I guess this is kinda my introduce myself post. I have been a reader forever and have made a couple comments but nothing major.
So I have been thinking a lot about our potential and how far away we are from being a championship team. I would love to hear everyone comments about where we are and where we need to go.
So this is the 12 man formula that I have for building a championship team
Championship Caliber (CC) PG, CC back-up PG
CC SG, CC back up SG
CC SF, CC back up SF
CC PF, CC back up PF
CC C, CC back up C,
Solid PF/C, Veteran bench player,
Rookie cheerleader* (optional)
I know it's a shocking formula isn't it. And teams have won championships with less, or with really good match-ups and luck. Other player rankings would be Superstar caliber (SS), Playoff caliber (PC) and Good (G)
After the jump (I have always wanted to say that) we will look at our team and how we fit into the formula and how we match up with other teams.First a small introduction: I have been a Jazz fan my whole life, grew up mostly in Utah, now I live in AZ and go to med-school.
Here is my player rating scale to keep things clear throughout the post: SS (superstar) > CC (championship caliber) > PC (playoff caliber) > CC Bu (championship caliber back up) > PC Bu (playoff caliber Bu) > Good
Ok now a look at what we have now under contract for our 2011-2012 team
PG: Is Devin Harris a Championship quality PG? Maybe. Can he beat Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, Deron Williams or Derrick Rose in a 7 game series. Um no. He could be CC on the right team, but for a team that runs our offense, No. But the place that he would excel the most is as a backup combo guard off the bench. And he would be vital against teams like Denver or Golden State that run 2 PG -offenses. In my book Devin Harris is a CC backup PG. and a Playoff Caliber (PC) starter. But for his salary it might not be worth it unless he is going to win the sixth man of the year, and I think he is totally capable of it.
What about Earl Watson? I love what he brought for us this year. I think he was vital especially in the development of Jeremy Evans by throwing him those lob passes. Is he a CC backup? Maybe for stretches but for a full season or the playoffs, probably not. But I do think the Jazz should re-sign him. He can fill in for stretches and injuries and also fill the role of veteran bench player.
Ronnie Price, I love you and your athleticism and I think if you could max out your potential you could be a PC backup. But you are just a little too inconsistent right now. You would fit better in a less structured offense. (You are better than any PG on the Miami Heat)
SG: Gordon Hayward. Right now he is good (G). Next season I think he will reach Playoff Caliber and in another season or two he can be CC. I think that is his max potential. There is a small chance he can hit SS level. He and Favors are the two major building blocks the Jazz have right now. In a few seasons every team is going to be wishing they had a Gordon Hayward, and we got him. I think I could write a whole post on him. (Maybe I will later)
Raja Bell is over the hill. In the few games I got to watch last season he looked liked he didn't care. He wants to go. The only reason he came he was because of Deron. I hear Minnesota has interest... We already have our Veteran on the bench with a better attitude (Watson). I don't think he will be with the team next year.
I am going to put CJ Miles here (rather than in the SF category) because I think he can be a CC backup SG. A bench with Devin Harris and CJ can provide the offense and energy a second unit needs to provide. CJ can be a starter, maybe even a playoff starter but we have Hayward and CJ has a ton of experience coming off the bench. He sometimes gets a little too streaky (a slightly less bipolar and less athletic JR Smith) to be a starter.
SF: We have a big hole here that needs to be filled. We need a player that can defend Kevin Durant and be a consistent offensive contributer. We don't have one on our team right now.
I don't think Andrei Kirilenko is worth more than 2-3 years at less than $5 million per year. If he accepts that and a bench role then I would take him back. I fill bad that the offense changed after he signed his contract and he had a lesser role. When he signed the contract I remember thinking he was 100% worth a max deal so I couldn't regret it later. So I don't regret the contract. If the offense hadn't shifted him to a smaller role he would have lived up to the contract, but I don't think he could have lead us to a championship. I do think we should have traded him at the trade deadline or earlier. Bottom line for us he won't be better than a PC/CC backup for us. He can start in NJ next year and that is where I'm guessing he will end up.
