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The Downbeat - 19 October 2010 - #341 - The Evans Almighty Edition

Monty brings up an excellent point about how everyone that has left the Jazz have had some injury issues to start the season. Brewer has a hammy that keeps acting up (and may be losing the starting spot to Keith Bogans). Korver has a cyst in his ankle that slowing him a bit. And we know that Boozer and bags don't mix.

Then I was looking up to see how Matthews was doing and apparently he has a sore Achilles and didn't play against Golden State.

Now, it is the pre-season, so each team is going to be taking things easy, but should we have somehow retained all of those guys, we'd be off to a precarious start to the season.

We're not without minor injury concerns as well, but we are in better shape than most.

For as much as the Jazz get to the line (2233 times in 2010, 2nd), last year we were near the bottom of the league (23rd) in FT% (74.1%). Here are the last 4 seasons' percentages,

2007 .743
2008 .759
2009 .771
2010 .741

So far this pre-season they are shooting 75.2% which is an improvement. I thought they were shooting much higher than that but I missed forgot about game one against the Blazers where they shot just 63% in 46 attempts. Here are the game by game breakdowns:

Portland 29-46
Portland 31-43
Phoenix 31-36
Phoenix 21-24
Clippers 20-31
Lakers 26-30

So a slight improvement but not really enough to make a difference in wins. This is the pre-season so that average could be lower because the guys playing now aren't the ones that are going to be shooting free-throws in the regular season. If you take a look at the regular rotation numbers from the pre-season, they're impressive,

Jefferson, 19-22, 86.3%
Miles, 22-24, 91.7%
Hayward, 22-23, 95.7%
AK, 12-16,75%
Deron, 24-28,85.7%
Millsap, 13-19,68.4%
Bell, 4-4, 100%
Fesenko, 13-23, 56.5%

That's an overall 81% mark. Perhaps even more impressive is how many times CJ Miles is getting to the line. That's 4 attempts a game where he averaged just 1.5 last season with a career average of 1.1. His FT% had improved each season until last year where he couldn't crack 70% after putting up 87% the year before.

If they're near that 80% mark in the regular season, we're in good shape.

As predicted by many of you, the starting lineup for the Jazz to start the season will be Deron and Bell in the backcourt, with AK at the 3, Millsap at the 4, and Al in the middle. CJ will be the first off the bench and could play either the two or the three depending on who's coming out.

I had thought in the past that it would be better to bring AK off the bench to keep that second unit going. He's fantastic in the starting lineup but I still have my reservations about the second team right now. They've played well in the pre-season but consider me a show-me type for them.

I don't know how the Jazz keep doing it, but someone in the organization should write a book on drafting quality second-round talents. They're not only getting skilled basketball players for where they're drafted, they're getting quality men. In fact, perhaps they should just start trading all of their first-round picks for multiple second-rounders.

The latest to join that second-round squad is Jeremy Evans. In what should be a surprise to no one, he should be getting signed to at least partially guaranteed deal shortly. I imagine that, along with cuts, gets done tomorrow when the team gets back from LA. He still has that humility that our other second-rounders have had as well,

"I'm still not for-sure until I get the OK and I hear it from Coach," he said when asked about his chances for sticking. "So, for now, I'm gonna just keep playing hard."

I look forward to seeing him board and dunk for many years to come.

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