Salt City Hoops » Deron Williams The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Wed, 17 Sep 2014 19:09:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops no The ESPN TrueHoop Utah Jazz Site Salt City Hoops » Deron Williams “Utah Jazz Basketball”: A Look At Assisted Field Goal % Wed, 16 Oct 2013 21:45:36 +0000 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles),, and previously for He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
We often hear, when the Jazz win, that the team won by playing “Utah Jazz basketball.” For me, that has always connoted heart, hustle, tough defense, smart offense, and above all, teamwork.

When you think about the best teams in franchise history, they often exuded teamwork – an altruistic mindset. These Jazz squads were the ones who seemed to take joy in making the extra pass and in doing so, everyone got involved. The teamwork and passing was simply contagious. The result were some very successful years and many deep playoff runs. Moreover, they were a complete delight to watch, especially for basketball purists.

They were rosters comprised of many capable and, more importantly, willing passers. While John Stockton and Deron Williams were naturally the catalysts behind these stellar passing teams, the Jazz have had a bevy of excellent passers in Karl Malone, Jeff Hornacek, Andrei Kirilenko, Howard Eisley, and so forth.

One of my favorite statistics to watch: the percentage of the team’s total field goals which were assisted. Let’s call this the Assisted Field Goal Percentage, or AFG%. The team that has the higher percentage often places themselves in a good position to win on a given night. For instance, when the Los Angeles Clippers demolished the Jazz Saturday evening, they did a masterful job executing (especially in a preseason outing). Led by Chris Paul and Darren Collison, they assisted on 29 of their 43 field goals–a 67.4 percent clip. Furthermore, it was much higher through the first three quarters, prior to letting the end of the bench finish the evening out. The Clippers did a lot of other great things that night and the Jazz had a rough go at it, but the high AFG% definitely contributed to LA’s victory.

Here is a historical look at how the Jazz have done on AFG%. Let’s start with the 1987-88 campaign, when Stockton and Malone took the NBA by storm (side note: many people cite this as the first year Stockton started. He did start 38 games his second season.). Besides AFG%, the overall field goal percentage and record are also included.

Season FGs Asts AFG % Overall FG% Record
1987-88 3,484 2,407 .691 .491 47-35
1988-89 3,182 2,108 .662 .482 51-31
1989-90 3,330 2,212 .664 .505 55-27
1990-91 3,214 2,217 .690 .492 54-28
1991-92 3,379 2,188 .647 .492 55-27
1992-93 3,336 2,177 .653 .489 47-35
1993-94 3,207 2,179 .679 .477 53-29
1994-95 3,243 2,256 .696 .512 60-22
1995-96 3,129 2,139 .684 .488 55-27
1996-97 3,131 2,199 .702 .504 64-18
1997-98 2,993 2,070 .692 .490 62-20
1998-99 1,684 1,204 .715 .465 37-13*
1999-00 2,962 2,041 .689 .464 55-27
2000-01 2,960 2,110 .713 .471 53-29
2001-02 2,869 1,999 .697 .450 44-38
2002-03 2,894 2,103 .727 .468 47-35
2003-04 2,690 1,671 .621 .436 42-40
2004-05 2,828 1,826 .646 .449 26-56
2005-06 2,744 1,772 .645 .442 41-41
2006-07 3,069 2,024 .659 .474 51-31
2007-08 3,279 2,165 .660 .497 54-28
2008-09 3,143 2,024 .644 .475 48-34
2009-10 3,227 2,187 .678 .491 53-29
2010-11 3,064 1,921 .627 .465 39-43
2011-12 2,523 1,439 .570 .456 36-30*
2012-13 3,046 1,859 .610 .454 43-39

(*-Lockout seasons)

While pace and scoring have fluctuated greatly in the NBA the past few decades, the Utah Jazz has been consistently high in AFG%. From 1987 to 2009–much of which came under Jerry Sloan’s tenure–the team had an AFG% of 64.4 percent or higher 22 of 23 seasons. During the 15 seasons where the team eclipsed the 50-win mark (including the 1998-99 lockout season where they would have), Utah sat between 66 and 71.5 percent 14 of those years. The high mark in 2002-03 happened to be the final season before #12 and #32 rode off into the sunset. 72.7 percent is simply stellar.

The past few seasons have been much lower, particularly the most recent lockout season. The offense focused on Al Jefferson’s low post abilities, which had some definite positives. It also took away from the more open, free passing offense that has been a stable of Utah Jazz basketball for decades. Likewise, the changing of the point guards–Deron Williams, Devin Harris, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley, and Mo Williams–definitely contributed. Without consistency at the helm, it is difficult to set the tone.

