This morning, the Jazz announced that they would not pick up the option on Morris Almond, the sharp-shooting guard drafted by the Jazz in the first round of the 2007 draft.
Friday, October 31, 2008
This morning, the Jazz announced that they would not pick up the option on Morris Almond, the sharp-shooting guard drafted by the Jazz in the first round of the 2007 draft.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
The Jazz tipoff 2008-2009 at home against the Nuggets at the old Energy Solutions Thunder Palace. It looks as if Deron will not play tonight (smart move), but that doesn't mean that our starting point guard won't be the best point guard on the floor. Don't forget that the Nuggets start the cagey veteran Anthony "I remember President" Carter. The big change for the Nuggets from last year is the loss of Camby and Najera. But they aren't completely lacking for interior defenders. They have this guy!
That's right, the Birdman is back! After being kicked out of the NBA for drug use, he's back. And what better team to join for a repeat drug offender than your 2008 Denver Nuggets.
If you can't tell, I'm not real high on the Nuggets this year. Last year the Nuggets were an abysmal defensive team that missed the playoffs by one game. This year, they'll be an even worse defensive team that will miss the playoffs by more than one game. Without Camby and Najera, they are a threat to give up 160 on any given night. The Jazz win tonight, even without Deron.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
It's that happy time of the season when hope runs eternal and every team is still in the hunt for the playoffs. That's right, It's opening night of the NBA season. So before the Jazz tip off tomorrow evening, it's time for predictions. So dust off your magic eight ball, 20 sided die, and divining rods.
As I see it, predicting the NBA season is a no-lose deal. If you're wrong, so was almost everyone else. And if you're right, you can brag about it through out the off season and for the rest of your life. So with out further ado, here are my predictions for the coming NBA season.
1. New Orleans
3. LA Lakers
4. San Antonio
Playoffs - First Round: Hornets over Trailblazers, Jazz over Dallas, Lakers over Rockets, and Suns over Spurs.
Second Round: Hornets over Suns and Jazz over Lakers.
Western Conference Finals: Jazz over Hornets
Playoffs - First Round: Celtics over Heat, Wiz over Pistons, Magic over Raptors, and 76ers over Cavs.
Second Round: Celtics over 76ers and Magic over Wiz.
Eastern Conference Finals: Magic over the Celtics.
And your 2009 NBA champions will be: The Utah Jazz
Deron Williams will emerge as the NBA's premier point guard and the Jazz will stop fouling and start playing defense. Home court advantage will help them sneak past the Lakers and Deron will continue his head-to-head domination of CP3 in leading the Jazz to the finals. Despite some match-up problems with Dwight Howard, the Jazz will overwhelm the Magic on their way to their first NBA championship.
That's how I see it through my purple, gold and green glasses. What does your eight ball say?
Move over Theo Ratliff, there's a new sheriff in town! Expect Wally's contract to be thrown into more than 15 million fake trade scenarios over the next four months, and with reason: The Cavs are desperate. The LeBron Clock is ticking. I threw out the Michael Reed/Dan Gadzuric for Wally/Sasha Pavlovic possibility in Friday's column. How big of a gamble will Cleveland take? Would the Cavs roll the dice with Vince Carter or Andrei Kirilenko? Would they be desperate enough to trade Wally's contract and Eric Snow's expiring deal to Denver for the unseemly Allen Iverson/Kenyon Martin contracts and save Denver from Luxury Tax Hell? I just know that Wally is about to become the mint to the ESPN Trade Checker's mojito. We should even give him his own link: "Make your own Wally Szczerbiak trade!!!!!"
(My prediction if the Redd trade doesn't happen: Wally, $3 million and a future No. 1 to Utah for Kirilenko, a move that clears enough cap space for Utah to pay Carlos Boozer and Paul Millsap next summer and, more importantly, gives the Jazz an unparalleled Clean-cut White Guy Trifecta of Matt Harpring, Kyle Korver and Wally. Can't you see those guys riding a ski lift together or crashing a raging Sundance party? I'm excited already.)"
