Well, now that the Jazz have a few games under their belt, how far do we think they are going to go?
My estimation so far is not very far. Into the playoffs, if they’re lucky. Outside looking in if they aren’t.
First of all, what problems have they had in the past.
- They can’t win on the road.
- They have trouble winning close games.
- Recently, they have had trouble with injuries.
What problems have they had this year?
- They are not winning on the road, even against chumps like the Sacramento Kings.
- They are rolling over in the fourth quarter if the team is putting up much of a fight.
- Kyle Korver and CJ Miles, two of their top 8 players, are injured, and Okur has already missed a little time from injury as well.
The only team of the top nine teams in the West from last year that is looking equal to or worse than the Jazz at this point is the New Orleans Hornets. (And the jury is still out on San Antonio who I have seen start slow only to pour it on when it really mattered.)
Is there any hope?
I don’t think Kevin O’Connor is going to trade Boozer. His contract expiring is going to allow the Jazz to dive back under the salary cap. I don’t imagine any of the current Jazz players are going to suddenly get really good at defense.
On the other hand, I don’t think the Jazz are going to be nearly as injured as they were last year, when they managed to sneak in at the eighth spot. That means that although the Jazz aren’t going to be much better last year talent-wise, they ought to be much better as a team. That should translate into an offensive output much closer to two years ago, when they challenged for supremacy in the West, rather than last year.
Unfortunately for the Jazz, I don’t think that translates into the Western Conference finals. Their lack of offensive output on the road is going to be their downfall, and with much improved teams in the Northwest Division from two years ago (Portland and Denver), it is very likely that the Jazz will be in the seventh or eighth spot or our of the playoffs. With a road record as poor as theirs, it is not very likely that the Jazz will make it out of the first round let alone into the Western Conference finals.
Would I have done anything differently over the past offseason?
I would have traded Carlos Boozer to the Bobcats for Emeka Okafor, assuming that trade was actually out there. This would have given me a defensive power forward/center to play alongside of the offensive-minded Mehmet Okur. I’m not sure why O’Connor is determined to only give Jerry Sloan offensive players who Jerry has to convince to play defense.
I would have let Paul Millsap go to Portland. He’s a nice backup power forward, and I really love his hustle, but he’s really too small to be my starter.
Those moves would have likely made it difficult to keep Ronnie Brewer, and I would have to be okay with that. I’d try to keep Kyle Korver around to spread the floor, if I could. I think Korver is likely to come cheaper than Brewer, and with Okur on one side and Korver on the other, it’d be very hard to defend. My defense would essentially just be Emeka Okafor in the center and Andrei Kirilenko around the perimiter, and I’d be okay with that.
So to compare, here is the likely team for next year:
- Deron Williams
- Ronnie Brewer
- Andrei Kirilenko or CJ Miles
- Paul Millsap
- Mehmet Okur
Here is what I would have had:
- Deron Williams
- Kyle Korver or CJ Miles
- Andrei Kirilenko
- Emeka Okafor
- Mehmet Okur
If defense helps you win road games and playoff games, I have to say that I’d win more road games next year (and this year for that matter) than what the Utah Jazz are likely to win for the next couple of years.