NBA Season Preview Index

3 10 2008

Atlantic Division Previews:

Boston Celtics Season Preview

Philadelphia 76ers Season Preview

Toronto Raptors Season Preview

New York Knicks Season Preview

New Jersey Nets Season Preview

Northwest Division Previews:

Utah Jazz Season Preview

Portland Trail Blazers Season Preview

Denver Nuggets Season Preview

Minnesota Timberwolves Season Preview

Oklahoma City Thunder Season Preview

Central Division Previews:

Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Detroit Pistons Season Preview

Chicago Bulls Season Preview

Milwaukee Bucks Season Preview

Indiana Pacers Season Preview

Pacific Division Previews:

LA Lakers Season Preview

Phoenix Suns Season Preview

Golden State Warriors Season Preview

LA Clippers Season Preview

Sacramento Kings Season Preview

South East Division Previews:

Orlando Magic Season Preview

Miami Heat Season Preview

Atlanta Hawks Season Preview

Washington Wizards Season Preview

Charlotte Bobcats Season Preview

South West Division Previews:

New Orleans Hornets Season Preview

San Antonio Spurs Season Preview

Houston Rockets Season Preview

Dallas Mavericks Season Preview

Memphis Grizzlies Season Preview





Utah Jazz Season Preview

3 10 2008

I begin my NBA Northwest Division preview with the Utah Jazz:

Utah Jazz

2007-08 Standings 54 – 28, 4th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 55 – 27, 1st North West Division, 3rd Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Mehmut Okur, Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Ronnie Brewer, Deron Williams

Sixth Man: Kyle Korver

The Utah Jazz are one of the genuine contenders for an NBA title this season.

The Utah Jazz are one of the genuine contenders for an NBA title this season.

On paper the Utah Jazz have a team capable of winning a championship. They have two All NBA calibre players in Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, two more All Star quality players (on their day) in Mehmut Okur and Andrei Kirilenko and a good blend of role players, whether it is the sharp shooting of Kyle Korver or the hard nosed brutality of Matt Harpring and Paul Millsap.

They also have one of the NBA’s greatest ever coaches in Jerry Sloan. By rights Sloan already should have an NBA title from the Stockton-to-Malone era however they had the misfortune to overlap their careers with a certain M. Jordan in Chicago. While Williams-to-Boozer doesn’t have the same cachet as their predecessors they have the potential to surpass them. 

Along with Chris Paul, Williams is the best young point guard in the NBA. He’s strong, quick and skilled, with legitimate range and a killer instinct. He knows how and when to take over a game. Boozer on the other hand is a bruiser who knows how to use his body to impose his will. He doesn’t have a great vertical leap but the two of them form one of the deadliest duos in the NBA. Behind Boozer is Millsap, if anything a more bruising version of Boozer. 

Yet there is just the faintest hint of dark clouds on the horizon. This offseason there have been whispers that Boozer has his eye on the Miami Heat. The Jazz should be taking these seriously; Boozer after all is a player who bolted the Cavs (and their blind owner) for the Jazz in dubious fashion.

Despite this ominous rumour the Jazz still have numerous pieces including the enigmatic talents of former All Star Andrei Kirilenko. When he is switched on, Kirilenko is a devastating defender who is capable of doing everything for his team. However too often Kirilenko is MIA and the Jazz need him to be genuine threat. 

This year the Jazz will contend for the title. They’re probably a quality shooting guard away from winning the title but they should make the Western semi-finals at the least.

Coach:

In Jerry Sloan the Utah Jazz possess an all time great. He’s still as fiery as ever and his teams always play hard. In Millsap and Harpring he has players who play the way he likes. It would be one of the more fitting pieces of NBA justice if Sloan finally wins a title.

Bench:

The Jazz bench is balanced with bruisers (Millsap etc) and scorers (Kyle Korver). One area they do struggle is with a quality backup to Williams. If he is injured for any length of time the Jazz will struggle.

Star Player:

While they have the powerhouse talents of Carlos Boozer in the post it is Deron Williams who is the true star of the Jazz. He is capable of doing whatever is needed for his team to win whether it is distributing the ball, scoring points or playing defence.

Team MVP:

While the Jazz will only go as far as Williams will take them it is Andrei Kirilenko who will dictate if the Jazz are contenders or pretenders. If the dynamic do-everything Kirilenko is around for the entire season then the Jazz have a good shot at their first title. If not the Jazz won’t be playing in May or June.

Final Prognosis:

The Utah Jazz are one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. They have numerous weapons and one of the best home-courts in the league. The question is over whether they have enough to challenge the Lakers, the Hornets, the Spurs or the Celtics. I’m picking close, but not yet. 

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.