My pick: Cleveland over New Orleans in the 2009 Finals. You will remember it as the first LeBron/CP3 Finals some day, a seminal moment in the league's history, the season when a new generation of stars symbolically moved the previous regime out of the way. The NBA ... where rejuvenation happens.
Monday, October 27, 2008
1. I believe Deron Williams will have a breakout, All-Star caliber season for the Jazz.
2. Chris Paul will also emerge as an elite PG, if he hasn’t already (And…Yes, Deron Williams matches up favorably with CP3 on many levels, regardless of what the Sports Geek says).
3. It’s never too early to embrace the enjoyment of college hoops and being able to scout future NBA talent.
4. Point guards run the show and win championships.
5. And finally… the Utah Jazz will have a backup problem. The Jazz's backup point guards are both in the final year of their respective contracts. So, we’ll soon need a new backup PG next year. Right?
Without further ado…next year’s crop and a primer for the college hoop season.
Ricky Rubio, Spain: The next big rage has some real razzle-dazzle to his game. He loves the no-look pass and the circus-like, ball handling show. Rubio has already made a big name for himself, playing for the Spanish Olympic team.
Brandon Jennings, Italy: The fresh American high-schooler took his game across the pond to make some bucks overseas. He’s quite flashy himself, reminding many of the left-handed showmanship of Georgia Tech’s finest, Kenny Anderson.
Stephen Curry, Davidson: Who can forget Curry’s shooting barrage during last spring’s March Madness? Three-point binges resulting in 40, 30, 30, and 25 points became common place to him. How awesome would Curry look in a Jazz uni (just like Pops once was)?
Jonny Flynn, Syracuse: Averaged over 15 ppg as a freshman for the ‘Cuse. Flynn’s an excellent outside bomber and tenacious defender. I believe he’s ready to explode this season.
Darren Collison, UCLA: It seems like he’s been on campus for decades. Collison has been on 3 Final Four teams over the course of his career.
Ty Lawson, North Carolina: He’s the floor general, leading the best, most talented team in the country. Will he win them a championship?
Eric Maynor, VCU: Who can forget the buzzer-beating jumper by Maynor to upset Duke in the ’07 NCAA tournament? A day when Duke loses is always a happy day for me.
Jrue Holiday, UCLA: Holiday will quickly show the country how talented he is by filling in for Russell Westbrook. The similarities to the 2008, #3 pick are readily apparent.
Tyreke Evans, Memphis: Has amazing hoop skills and opposition breakdown ability. He’ll be the new star to lead the Memphis revival.
Others: AJ Price, Jeremy Pargo, Curtis Jerrells, Nick Calathes, Greivis Vasquez, Lester Hudson, Jerel McNeal, Scottie Reynolds, Nando De Colo, Rodrique Beaubois… the list goes on.
Here’s to the beloved point guards that make our teams run. Let the Madness begin!… both college and pro.
"By the way, we need to stop comparing Williams to Paul. It's just dumb. This is not Pacino versus De Niro. This is not Brady versus Manning. This isn't even Morris versus Slater. Williams has a chance to go down as one of the best point guards of his generation. Paul has a chance to go down as one of the best 25 players ever. Big difference."
I know how I feel about this quote, and I know how most Jazz fans will feel about it, but I would be interested to hear how non-jazz fans feel about it.
Seriously? Can this argument really be made?
You see, free agency for small market clubs is just like basketball recruiting: you have to pull out all of the stops. In college basketball teams love to pull the hire-the-star-player's-dad-as-coach routine, or the sign-the-crappy-teammate move. You basically waste a scholarship or a coaching slot in order to attract talent. Well, why leave all the fun for the NCAA? The Jazz need to pull out the big guns. That's why I'm calling for the NBA's first sign-the-crappy-brother-to-a-12-day-contract or throw-away-a-worthless-2009-second-round-pick-on-Jazz-kin. Get on this Kevin O'Conner. Our future may depend on it.