While this season will be a season of some growing pains, along with the defensive foundation that Tyrone Corbin and the front office has been fittingly espousing as a goal for this year, the Jazz would do well to help reestablish Utah’s longstanding focus on smart and effective passing, while boosting the team’s AFG%. Trey Burke’s injury certainly hurts, but with able passers like Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, and some big guys who can dish, there are some very good pieces in place. As the team rebuilds, if it is to return to the ranks of contenders, keep an eye on the AFG%–it’s a true part of “Utah Jazz basketball.”

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles),, and previously for He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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A Few Players the Jazz Would Love to Have Back Sun, 22 Sep 2013 21:44:50 +0000 Author information
Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt is an avid sports fan who follows college and pro basketball extremely close. He is a regular college basketball contributor for the Deseret News and runs his own sports blog in his spare time. During the day Kyle works as a digital marketing analyst, improving the credibility and web presence of more than 25 high-spend clients.

Everyone makes poor relationship decisions at one time or another. Whether it’s letting an unhealthy relationship go on too long or cutting a good thing short, we’ve all experienced the feelings of relief, nausea, and confusion that directly follow a breakup. Sometimes you end a relationship because it’s truly for the best, but other times you regret the decision almost as soon as you say “goodbye”.  Interestingly enough, relationship mistakes are just as common in professional sports as they are in the dating world.  No one will soon forget the famous “Curse of the Bambino” that resulted from the Red Sox trading Babe Ruth, or the Oilers parting ways with Wayne Gretzky, or the Oklahoma City Thunder refusing to pay James Harden his money last summer.

If you think about it, the Jazz have also made their share of relationship mistakes over the course of their history. Some of their dismissals have been applauded, while others have left a painful sting that won’t soon diminish. It’s never easy to find a player who puts up consistent numbers, but once you do, you need to hold onto them like the whole future of the franchise depends on it—because it does. As Jazz fans, we’re not torn up about parting ways with players like C.J. Miles, DeShawn Stevenson, or Kosta Koufos, but we do care about the ones that actually made an impact. If the Jazz want to avoid vetting their roster of talented players unnecessarily, someone needs to point out where they went wrong. To help with this, I’ve compiled a list of the players the Jazz should have never let go.

  1. Deron Williams - This is complicated. Clearly Jerry Sloan and Deron Williams had a strained relationship, but looking back, couldn’t someone figure out a way to mend it? Deron Williams is the best player the Jazz have seen since Stockton and Malone and the only one to take the Jazz past the first round of the playoffs since that era. During his career in Utah he averaged over 20 points, 10 assists, and 1 steal per game. There is no doubt in my mind Williams could have done great things with the young team of today. I heard recently that Williams actually endorsed Sloan for the Nets head coaching job after they released P.J. Carlesimo. Now that Sloan is in Utah again, couldn’t we work something out?
  2. Dominque Wilkins - Unfortunately, the Jazz didn’t even give this one a chance. Utah drafted “The Human Highlight Film” with the third overall pick in 1982 but shipped him off to Atlanta the very same day.  Just imagine ‘Nique performing his nightly acrobatics in a Jazz uniform. In his glory days, Nique averaged nearly 30 points per game and just over 6 rebounds.
  3. Kyle Korver - Say what you want about his rock star hair, but Kyle Korver can shoot lights out. In his final year with the Jazz, Korver averaged 53% from beyond the arc – setting a single season NBA record. He also currently holds the 12th position on the list of all-time leaders in 3 point percentage, in addition to his 87% average from the charity stripe. How did the Jazz allow Korver to leave as a free agent?
  4. Al Jefferson-Granted Big Al and Korver both left as free agents, but the Jazz could really use Jefferson’s strong post play and consistent rebounding in 2013-14. In his three seasons with the Jazz, Jefferson averaged 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game. On a team filled with young talent, Big Al would have been a much needed veteran presence and a nightly scoring threat. Hopefully someone else can step up in his stead, or else…


Author information

Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt
Kyle Hunt is an avid sports fan who follows college and pro basketball extremely close. He is a regular college basketball contributor for the Deseret News and runs his own sports blog in his spare time. During the day Kyle works as a digital marketing analyst, improving the credibility and web presence of more than 25 high-spend clients.
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Once a Jazzman, Always a Jazzman Thu, 29 Aug 2013 01:26:01 +0000 Author information
David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles),, and previously for He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
Once a Jazzman, always a Jazzman. That is something I wholeheartedly believe and I think most Utah fans feel the same way. Some may show otherwise when former Jazz guys return to EnergySolutions, but I, for one, continue to root for these guys and hope for continued success.

