Preseason Game 1: Jazz @ Warriors
Player Focus: Al Jefferson
The Utah Jazz
power forward center bigman Al Jefferson is really the straw that stirs our drink. The main targets this off-season were guys who, on offense, better fit in with what Big Al does on the court. We didn't bring in speedy guys, we brought in three guys who kill it off of half court spot up jumpers in Mo Williams, Randy Foye, and Marvin Williams. Our only draft pick this season was also *just* another guard who can score. The Jazz didn't get guys for defense. The Jazz didn't get guys for anything else, it seems, than the ability to space the floor.
Who on the team benefits the most from this? Cui bono? Big Al bono.
As a result, the player focus for Game 1 will be on Al Jefferson. We know he can score, but now we've gotten him more guys who can score to pass to. Will he pass? More than that, we know he can score on Andris Biedrins, Jeremy Tyler, and David Lee -- but can he score on Andrew Bogut (and also Festus Ezeli)?
Last season the Jazz went 2-1 with Big Al against the warriors. In Game 1 (a 1 point win) he shot 6/15 (40.0 fg%). In Game 2 (an 18 point loss) he shot 8/17 (47.1 fg%). In Game 4 (a 10 point win) he shot 13/18 (72.2 fg%). When the warriors tanked Al was his best. When they were still trying, Al had trouble. Overall he still went 27/50 (54.0 fg%), which is way above his sub .500 shooting for the season last season.
For the Jazz to run their half court offense, the ball is going to go into Big Al. He was successful against Golden State last year, but did not play against Bogut. He will tonight (hopefully). The Jazz are going to compete against the Warriors for one of the playoff spots for a part of the season. A big part of this competition will fall onto the Al / Andrew dynamic.
We're not going to see their titanic battle for 48 minutes tonight, but we will see the start of it. And for the Jazz, the focus player in this game SHOULD be Big Al. He's our best player at our biggest strength. He killed third stringers in the last game against the Warriors. Can he do it against Bogut?