News and Noteworthy – Mid-Summer Edition
Hey Jazz fan! Its been a while hasn’t it? Not much has been relevant in Jazz Nation since May 7, but in the past two weeks, the Jazz have been all abuzz here in the SLC. Over the next few paragraphs, I will take you through it all.
Did you know that the Jazz draft at 47 A LOT? Since 2003, the Jazz have drafted at 47 three times. In 2003, the Jazz drafted Mo Williams. In 2006, they drafted Paul Millsap. And in 2012, they drafted Kevin Murphy. If the previous two picks show us anything, it is that Kevin O’Connor is a 2nd round master and pick 47 is lucky for us.
If you are reading this, you probably already know a fair amount about our most recent draft pick, but just in case you don’t, here is what you will want/need to know about the young man out of Tennessee Tech. He is a 6’6”, 195 pound shooting guard native of Atlanta. He played on the rival AAU team to Derrick Favors back in the ATL with Hornets forward Al-Farouq Aminu. He was one of the leading scores in the NCAA last season, averaging 20+ PPG.
He has a very quick first step, good touch from range, and is improving his defense. He needs to bulk up a bit for the NBA game and slow down on the turnovers, but overall, he’s a great steal in the middle of the second round. He rebounds well from his position, averaging over 5 per game in college. He dropped 50 in January and it was the only 50 point game in the NCAA last season and the first since Jimmer did it in the MWC tournament in 2011. I’ve seen comparisons to Nick Young and Marshon Brooks. If he turns out like either player, chalk one more up to KOC on finding diamonds amongst the coal.
New Acquisitions and Recent Transactions
Speaking of Mo Williams, did you hear he’s back in the 801? When the Jazz let him walk after 2003 by not picking up his option, the former second round pick took it personal. 2009 was his only All-Star campaign showed off his talents when he averaged 17.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 4.1 APG while shooting over 43% from distance. He felt he was mishandled last season in Los Angeles as the Clippers brought him off the bench, made him play out of position at the 2, and ultimately saw his playing time diminish as the season went on. He comes home to the team that drafted him. And with the soon-to-be-finalized trade of Devin Harris, Williams can jump right in at point guard and will be an immediate upgrade at the position with his toughness and desire to succeed. If he can realize that this is Derrick Favors’ and Gordon Hayward’s team and get them the ball, he will find success in Utah and hopefully KOC won’t commit the “biggest mistake” of his NBA GM career again.
And speaking of the Devin Harris trade, the team is getting back Marvin Williams, the once-highly touted UNC prospect drafted one spot ahead of Deron Williams in the 2005 NBA draft. He is a 6’9” small forward who has spent his entire career in Atlanta and is in dire need of a restart for his career. Utah could very well be that opportunity for him where he can finally shed the expectations of being a former #2 pick. His acquisition makes the Jazz a very formidable team defensively. What he really brings to the table is an ability to consistently spread the floor, a trait the Jazz desperately have lacked with both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap much more comfortable around the rim. Keeping the defense more honest on the shooters will free up some room for Jefferson and Favors and Millsap to do some work inside.
Williams is much better on the move. He can shoot well enough from a spot up, but he is not a great isolation player. With both Williams’ the Jazz look to be an improved shooting team across the board and should free up some space for the whole team to make some plays.
The best part of this second deal is that at the end of the day, the Jazz used their #3 pick in 2005 to draft Deron Williams. Starting with the NJ trade last season that sent D Will to the East coast, the Jazz have now traded one #3 pick into #3 pick Derrick Favors, #3 pick Enes Kanter, #2 pick Marvin Williams (Harris was part of the Favors trade), and most likely a high single digit pick in 2013 from the Warriors. Not a bad job for Kevin O’Connor.
In addition to these two moves, the Jazz have picked up Jamaal Tinsley’s option and just yesterday inked Jeremy Evans to a new deal worth a few mil. As it stands now, here is your roster:
Point Guard: Mo Williams, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley
Shooting Guard: Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Kevin Murphy (pending a contract), Raja Bell (likely to be amnestied now – thank heaven)
Small Forward: Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll
Power Forward: Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, Jeremy Evans
Center: Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter
Italicized players are those whom I project as opening night starters in 2012
That makes 14 on the team. If the Jazz amnesty Raja Bell as many expect them to do, they will have 13 and that is a number KOC is comfortable with. I’m sure the Jazz are still active in discussions, but at this point, I don’t see many more options for the team out there. I’ve heard whisperings that they may just be biding their time to see how the Dwight Howard saga shakes out and then see if something materializes, but I don’t see much else.
On my wish list of Jazz player acquisitions: how awesome would it be if Howard is forced to stay in Orlando all season and then because of a small market of teams able to sign him, the Jazz sweep in with a max-deal offer and he comes in toe replace Jefferson. How awesome would that be? I know it would never happen, but I’m just saying, what if? Think about it and let me know what you think.
Summertime and the Livin’s Easy
If you aren’t currently following P3 Sports Science in Santa Barbara, you really should be. It is where Al Jefferson spends his time in the offseason and he’s had Kanter, Favors, Hayward, and Burks down there this offseason doing work.
As you no doubt already know, Favors and Hayward are playing on the US Select team that is the official practice squad for the Olympic team. That week of practice begins this week. If you have been really paying attention, you will also know that many of the big men asked to play on that team have withdrawn for various reasons. It hasn’t happened yet, but if Favors can have a strong showing, don’t be surprised if D Faves gets an invite to join the Olympic team in London.
Also of note, the Orlando summer league starts next week as well. Burks, Kanter, and Carroll highlight the group of guys playing the summer league and word on the street is that the team plans to run Burks at the 1 a lot to get him meaningful time at the position as they feel he can be a ball handler. Keep an eye on Orlando this week if you can.
I refuse to kid myself. I hate the Lakers. I really like Steve Nash, but now I have to hate him too. Seriously? I hope they all fail this coming season and Nash irritates Kobe because he won’t pass him the ball enough.
In other news, ARE YOU KIDDING ME HOUSTON? I can’t believe they are going to pay $28 million to a dude that has played 25 games in his career. And even more that the Knicks will match it.
Ray Allen to Miami makes me even more sick than Nash to LAL.
Andrei Kirilenko wants to return to the NBA and he said the Jazz are a preferred location. I’m not really sure where he fits in here though. Do we need/want a third 3 man?
Congrats to Deron Williams and his $98M contract in Brooklyn. That franchise deserves some good news after taking on Gerald Wallace at $10M per and trading for that terrible Joe Johnson contract in Atlanta.
The Suns won’t be a factor in the playoffs for a long time and the Mavs seem to be heading that way. Not sure how Dirk keeps them relevant on his own after trading away Lamar Odom and losing Jason Terry to Boston and Jason Kidd to New York. They lost on the D Will sweepstakes. Who is left there? Minnesota is a team that could be sneaky this season once Ricky Rubio is healthy. If Indiana matches Portland on Roy Hibbert (and why wouldn’t they?) Portland will be in rebuild mode again. New Orleans will be fun to watch but with so many young guys as the new face of the team, losing is inevitable. Golden State is and always will be Golden State. Houston will stay competitive. Based on how things are shaking out now, I expect the Jazz to be fighting for at least the 6th seed this year and if the cards fall well as they did a lot of this season, they could make a bid for a 5th or 4th seed. Mark my words on this now.