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The Downbeat - 4 August 2010 - #286 - The Five Questions For Next Season Edition

  How well will this team come together and play together?  For a team that prides itself on stability and continuity, this is one of the biggest shakeups since the end of the 2003 season when Arroyo, Bell, Harpring, AK, Ostertag, and Stevenson were the carryovers to 2004.

As of now we only have 6 players from last season currently signed: AK, Miles, Millsap, Okur, Price, and Williams.  I assume that Fesenko will be back but I was almost positive that Matthews was going to be back as well.  Gaines could be back as well. 

We didn't lose to Hall of Famer's this off-season like we did in 2003, but Boozer, Korver, Matthews, and to an extent Brewer, is still a large chunk of that base to lose. 

We know that Jefferson wants to play here and seems to have a good rapport with Deron already.  Bell spurned Kobe and LA to come play again for Sloan and the Jazz.  I don't think there's going to be any problems with team chemistry.

Where it's going to take some time to come together is simply getting used to playing with each other.  Deron's play-making will alleviate some of that but it's going to take a while both on offense and defense to having Jefferson in the post with Millsap instead of Okur and Boozer.

I can't remember which player said it, but he stated that the Jazz run the same thing nearly every time down the court so that the players don't have to think about what they're doing, they can just react.

They'll have training camp and the pre-season to get that down but you don't get 6 seasons of experience in a few weeks.

  Is this a better team than last season?  Off the top of my head I don't believe we're worse so we're either about the same (52 wins) or a little better.  What starting lineup do you like better?

2010              2011

Williams       Williams

Matthews      Bell

CJ                  CJ

Boozer         Millsap

Okur             Jefferson

The first three are a wash.  Where the difference comes is with that front-court and the bench players.  I think the Jazz score about the same next season.  While Millsap might not quite match Boozer's numbers, those points are going to get spread around.

Where the Jazz I believe get better a bit is defensively.  Millsap is a better defender that Boozer, that much is known.  Jefferson has the same rap that Boozer has had on the defensive end.  So you have to look at whether Al is better than Memo at the center.  We'll have to see if Jerry can instill some defensive prowess into Jefferson's game.

Last year's bench consisted of Korver, AK, and Millsap primarily.  This season will give us Memo, AK, and Hayward.  That's where we might lose a bit with Hayward instead of Korver.

I said before that the first three on the starting list was a wash.  However, I think the Jazz can get better depending on what CJ shows up.  Which leads me to...

Are we going to get smart or dumb CJ to start the season?  We saw him turn it on late last season mainly because he started taking it to the hole a lot more instead of pulling up.  He also got a lot smarter about distributing the ball vs. taking the shot.  That's important because as much as we like him taking it to the rim, he's going to be needed to provide the outside shot.

If I'm the coaching staff, I lock CJ in a room, tape his eyes open, and have him watch his games from April on.  I really think he's going to be the key to a good start for the team.  If we can avoid the typical December letdown, we'll be in good shape.

  How's the front-court rotation going to shake out?  The assumption right now is that the starting lineup would consist of Williams, Bell, CJ, Millsap, and Okur Jefferson.  That leaves about $27M on the bench in the form of Okur and Kirilenko. 

Millsap has averaged 35 minutes a game (which is good considering that he's known for getting into foul trouble) when he's started and Jefferson has played 34 minutes a game in his career as a starter.  That leaves about 27 minutes of PT available. 

AK is going to get minutes at both the 4 and the 3 while Memo is going to get most of his backing up Al.  Okur has averaged about 32 minutes a game while starting so going to 10-15 a game is quite the reduction in playing time for a $10M player.  He looks like he's a bit head of schedule with his recovery from injury when he was playing in Deron's golf tourney a few weeks back.  Of course playing golf while riding in a cart is a far cry from NBA basketball.

  I'll leave the last one up to you.  What's a question you have for the upcoming season?