Friday, February 26, 2010

One of the Greats?

According to Coach Larry Brown of the Charlotte Bobcats from the SL Tribune...

"I don't think there's a better player in the league than Deron Williams... You don't hear him talked about like the others, but the effect he has on games to me are every bit as dramatic as any one of the great ones we talk about."

About Kevin O'Connor, Coach Brown joked... "I remember when Kevin was talking about drafting Williams or Chris Paul. We were teasing him it was like Marilyn Monroe or Jane Russell. He did alright."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Kyle Korver is so hot right now

10-16 from three point range over the last four games for the pride of Pella, Iowa. His minutes have steadily increased and he's taking and hitting clutch shots in the fourth. Can it last? Hell no. But it's nice to have a wing player that can shoot for a change. Keep stroking it, KK!

Boozer the Great

You try and stop him! I don't think anyone can right now. Carlos Boozer is playing some invinceable ball. Last night, he went off for 33 points and 16 rebounds. Boozer has been averaging 24.5 points and 14 rebounds over the past four games since the trade deadline passed.
Boozer has also expressed interest in remaining a Jazzman over the long-term. He likes being a member of the Jazz!
I'm amazed at how the circumstances surrounding Carlos Boozer seem to change constantly over the course of time. Last year, he was destined to leave. This year, he was supposed to be moved. But, Boozer remains with the team and continues to thrive. Go figure!
Is it because he's in a contract year? Is it merely because he's finally "fully" healthy? Or has he just discovered his groove with the team?
I think there may be a great possibility that Boozer re-ups in the future with the Jazz. Ronnie Brewer has been moved... Kyle Korver comes off the books... And Matt Harpring's contract belongs to OKC. There will be some $$ to spend under the tax to retain Boozer. However, as we all know, everything will depend on Boozer's greedy desire for more money. That will be the determining factor. Will the Jazz show him the money?
Regardless, I've enjoyed the way Boozer has been playing recently. I hope he continues to lead the Jazz to more victories. We're playing some good ball.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best of Luck, Brewer

Goodbye Ronnie! Best of luck to you in Memphis. I enjoyed having you on the team over the past few years. You were exciting to watch on the floor due to your tremendous athleticism. I would have traded Korver instead (more savings)... but... the ladies of SLC would riot and have nothing of it. The asset we get in exchange... A protected 1st round pick in 2011. Nothing exciting. Boozer stays.

Trade Deadline

Today's the day to make your move in the NBA, the Jazz made a move (see Guru's post). I wouldn't have minded shipping CJ or Korver instead, but Korver is starting to play well and CJ is full of potential (oh, wait, that was four years ago).

But other teams have made moves that may affect the Jazz this season. Let's recap:

Cavs: Cleveland brought in the perfect Jazzman, Antawn Jamison, to complement Lebron. The Cavs are going to be tough to beat and, in my opinion, are a virtual lock for making finals. They might have trouble matching L.A.'s size now that Big Z is gone, however. Luckily, the Jazz are done with Cleveland for the year, so this won't affect the team.

Kings: How do the Kings affect the Jazz, you ask. Well, aside from the fact that we play them in two weeks, it would be nice to see the Kings go on a nice win streak to catch the Knicks in the ping-pong ball standings (see below). The Kings dealt Kevin Martin (and Hilton Armstrong) and acquired Carl Landry, Carl Dorsey and East St. Louis' own Larry Hughes. While Martin is easily the best player in this deal, the Kings have been much better this year when KMart has been hurt. Here's hoping Tyreke Evans can get them playing better ball.

Wizards: Same story here: the Wiz are fighting the Knicks for ping pong balls. Unfortunately, they just got a lot worse. Jamison and Caron Butler are gone while Josh Howard, Zydrunas Ilgauskus, and Drew Gooden are in DC. That's not a good move from a (basketball) talent perspective; musically, it's a nice trade. This team is going to take a nosedive (on purpose).

