NBA Predictions – Utah Jazz – 2007-2008
Recap: (2006-2007: 51-31) The Utah Jazz had some tremendous performances by its key acquisitions over the past few years. Point guard Deron Williams had a breakout year and established himself as a top 10-point guard in the NBA. Carlos Boozer finally showed that paying him all that money was worth it after he has spent the last 2 seasons on the Utah’s bench. Mehmet Okur opened up the middle of the floor for everybody by drawing big men outside of the paint and shooting the outside shot extremely well. All of this combined to create a formidable Utah team that was tough and physical with the talent to outscore the likes of high-powered teams like Dallas and Golden State. Utah made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, and got handled by the Spurs, but showed signs that they weren’t too far away from catching up with the reigning the champs.
Off-season: Jason Hart got the nod to replace the departure of Derek Fisher. The Jazz will see some cap-relief from this move, but Hart is not exactly a stand out player either. The departure of Dee Brown will also not help the team’s backcourt situation, leaving Deron Williams to carry the load this season. In the NBA Draft, the Jazz went with Morris Almond, a big shooting guard who plays great defense.
C – Mehmet Okur: A great shooter, but needs to play more consistent defense against bigs.
PF – Carlos Boozer: Finally showed he is an elite power forward in this league.
SF – Andrei Kirilenko: Apparently wants out but will not be released. We will see how this plays out.
SG – Gordan Giricek: Good shooter, but his paucity of D keeps him off the court at times.
PG – Deron Williams: Some people (i.e. Mark Jackson) call him a top 3 point guard. He is not that, but he could be on his way.
Bench: Jason Hart, Ronnie Price, Ronnie Brewer, Morris Almond, C.J. Miles, Matt Harpring, Paul Millsap, Jarron Collins and Kyrylo Fesenko.
Philosophy: As Utah proved in the playoffs last year, they can bang with anybody down low, even the San Antonio Spurs. With Boozer, Millsap and Collins in the paint, there is not a team who can out muscle them. Even Kirilenko and Harping can play big man ball from time to time. Okur may not be the toughest of them all, but he can defend against forwards of the skinnier type, and on offense, he can open space in the paint by drawing out big men; that way those other guys have more room to operate.
Projection: Although this team made it to the Western Conference Finals, there is not much to make one believe they were the second best team in the West. Assuming they will not be as lucky to have the playoff Gods on their side, Utah will have a decent season, but anything more than a quick playoff exit should not be expected.
Prediction: 49-33; 2nd in the Northwest
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