The Downbeat #871 - The "Theme's Are Overrated" Edition

Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE

Here's a random mish-mash of news from the Jazz, and around The League, as we head into the opening of the season.

First off, some pretty great news coming out of the NBA Office, as they have announced that the All-Star ballot will now do away with the Center position that Tim Duncan should have been listed under for the last 12 years. It will be replaced by a "Frontcourt" category that will encompass Power Forwards and Centers.

This is something that many NBA enthusiasts have been calling for, for a number of years and when coupled with the changes to the flopping rule and emphasis on the "Reggie Miller Rule", shows that the NBA is pretty good about staying in touch with what will help improve the game.

What this doesn't do, however, is change much in the West. We're still most likely to see the "Frontcourt" slots loaded with players from L.A.- either the Clipps or the Lakers. In fact, its not unlikely that we will see at least 5 of the 12 All-Star slots filled by players from that city.

The season gets underway next week (a week from today for the Jazz) and that means Power Rankings are starting to emerge. Here's a short rundown for us to be incensed by and argue about:

ESPN The Magazine- I couldn't find a link on their website, but this week saw the release of their NBA Preview edition, in which they put the Jazz at #7 in the West. I think this falls in line, if not a bit more optimistic, than most of our expectations.

SI.com- They have the Jazz ranked #16 in the league, and #8 in the west. The ranking in the west, I would agree with. I think the only disagreements I would have is where they have the Nets (8) and the Mavs (14).

For those that don't regularly check the Deseret News' Jody Genessy's Jazz blog- (Jazzland), first, you should, and second, check out this post on the amazing Jazz art available from the NBA's official art partner: Rare Ink. Yes, it sounds like a tattoo parlor on State Street, but they have some great stuff. Especially probable to make Moni's heart flutter, is this piece featuring Stockton and Malone.

I could definitely see some of this art adorning the walls of my new downtown penthouse loft. You can visit Rare Ink and vote for this month's fan selection for the subject of a new piece. Included is the 97-98 Jazz. Go vote now.

Finally, read Jody's hilarious commentary on the annual NBA GM's Survey, here. (He says Kanter would receive votes as "International Player Most Likely to Have a Break-Dancing Season". BZ, Jody)

As the "Summer of Enes" comes to a close, the crowning achievement comes in the form of some love from CBS Sports' (and I think like 10 other sports blogs) Matt Moore:

The 'Jared From Subway' Award for offseason conditioning

Enes Kanter

The conditioning stories from preseason are the best. "He gained 15 pounds of muscle." "He's in the best shape of his career." "He feels the best he has in years."

But Enes Kanter took it a step further, telling reporters that he had balooned up to 290 pounds before losing, wait for it, 51 pounds. He lost a third of a normal person! But what's actually been more impressive than the weight loss for Kanter has been what he has gained. He looks like a much smarter player, more court-aware and in control on the floor. The second-year man looks like a beast for the Jazz and creates even more of a logjam of great frontcourt players for Utah.

Young Enes also makes the All-Preseason Second team:

Your All-NBA Preseason Team (first-team selections are weighted by minutes, hence Jack over Rondo)

PG: Jarrett Jack
SG: Klay Thompson
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Luis Scola
C: DeMarcus Cousins

Second Team:

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Nick Young
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Jared Sullinger
C: Enes Kanter

Finally, the Raja Saga continues. In this edition, we ponder the question, yet again, "Why the hell do we still pay attention to anything posted on RealGM?"

This is of so little importance. Here is Bill Oram's report for the SL Trib:

http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsjazznotes/55136595-62/jazz-bell-buyout-contract.html.csp

And Jody's take is here:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865565106/Utah-Jazz-Raja-Bells-agent-disputes-report-claiming-trade-being-pursued.html

If / when the Jazz and Raja come to an agreement, one of these guys will have the real news. Or Adrian Wojnorowski of Yahoo!

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