COMMENTARY | While Tyrone Corbin and the Utah Jazz (7-21) are playing a sad tune in the Western Conference cellar, Jeff Hornacek and the Phoenix Suns (14-10) are rising to the upper echelon of the standings.
Unfortunately, for Utah, it could've been the other way around.
At the end of the 2012-13 season, after the Jazz missed the playoffs with an ugly 16-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, team officials decided to keep Corbin (who had collected an 87-89 record in 2 1/2 seasons) and let his assistant, Hornacek, leave for Planet Orange.
Since that time, Hornacek has completely rejuvenated the Suns.
After winning just 25 games last year, and losing solid veterans like Jared Dudley, Luis Scola and Marcin Gortat over the summer, Phoenix was expected to be bad again (and maybe even worse) this season. But Hornacek's squad has won 14 games in 22 tries and currently sits in the seventh spot in the playoff race.
Read his interviews about the Suns' success and you'll see the same words over and over again.
Effort. Confidence. Teamwork.
Concepts that the Jazz have yet to implement on a consistent basis. As a team, the Jazz are ranked 27th in points per game, 26th in rebounds, 25th in assists and 22nd in points allowed.
Meanwhile, the Suns have put together a borderline top-five offense, and by finding the right roles for each player, Hornacek has every one of his guys playing the best ball of their careers. Take, for instance, the Morris twins.
After shooting 39.9 and 40.7 percent from the field in 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively, Markieff is connecting on 49.5 percent of his shots this year. Likewise, Marcus, who shot 29.6 and 42.2 in each of his first two seasons, is now knocking down 47 percent of his attempts.
What may be more impressive than the performance of the Morris Bros. is the play of former Indiana Pacers players Gerald Green and Miles Plumlee.
Green has upped his scoring average from 7 points per game a year ago to 12.3 this year, while Plumlee has developed into one of the best sophomores in the association. After warming the bench his rookie season, he's now seeing about 28 minutes per game as the Suns' starting center, averaging 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2 blocks.
And, of course, the backcourt of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe has morphed into one of the league's best, combining for 38.2 points and 12.4 assists per outing.
Yes, all the losing may give the Jazz a top pick in this summer's draft, but without someone like Hornacek, whose No. 14 hangs in the rafters at EnergySolutions Arena, will Utah's collection of lottery picks ever reach their potential?
Jared Bray is a regular contributor for Yahoo Sports covering the Utah Jazz. He also reports in English and Tagalog (a language he picked up while serving a church mission in the Philippines) as the Salt Lake City correspondent for The Filipino Channel's "Balitang America."
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