Some, including all of Utah’s free agents, have joined new rosters. Others remain where they were last season. Here’s a quick look at where former Jazzmen are and what to expect in their new roles.

Atlanta Hawks: A few years ago, the Chicago Bulls and New Jersey Nets were dubbed the Utah Jazz East. This year, it could be the Atlanta Hawks who earn that moniker. With Paul Millsap, Kyle Korver, and DeMarre Carroll on board, Utah fans will keep an eye on how this team fares. Millsap effectively is taking Josh Smith’s role alongside Al Horford, at a much lower cost. While Smith’s athleticism and all-around game will be missed, Paul should excel in Atlanta. He will produce similar PPG and RPG numbers as his predecessor, but will do so much more efficiently. Similar to his last few years in Utah, it would not surprise to see Millsap be an All-Star candidate. Korver had his most productive season in many years (10.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and as the main perimeter threat; he should see similar productivity in 2013-2014. The “Junkyard Dog” was itching for a bigger role and he may indeed get that with the Hawks. While they have a solid corps of bigs, Atlanta’s wing depth might benefit Carroll. His hustle, offensive rebounding, and improved shooting could help propel him to a career year.

Boston Celtics: Former first-round pick Kris Humphries was part of the blockbuster swap with the Nets. His minutes and stats took a precipitous nosedive last year (5.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg in 18.3 mpg). Given the makeup of the Boston roster, Humphries could resume his role of a good-stats-guy-on-a-bad-team, a role in which he excels. He could see a return to his double-double days.

Brooklyn Nets: Many Jazz fans will be eager to see the reunion between former cornerstones Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko. This will be the most talented team D-Will has had since the Utah Western Conference Finals team. With four former All-Stars running with him in the starting line-up and quality bench depth, Williams will be the heart and soul for Brooklyn. He should easily achieve the goal head coach Jason Kidd has set for him. AK had a nice season in Minnesota and signed with the Nets for a pittance. He will add yet another defender and facilitator and will likely be a guy who finishes games for Brooklyn. This will be a role that could help Kirilenko age well.

Charlotte Bobcats: Al Jefferson is one of the most polarizing players in Jazz history. Many loved him, many had difficulties with his game. Whatever the case may be, he was a guy who gave it his all and now will do the same for the Bobcats. While his contract was eye-opening, he automatically becomes the best player for Charlotte, a bonafide post player they have long needed. Given the talent level around him, Big Al should get a lot of touches and perhaps a return to his 20/10 days. The bigger question: can Jefferson help turn around one of the lowliest franchises?

Chicago Bulls: Jefferson may be polarizing, but he’s nothing compared to Carlos Boozer. Few people incite more emotion that Boozer for the Jazz crowd. He enjoyed a nice season (16.2 ppg, 9.8 rpg), but definitely missed former MVP Derrick Rose (evidenced by a career low 47.7% field goal clip). He is still woeful on defense and given his massive contract, is always mentioned in trade talks (unlikely) and as an amnesty candidate (perhaps after this season?).

Cleveland Cavaliers: C.J. Miles had his second-best season, chipping in 11.2 ppg and 2.7 rpg for the Cavs. With a wealth of exciting, young players, Miles (who is still just 25), will contribute off the bench for what might be a team headed to the Playoffs.

Dallas Mavericks: Devin Harris never got going in Atlanta. He played a lot of minutes alongside Jeff Teague and subsequently produced his lowest stats since his second season. It’s hard to remember that just two seasons ago, Harris was a 15 and 7 guy. He is returning to where he started and should prove to be a nice player off the bench behind Jose Calderon and Monta Ellis.

Denver Nuggets: Randy Foye had a short stay, but managed to shoot himself into the Jazz record book. As part of a sign-and-trade, Foye takes his three-point shooting to the Mile High City. He’ll get plenty of minutes, either as a starter or off the pine.

Houston Rockets: Ronnie Brewer, he of the insane athleticism and crowd-pleasing dunks off cuts, joins James Harden and Dwight Howard in Houston. He should add some defense to the bench, while being another guy who will run up and down the court. With a plethora of wings, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he earns.

Memphis Grizzlies: One the most underrated moves of the off-season was the Grizzlies’ acquisition of Kosta Koufos. Coming off a career year (8.0 ppg, 58% FGs, 6.9 rpg), he bolsters a deep front court. He will help Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph be fresh for the postseason and adds to a bench that needed some help.

Oklahoma City Thunder: It was surprising when the Thunder brought back Derek Fisher last season and it’s equally surprising to see him re-sign. His regular season was rocky and while things improved a bit in the postseason, he was weak defensively and at 39, that’s not going to get better.