Mavs: Mark Cuban made another bold move, dumping Josh Howard's expiring deal for Caron Butler (another guy that would fit in great with the Jazz), DeShawn Stephenson (another guy that would not fit in well with the Jazz, mostly because he is a bad basketball player) and Brendan "I'm playing for money" Haywood. The Mavs have been looking creaky lately, so this is an upgrade, especially because Haywood is SO much better than Dampier in the post. Butler has had a terrible year, but the change of scenery should show whether his decline was a result of being stuck on a terrible Wizards team, or whether he's lost a step. I doubt this makes the Mavs serious contenders, but they definitely improve.

Rockets: Houston made out like a frat party. Not only did they unload the most overpriced, overhyped "All-Star" in the league, but they picked up Kevin Martin, Jared Jeffries, rookie Jordan Hill AND allegedly the Knicks 2011 and 2012 first round picks! Are you kidding me? Those picks alone are more valuable than McGrady. Houston loses Landry, who is a stud, but Jeffries and Hill combined should make up for that loss. Martin gives the Rockets a legitimate scorer, something they've been missing this year. Suddenly, the West is looking fearsome.

Knicks: Finally, our beloved Knicks. You have to give this team credit, they are going balls to the wall with their long-term strategy. They are putting all of Wall Street's money on red, and in this case red means Lebron and Bosh. They have gutted their team of bench scoring (trading Nate Robinson for one-trick pony Eddie House), post defenders (Jared Jeffries and 5th overall pick Jordan Hill), first round draft picks (not until 2013!), and tear drop tattoos (Larry Hughes: two). In exchange they get an aged, overhyped superstar in McGrady and a ton of cap space to spend next summer. If they don't get Lebron, Bosh, Wade or some combination, you can write off the Knicks franchise for the next decade.

But, more importantly for Jazz fans, they have very little talent left to compete with this year. The Knicks are currently tied for 7th place in the lottery with Detroit. But, they are only a game and a half out of dropping into the 4th spot. Now, there is no way they are catching the Nets, T-Wolves, or Warriors. But if Sacramento, Washinton, Detroit, and the Clippers can steal a few victories in the next few weeks, the Jazz will be sitting pretty in the draft. Of course, those teams are all about to enter full-blown tank mode, whereas the Knicks have no reason to lose more than they have to. But, with a starting five of Chris Duhon, Tracy McGracy, Danilo Galinari, David Lee, and Wilson Chandler, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jersey Evolution

Where will the Jazz jersey evolve to next season? I think all of us fans have enjoyed watching the Jazz play in the old school retro jerseys this season. The green and gold have provided us with some good luck. We've played well in those jerseys. Many of us have felt quite partial to the Utah Jazz colors of green, gold, and purple. We enjoyed some good seasons in those uniforms. Infact, we should have never changed those colors during the seasons that we made it to the Finals. Our colors constituted all shades imaginable... turqoise, dark purple, light blue, sea-weed green, copper. It was good that we made the switch to navy blue and light blue, despite the fact the Mavs and Griz made a similar change. Nowadays, I'd personnally enjoy another switch. It's time to officially move back to the note. It's go time! This ones for you, Sikma.

Friday, February 12, 2010

High-flying Jazz Dunkers

The Slam Dunk Contest is always the most anticipated event of the All-Star weekend. Everyone looks forward to the spectacular. Jordan, Carter, Dwight Howard, Clyde Drexler, Dominique… the names go on regarding those who have participated. Numerous phenoms have dazzled the crowds at the All-Star weekend’s main event.
The question is… How many of those athletic phenoms were Jazzmen? How many Jazz players have participated in the dunk contest?

