27 April 2011

The Jazz are fine

It seems a lot of the Jazz talk on the radio this offseason has been doom-and-gloom type stuff. Lots of complaining about losing Deron, about the team's record over the last half of the season and a longing for the good ol' days when the Jazz were in the Western Conference Finals.

My response? That's ridiculous. It's no secret I was tired of the Deron/Boozer/Okur trifecta as early as 2008. That nucleus was good for 50 wins and absolutely no chance at an NBA championship. The team's ceiling had been hit. Everything from that point to the Deron trade was just treading water.

The Jazz team right now is not good enough to win a championship either, but the difference is, they are far from reaching their ceiling.

For starters, hey, the Jazz actually ended up with Derrick Favors! He's 6-10 and 246 lbs. at 19 years old. Kid works hard, as evidenced by how built he is. Had 17 points and 8 boards against Tim Duncan (okay, the ghost of Tim Duncan) and the Spurs earlier this month. He shot 51.7% from the field this season and 59% from the free throw line. He averaged 8 points and 5 boards with a block for the Jazz, all while playing less than 20 minutes a game.

In short, I think this kid is going to be a monster on both ends of the floor. Not just an offensive player, like Boozer. Not just a defensive player, like Fes (to whatever extent he is a defensive player). A complete big man, the likes Utah has not seen since Karl left for L.A. retired.

Losing Deron hurts, but I think getting Harris and Favors (along with some draft picks) was more than a fair trade at this point. Harris is a very serviceable point guard, and I don't see him as a weak spot for the Jazz at all. The blossoming of Hayward into a good-maybe great? guard has been surprising, but if continues on his upward trajectory he might turn into the slashing/shooting guy on the wing Utah's been needing for decades.

Slap on a good-to-great center in Jefferson and Millsap as a 6th man/small forward and that's a good starting five. Maybe they'll be as good as the 2008 Jazz team, maybe they'll be worse in the end. But maybe they'll be better, and that's what I'm focusing on.

I do wish this draft were better, as it appears to be worst possible time to get lottery picks in the 6 AND 12 spots. That said, there are always diamonds in the rough, and we don't know for sure who will pan out and who won't.

In addition, the Jazz have tons of cap space to work with, thanks to Andrei's $17.8 million contract finally expiring.

And I may be a BYU homer, but I'd be fine with the Jazz picking Jimmer at 6. If he can score 50 points in college when being double teamed, he can score 10-15 in the NBA when he'll be single covered at best. And if he's playing with two legit low-post options in Favors and Jefferson? Kick it out to the Jimmer and start running the other way, because he'll hit at least 50% from deep when he's wide open.

To sum up, if I can't root for a team that is dominant (2006 BYU, 1996 Jazz), I'd rather cheer for a team with the potential to get there than one with no shot at it.

The Jazz are fine.

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