Its time for a mid-season check-in with your Utah Jazz and there isn’t any better way to do this than to get the voices your know best in the market to help analyze how they are doing. We’re grateful to have linked up with Amar, Clark, Diana, and Jon from SLC Dunk, Grant from Torn By Sports, Allen and James from The Dog and Deuce Show, and of course Mike and Matt weigh in as well. If you haven’t been reading SLC Dunk or TBS or listening to D&D, you really need to check them out.
1. The Jazz recently reached the midway point and the All-Star game approaches on February 17 in Houston. How have the Jazz done compared to how you expected them to play before the season began?
Amar: The Jazz are actually two wins ahead of where I thought they would be. I had the Jazz finishing above .500, and we’re 5 games above .500 right now. This is even more impressive when you factor in that 12 of our first 18 games were on the road and that for much of the season we’ve been without some combination of Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Earl Watson, and Gordon Hayward. The beginning of the season had the Jazz winning games because of their great three-point shooting. Of late, the three-point attack has gone down a bit, but the main problem remains to be defense. That was not addressed in the off-season, so I did not expect it to get better. So, record-wise I’m pleased with where we are. While our three-point attack has come back down to earth, I still think this has been an over-all positive.
Clark: I predicted that they would go 48-34 this season and be the 7th seed. I have a hard time seeing them passing Golden State or Memphis or Denver, so I think there ceiling is still the 7th seed. For the Jazz to win 48 games, they would have to go 26-15 the second half of the season.
Deuce: Just barely past the midway point of the NBA season, the Utah Jazz fans and team find themselves in limbo, performing and looking like one of the best teams in the Western Conference on one night, and then getting pummeled the next. I’m sure most fans would agree it’s not so much the W/L (although that’s why they play the game!) but rather the lack of consistent effort by so called “leaders” of this team. When Mo Williams went down with his thumb injury many thought we could survive without him, and while at times that certainly has been true, no one considered that it wasn’t the points and assists that we lost which would hurt most. It was his leadership, intensity and willingness to motivate a team that on any given night can look unmotivated. To be frank, I think this team has underachieved, given the off-season retooling by management and Ty Corbin having a full (albeit strike-shortened season) under his belt, I expected better consistency than last year and at times it seems like it’s worse. I had them in the 47-49 win neighborhood this year, and as of 2/1/2013 they sit at 25-21. It would appear that unless they have a significant win streak, I grossly over-estimated this team’s win total for the 2012-13 season.
Diana: I am pretty happy with how the Jazz have played so far. I think all of us had a hard time predicting what to expect from this team this season. I know in our preseason rankings at SLC Dunk many of us thought the Jazz could land anywhere from 4th to 9th in the West this year. I think 7th is pretty good for how tough their schedule was to begin the year.
I always tend to have higher expectations for the Jazz than a lot of fans. I thought they would make the playoffs last year and they did. This year I really didn’t know what to expect. I am a little disappointed with some of their losses this year. I feel we could have a better record if we played our young players more. Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks were high draft picks for a reason. They are well-rounded players who could help the team more with more minutes.
Dog: I expected the Jazz to be in a better position than they are now. Obviously, losing Mo Williams has been a HUGE let down and played a big part in the team’s record, but I would have liked to see Al Jefferson step up more and try to make up for what we’ve lost.
Grant: To start the season I was on the fence about how this team would do. I didn’t expect the Jazz to be a contender at all. The question in my mind was whether the Jazz would improve this season or not. Were the free agent moves the Jazz made enough to improve the team? In the end, I expected the Jazz to compete for a mid-tier playoff seed, 5 or 6. Right now, that is not out of the realm of possibilities. So I guess I am not too disappointed.
Matt: To be honest, I expected the Jazz would be in a better position. I’m not ashamed to admit I was one of the many who got caught up in the hype (hey, I’m a BYU fan, it’s sort of part of the DNA) and thought this team would be in that 2nd tier after the Thunder, Spurs, and Lakers. I thought we’d be in a three-team hunt with the Nuggets and Clippers for 4th place. I never conceived of the idea that we’d be fighting for 7th or 8th in the West.
Mike: I had higher expectations with MoWill at the point. Before Mo’s injury we started to see some gelling with a real leader at the point. I’m happy with Gordon Hayward’s progression. He’s on the brink of being a great NBA player. Jefferson and Millsap look distracted. Almost like they assume a trade of some sort is coming. At home the Jazz look as they always have. Dominant at times with the occasional weird loss. On the road the Jazz perennially struggle but not vs. the poor teams of this season. It’s hard to not blame Corbin for most of this.