Jazz players, in general, have never really been known for their super-athletic prowess. Infact, no Jazz player really stands out as a do-it-all athletic marvel (maybe Kirilenko or Ronnie Brewer). Perhaps it’s because the Jazz are better known for their “team-play”, offensive execution, & “floor game”. The Jazz system doesn’t allow for the one-on-one player showcase… ala Kobe, DWade, and Iverson offer their respective teams. And maybe it’s for this reason that the Jazz don’t showcase the athletic “dunker”. It doesn’t mean the Jazz haven’t had great dunkers in the past though. One might be surprised as to how many dunk contest participants we’ve actually had over the years. Let me share…
Darrell Griffith: Perhaps the most amazing bogo-stick jumper this side of Spud Webb. Griffith participated in the very first slam dunk contest in 1984. He placed 4th and then 6th in 1985, dunking against some of the game’s best dunkers… Jordan & Nique. To his credit, and for being relatively short (maybe 6-foot), Griffith could really spring out of the gym.
Blue Edwards: Theodore “Blue” Edwards was a unique Jazz player during the Stockton & Malone era. He couldn’t shoot or dribble very well, yet when he made an athletic play, everybody noticed. He inherited the nickname Sky Blue… visualizing his ability to touch those heavenly clouds above the Utah sky-line. Blue took 6th place in the 1991 dunk contest.

David Benoit: Benoit was tall, lanky, and athletic. He had great hops! Benoit could arguably be the most athletic player to ever play for the Jazz. Unfortunately, he’s better known to us fans as the one who couldn’t hit a three-point (to save his life!) against Houston in the 1995 first round playoff loss (that was OUR year, not ‘97/98). Benoit placed 4th in the 1993 dunk contest.
Jamie Watson: Watson was our 2nd Round pick in 1995. He was a smooth 6-7 wing player who overachieved while playing for the Jazz (like so many 2nd-rounders do). Who knew he even participated in a dunk contest? Well… he did! Watson finished 3rd in 1994.
Last but not least…
DeShawn Stevenson: Our high school selection who didn’t like Coach Sloan and never fit into our system dunked in the 2001 contest. Stevenson was an athlete, more so than a skilled basketball player. However, he did well in the contest, placing 2nd.
Now… If I had a choice of someone from our team to participate this year… I’d choose:
Ronnie Price!... Give it a shot.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

All-Star (Break) Dreaming

After a strong 9-game winning streak, the Jazz finally fell to another team. It just sucks when that team happens to be the Lakers.

I think I'd rather settle for an exchange of 2 losses (to anybody BUT the Lakers) to every 1 victory we could have over the Lakers. I don't like the Lakers.

To make matters worse and even more unbearable is that the Lakers have an undisputed advantage over us (and over most teams in the NBA). They're better at most positions and they're a terrible match-up for us due to their size, length, and versatility.

We have no match-up for Odom. Even with Kobe Bryant not playing, we still can't take advantage of them because of Odom. Lamar always seems to play his best game against us. Boozer and Millsap just aren't versatile and quick enough to stay in front of him. Pau Gasol is just too big and mobile to handle in the post. In this regard, the Lakers are a difficult match-up for us.

With that being said, I'll forget about this loss over the All-Star break weekend. As an excuse, I'll blame the loss on two things... Tired legs from playing a back-to-back (we always lose one of the two) and All-star break dreaming (our guys were gone mentally on vacation). That will certainly help ease the pain.

Hope DWill represents during the All-Star break. Let the games begin!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Deron: All-Star Starter?

It's nice that Deron has finally been chosen to the All-Star game. He's undoubtedly one of the top 3 point guards in the West and has been for years.

But, perhaps more intriguingly, Deron could be a starter for his first all-star appearance. While Steve Nash was voted the starting point guard by the fans, the starting shooting guard, Kobe, hasn't played the last few games due to injury. If Kobe can't play, who would replace him? Well, a quick look at the backup guards in the West looks like a daily injury report. Brandon Roy has been dealing with injuries all year and has been replaced by the WWF's own Chris Kaman. Chris Paul is scheduled to have knee surgery and has been replaced by Chauncey Billups, who himself is hurt. (He missed the recent game against the Jazz with sprains in both ankles).

