First off I need to say that I have been following SLC Dunk religiously ever since I found this blog last summer. While I have been a Jazz fan for a long time, I have never felt the need to post anything on the site until recently. Im sure I speak for all Jazz nation when I say this last month has been heart wrenching. It started with the Jazz playing poorly, then one of the only untouchable coaches in all of professional sports steps down, and then the team responds with three total let down games against teams we should have beat. All this has lead me to on conclusion, we need some change.
I feel it necessary to explain why I have such a deep love for the Jazz organization. Ever since the Miller family has taken control, the team has been the ONLY example of a class act franchise. Not only has the owners ship done its best to put a quality team on the floor each night, but they have treated both players, coaches, and the fans with nothing but trust and respect. To sum it up, the Jazz organization stands for all the things that are important to me in my own life. They have been consistent, patient, and intelligent for as long as I can remember. I feel KOC is one of the best in the business for his ability to stand steadfast when many other executives would have panicked and pulled the trigger on pointless trades hoping for better results (aka Blazers, Magic, Mavs, etc). There is nothing that I respect more than intelligent decisions made during emotional and upsetting times. That being said, I have been very torn recently with all the drama surrounding the Jazz. Not only are we undergoing one of the biggest roster changes for a very long time, but now we are dealing with a new coach. I'm almost embarrassed to say that when Sloan stepped down it shook me to my core.
As difficult as it may be, I am trying to look for the positive in the situation. First off, I feel the Jazz players could really use this change of scenery in the coaching staff. The jury is still out on Corbin, but I think this change could be a good thing for the Jazz. My biggest issues right now are the obvious problems with the Jazz roster. I feel like some very obvious problems with our lineup need to be dealt with. Here are my suggestions:
First, we need a legitimate veteran center who can play strong defense, get rebounds, and clog the paint. The Jazz have struggled a lot protecting the paint and getting rebounds this season. I love Al, but he is an oversized PF playing as an undersized center. I love Fes, but we all know he is never going to mature. His flashes of brilliance are deceptive because everyone feels like he is about to turn the corner. But I don't think he will ever be intense enough to be a great defender and rebounder. Memo, well, let's just say that his talents shooting the 3 ball are reasons enough to keep him around. Depending on the situation, his ability to spread the floor is a huge asset to have, but he is just too slow to be a great defender. I think we should keep him for his worth, but have a better option for string defense. I have been impressed with Elson and I like him coming off our bench. I think Fes could be a prime trading chip because he is still young, and someone may see some potential in him. Obviously capable big men don't grow on trees, but I think we need to do something to find one. Marcus Camby anyone?
Second, as much as I hate to say it, having Milsap and Al on the floor at the 4 and 5 is not helping us much. Once again we are playing with two undersized big men in the front court. I think if we found a legitimate center, we would have some awesome flexibility. We could play with a big long PF down in the paint in Al, or a smaller quicker PF with Milsap penetrating or shooting the little five footers. Best case scenario is one of them is willing to come off the bench, worst case scenario is we trade one of them.
Third, we have a shortage of wingmen who can shoot the 3 ball. Bell can have some range, but unless Deron totally sets him up he just isn't creative enough to score on his own for the most part. I love his feisty defense, and the fact that he can spread the floor, but he is on the wrong side of 30 and is only going to get slower. I picture him as being the Derek Fisher of our team, he has usefulness, but almost hurts us more than helps us. CJ has once again been inconsistent this year after a great start to the season. There is always hope that he keeps improving, but my patience is running thin with CJ. Maybe being a starter again will help him, but I think his biggest usefulness right now in keeping him around is to keep Deron happy. As for AK, right now he is acceptable at everything, but great at nothing. He can shoot the 3 ball okay, his defense is still good, and his long arms still cause problems to a lot of people, but sadly he is getting older and less useful. Not only am I frustrated with his constant injuries, but much like Bell, he is aging. It is hard to imagine him on any other team, but maybe we should use his contracts a trading chip. I see great potential in both Evans and Gordo, but they both have a lot of work to do. We need a younger more explosive wing who can hit the three ball, hit the open J off the high screen, and play good defense. My wish list would be Rip (I know, he's getting old), Kevin Martin, or Iggy (doesn't shoot well enough, but would give us an explosive player like we have never seen)
So to sum up, I feel we need a legitimate center to do what Fes should be doing, and a better wing to do what we thought Bell would do. I feel that Fes and AK would be our most likely trading chips right now, but worry that Gordo or Evans might be included in any trade.
I also feel the need to say that while Deron Williams is possible the best most rounder point guard in the league, but he is not irreplaceable. This truly is the golden age for point guards in the NBA right now. I want to keep Deron at all costs, but if things don't work out, I don't think it would be the end of the world. We certainly wouldn't be a championship contender without D-will, but we could still have a solid team without him. I think it comes down to the fact that if Deron wants to stay, then we need do everything necessary to surround him with the players to win a championship. Players of his quality don't come around very often, so it may as well be now or never for the Jazz.
This really is a time for the Jazz to embrace change, because they really don't have a choice at this point. Maybe it's time to go for broke and see what happens. If it doesn't work out then we rebuild just like every other team out there. I have faith that the Jazz will do what it takes to stay competitive, but my only hope is that in the midst of all this change, the team management can think outside the box and try something different. I guess I am done with my poorly organized, poorly worded rant, I just can't wait to be truly excited to watch this team play again.