Deron admits in this great article by Brian T. Smith that chemistry last season was not good at times,
"It wasn't great," Williams said. "We had stuff we were dealing with, with contract situations and things like that. I don't really want to get into it. But the chemistry wasn't as good as it could have been."
If the chemistry wasn't good last season, then it was probably the same thing in 2008-09 when Mr. Regardless was going to hit the market before the market disappeared.
That, to me, is the biggest reason for optimism this season. The talent hasn't dropped and now everyone knows that it's Deron's team and everyone is fine with it. They're all on board. Let's look at the things that we've been clamoring for the past couple of years.
- Veteran leadership. While reactions to Derek Fisher are mixed, one thing that can't be denied was that he was the sage and mentor that helped the 2007 team. We have that once again in Raja Bell.
- Interior D. Jefferson/Millsap/AK > Memo/Boozer/CJ. There's still work to be done here but I would take this lineup any day of the week.
- Toughness. Again, with the addition of Raja, and apparently Elson, this is more like the stereo-typical Jerry Sloan tough-guy team. The last few years the team had been coasting on reputation but we didn't see it that often.
- Mentality. We'll have to see how it carries into the regular season, but with the beatings of LA, the team appears to have a different mentality. We saw Al take it at Gasol down low without hesitation. We saw a team play with confidence throughout the pre-season. Everyone seems to be on the same page and has the same goals.
Salt City Hoops has been doing some great division previews. Make sure to check them out if you haven't already.
I have to admit that in years past, I've said aloud that Sloan doesn't play rookies, that he doesn't adapt to the current NBA, etc. I've grown to appreciate just how good he is though. He's not perfect of course but I do believe that he does the most with what he has player-wise. And though his job is never in danger, he still has the day-to-day mentality where either he could walk away or feels that the Jazz would want to go in a different direction.
Nobody knows what day will be Sloan's last. Certainly you could say he's towards the end of his coaching career (I think). So with that in mind, make sure to take in Sloan while you can. There's been some pretty high praise for him recently. Some good links,
AKWSUA. That is all
"I have never been an individual player who is trying to establish himself as an individual player," Kirilenko said. "Since the beginning of my career, I go with the team and help my team win the game.
"I think for the 10 years I've been here, we didn't make the playoffs, maybe, two years. And one time we were one win away, even without John [Stockton] and Karl [Malone].
"I will always try to stay that way on the floor. I don't want to be individual player who grabs the ball and says, 'Hey, get out of my way.' I'm going to be a guy who worries about the team."