- They say you can never have enough shooters. Well, you can also never have enough Christian teen heartthrobs in Salt Lake. There are a ton of sweet-shooting Korver's playing basketball for a mid-major in the midwest just waiting to hear their names called by the Jazz on draft day. Best of all, they all have cute names that start with K, just like a boy band. There's Klayton, a senior shooting guard at Drake; he's the shy one. And don't forget the outgoing one, Kaleb, a freshman guard at Creighton. Or the funny one, younger brother Kirk whose myspace page lists his weight preference for girls as "not huge."
- Looking for more interior toughness once Harpring dies? Look no further than Paul Millsap's brother John. John, like his gentlemanly brother, played college ball in Louisiana. Also, John already knows the system since he's played on the Jazz' Rocky Mountain Revue squad as well as the Jazz' D-league team. What does a 12-day cost the Jazz? $20,000? That seems like great value on our investment.
- OK, I admit it, Boozer is not a saint. He lied to a blind man and reneged on his agreed contract with the Cavs, all just to grab a big pay day from Larry H. But he's not a monster. He wouldn't stab his own brother in the back, would he? Let's find out! If we can convince his brother, a freshman guard at Iowa State, to declare for the draft, we can scoop him up for a measly second round pick. If Boozer is willing to leave his scrawny brother alone in Utah while he is cruising for chicks along Miami Beach, well then good riddance.
- Now most people aren't too worried about Ronnie Price leaving. He went to school in Utah, he has a defined role on a championship contender, and he's not very valuable. But, if our free agent choices involve resigning Jarron Collins or keeping Ronnie Price happy, which would you choose? That's what I thought. Even more enticing, we could ditch Collins and sign the founder of Daze Streetball who invented a move called the "Texas Tornado" and had changed his name to Konfusion and keep Ronnie happy and ditch Collins! Win-win.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Since those glory days, of course, the Blazers have fallen on some hard times. Will this be the year they climb back and challenge our Jazz in a race for the NBA's Northwest Division crown? To the preview. . .
Monday, October 20, 2008
The Jazz are gonna have to trust a new floor general to lead the team. We, as fans, know how important and vital the point guard position is to the Jazz system. The point guard runs the show! He gets the team into the offense, distributes the ball to the right players, directs traffic on the floor, and sets the tempo of the game. Indeed, Dwill has been the ideal floor general for us.
Coach Sloan, in times of need, has attempted to try out different point guards during the preseason and during past seasons. While it seems that Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight would obviously get the nod at the point, both have been limited because of preseason injuries as well. Thus, Jerry has experimented with CJ Miles and Andrei Kirilenko running the show from the backcourt. Will this trend continue during the regular season?
In his first attempt at point guard, CJ was rather impressive, collecting 5 assists in his brief PG stint against the Denver Nuggets. AK47 has certainly been counted on in the past to bring the ball up the floor for the Jazz. Most notably, he gathered extensive playing time a couple seasons ago during the 2007 playoffs against the Golden State Warriors. Kirilenko’s PG debut abruptly came when Dwill had foul trouble, Derek Fisher had been attending to his child’s illness, and Dee Brown had suffered a spinal cord injury because of a nasty player collision. Needless to say, Andrei played admirably despite the circumstances. In my opinion though, I’d rather not see either one of these guys getting extensive minutes running the point.
That leaves us with the recovering injured reserves, and our true back-up point guards, Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight.
Clearly, the pressure and responsibility of the point guard position will fall upon the local hero, Ronnie Price. Price will be able to bring intensity, enthusiasm, and energy to the position. He has tremendous athletic ability and loves to push the pace of the game. He’s a natural scoring guard and athlete, meaning…he’ll be able to get into the paint practically whenever he desires. Price also plays tenacious defense and will always be anxious to take a defensive charge or dive for a loose ball. The question for Ronnie will be…can he hit the open jumper, direct the team into its offense, or be able to make the open pass?
