2009-10 Utah Jazz Season Preview
The Jazz of Utah (48- 34) were not happy with the way things turned out last season. The year before they had made it to the conference finals and like so many other clubs that do so, there was optimism that they would repeat that performance. After all, they did have the same core that got them to the finals in 2007- 2008; plus they had added some new, young talent. But that’s never an easy thing to do. The Jazz faltered and were plagued by injuries. The regular season ended with Utah going 7- 11 and capturing the eighth seed. That meant in round one they had to play the Lakers who easily dispatched them. Utah struggled throughout the season on the road and in back-to-back contests. They were dead last in wins in both categories. Although the team saw fine offensive numbers from its frontcourt guys, the club’s overall output fell from what it was the season before. Inside they scored points but from downtown they struggled. This is a team that did not meet expectations.
The frontcourt offers fine inside play. Center Mehmet Okur (17.0 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.7 APG) is coming off a stellar season. His inside double-double play proved that he could compete in the paint, giving Denver an inside edge. Power forward Carlos Boozer (16.2 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 1.05 SPG) missed 41 games due to a knee injury. He’s back and healthy, which will go a long way in keeping the Jazz competitive. Small forward Andrei Kirilenko (11.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.15 BPG, 1.24 SPG) is a solid two-point shooter and offers good defensive skills. Forward Paul Milsap (13.5 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 1.8 APG), who filled in for the injured Boozer last season, is a good sixth man. Continued development could turn him into a starter.
At the point, Deron Williams (19.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 10.7 APG, 1.07 SPG) is one of the finest young players in the league. He plays both sides of the ball extremely well and hits 47% from the floor and 85% of his free throws. The shooting spot looks to go to Ronnie Brewer (13.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 2.2 APG). Brewer, who hit 51% from the field, was dismal from downtown, converting just 26% of his threes.
The strong and weak points from last season are the strong and weak points of this season. The interior offense is first-rate. This team will be able to take it to the rim and physically dominate opponents. The front unit is big, skilled and deep. On the other side of the coin is the wing offense, which is lacking. Shooting guard is tenuous and the small forward spot can’t pop out and drain a three. These guys complete on average about 24% of their three-point shots.
The Jazz, who are coached by the highly adaptable Jerry Sloan (1,137- 751), will do well enough to get back to the post season. However, if they can’t perform well on the road, they won’t do much in the playoffs. Utah should capture third in the Northwest with about 50 wins and end up sixth in the Western Conference.