Believe it or not, the NBA's regular season is four weeks away. To get you ready, Crossover Chronicles will be profiling a team each day for the next few weeks. This week is the Northwest Division. Today is the Utah Jazz.
2011-12 Record: 36-30, lost first round
Key Losses: Devin Harris (traded to Atlanta), C.J. Miles (signed with Cleveland), Josh Howard (free agent)
Key Acquisitions: Mo Williams (traded from L.A. Clippers), Marvin Williams (traded from Atlanta), Randy Foye (signed from L.A. Clippers)
|Mo Williams||Randy Foye||Marvin Williams||Paul Millsap||Al Jefferson|
|Earl Watson||Raja Bell||Gordon Hayward||Derrick Favors||Enes Kanter|
|Jamaal Tinsley||Alec Burks||DeMarre Carroll||Jeramy Evans||Brian Butch|
Al Jefferson is one of the most underrated players in the league. He is solid in the paint and fundamentally sound offensively. Pair him with Paul Millsap, a dynamic player in the traditional power forward mold. Then the Jazz bring Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors off the bench and the potential for a really difficult front court to deal with when teams head to Salt Lake City becomes a very real reality.
The front court is certainly Utah's strength. Most teams would kill to have a foursome of post players that Utah has. And the crazy part is that all four are on the upswing in their careers. Kanter is entering his second year and has the potential to be incredibly skilled and a versatile center. Derrick Favors is in his third year and is still trying to live up to the lofty Dwight Howard comparisons scouts had for him coming out of Georgia Tech.
Maybe that is putting too much on this group of relatively young players. But they will be the anchor for the Jazz.
And certainly helping is the Jerry Sloan-like ethos that Tyrone Corbin has helped the franchise maintain. The thing you can always say about the Jazz is that they will play hard, play together and play good defense. That is the assumption, at least. Utah will always be a tough out because of that.
This Jazz team is very different though. Devin Harris and Mo Williams are very different players, despite both being scoring point guards. Williams averaged 13.2 points per game last year in a little less than 30 minutes per game for the Clippers. Williams is not getting much younger and has seen his scoring average drop gradually every year since 2009. Maybe a bigger offensive role will see him get back to scoring.
The real question with a player like Williams is whether he can truly take over the point guard role that had been held down by Deron Williams for a long time and then by Devin Harris after the trade sent him to the Nets.
Mo Williams averaged only 3.1 assists per game last year and posted an 18.5 percent assist rate, his lowest since his rookie year.
The Jazz will need a big more from Williams in running this offense. The depth at point guard for Utah is probably the worst it has been since before John Stockton was on the team. The succession of point guards for Utah is pretty astounding.
Williams may not break it. But he is certainly a stop-gap until the Jazz can find the next solution at guard.
Mo Williams is not the only puzzling acquisition the Jazz made this offseason. Utah also was part of a four-team trade that sent Devin Harris to Atlanta in exchange for, among other things, Marvin Williams. Williams has had a checkered career since the Hawks made him the second overall pick int he 2005 Draft.
Marvin has been a solid player throughout his career, providing some solid defense and a relatively consistent shot while averaging 11.5 points per game for his career. He is hardly a franchise changer.
Marvin Williams is a decent pick up and should find a role with the Jazz. Couple him with Mo Williams in the backcourt and the acquisition of Randy Foye (another disappointing top-10 pick) leave the Jazz in a weird place.
This team is not likely to be in championship contention and will likely scrap to make the Playoffs. At some point though you have to wonder what the Jazz's plan is for the future? Where is this team going?
Mo Williams will be a free agent next season, so that should provide Utah with some cap relief. But the acquisitions the team has made make you wonder what this team's plan is. Inserting Marvin Williams in the starting lineup may stunt the growth and development of promising young player Gordon Hayward and Mo Williams because of his high usage rate and proclivity toward scoring could detract from Utah's real advantage -- the post players.
This will be a weird transition season for Utah. One that likely leaves the Jazz in the middle of the pack.
Have thoughts or predictions on the Jazz? Leave them in the comments below or drop us a line @CrossoverNBA on Twitter or join the discussion by using the hashtag #JazzDay. We will be back with a closer look at the Jazz throughout the day.
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