So, now that the season is over, I feel like there are things to ponder, things to write. Luckily, I am a very stable jazz fan. I don't get caught up in Jazz-are-title-bound hype when we win seven straight at home, and I don't worry about the "state of the franchise" when we lose to a clearly superior team in five games. Thus, in this time of doom and gloom, I am here to bring you hope.
- What Could Have Been: The thought that continues to needle me about this season is that it was flushed down the toilet by dropping two late home games to lottery clubs. If we beat Minny and Golden State in April, we're playing either the aging Spurs or the Nuggets in round 1. If it's the Spurs, I would be blogging about our second round matchup right now. And, while the Nuggets have looked good against New Orleans, I think that Jazz/Nuggets would have gone seven games. We were very close to being competitive this postseason.
- Talent Level: The Jazz have a lot of talent coming back next year. Our entire starting lineup returns (Boozer and Okur ain't leaving). Most of our bench talent is back, with the likely exception of Mr. Paul Millsap. While Millsap will be missed, his absence won't leave the Jazz bench totally ineffective - we just need Kirilenko and Korver to up the ante.
- Summer Break: No summer basketball for Williams, Okur, and Boozer means that we should be healthy next year. Along with the contract distractions, injuries killed the Jazz this year. Kirilenko, Fesenko, and Kofous are all playing this summer. Of course, having a summer off only helps stave off injuries if you actually stay in shape. For out-of-shape Euros, like Okur, summer break is more of a mental-health benefit. It allows him to binge on turkish delight and mutton so he can bulk up for training camp.
- Contract Years: Okur, Boozer, Brewer, and Harpring are all playing for new contracts. Let me predict right now that Boozer plays 75+ games and has a career year rebounding the ball. He's cool like that. I wish I could place a wager on this in Vegas.
- Aging of the West: For years the Western Conference has been brutal. But there is a subtle shift in power occurring. The Spurs and Hornets have been exposed in the playoffs. And I'm not convinced that the Rockets are going to be better next year. The Mavs are getting older as well. That leaves the Lakers, Blazers, and Nuggets as the cream of the crop. The Jazz can easily compete for home court in the first round next year.
- The End of an Era: Jarron Collins has likely played his last competitive basketball game. While I don't think that fact will improve or worsen the Jazz, his absence will certainly soothe Booner and Pasty Gangster who are convinced that Jarron is the anchor holding the Jazz back. Good bye, gentle scholar. We will miss your sweater vests and your citizenship.