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The Downbeat - 13 December 2010 - #380 - The One Player Away Edition

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  1_medium  Paul Millsap talks about returning to the bench last season after it was expected that Boozer would opt out in the summer of '09,

I'm not going to say there was no frustration because there was.

We've all been in that position before.  Well, maybe not trying to earn playing time for the Jazz (except for you Fess), but having to have patience for positions to open up or likewise.  It finally paid off for Millsap.  He didn't take anything for granted of course,

Millsap said he was more diligent than ever last summer. He knew expectations would soar with his place in the starting lineup secure due to Boozer's departure.
...  
Millsap spent the offseason utilizing strength and conditioning coaches. He honed his shot.

That 10-15 footer is falling at 52.8%.  That's opened up a lot for him on offense.

  Randy Rigby was on KSL last night talking about the season so far.  He mentioned that they were happy overall with the 17-8 record but he also thought that there was room for growth.  Nothing earth-shattering there.

He also compares Deron Williams to John Stockton in the fact he was a great example on the court but knew how to joke and have a good time off the court.  Deron has also been pushing the other players more but has also been a better teammate according to Rigby.

Finally, he mentioned that they believe they'll have Memo back in 1-2 weeks.  I still think the logical return would be the 27th at home against the Blazers, after the Jazz return from their four-game road trip.

  Back in August I asked who you though the team's leading scorer would be.  Jefferson won that in a landslide with 76% of the vote.  Deron was a distant second at 17% and Millsap third at 5%.

As it stands now, here are your PPG leaders:

Deron, 22.7
Millsap, 18.0
Jefferson, 16.6

So two questions for you based on that.  One, are you surprised at the current results?  There's still a lot of season left, but at 25 games in, you're getting a pretty good sample size.

That leads me to the second question: Do you expect the scoring leaders to change?  Memo could be coming back in a couple of weeks.  Does that take any points away from Big Al or Millsap?

To me, I would be surprised if Deron doesn't finish the season leading the team in scoring.  He's averaged 17% of the team's shots over his career before this season.  Right now, his average is up to 19.6% of the team's shots.

Millsap and Jefferson round out the top two with 16% and 18% respectively.

  An interesting comparison between the Jazz and the 2004 champions, the Detroit Pistons,

A Player Away from the 2004 Piston Model

(Point 1) You will notice the Jazz have no players of megawatt win power (+0.600 Win Contribution) but do have at least three players who are making a +0.200 or better Win Contribution. In that sense, the Jazz have assembled a team that is nearly identical in Win Contribution makeup to the 2004 Pistons, save for the lack of a Ben Wallace type to put them over the top. I have an off-the-wall suggestion. The Jazz should make a hard play for Greg Oden. Roll the dice that he can return in nearly the same form after microfracture surgery. If he does, his small body of work suggests he could be a taller, more offensive Ben Wallace. If he is, the Jazz are World Championship level. But you have to build a base of at least 3 +0.200 players.

For fans of the Bucks, I would like to point out the ways the Jazz exemplify the proper structure of a small market contending team that lacks a megastar.

Making a play for Greg Oden next off-season is something that some of you have mentioned before.  If he were to stay healthy, and that's an If as big as the Met Life Blimp, this author puts the Jazz as a championship-caliber team based on his stats.

I'm most interested to see how this team plays when Memo (speaking of 2004 champions) comes back.

  Over the next 20 games, the Jazz will be at home only 7 times as the schedule starts to even out.  However, of those 20 games (17 teams), only 7 are above .500.  And depending on what Portland does (they're 1 game over), they could be a sub-.500 team as well.

I'm not as worried about this December road trip as I have been in season's past given the relatively ease of schedule as well as the recent success of the team on the road.