Orlando Magic: The Magic are in total rebuild mode, but are in quite good position in that rebuild. They inked former fan favorite Ronnie Price to be a veteran presence on a very young team. Given his subpar shooting (32.5% last season), his leadership may be his biggest contribution in Orlando.

Portland Trail Blazers: Incumbent Wesley Matthews will most likely continue starting, as he has for the past three seasons in Portland. With the additions of C.J. McCollum, Dorrell Wright, and Mo Williams, he may not have to carry as much as he has (especially with Portland’s injury situations over the years). Williams’ addition in Rip City was curious on many fronts. There was much talk that a starting gig was what he was looking for, but that is not going to happen with Rookie of the Year Damien Lillard ahead of him. Williams can, however, add some punch to what was a very punchless bench last year. Earl Watson will be the sage vet for the Trail Blazers. Chances are, he will see very little on-court time, as he perhaps prepares for future coaching opportunities.

Washington Wizards: Former first-round pick Eric Maynor will serve as John Wall’s back-up. After a bright start, Maynor’s career has not taken off–injuries playing a big part of that. His midseason move to Portland jump-started him (6.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) and at a minimum, he will be a solid reserve.

There are other former Jazzmen who have yet to latch on with a team. Guys like Jamaal Tinsley, Raja Bell, DeShawn Stevenson, Othyus Jeffers (who will attend Minnesota’s training camp), Lou Amundson, and even Kyrylo Fesenko are still seeking employment. Utah also will be pulling for former players now coaching: legend Jeff Hornacek and Jacque Vaughn. Perhaps not as much for Mark Jackson.

As always, best of luck to the those who once donned a Utah Jazz uniform.

Author information

David J Smith
David J Smith
Besides writing for Salt City Hoops, David contributes to the Utah Jazz coverage for the Deseret News (instant analysis articles),, and previously for He graduated from BYU and works for LDS Philanthropies. His wife, Elizabeth, is the most patient person in the world and they have four amazing children; Kadence, Tayah, Stockton (yes, really), and Cambria.
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What if the Deron Williams Trade Never Happened? Wed, 17 Jul 2013 15:34:20 +0000 Author information
Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.

A wise man once said “dealing in hypotheticals is a fool’s errand.”  (Okay, I actually just made that up, but doesn’t that sound like something a wise man would say?)  Regardless, I’m preparing to embark on a hypothetical journey exploring the most likely outcomes for the Utah Jazz had the front office not shipped Deron Williams out of town on February 23, 2011.

As of Williams’ last game with Utah, the Jazz held a 31-26 record and were in the midst of a slump, losing 7 of their past 9.  Had Deron not been jettisoned, I have to believe they would’ve stopped the skid eventually.  I know this is assuming a lot, but hey, this is a hypothetical situation; assumptions have to be made.  Utah had a number of close losses post-Deron, and a player of his caliber would most likely have been good for an extra 3-5 points, turning several of those losses into wins.  In this hypothetical scenario, Utah rights the ship, sneaks into the playoffs in the 8th seed and gets swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

Logic dictates that the Jazz front office would’ve looked into dealing Williams that offseason as well, as Deron had a player option for the following season and could bolt Utah for greener pastures, leaving the Jazz without compensation.  However, this scenario assumes Deron was never traded and played out the remainder of his contract.

While no Deron trade would mean no 2010-11 meltdown, it would also mean Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Enes Kanter and Alec Burks would’ve never joined the team.  Utah would’ve been selecting in the late teens to early 20’s of the draft, and would’ve likely been looking to acquire either a young point guard as an insurance policy if Deron left or a small forward.  Notable players who would’ve fit the bill in that range would’ve been Tobias Harris, Nolan Smith, Reggie Jackson, Norris Cole, Cory Joseph and Jimmy Butler.

In the 2011 offseason, Williams would’ve undoubtedly pushed for the Jazz to sign a big-name free agent for him to play alongside.  Unfortunately for Williams, a big name was not available via unrestricted free agency in 2011, at least that wasn’t at a position of need for Utah (i.e. Nene) or an over-the-hill star who would not fit in well in Utah (i.e. Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady.)  The Jazz would’ve likely spent their money on minor pieces that fit well with the Jazz, causing Williams to throw another basketball or two at Gordon Hayward’s head.

The following season (Deron’s last with the Jazz) would likely have been very similar to the last season, with Utah putting up a respectable but not overwhelming number of wins, grabbing a 7th or 8th seed, and bowing out in the first round of the playoffs, after which Deron would’ve opted out of his contract.

