A while ago, back when Boozer was still with the Jazz but expected to leave, someone (I think it was Clark) directed us all to the stats at 82games.com to see whether the Jazz would miss Boozer or not. As I went there and wandered about, I stumbled on an analysis of how productive different lineups were.
There was one particular lineup that jumped out:
Deron - Wesley - AK - Millsap - Boozer
That lineup's offensive rating was 1.14. It's defensive rating was .95. What that means for every 100 possessions, this particular lineup was scoring 114 points and giving up 95.
The bummer was, of course, that the lineup only played in certain circumstances — because both Millsap and Boozer were already slightly undersized at PF, let alone at C.
Now look at our (likely) starting lineup for next year:
Deron - Raja - AK - Millsap - Big Al
Doesn't that look eerily similar. I'm the one that called Big Al "Boozer 2.0" (and I know several other writers/commenters ranted the same thing at the time). And didn't we all give out a huge sigh of relief because Raja was bringing most of what we were losing with Wesley was going, going, gone?
The major difference is, of course, Al is big enough to play C regardless of who the opponent is. A slightly undersized C? Yes. But nothing like Boozer and Millsap were. And I've watched enough footage of Al to believe that he plays big. That he won't be hoisting 18-foot rainbow jumpers when the opponent is big. That he can still play on the low block, back down the behemoths of the NBA, and knock them around. And we all love Millsap because we believe he plays big. That he can still play the same kind of inside game regardless of who's defending him. (Incidently, isn't it interesting that Millsap — the smaller between him and Boozer — was the one who Sloan would put at C in this lineup).
"Right Back at Ya, Al"
So there we go. Even if Al doesn't improve at all with his first good coach, his first good teammates, and his first good overall team. Even if Al doesn't learn a single defensive skill or develop a single defensive ethic with his first good coach, and his first set of teammates to call him out if he's lazy (thank you in advance, Raja). Even if he is nothing more than that Boozer 2.0 I ranted about a couple months ago — he still allows the Jazz to make their most effective lineup transform into their most used lineup.
And that alone gives us a whole lot to get excited about.
*Note: I think this may be the shortest post I've ever put up in my entire life. William Strunk, Jr. would be proud.