Posted by: Nick Knows All on August 23rd, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
This is the first of 2 posts. First I’ll talk about this upcoming season, then next I’ll talk about free agency in 2013/2014. I apologize beforehand for the length. But hear me out.
I believe we are going to make some serious noise in the Western Conference this season, competing with the Clippers, Nuggets and Grizzlies (potentially even the Lakers) for the 3-7 seeds in the 2013 playoffs. There’s simply no way we’re going to do worse than we did last year, because we have improved in the areas we needed to improve the most-perimiter shooting and defense.
If you listen to Locked on Jazz, you should know that our defense has not improved very much statistically—on paper so to speak. That is, Mo and Marvin Williams are not in the same tier of defenders at their positions as Deron Williams or Andre Igoudala.
But Mo and Marvin ARE defensive upgrades over Devin Harris, Josh Howard, and CJ Miles (statistically, CJ Miles was a good defender—even though his defensive philosophy was to just foul the ball-handler. That just goes to show that statistics must be taken with a grain of salt).
The good news is that two of our newest additions have been unanimously described as the big T-word: TOUGH. Willing to get gritty, take charges, and set screens, do the stuff that’s not neccessarily flashy, but produces results.
There’s a reason this word is important. Players are either tough, average, or soft. Paul Millsap is TOUGH. Demarre Carrol is tough (a great example of a player who gets by on toughness alone). On the other hand, you’ve got guys like Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver, Carmello Anthony. These guys could be phenomenal basketball players, they’re all extremely talented, but they’re SOFT. They’re NOT willing to do whatever it takes to win.
These things do not neccessarily appear in traditional or even advanced statistics. Remember last season when Devin Harris famously declared he was “too old” to take charges? How he missed a dozen games with knee and ankle injuries? That’s one of the reasons we traded him to get Mo, who is if nothing else, a sturdy dude with no real history of injuries.
So while the numbers say that our defense has not improved significantly because Mo and Marvin are not incredible defendersindividually, our team defense has improved significantly by nature of their toughness.
With a starting lineup that includes two near-elite defenders in Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, plus a reliable, proven point guard who’s willing to defend his position, we have a significantly better defensivecore than we did last year.
But this is definitely contingent on having Derrick Favors start at the four. The more time Favors spends on the court, the harder it will be for teams to score. Period.
We’ve all heard the words “addition by subtraction” used to describe our offseason. Case in point: Raja Bell, CJ Miles, and Josh Howard. All terrible basketball players, all no longer on the Jazz.
Last season, Raja Bell’s offense improved while his defense got worse. CJ’s defense improved slightly while his offense got even worse. And Josh Howard just sucks at basketball period. Devin Harris was a good basketball player, but not a good point guard.
Mo Williams is a good basketball player, but also a good point guard.
Most importantly, yes, even more important than our defensive upgrades, we’ve finally solved the most glaring and damning weakness of our team. We were one of the worst teams in the NBA at it. We got killed night in and night out because of it. Teams didn’t even bother to defend against it.
Three. Point. Shooting.
Yes Jazz fans. For the first time since we lost Deron Williams, Wesley Matthews, and Kyle Korver, we have players that can actually shoot the basketball from outside.
Did you know that the Celtics MADE more 3 pointers than the Jazz ATTEMPTED last season?
Randy Foye, Marvin Williams, and Mo Williams are all bonafide threats from downtown, and Gordon Hayward will continue to improve at it. We now have 4 players who can make 3 pointers.
Glory hallelujah, Jazz Nation. The 3 pointer has returned to Utah.
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