Jazz and expect the most out of them. It is fair for fans to expect only the best; they buy the tickets and merchandise used to pay the players salary. But sometimes we want the players to perform at a skill level they have not put in the time to achieve.
In the crucial overtime swing, DeMarre Carroll drew the responsibility of guarding Pierce. Pierce has played in 1,082 regular season NBA games, has taken countless field goal attempts, made 44 percent of those shots and averaged 21 points per game. Carroll has played in 157 games and averages only four points per game over his career.
When the Jazz made their run in the fourth quarter to erase the Celtics lead, it was with a group whose most experienced players were Carroll, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, who have been in the league for three years each. The Celtics had Kevin Garnett and Pierce on the floor, who on their own had more NBA experience than our entire lineup combined.
Jazz fans see the promise this team is capable of, but expect the inexperienced Jazz to run before they crawl. The core four lineup has moved on from crawling to walking, but they still are not at the full sprint some Jazz fans expect.
The argument can be made that Corbin needs to bite the bullet and play this younger group more. He did this against the Celtics, and he had positive results. The younger players brought the Jazz back in the fourth. Hayward showed great leadership, scoring crucial baskets throughout the game, finishing with 26 points. Derrick Favors disrupted Garnett during the fourth, making the future Hall of Fame player ineffective.
But it also bit the Jazz in the end. Hayward forced up some bad shots when he should have attacked the basket in the fourth. Favors picked up silly fouls early in the game, forcing Corbin to pull him when he picked up his fifth with almost seven minutes remaining. Burks lack of time at the point slowed the Jazz offense in overtime, resulting in poor shots at the end of the shot clock.
The Jazz still need to invest more time in the young players before they will produce at the level of a Pierce or Garnett. It is unreasonable for Jazz fans to expect the same high, consistent production from this group, but should rather enjoy watching their progression into great NBA players. They will lose some games along the way, and will not compete for the championship this season, but their walk will turn into a sprint before too long.