Before tonight's game against the Utah Jazz, I did a quick little email Q & A with Basketball John of SLC Dunk. Check out his site for the Jazz side of things.
How would you describe the Jazz basketball style? Is there a dramatic analogy that makes sense to describe what they do on the floor?
On offense, the Jazz are akin to a fine surgeon. The offense is designed to carve up the defense by having continual movement and getting easy buckets from backdoor cuts and off the ball screens. If they're a surgeon on offense, then they're a butcher on defense. Okay, so they're not that bad. They actually rank a little above average. The propensity to foul has always been a part of Jazz basketball, though they've been doing that a little less this year. Utah has always had the rep of being a physical team, but we only seem to have Matt Harpring that follows that creed. I wish the rest of the team were more like that on D.
From the outside, it seems kind of odd that there's so much sturm und drang over Carlos Boozer's contract status. If he opts out, then so be it, because Millsap is awesome. If he stays, then so be it, because he and Millsap together can cause problems for just about any power forward and his backup. After next season, there's little reason to keep Boozer, but that's his opportunity to go get another big contract, and as long as the team is honest about their plans to have Millsap inherit his position when he leaves, he shouldn't be unhappy and neither should Millsap. What am I missing?
No one ever questioned that he was going to opt out, that was a given. He was going to get more money with the Jazz or with someone else. The whole ruckus was with his timing of his statement that he was going to opt out. He has been saying all season long that he wasn't going to comment on any issues concerning his contract until after the season, but all of the sudden he casually drops that he's going to opt-out to a national reporter? The timing was just bad whether it was intentional or not. The Jazz had just had a big come-from-behind win over the Nets. Also, why is he announcing this while he's injured and hasn't even been seen in a long time? Just bad timing. Throw in the whole Cleveland incident and it starts to look bad to a lot of people. I think fans are building up a pre-emptive hate in case he does job the Jazz. Millsap's unbelievable play in place of Boozer has many wishing to have Boozer shipped out. I think we need Booze. As awesome as Millsap has been, we still need Carlos in a big way on the offensive block. He opens up a lot of the offense. Unfortunately, it's not likely that we'll be able to keep both. They would be a great 1-2 that most other teams wouldn't be able to handle. Because of Andrei Kirilenko's max contract, Deron Williams' max contract, Millsap's big raise, and Boozer's bigger raise, there just isn't enough funds to go around. Ownership has stated that it won't go over the luxury cap, so one of the three forward will be gone. I wish management would be willing to pay the tax for a couple of years. Kirilenko's contract comes off the books in 2011. With Boozer's injury, he may not choose not to opt out. A lot will depend on how he plays over the final couple of months of the season. If that were the case, we could end up losing Millsap. Not good.
Do you remember Raja Bell's time with the Jazz? What insights about him as a player can you offer?
I remember him as part of the 2003-04 team that was supposed to be one of the worst of all time. This was after Stockton had retired and Malone went to try for a ring with the Lakers. Instead, they ended up going 42-40 (about 30 games above their projected win total) and missing the playoffs by just one game. He and Sloan never seemed to get along and he jumped to PHX as soon as he was a free agent. I think he signed with them at midnight or as soon as he could. He owes his big deal with PHX in part to playing in the Jazz system. You know what you're going to get with him, good D and good three-point shooting. Can't believe that was five years ago.
Only one NBA team since 1980 has won the title without a surefire Hall of Famer leading them, the 2004 Pistons, and only three other teams have even made it to the Finals without a surefire Hall of Famer. I don't think it's really controversial to say Deron Williams is the Jazz's best player, but is he among the twenty best players in the league? If so, describe what makes him particularly special. If he's not, what about him and the rest of the team indicates they'll buck the trend and win a title within the next few years?
There's nothing controversial in the least stating that Deron is Utah's best player. And when healthy he is definitely in the top 20 if not the top 10 players in the league. We (everyone that follows the NBA) are going to look back at the end of this year and wonder why the hell he hasn't been an All-Star yet. (UPDATE: Just got a text message that he won't be playing tonight. Awesome.) His points and assists per game are close to Chris Paul's (Deron is averaging 24 & 10.5 over the last 11 games) all while taking less shots per game and playing on a team where he's not the only one required to pass the ball and get assists. But what makes Deron special is that killer drive to win. He has that instinct that all of the greats have to win at any cost. He can take over games when it's obvious that the rest of the team might not have it. Most fans wish he would take over even more. But he stays within the Jazz system and still gets his stats when he could easily do his own thing (as evidenced in the Portland game) and get the numbers. He could become the story in the NBA in the second half.
Which band or other musical outfit has a catalog that most represents what Salt Lake City is all about?
Hmmm, I should probably get someone else to answer this one. I love music and the SLC, but music is not my forte. I'm pretty shallow in that regard. Here's what I'll do. I'll throw up the question on SLCDunk.com and see if we get some good responses from the community. Here's the link to that post.