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The Baseline - The Downbeat - #641

Brian T. Smith reports the biggest change to the team so far this season,

The change: Offensive players who penetrate the Jazz's defense will be funneled toward the baseline instead of the paint.

The switch appears simple. It's not. Several Utah players and coaches explained in detail just how important the change could be, while some athletes expressed relief about Corbin's decision, acknowledging the Jazz's previous defensive system had become outdated.

I'm far from an Xs and Os guy, but I admit the force to the middle had been odd to me as well. In my limited playing time - read JV high school bench - I was always taught to force baseline because you use that as an extra defender. The other benefit is that the baseline can't foul a player whereas forcing to the middle will cause that. High foul rates have been the trademark of Sloan defenses.

I'm excited to see how this works out this season and whether it helps the team become better defensively and become better help defenders. As with all schemes though, they're only as good as the players executing them.

It was reported that the Jazz met with Josh Howard in North Carolina yesterday. If Josh Howard ends up signing with the Jazz, it would go against their previous MO of signing high-character guys. Howard has made news in the NBA for mostly the wrong reasons namely stating that he doesn't celebrate the national anthem because he's black, admitting he smokes marijuana in the off-season, and being arrested for drag racing. Granted, those issues were several years ago and certainly no player is without off-court issues.

His impact on the locker room and the team in general is something that needs to be looked at as well. By most accounts, he was liked and respected by his teammates in Dallas. If some of the young players start earning more playing time, would he have a negative impact? Of course the other issue is his recent injury to his ACL. Is he fully recovered from that?

I'm all for giving guys second chances both on and off the court. It would be an odd relationship though with the fans. I'm not quite sure how they would accept him. On one hand, Jazz fans love most every player that puts on the uniform. Yet there are players that rub them for whatever reason -- such as Jason Hart -- and they never accept them.

Ball Don't Lie is churning out their season previews and has this to say about the Jazz,

That's Al Jefferson down low, spinning around in the low left block, scoring away. Derrick Favors has the potential to be the sort of defensive stud that can play off of Jefferson's defensive shortcomings. Rookie Enes Kanter has obvious skill, out to 24 feet, and a fully healthy (and, purportedly, in shape) Mehmet Okur might have one very good year left in him. These are things that are tough to counter. Paul Millsap, half a decade later, still underrated.

Of course, the trick is getting everyone flowing at once. Jefferson has to be scoring while Favors stays out of foul trouble. Okur has to hit open jumpers, and Kanter has to be up to NBA speed. That's a lot to juggle for four players that, outside of Jefferson's exemplary pre-injury run with the Minnesota Timberwolves, have never really made the streets run red with consistency. Millsap needs a good passing point guard to find him, and Devin Harris isn't always on board with the pass-first ideal.

This lockout and shortened training camp is going to hurt when it comes to getting on the same page and implementing new defensive/offensive schemes.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised at this given the NBA's treatment of its fans and its hard-line negotiating. Not only is the league offering an olive branch by reducing league pass broadband, they're actually raising it when compared to last year's price when you look at the shortened number of games and the weekly cost.

It will still cost $169 for the full season though that does include mobile now whereas it was a separate charge before. However, they should break the two apart and have the full-season, TV-only option be less.

The NBA still has yet to do anything of significance to win back fans because they know most of them will be back regardless.

Wednesday poll...