Diehlman at Halftime: An NBA column

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I feel like the NBA is going through an upside-down phase. You know how we all rebelled against something when we were teenagers? Well, the NBA is rebelling against normalcy.

Teams that should be good, like the Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, are at the bottom of the standings. Teams like the Utah Jazz and Portland Blazers are flying high in their conference.

If you need more proof that the league is weird right now, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bassist Flea called on the Lakers to stop wasting LeBron James’ twilight years. I didn’t know he was a Lakers fan, but he would probably do a better job at running the team than Lakers’ GM Rob Pelinka!

Also, NBA senior insider Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the league is proposing a new system in regard to the luxury tax.

Basically, the luxury tax prevents big-market squads from re-signing all of their players and leaving the small-market teams with non-competitive rosters. The National Basketball Player’s Association, or NBPA, apparently doesn’t view this proposal in a favorable light. I’m very interested to see how this disagreement gets resolved.

So, who’s raising eyebrows at the moment?

Highlight

Someone must have forgotten to tell the Utah Jazz that the formula they’re currently following usually results in chaos. Trade away your two best players in the same offseason + hire a rookie head coach + be in Utah’s small market = a train wreck.

However, the Jazz are 5-2, which is tied for the third seed in the Western Conference. Utah has looked great so far this season, and the amount of draft picks they received from the Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert trades should set them up nicely for the future.

Their — unique — starting five consists of Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen, Kelly Olynyk and Jarred Vanderbilt. Head coach Will Hardy, despite only being 34 years old, has had experience as an assistant under Spurs’ head coach Gregg Popovich and Ime Udoka of the Celtics.

Of course, this hot start could be a mirage. Maybe Utah will only end up with 20 wins by the end of the season. Nonetheless, it seems like Hardy’s message is that the Jazz won’t go down without a fight.

Lowlight

As we saw in the opener, Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers told the Lakers to stop wasting LeBron James’ career.

The Lakers are tied with the Nets for the second-worst record in the NBA at 1-5. It’s so bad that the Sacramento Kings of all teams have a better record than them — and they’re 1-4!

On Friday, Oct. 28, against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Purple and Gold brought Russell Westbrook off the bench for the first time since his rookie year. He put up 18 points on 17 shots, along with grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out three dimes.

Things have not gone the Lakers’ way ever since they won the “bubble ring” or “Mickey Mouse ring” in 2020. In the two completed seasons since then, the Lakers have been bounced out of the first round and missed the playoffs entirely.

I’ve even heard media personnel say the team should trade James. This team doesn’t look ready to be a strong contender this year. Now, we wait to see if head coach Darvin Ham can steer L.A. in the right direction.

Random Stat

So, I guess this week’s “Diehlman at Halftime” will only revolve around the Jazz and Lakers. Cool.

The stat you’re about to read is impressive. Utah’s Kelly Olynyk is shooting 64% from beyond the arc so far this season! Through seven games, Olynyk has made 16 of 25 attempts.

Usually, as the season progresses the average three-point percentage for an NBA player is between 35-36%. The 31-year-old former big man from Gonzaga has moved around the NBA in his career, as he played four years with Boston, three and a half with Miami and ending the year in Houston, and last year with Detroit.

He’s averaging 13.7 points per game, 4.1 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.3 steals in his first year in Utah. I never expected Olynyk to start for the Jazz, but here we are. Although he was on some bad Rockets and Pistons teams, it’s good to see him getting quality playing time now.

For what it’s worth, the NBA record for three-point percentage in a season is 53.6% by Kyle Korver back in the 2009-10 season — when he was on the Jazz.

For comments/questions about this story tweet @TheWhitSports.

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