Joker: “Me? I'm giving away free money. And where is the Batman? He's at home, washin' his tights!”
Sunday, October 19, 2008
These are the moments when a fan wonders...what in the world is Deron Williams doing, playing in a meaningless preseason game? I suppose athletes can get injured at any time during the season, ripping apart team expectations and future hopes. We can only hope that our franchise player recovers from this 'thunderbolt'. Get well soon, D-Will!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
But I'm here to tell you that the Sloan-as-rookie-hater theory is wrong. Sloan, like most 80 year-old farmers, isn't hip. He doesn't text, he doesn't listen to the rap music, and he certainly doesn't play unproductive young players over unproductive veterans. But this country boy may be cooler than you think.
Over the past 8 years, Sloan has put his trust in 3 rookies. He has let these three young bucks run for nearly 20 minutes a game, while more veteran, established players languished on the bench.
Deron Williams, 2005-06: There is often a perception among Jazz fans that Sloan was so stubborn that he wouldn't even play Williams, our franchise player, as a rookie. But Deron averaged 29 minutes per game over the course of the year and earned the starting role before the all-star break. Sloan started the rookie even though Deron's numbers were nowhere near what they are now: he shot poorly (42%) and his assist/turnover ratio was high (2.5:1). Consider this: Stockton didn't start as many games in his first three years in the league as Deron did in his rookie campaign.
Paul Millsap, 2006-07: Here's the classic Sloan rookie. Underappreciated (2nd round pick), fighting for a roster spot, undersized (listed at 6"8'), and a perfect gentleman. Millsap came out of nowhere to play 18 minutes a game as a rookie out of Lousiana Tech. The Gentle Bulldog only started one game that year (he has three total starts in his career), but has consistently been one of the first players off the bench since he entered the league.
Jarron Collins, 2001-02: If anyone complains about Sloan not playing rookies, simply point them to the greatest Stanford big man to ever tape up for the Jazz. Collins, an unheralded second round pick, stormed into the league with a rookie campaign that saw him post career highs of 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game (incidentally, those remain career highs to this day). Most amazing of all, however, is that Jarron started 68 of the 70 games he played in that year! And he wasn't playing because of lack of bigmen: the Jazz bench that year included Andrei Kirlenko, Greg Ostertag, and even John Amaechi.
So, what does this tell us about this year? Well, it means that Sloan may turn to Kofous to fill the huge void at backup center. All of the rookies listed above had good attitudes, worked hard, and didn't get in bar brawls (oh wait, scratch that last one). Kofous is destined to be Sloan's favorite player ever and appears to be a hard worker. Whether he is skilled enough to play against NBA bigmen is another question, but if Collins' story is any indicator, talent doesn't factor into the playing time equation.
Monday, October 13, 2008
While AK's move to the bench appears to be paying off nicely, all is not well with the Jazz' second unit. Specifically, we continue to have a major problem at backup center. Koufus is a rookie. Fes plays like one (last night's double double notwithstanding) and compares his own strength to that of a small girl. Finally, to pour salt on this open wound for Jazz fans everywhere, Jerry Sloan had this to say when the D News asked him to list Collins' attributes:
- "Tries" to take charges (note that he didn't say "does" take charges).
- Unafraid to pass the ball.
- Good at setting screens.
- "Usually" knows his assignment.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Hopefully this is a "lost-in-translation" type blunder, but does it bother anyone else? Before you answer, let's review the statement one more time. This is your big, young, talented center saying "I am not strong, I am a small girl." Wooof.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I like this idea!
Jerry Sloan is contemplating having Andrei Kirilenko as the team's 6th Man this year. Against LA, in the preseason Tuesday night, Kirilenko played the '6th Man' role for the Jazz, and tonight, he may come off the bench again. The DesNews is reporting this potential change, as a possible permanent fixture.
