2008-2009 Utah Jazz Season Preview
2008 Utah Jazz basketball preview from Maddux Sports handicappers. In addition to the free team preview, you can evaluate NBA odds for upcoming pro basketball games.
The Utah Jazz (54- 28) were tough to beat in the second half of the long and demanding NBA season. The team made it to the round two of the playoffs and looked as if they might be able to upset the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. But they kept doing something a club should never do—fouling Kobe Bryant. Bryant took 96 frees and hit 80 of them (83%). If it had not been for all the fouls and all of the foul shots that Bryant took and made, the Jazz would have advanced. That, simply put, focused on a problem that the Jazz had all year—fouling opponents. Coach Jerry Sloan, who this season will mark his 20th anniversary as the head coach of the Jazz, has consistently put teams on the floor that foul way too much. Last season, Utah led the league in personal fouls and opponent free throw attempts. They allowed 410 more points than they would have had they fouled at the league average. That gave opponents an average of five more points per game via frees. That’s the difference between about a dozen wins/loses in the regular season.
The skinny regarding this club’s ability to win enough games to get to the second season has to do with their second half offensive efficiency. They led the league in that category after the break. Sloan’s foul philosophy has bench players coming in and playing aggressively, while the starters stay back and out of foul trouble. Utah’s aggressive play has made them tough to get a shot off against. Opponents had the lowest shots per possession against the Jazz.
The Jazz drafted Ohio State center Kosta Koufos as their first pick, the 23rd overall. He won’t play immediately, but he could be an important contributor in the future. Brevin Knight, who will play his 12th NBA season this year, has been added as a sure-handed backup in the backcourt. Swingman C.J. Miles, who has an ace of a shot, was given a four-year contract extension worth $15.8 million.
The frontcourt includes forward Carlos Boozer, who averaged a team high 21.1 PPG and 10.4 RPG last season, and center Mehmet Okur, who hit for 14.5 PPG and grabbed 7.7 RPG last season. Forward Andrei Kirilenko hit 51% of his shots from the field. These guys are all fine players but were inconsistent last year. F/C Paul Millsap plays every game.
With three years to his credit, point guard Deron Williams is one of the best in the league, averaging 10.5 APG and 18.8 PPG. He played 82 games last season. There’s depth at the other guard spot with Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Ronnie Price all seeing important minutes and contributing.
Jazz coach Sloan has seen more than 200 NBA coaches come and go in the 20 years he has been with the team. This club will win the Northwest Division, and they have a chance of being the best in the Western Conference. If they can do that and win home court advantage for the playoffs, they could meet the Celtics in the NBA Finals.