Posted by: Landon J on April 25th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
I just realized I was taking quite the vacation from UJ360. Good to be back! Now that the season has come to a near end, and before we head to the playoffs, I wanted to do another round of my traditional Jazz Player “Power Rankings.” In case you don’t remember, last season, I thought up the idea of ranking the players by how much they are currently benefiting the team. I released one list early this season, but it’s time for a new one! This list is not based on statistics. It is a list of how much of an affect the players have on the team, fans, and themselves. (If that makes any sense…) When a player’s hot, they’re hot, and the impact they make can determine whether a winning streak was built or a shooting slump dragged out longer. So without further explanation of what I’m getting at, here are my Jazz Player Power Rankings for the entire season, with recent games playing a very large factor:
1. Al Jefferson
This season, Al Jefferson has definitely had his up’s and down’s. But then again, this is the Jazz; everybody has had their up’s and down’s. Big Al started the season off slowly, but just look at where he has come. Jefferson has become one of the most consistant players on the Jazz roster, offensively, at least. He was the leading scorer and shot blocker for the season, which shows that he’s also not slacking on the defensive end. Lately, Al Jefferson has been one of the most determined players on our team to make the playoffs, and it’s fair to say that without him, we definitely wouldn’t be where we are today.
2. Paul Millsap
The same thing can be said about Paul Millsap. On the stat sheet, Millsap wouldn’t look like he had one of the best years of his career. But he did. His presence on the court continues to show that the Jazz mean business. Not to mention all the clutch shots he’s made in games these past few months. Millsap may always have a good night, but seems to always be there when he’s really needed.
3. Devin Harris
Devin Harris starting to play like an all-star again was crucial to the Jazz playoff hopes. Think of all the games we wouldn’t have won if it weren’t for Devin! The Dallas game, one of many, may be the most memorable to you. At the beginning of the season, he was playing just like last year. He was definitely not a game-changer. Now, he’s obviously comfortable, and is definitely playing up to his potential again. What great timing!
It was a toss up for me, to decide whether Hayward should be ranked above or below Derrick Favors. Then, after really thinking back, it wasn’t such a hard decision to make. Hayward has been extremely consistant this year. Not to mention the kind of work he’s had to do. With both Raja Bell and CJ Miles out, Gordon has had to really stack up the minutes. He’s very good in crunch-time, and makes the big shots when they count. And he’s still got a ton of potential.
Favors has come very far this season. I remember watching him play at the beginning of the year. It was driving me crazy seeing how much potential he had, and how much he was reaching up to that potential. He was playing well, but I just couldn’t help but wonder when he would ‘break out of his shell’. It happened about half-way through the season. Favors gained the hard-nosed attitude that everybody was waiting for him to have. He started blocking shots regularly, going in harder for dunks, and making big time plays to slow down opponent’s momentum.
All I can say is: what a great find by Kevin O’Connor! I love Jamaal Tinsley’s style of game and consistency, but most of all, I love his story. Here’s a guy in trouble with his career, who’s made some big mistakes in his life. KOC recognizes what he can do and gives him a chance. He says, “Screw up once, and you’re out.” What better place to turn your life around than Utah? If you play well, if at all, the fans will at least appreciate you here. But what does Tinsley do? He gets major minutes when Earl Watson gets injured and proves that KOC made one heck of a find! Tinsley provides a great spark, and a great presence in the locker room, win or lose.
DeMarre Carroll was another great find by O’Connor. Who knew that a player who would be waived by one team would help push another right into the playoffs?! DeMarre has been a favorite of mine, simply because he goes in and gets the job done. He’ll do the dirty work if he has to, but he gets it done. He actually reminds me a lot of Matt Harpring, just with better hair.
8. Alec Burks
Alec Burks is one heck of an athlete! He fits perfectly with the way the Jazz play, while bringing his own style and aggressiveness to the game. He’s only a rookie and is already splitting defenses and playing a very physical game. He definitely belongs in the NBA.
9. Enes Kanter
Another player that belongs in the NBA? Enes Kanter, no doubt. For the first several games of the season, I was highly disappointed in Kanter. He looked confused, wasn’t going up strong, and definitely didn’t look like an NBA player… Now I know the true Enes Kanter! He’s a great rebounder and actually a pretty good shot. His post play is good and makes some rough mistakes, but hey, he’s just a rookie!
Before his injury, Earl Watson was playing some pretty good Basketball. But with him gone, the Jazz seem to have been playing some pretty great Basketball! I’m a big fan of Watson and Raja Bell, but with them gone, you can’t help but wonder if they have a negative impact on the team. (That sounds extreme, I know, but it’s the best way I could put it. As for Josh Howard, he really impressed me this season before he got injured. He was a good role player to have on our team, with a lot of experience. But his injury has kept him out for quite a while, and it’ll definitely take time for him to get back to where he was.
I didn’t really feel right putting these players on the list. Blake Ahearn has barely played. He’s made some really good shots, but has also had quite the messes. You can tell he’s been playing in the D-League for a while. Raja Bell has been out for way to long to rate, and like I said above, we’ve been pretty well off without him. Jeremy Evans, our DUNK CONTEST CHAMP also hasn’t been getting playing time, which is unfortunate, but not surprising, considering how close our games have been lately. And lastly, CJ Miles. I left him off the list because he doesn’t even deserve to be rated. Every Jazz fan really seems to be in a good mood lately. Why? Because CJ’s not in the game to throw up three’s every time he gets the ball. He’s had his moments, but I honestly believe the Jazz are better off without CJ, and that he won’t be around for much longer. I get this feeling, however, that the Jazz keep CJ around because they don’t want to admit that they’ve invested so much money and time into a relative failure. Now that also may be a little extreme, but hey, I really don’t like CJ.
And that pretty much sums my rankings up. I’ve got a great story to tell about meeting Jerry Sloan, but I’ll save that for my next post. I’ll likely put out new rankings after the first round of the playoffs. For now,
What are your thoughts on breaking down the team? Try to keep away from listing players in order of “favorites” and think about the impact that the player is making as of lately…
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