Most of us know that the '6th Man' role is an important position to provide the 2nd unit with energy and scoring. Matt Harpring has fulfilled this role in the past remarkably well. Here are the reasons why I like having AK47 come off the bench:
1. Kirilenko loves the opportunity to be "the Man". In past seasons, he's languished over the fact that he doesn't get enough touches. As the captain of the 2nd unit, he'll be the focal point of our offense.
2. The 1st Unit is already loaded. Let's be honest, with a starting unit of Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, AK, and Ronnie Brewer, Kirilenko can only be considered the 4th offensive option from that star-studded contingent. Deron, Carlos and Memo are sufficient offensive talents to carry the 1st unit to high scoring outputs. Now, with AK coming off the bench, he doesn't have to acquiesce to our better Jazz scorers.
3. The 2nd unit becomes tough! Millsap, Korver, AK47, Ronnie Price and Harpring/Almond give this unit defense, scoring, toughness, rebounding and shooting. This group could soon be considered one of the best 2nd units in the NBA. Kirilenko could be allowed to play multiple positions with this group from power forward, to small forward or center.
4. Energy off the bench. Bench players ought to specialize in this department, giving the starters a 'breather' while boosting the team's lead. Kirilenko specializes in energy!
5. It doesn't mean that Kirilenko won't finish the game. Andrei could easily come off the bench and finish off games by playing with the starting unit. He'd be fresh and energetic, playing parts of the 3rd and most of the 4th quarter. This could potentially benefit the Jazz immensely.
The only downside of playing AK47 as the 6th Man is (in my estimation):
A 6th Man will be getting paid more than any one of our starters, netting MAX-money dollars to come off the bench. That's an expensive 6th Man!
Boozer is a game time decision (why would they play him?) as are Kofous and Larry H. Miller. My fearless prediction for tonight's game: Fesenko will get more minutes than Kevin Lyde, something he did not accomplish in Game 1.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Collins parents must be proud.
- Lance Allred: Before the web gave birth to this blog, Pasty Gangster claimed that adding the former Leopard/Ute/Wildcat/Stampede/Cavalier in place of Collins would improve the Jazz. Others (myself included) were doubtful of that proposition. Lance's stats with the Cavs suggest that I was right. But what about citizenship? Well, Lance is writing a science fiction novel, and dudes that are into that stuff are normally confined to their basement. There's not a lot of time for community activism and voter registration when you have to come up with names for made-up galaxies and space plants. But, the good news is, he's available. Lance was cut by the Cavs this afternoon.
- Brevin Knight: the newest Jazzman is a class act with an impressive citizenship resume. He graduated from Stanford, he has foundations that benefit youth education and multiple schlerosis, and he golfs. The only negative is that he was an all-star for two years with Memphis, and as Jarron Collins has proven time and again, you can't be a good citizen and a good basketball player simultaneously; it's one or the other. So, Brevin is out....Oh, wait, I guess Brevin was a member of the "All-Star Reading team," not the NBA All-Star team. Much better.
- Kosta Koufos: I'm sure this guy's admissions essay at Ohio State was filled with his exploits as a volunteer at soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The DesNews describes him as "preppy and polite," with a dash of goofy. He addresses the media and referees as "sir." In fact, Sloan has already commented on his admiration of Koufos. Why does Jerry like him so much? Because he "doesn't say anything." Ladies and Gentleman, I think we have our winner!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Tonight is the night that the Jazz can prove once and for all that the series last June was a fluke, and that the true test of a great team is not the playoffs, but the preseason. Not much has changed between the two teams since the battle last summer: CJ Miles can now regularly eat out at TGI Fridays and leave a nice tip, Ronnie Turiaf is gone as the Laker's designated Jarron Collins-stopper, and the Jazz swapped washed-up third string point guards with the Clippers.
Two people that will not be prominently involved in tonight's game? First, there is Stacy Elizabeth Beshear, aka Luke Walton's Fatal Attraction. Second, the Jazz will be without one of their Olympians tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers of Anaheim. Senor Boozer isn't playing. Because of an injury. A hamstring injury.