So, it looks like Deron is the only guard standing. If Kobe can't go (and he didn't play last night), Deron could be in line for heavy minutes as the starting shooting guard. And if he's spotting up and taking dimes from Nash, he might make a run at MVP. How would that be for a debut?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Deron Interviewed by Harpring

Here's a stellar interview conducted by ex-Jazzman Matthew Harpring. Some interesting things I learned:

1. Deron cannot be guarded by anyone in the league.
2. Deron doesn't have a lot of respect for Channing Frye's game.
3. Matt Harpring made the all-NBA rookie team.

Some interesting things that I already knew:

Fast Forward to the 1:40 mark.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Clean Shave

DWill has finally gotten rid of the grizzly beard he was growing. In an effort to inspire the Jazz to win 5-games in a row, Deron grew that crazy-wild growth of facial hair and hoped that it would make a difference in the way the Jazz played. Well... it worked. Job well done, young man! The Jazz have accomplished the 5-game win streak and now the beard is gone. The only problem is... I'm superstitious... and I actually hope that he grows it back. We've played so well!

"It's gone," Williams said. "I feel lighter. I feel like I can jump higher."

Boozer has returned to practice and will be prepared to play against the Nuggets. It's good timing for the Jazz because we'll need him against the Nugs at his best. The Nuggets have owned the Jazz over the course of this season.

How Good are the Jazz?

We all know the Jazz have been playing some damn (excuse me, dang) good ball lately. A lot of people are asking why. Is it because Boozer is out? Sundiata Gaines is on the team? Or is it that Wes Matthews' locker is now next to AK's, and they've been inspiring each other to hustle all over both ends of the court?

We may never know. And to some extent it doesn't matter as long as Jerry has figured out the rotation and we keep getting Ws. The more interesting question is, how good are we? According to EPSN, our boys have actually played the second most difficult NBA schedule of any team so far this season. They also rate us as the second best team in the league, behind only Cleveland. Unfortunately, although this may be mathematically accurate in some sense, I'm not sure it fully accounts for how much better we are at home than on the road or our penchant for losing to teams we should beat by 40. It doesn't bode well that as of today we've played six more games away from the Tox Box than in it and still have to go to battle with the mighty T-Wolves once more this season.

It's certainly encouraging that we've been winning without Boozer and it seems like -- for reasons that certainly no one understands -- Kirilinko is a legimate third offensive weapon in the starting lineup again. Even better, we're only a half game behind Dallas for the 3 spot in the West. But color me cautious. We're two weeks away from the trade deadline and are looking to make some kind of move, which may be major. With all these road games coming up, something also tells me we're headed for some uncalled for losses. Come on Jazz, prove me wrong. . .

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Way To Go Jazz!

It's been a pleasure watching the Jazz recently.
The season has been somewhat bumpy... but currently... the Jazz couldn't be playing better ball. We've won 11 of the last 12 games.
Deron Williams is playing like an All-Star. And it's good to see him get some well-deserved recognition. He's one of the most savy and smart point guards in the league. This quote from explains... "Williams was to the Jazz like Bill Clinton was to the economy. People will always argue about whether or not he was responsible for all that success. But one thing's certain: He could have screwed it up, and he didn't." Deron has led this team like a champ.
AK jumped into the time machine and returned to 2010 in his 2003-form. He's all over the place! Check out his line from last night against Portland. AK finished 8 for 9 from the field, and recorded 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks. That's efficiency.
Memo broke out of his slump. He burst onto the scene with an 11 for 13 shooting night and finished with 28 points against Portland. He was moving around on the floor like "old" times... securing boards, getting dunks, delivering "and ones", and not just settling for the "Money-man" three-ball, like he's been accustomed to doing recently.
Millsap has finally been earning his off-season payday. Perhaps it's because he's getting Boozer's minutes in the starting line-up. Regardless though, Sap has provided a spark for the Jazz that hasn't fully been there in the past.
The only hope is... Can the Jazz keep up the impressive play when Boozer returns? He says he's still "a little too tight, and a little too sore" to play yet. But, when he does, the Jazz have a chance to really surge towards elite playoff positioning.