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How to win the preseason

Oct 20, 2012, 3:00 PM EDT

Marvin Wiliams, Al Jefferson, Paul Milsap

No one has ever accused the Utah Jazz of being too trendy. Just like John Stockton defiantly ignored the whole “wearing shorts that allow circulation to the rest of your leg” thing late in his career, Utah has completely avoided the recent trend of slimming down and going small. The Jazz will start four players over 6-foot-8 this season and have two 6-foot-10 players in heavy rotation, which makes them one of the biggest teams in the league.

But because bludgeoning teams with size isn’t exactly all the rage these days, the massive improvements the Jazz made this offseason have generally been overlooked. Mo Williams and his career 38.7 percent shooting from 3-point land represent a much better fit than Devin Harris and his career 31.5 percent 3-point shooting. Marvin Williams will replace nearly 1800 combined unproductive minutes of Raja Bell and Josh Howard out on the wing, which will undoubtedly make the Jazz less creaky on both ends. Add in the internal development of Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, and Utah is the scariest team no one is talking about. Until now.

Previously, it was easy to write off Utah as a return playoff team when there were much sexier options like Minnesota, Dallas and Golden State available, but the Jazz are winning the war of attrition and it’s not even September yet. Already missing Ricky Rubio, Minnesota has lost Kevin Love for 6 weeks thanks to some failed Rocky-style training. Dallas will be without Dirk Nowitzki for a similar time frame as he undergoes knee surgery. And Golden State? Andrew Bogut is still a “maybe” for the start of the season, while poor Steph Curry just sprained his surgically repaired ankle yet again last night.

While other teams vying for the last seeds scurry around for replacement parts, the big questions facing the Jazz are based around having too much depth and not enough minutes to go around. Maybe the crowded frontcourt will create some serious chemistry issues, as trade rumors and expiring contracts have known to sink a team before. But even those fears are being assuaged a bit:

Jefferson’s willingness to help Kanter and young Derrick Favors, the third member of Utah’s three-headed monster at center, certainly hasn’t been lost on Jazz coach Ty Corbin.

“It’s been great the last two years,” Corbin said. “They like each other first of all. They’re good guys. Enes and Derrick both see how effective Al is on the post, so the stuff that he’s telling them and teaching them is stuff that he uses in the game and they see how effective it can be, so why not try and integrate it into their game?

“I think he’s done a great job,” Corbin said of Jefferson. “He has a really good approach with Enes and Derrick, and they’ve responded to him.”

Via Utah Jazz: Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter bonding, becoming like the ‘Odd Couple’ – Deseret News

Ty Corbin has some juggling to do in his second year as a full-time head coach, but there are worse things than having an embarrassment of frontcourt riches. And when you consider the fact that some of Utah’s most productive lineups last year featured Paul Millsap at small forward, maybe Utah is on to something. Maybe size still matters.

For the time being, just by staying upright (and having Jeremy Evans get downright nasty), it’s the unglamorous, trend-bucking, gigantic Jazz winning the preseason.

  1. rj2323 - Oct 20, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Like the team solid starting lineup mo Williams an Marvin Williams are underrated pick ups for sure Marvin will always have the “bust” label cause he was selected ahead of cp3 but in reality he is a very solid player not a top 5 pick but he is a good starter in this league

  2. brianspider - Oct 20, 2012 at 3:27 PM

    Um yea..Still don’t think the Jazz are going to be very good.

    • 00maltliquor - Oct 20, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      Well…yeah and nah.

      They got a deep team, kind of like a DEN-lite like team. They are pretty good but the real question is are they gonna be better then 8 teams out West and creep back into the playoffs? I’d say between Dirk’s knee surgery, Love and Rubio’s lenghty injuries and the Golden State Wheelchair Warriors, they now have a great shot!

      • passerby23 - Oct 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        I agree with your points. It’s hard to predict the Jazz. Certainly, their frontcourt is dominant and they are deep. Hayward should be improved after a little more experience and they’ve made some upgrades. I feel like the team lacks leadership and a point guard who can give them what they need. They still lack shooters as well.

        I feel like trading for Jose Calderon and another player by giving up one of their bigs (likely Millsap) is the best move for them.

  3. thomaskouns - Oct 20, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    This may come as a surprise but NBA trainers will tell you ‘general soreness’ is code for ‘not getting in shape in the off- season.’

  4. jmclarkent - Oct 20, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    The Jazz were a playoff team last year with no PG or SF play and a very raw Kantner and Burks. They are now solid at the 1 and 3, have much needed outside shooting (Williams, Foye, Hayward and Williams) and Kantner looks ready to make a contribution.

    They are not upper tier (Re: Going to win a championship), but I could definitely see them in contention for that 4-6 slot on the West.

    • brianspider - Oct 20, 2012 at 4:34 PM

      4-6 seed…A hump they haven’t gotten over since Stockton and Malone. No franchise free agent is coming to Utah and they are stuck getting picks in the teens. No one on the roster is better than a #3 on a contender. This is a perennial middling team, in other words Basketball Hell.

      • cduffy12 - Oct 20, 2012 at 6:58 PM

        Favors and Hayward are future stars. Kanter and Burks have tremendous potential. They will have an incredible amount of cap room in the coming years. So yeah. I think they’ll be fine. Doesn’t sound like “basketball hell” to me.

  5. briggdude - Oct 22, 2012 at 8:00 PM

    Not sure what it is about everyone always hating on the jazz. I personally think they’re going to do well and only improve threw the season.

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