- "I've been trying to get that since we got here."
- "It was kind of weird when I came here and I'm like, 'Well, what's wrong with the lights?'"
- Now that the lights are going to be turned off for introductions, the Jazz players will feel like they're playing in a "real game"!
Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
If the Jazz were able to visit the Wizard of Oz before this season, what would they wish for? Or better yet, what would we wish for them? As is well-understood and realized after last season and the others prior, the Jazz have plenty of room for improvement this season if they wish to bring home the NBA Championship. If I were the Wizard, this is what I would grant our Jazz players:
Kirilenko and Brewer
Can you imagine how good these guys could be with a consistent jumper? Andrei naturally likes to play closer to the rim and doesn’t always feel comfortable outside launching 3-balls. Brewer has that ugly hitch in his shot, with an elbow extended. Brew could honestly turn into an all-star if he developed a deadly outside shot.
Boozer and Memo
One, or perhaps both of these guys must improve defensively if the Jazz wish to make any progress as a team. We can’t have slow-footed, low intensity post-men in the paint. Otherwise, we’ll get abused by the Lakers again (or other teams like them). This request might be a lot to ask for since Boozer is naturally slow (laterally) and Memo is relatively soft. If only Memo could become more like Bill Laimbeer and Boozer like Karl “the Mailman” Malone, then we’d be in business!
Floor-Time (A Breakout):
CJ Miles and Morris Almond
Each player has shown glimpses of potential and stellar play. Can we get these guys some minutes? It seems like CJ has the tools to be successful, he just needs some favor and Jerry-love from the coaching staff.
A Clean Bill of Health:
For the love of knees, ankles and feet! Can we get this guy a clean-bill of health for once?... if not for basketball reasons, just for his own personal well-being? I guess if Matt were fully healthy, it would screw up our wish (above) for extended playing time for CJ and Almond.
A Heart, and B-Ball IQ:
His legs are like tree trunks, his arms like Big Mark, and he moves down the floor with fluidity. Now, why doesn’t he perform well? By all accounts, and from what I’ve witnessed, Fesenko has all the ability and physical tools in the world to be a force inside for the Jazz. He just needs to put it together and make it happen.
Sorry… I just don’t have much faith that the Good, Elder Statesman of the team will make any sort of positive contribution. His time on the Jazz has run its course. Can we trade Collins for a shot-blocker? I believe that would require one powerful Wizard!
A Defensive Stopper:
Brewer, Price, or AK47?
Someone needs to step up for us and provide some defensive pressure on the wing. I think it could easily become Brewer if he decides to apply himself. He’s got the athleticism and natural quickness.
We need a back-up center in the worst way, preferably one that can block some shots. If it’s not going to be Collins (which I can ascertain you, it won’t be) and Fess doesn’t show his stuff, then Koufos needs to develop quickly. Otherwise, we’ll be short-handed in the paint.
Stunning Good Looks & A City-wide Following of Swooning Ladies:
Oh wait, he’s already got that.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Not much new to report, basketball-wise, from Boise today. Sloan has decided (wisely) to let Boozer, Kirilenko, and Deron skip the second-half of two-a-days to reinvigorate their Olympic bones. Which means that there have been some epic Ronnie Price vs. Brevin Knight pickup duels.
Of interest on the world interwideweb today: ESPN's John Hollinger ranks the Jazz as the #1 team in the West! To help out our readers that don't like reading (most), here's the gist of his article: the Jazz foul more than any team in the league, but if they stopped doing that they would win 6 more games a year, which would result in a #1 seed instead of a #5 seed. My response is that the reason the Jazz foul a lot (particularly the second unit, as Hollinger notes) is because they are mostly terrible defenders, so not fouling would probably lead to even more points allowed. Anyway, suffice it to say that the expectations for next year have been set extremely high.