Posted by: KCJones on October 9th, 2012The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
…according to Zach Lowe at ESPN’s Grantland.
I love reading Bill Simmon’s stuff on Grantland, some ESPN spin-off or something. He’s also the author of the The Book of Basketball. I’ve also enjoyed following Zach Lowe’s rise up from blogger to running ESPN’s Daily Dime Live (which was awesome and filled my time during the lockout drudgery last year) to now joining the great sports writers on Grantland. Well, I just read his first article: NBA teams by Tiers and that’s what I wanted to address now that I’ve plugged some of my favorite parts of the sports (and NBA) info world.
Zach Lowe says this about the Jazz:
Maybe the incumbent no. 8 seed deserves to be the favorite here. Heck, they could even leapfrog the Mavericks if things go well; there was very little difference in the big picture between Utah and Dallas last season, and the Jazz youngsters, especially Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, should make significant progress. Favors is especially tantalizing — a potential game-changing rim protector who could mitigate Al Jefferson’s slow-footed pick-and-roll defense if Tyrone Corbin pairs them more often. Utah allowed just 97.5 points per 100 possessions in the 455 regular-season minutes Jefferson and Favors played together, about one-quarter of which came as part of surprisingly effective ultra-big lineups that also included Paul Millsap masquerading as a small forward.
How Corbin juggles those three bigs, plus Enes Kanter, will be fascinating; the Jazz need Millsap’s spacing and off-the-dribble game, especially if Favors’s offense remains raw, but they also need to upgrade their interior defense if they ever want to make serious noise. They should be able to maintain a top-10 offense with more shooting and a deeper wing rotation via the acquisitions of the Williamses, Mo and Marvin.
He groups the Jazz in the tier of ‘In the League’s Most Exciting Race … for No. 8 in the West‘ (along with the Timberwolves and Warriors), which follows ‘The Real Title Contenders‘ (Miami, Thunder, Spurs, Lakers), ‘A Puncher’s Chance‘ (Celtics), ‘Dreaming of a Puncher’s Chance‘ (Clippers, Grizzlies), ‘Exciting Upside, Too Many Questions‘ (Nuggets, Nets, Knicks, 76ers), ‘Solid Playoff Teams, But What’s the Plan?‘ (Mavericks, Pacers, Bulls), ‘Dreaming of No. 8 in the East — and a Much-Needed Leap‘ (Bucks, Raptors, Pistons, Wizards), and ‘The Sneaky Good Team, in Their Way‘ (Hawks). And of course, below those tiers are ‘In the Lottery, Defined by Uncertainty‘ (Rockets, Suns, Blazers, Kings) and ‘In the Lottery, With Comfort‘ (Hornets, Cavaliers, Bobcats, Magic).
First off, I noticed how tough the western conference is ranked here. Three title contenders, two dreaming of a puncher’s chance, one exciting upside but too many questions, one solid playoff team but whats the plan and three exciting race for 8th. To sum up Zach Lowe’s West tiering:
Honestly, this is a tough one. I’d maybe give the Hornets more credit now that they drafted #1 Anthony ’supposedly going to be a game changer’ Davis along with the Rocket’s desire to suck. The Kings got another good front court guy in Thomas Robinson. I agree that the Warriors will be better with a healthy Bogut and Curry plus Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson, and the Wolves seemed to address their wing issues with a big reward / big health risk play on Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko. The Mavericks re-tooled but I’m not sure they’ll jive. Probably, though, because they have a great coach in Carlisle. Nuggets added Iguodala, who I really like and though the Jazz should have gone after.
Honestly, after reading this and seeing the Jazz ranked as ‘trying for 8th seed along with two other teams, followed by four teams that could also maybe be trying for 8th seed’ my initial reaction was ‘Oh that’s way too low for the Jazz’. But after thinking it through and seeing how tough the conference is out west, I think the ranking’s probably pretty close. I HOPE we can leapfrog Denver and the Mavericks and be better than the Warriors and the Wolves (and the Kings), but its so up in the air. What do you think? Too low? Too high?
Anyway, I’m really excited for the season to start. Mostly to see Mr. 8-pack Kanter make his second-year leap!
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