Now a quote from AK on Jeremy Evans, "He has all the tools to be a perfect 3." Evans did make huge improvements over the year. While he was still a rookie and had many mistakes. He doesn't have the body mass to play the 4 regularly. He does have the motor, length and athleticism to be a defensive 3. His offensive game isn't up for it yet but after he spends this whole summer working out with Hayward that will change. Remember a couple off seasons ago when Channing Frye showed up to camp suddenly nailing 3 pointers when he didn't even shoot them before, I can see something like that with Evans offensively. I don't see him starting for a championship team but he could back up the 3 and play a little 4 in a pinch. And plus we need to keep him around so Hayward stays happy (hopefully we learned how to avoid this possible mistake with the D-Will - Ronnie Brewer trade). That being said, it is really hard to gauge his potential. He might be near peaking or he might have unlimited potential. But it will take time.
PF: Derrick Favors is the man. In 2 or 3 seasons he will be one of the top 3 PF in the game. The great thing about him that I have noticed so far is that the offense doesn't have to run through him for him to score (Like it does for Big Al). He gets offensive boards and makes good cuts to the basket. We haven't even seen how amazing he will be working off the pick and roll with a stud PG. If he had stayed for another year in college he would be the #1 pick in this years draft. (mentioning that, if Hayward would have stayed at Butler they would have won the national championship and he would have been the second pick this year). Back to Favors, he has SS potential. He was the youngest player in the NBA and will be among the youngest again next year. He is younger than most of the top draft picks this year. And he has great chemistry so far with Gordon Hayward. He should start next year and learn everything he can from Millsap and Jefferson.
Where does Paul Millsap rank? He has proven that he can be a PC PF. But his lack of size prevents him from reaching that CC PF rank. He can't play the 3. In the games I saw with him there he couldn't even keep up with Ron Artest let alone any other SF in the league. And his offensive game doesn't fit there he needs to be around the basket not on the wing. He can be a CC backup PF. I love his attitude and work ethic, the only question would be is does he have more value in the trade market? or coming off the bench for us? He has proven that he deserves the minutes but we don't want to impede the development of Favors. Glad I don't have to make that decision, but if I did I would hold on to him until around the trade deadline next season.
C: Al Jefferson. I have mixed feelings. He did much better this year at the C position than I thought. The problem is he probably can't move back to the PF position. He can't keep up with the next generation of power forwards. But his other issue is that long athletic bigmen seem to block all of his shots. Vs. the LA Lakers he got his shot blocked like 5 times in a row (the box score said differently but I saw the game). If he isn't getting most of the touches on offense he seems to shut down defensively too. I know that isn't always true. On the other hand he is young, experienced, a hard worker, a true low post player... He could be a true building block. Where does he rank on my scale? Even thought he hasn't made the playoffs he is a PC C. His defense has improved but I still don't think he has what it takes to be a CC C, a CC C has to provide that intimidating defensive presence so no one wants to enter the lane. So this is what I think the Jazz should do with him. Keep him for this season. He will put up great numbers. And then in the Summer of 2012 the Jazz can shop him to the teams that lose out on their bids to get Dwight Howard (who I think will re-sign with Orlando). They could get a high draft pick and another young player or two for him. But If the Jazz keep him long term it would be great too. I just don't picture his game meshing with Favors in the future. But I do want Favors to learn all his post moves and to guard him everyday in practice (Can you imagine Jefferson with Favor's athleticism?).
Lastly, Memo. I loved what the Money man brought when he was healthy but I don't know if I see him making a comeback. He has an expiring contract that may have some value but That means we would have to take a contract back, which I don't see happening.
This is what I predict we will have in a couple seasons (of course without the 2 lottery picks this year and the Golden State pick next year which will also be a lottery pick)
PG : PC (Harris)/ ?
SG: CC (Hayward)/ CC Bu (Miles)
SF: ?/ CC Bu (Evans)
PF: SS (Favors) / ?
C: PC (Jefferson) (or ? if traded)/ ?
Bench Vet (Watson)
These question marks are where the Jazz need to address in the draft. We can talk about draft strategy after the lottery next month.