Do you know what surprises me the most about the schedule? I have virtually nothing to complain about. The Jazz came away with only one B2B2B and have a moderate amount of B2Bs despite the team's request to have no Sunday home games. Kevin O'Connor told Jody Genessy that he believes that being the primary tenant of the ESA helped in that regard. Still when you have a season like we're about to have, that's impressive.
January and February will have only 15 games apiece while March will be the monster month with 19 games in 31 days. April will feature 13 games in 26 days. I hope you're ready for a lot of basketball.
The games I'm most looking forward to? All of them.
Moni has some of the transcript from Kevin O'Connor's interview on KFAN where he talks about the young players getting minutes,
How do you make sure your four youngsters [Hayward, Favors, Kanter, Burks/Evans?] get enough minutes in a compressed season?
Tell them to earn it. You don't give minutes. You earn them...if the young kids can help us win, that's great. What we're trying to do is win this year, and that's our main purpose.
This will be the story line of the season. I don't disagree with the notion that playing time should be earned. The team isn't in full rebuild mode with the current roster yet it's not a contender now either. It's probably on the brink of pushing for a playoff spot. I know that the winning percentage was dismal in the second half of the year but there's too much talent on this team to continue that trend. It's going to take some career years from a lot of the players for this team to make the playoffs I believe.
However, I don't know where Kanter and Burks earn their playing time. Jerry Sloan stated that playing time was earned in practice primarily. I don't know if Corbin will continue with that methodology but with the compressed schedule, practices are going to be limited. The Jazz are playing almost every other night on average which doesn't allow for many full practices when you consider the back to backs and road travel.
I can see Burks getting more opportunity for playing time than Kanter for the simple fact that he doesn't have as many veterans ahead of him. You can rotate some of the bigs between PF and C but there are only 96 minutes in a game. If you consider that Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap will get around 36 minutes apiece, that leaves just 24 minutes for Favors, Memo, and Kanter. If you lower the starters' minutes to 30, then you have some more.
Let's say that Favors and Kanter earn more minutes. Heck, what if Memo is shooting 45% from three and is rebounding well? Which starter is going to balk at getting less than 30 minutes a game?
It's a situation that doesn't have an answer right now and unless someone is moved, will continue to be an issue for the season.
What won't happen though is giving away Al Jefferson -- or Paul Millsap for that matter -- for nothing. Al isn't at an elite level but he can still score and still has a lot of value even with his contract. However, I doubt they get a deal like this as suggested by SLAM,
If you're unsure about this deal, don't be. The Jazz would pull the trigger on this so fast that O'Connor would personally drive Al Jefferson to OKC whistling a happy tune the entire way. That's not because he would be happy to get rid of Jefferson, but acquiring a player like Harden and bringing back Maynor would not only fill out the roster nicely but it would solve the problem up front. Harden is a very good player on the verge of becoming a great player. Maynor's return would solve the backup point guard issue and possibly allow the Jazz to move Devin Harris if desired.
Of course, the Thunder would never do this deal and Harden may refuse to report to Utah.
Consider this: According to Synergy Sports, Fesenko ranked as the second-best defender in the league among NBA players who faced 150 opponent plays or more in 2010-11. In 2009-10, he ranked first in that category. Further, according to 82games.com, the Jazz's defense was 10 points better per 100 possessions with him on the floor (102.5) than when he was off it (112.5) last season.
On offense the Jazz were four points better when he was off the court. So his overall contribution when he's on the floor is a +6 above being on the bench. He won't be back with the Jazz but he will help out a team this season.
I haven't heard anything on how his rehab is going recently. He should be about ready to resume play after his injury in Eurobasket. I've reached out to him to try to find out how he's doing but haven't heard back.