Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Utah Jazz Preview Review

I've been busy and therefore I'm late with my regular Utah Jazz postings. The regular season has started, and with that comes a winter full of semi-regular Jazz postings. Through the first 11 games of the season, the Jazz have looked alternatively impressively impressive without their superstar and miserable. They've still got the Jekyll/Hyde home and away syndrome that they had last year. They blew it against a much improved Knicks team, inexcusably lost to Charlotte (even if Memo, AK, and D-Will were out), and Washington, and lost a winnable game to Cleveland. I'm of the Sloan school where there are no excuses for my favorite team, even though those are good ones. We've got to have the toughness where we can finish the game, and all of these games lacked a good finish. If Deron can get us that when he gets back, we'll be unstoppable.
There really have been 2 changes that have positively impacted the team to the point that I'd like to just take some sunk costs: AK as the sixth man and Hart for Knight.
When we matched the Thunder's offer for CJ Miles over the summer, I thought that Kevin O'Connor had gone mental. Here you have someone who has been used very sparsely and you're reeling him back in at 3.5 million per? This had the very fortunate side effect of figuring out how to properly use him. You don't spend that kind of money for someone to ride the pine, even if they do end up in Sloan's doghouse. As a result of that and Matt Harpring's injury, we got AK into the sixth man role, where he's shined. He always seemed a bit out of sorts since Deron and Boozer took over the team for good reason. He didn't have a defined role. Now he's the leader of the second team and an extraordinarily viable first option. Harpring used to fill that void, but to be honest, his best days left him some time ago. As much as I like his spunk and his tenacity, I'd find some way to send him down the road to clear some cap space for Boozer and Memo's upcoming contracts.
Jason Hart was always ineffective in his backup role, and Knight has been better in some respects than Ronnie Price during the time that Deron's been out. Price is still more of a 2-guard than a point, and the way he plays reflects that. He's servicable in long minutes, but I think Knight gives us a legitimate option that Hart never did.
Kosta Koufos is at the very least the backup center of the future. He works like mad, he is pretty good for a rookie, and Fess isn't ever going to fill that role. I think that Kofous' time in the starting lineup has shown that we don't need to keep Collins around after this year either.
Will John Hollinger's prediciton for Utah (i.e. winning the West) be accurate? I think it stands a good chance of happening. If D-Will is healthy, we could go all the way because I think a healthy D-Will means that the Jazz won't lose those close games. He wouldn't let it happen.

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