PACE: #17 93.8
OFFENSE: #14 104.9
DEFENSE: #24 107.3
A couple of years ago who would say that right now Larry Miller wouldn’t be the team’s owner, Jerry Sloan wouldn’t be the coach and Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer weren’t on the roster anymore?! That says a lot on how fast the Utah Jazz changed their organization.
Last season, the Jazz started with a 27-13 record midway January, but they weren’t “that good”! They had several epic comeback wins while they struggled to beat lower class opponents. In one stretch, they beat the Clippers, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte in games where they trailed big early on just to comeback at the end and win down the stretch. But then they ran out of luck and the drama kept going with the known results. With Tyrone Corbin running the show, the Jazz went 8-20 and they really couldn’t defend anybody. If the expected drop-off on offense was expected as Deron Williams is a better player than Devin Harris, it was inexcusable that the Jazz were the 3rd worst defensive team during that stretch. However note that with Jerry Sloan, the Jazz was just ranked #18 in defensive efficiency.
Trading Deron Williams was apparently a good decision because Williams would have left Utah anyway, but now the Jazz has some young talent to work and build a nice future. In theory, the Jazz have a loaded frontcourt with Al Jefferson, Paul Milsapp, Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. None of these players are a legit 7-footer big man, so they have to mesh well together because last season the Jazz weren’t a good interior defensive team: they were the 4th worst team in grabbing defensive rebounds (w/71.7%)! However, the league is somehow short in big players, so the Jazz will have some edge in this department with a nice depth and plenty of fresh talent.
For the backcourt, the Jazz will need a better Devin Harris. He averaged 15.8 ppg while shooting 41.3% from the field with 5.4 apg vs 2.9 to/game in 17 games for the Jazz. It wasn’t easy for Harris to produce as having new teammates and a new system was a tough spot for him, so we can expect a better season from him.
The Jazz also have Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward as young players for the future. Like Rick Adelman in Houston, Corbin has a tough task to build a team in a short period of time while relying in young players. The good news is that Corbin already knows the majority of the players from last season, but I have some doubts about his ability to lead a team.
Utah is currently on an unusual situation for them: the Jazz were used to be a lock to reach the playoffs every single season, but they look to be a clear outsider for a potential low seed in the West. The Northwest division is probably the most unpredictable division right now and this may favor Utah. We know that OKC will be a top team, but how about Portland and Denver? Minnesota is also in a similar situation as the Jazz and so, Utah may become the 2nd best team in their division or the worst! Either situation won’t be a total surprise to me.