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Morning links: Jazz get national attention; Charles Barkley rants; reaction to BYU's facility upgrades

In 2012, the basketball world got to know Jeremy Evans when the Jazz forward went to NBA All-Star Weekend and won the Sprite Slam Dunk Contest.

A year later Evans returned to defend his crown and dunked over a painting of him dunking.

The artsy dunk wasn’t enough to take home the title for the second straight year, and now the painting sits in Evans’ home as a reminder of what may become his brightest NBA moment.

With the 2015 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest happening Saturday, USA Today tackles how dunk contest prestige can cast a shadow over NBA careers that become grounded when the games begin again. Evans, who hasn’t been able to crack Jazz coach Quin Snyder’s rotation, is one of the athletes featured.

Evans’ teammate Rudy Gobert also got the national treatment. Grantland.com did a piece about the resurgence of big men throughout the league and featured some mighty fine compliments about the Jazz’s second-year center.

“He is the NBA’s Godzilla,” Zach Lowe writes. “Opponents are shooting just 37 percent on close shots when Gobert is near the rim — the stingiest number among all rotation big men, per NBA.com.”

Lowe also discusses how specifically Gobert has improved in Year 2, and how he and forward Derrick Favors are learning how to play together.

In much of the piece, analytics are used to help prove points and observations, something basketball hall of famer and current TNT analyst Charles Barkley would probably scoff at.

TNT was broadcasting the Suns vs. Rockets game, and Houston GM Daryl Morey, who is one of the league’s top apologists for the use of analytics in basketball, tweeted, “Best part of being at a TNT game live is it is easy to avoid Charles spewing misinformed biased vitriol disguised as entertainment.”

During "Inside the NBA" following the contest, Barkley responded to the tweet with a rant about his views on analytics.


“I’ve always believed analytics was crap,” he said. “Analytics don’t work at all. It’s just some crap some people who were really smart made up to try and get into the game, cuz they had no talent.

“Smart guys wanted to fit in so they made up a term called analytics... All these guys who run these organizations who talk about analytics, they have one thing in common: They are a bunch of guys who ain’t never played the game and they never got the girls in high school and they just want to get in the game.”

On Friday, Barkley will participate in a panel on analytics as part of All-Star Weekend, and based off his comments that should be interesting to say the least.

Best from Twitter:

BYU announced plans to update the Marriott Center and build a new basketball facility on Tuesday. Here are some of the reactions from Twitter.

Other Links:

— Atlanta's Kyle Korver will replace Dwyane Wade on the East All-Star team. Korver is now the fourth member of the Hawks to be named an all-star, joining fellow former Jazzman Paul Millsap.

— ESPN’s Pac-12 blog takes a look at how teams in the Pac-12 South did in close games this past football season.

— The U.S. Little League champion Chicago-based Jackie Robinson West has been stripped of its title.

— Can Magic Johnson help get an NFL team to Los Angeles?

— New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gave his Super Bowl MVP prize truck to cornerback Malcolm Butler, who made the championship-saving interception.