Wednesday, September 22, 2010

2010-2011 Utah Jazz

Deron Williams is still one of the top three point guards in the league with Andrei Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur consistantly by his side, but now he has to adjust to swapping out Carlos Boozer for Al Jefferson, Ronnie Brewer for Raja Bell, and Chris Matthews for Gordon Hayward. I think D-Will is gonna be able to handle it.

2010-2011 Utah Jazz

Point Guard: Deron Williams/Ronnie Price/Earl Watson
Shooting Guard: C.J. Miles/Raja Bell/Sundiata Gaines
Small Forward: Andrei Kirilenko/Gordon Hayward/Jeremy Evans
Power Forward: Al Jefferson/Paul Millsap
Center: Mehmet Okur/Francisco Elson

There's a very solid argument to be made that Al Jefferson will eclipse Carlos Boozer's impact on the floor with ease. I tend to vouch for that side of the argument. Jefferson is a monster. The point guards he's had over his career have been Delonte West, Sebastian Telfair, Marko Jaric, and Jonny Flynn. Taking in all that information ... I think AJ's in for a career year. He's mobile enough to be moderately effective in the pick-and-roll, but his main boost will simply come from Williams creating for him. With Jefferson's length, he'll be an easy target no matter where Williams is on the floor and he'll find him on target every time. This eliminates any excessive decision-making from Al's side (which is a good thing). Now he can just go in there to rebound and score. Okur's going to be giving him plenty of room to work as he'll be three miles down the road from the paint. Boozer already had a Malone-ish type build and game, but Jerry Sloan should be just as effective in finding Jefferson's best chance to put up All-Star numbers as an amazing second fiddle to his elite point guard.

Unless he's traded, it looks like Kirilenko will be back to full-time starting duties and have a more prominent role on the squad. He's never going back to most-underrated-player-in-the-game status, but he still possesses the capabilities to be one of the most feared defenders out. Assuming Raja Bell's fully recovered from his wrist injury, Bell will look to also help bring the Jazz's former elite defensive reputation back to the minds of competitors. C.J. Miles and Earl Watson are also capable of stifling any opposing wing on a given night, so I definitely see this incarnation of the Jazz being revitalized in their perimeter D.

Hopefully Mehmet Okur will be able to stay healthy for a little while after he gets back around Christmas, but Paul Millsap is absolutely (and desperately) ready to step into a full-time role regardless of Okur's status. The main value of Okur is that he forced a defensive shift that few teams can naturally adapt to with a big man on the 3-point line, but the Jazz will never be short on low post production between Millsap and Jefferson. They put the team together in a way where they really don't have that much of a falloff even though they lost three starters from free agency deflection. I do have them dropping five games off last season's win total and one seed back in the West, but that's mainly just from health concerns and the potential meteoric improvement of the Rockets and Thunder. They'll definitely be a threat come playoff time if Jefferson can fit in as great as I assume he will. Unfortunately for Utah, I got them running into the Oklahoma City juggernaut in the first round. And that means the Jazz will lose. Because the Thunder are gonna be better. Got it? Back to the drawing board if Jerry Sloan can still hold up his dry erase marker.

Regular Season: 48-34
Playoffs: Eliminated in First Round

... and do the John Wall.

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