And let’s be realistic, he wouldn’t have re-signed.

So where would that have left us for last season?  Utah would be without Deron Williams, without Enes Kanter, without Derrick Favors, without Alec Burks and likely with someone like Nolan Smith or Tobias Harris in their place.  Yes, the rebuilding process would’ve began much sooner, which numerous Jazz fans think it should have, but Utah would have been light years behind where they are now in terms of acquiring assets.  A team with that dearth of talent would almost undoubtedly earn a relatively high lottery pick in a 2013 draft that was widely known to be fairly weak at the top.  Even adding an Alex Len, a Ben McLemore or a Nerlens Noel to the Jazz roster still leaves them far behind where they are now.

No, I don’t expect the Jazz to win more games than they lose in the 2013-14 season, but this retrospective look at the Deron Williams trade makes me appreciate it all over again.  Something Utah’s front office did 2 ½ years ago is still paying dividends, and will continue to become an even better value trade for the Jazz if Burke develops into the point guard Utah’s front office believes he is capable of being.

It was a shock and a downer to many fans when Williams was dealt.  In hindsight, Jazz fans should probably give thanks the Jazz powers-that-be had the foresight to get significant value in return for their mercurial star who was unlikely to stay for long.

Author information

Denim Millward
Denim Millward
Denim Millward, before SCH, wrote for Bleacher Report about the Jazz and the NBA. Despite this, he is actually a good writer, and we promise we will eschew the slideshow format on this site. He also contributes to The Color Commentator Magazine, and strangely, likes wrestling.
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Salt City Hoops Podcast #1 Sat, 26 Feb 2011 07:48:54 +0000 Author information
Episode one of the Official Salt City Hoops Podcast in which our heros discuss the DWill trade, the secret plan to sell the Jazz and Kevin O’Connor’s surprisingly keen draft picks (with some obvious exceptions). Featuring Spencer Hall and Chris Kirkham of Salt City Hoops and Justin Davies of Jazz Hype and music from Fictionist.

This podcast will soon be available for download from iTunes with weekly installments for the foreseeable future featuring interviews with players and coaches, exclusive audio with past players and front office heads and shenanigans aplenty.

Author information

]]> 0 Episode one of the Official Salt City Hoops Podcast in which our heros discuss the DWill trade, the secret plan to sell the Jazz and Kevin O'Connor's surprisingly keen draft picks (with some obvious exceptions). Episode one of the Official Salt City Hoops Podcast in which our heros discuss the DWill trade, the secret plan to sell the Jazz and Kevin O'Connor's surprisingly keen draft picks (with some obvious exceptions). Featuring Spencer Hall and Chris Kirkham of Salt City Hoops and Justin Davies of Jazz Hype and music from Fictionist. This podcast will soon be available for download from iTunes with weekly installments for the foreseeable future featuring interviews with players and coaches, exclusive audio with past players and front office heads and shenanigans aplenty. Salt City Hoops no 48:43
Morning After Drill: Everything is Everything Sat, 05 Feb 2011 16:25:19 +0000 Author information
Jeff Lind
Wow. I almost forgot what it felt like to go into a good team’s house and win. Turns out it feels pretty amazing. Here are a few thoughts after last night’s game.

  • I like aggressive Deron. Seeing him push the ball up the court and keep the offense running seemed like a major lift. The rest of the team responded well and played harder on defense, cut faster on offense, and just played all around more aggressively. It seems more and more clear… as Deron go, the Jazz go.
  • The Jazz actually played defense. Yes, they fouled early and often, but I’d rather see aggressive defense out of the gate that results in fouls than no defense. That aggressive D turned into smart D though, and the Jazz ended up with some pretty key stops down the stretch that helped them maintain their lead. I was pretty impressed with the rotations, and hustle from everyone.
  • The Jazz felt like they were in control throughout that game. No come from behind antics. No heaves at the end of a wasted shot clock. They felt powerful, and they won every quarter but the first (and they only lost the first quarter by one point).
  • How awesome was it to see Deron go after JR Smith after his flagrant 2 on Bell? For such a moody guy, you rarely see that kind of emotion from Deron on the court. No hesitation, no wondering what the league would do… Williams saw his guy go down hard, and he went after Smith for it. I love the leadership he showed at that point, and throughout the night.
  • Jefferson was a beast last night. A BEAST. 28 points (12/20), 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Wow. He had some tough shots too… fall away jumpers, double teams, and face-up jump shots over defenders. Jefferson also played hard on defense, had a key block against Anthony, and took a few nasty charges. Pretty cool to see.
  • It was great to watch the Jazz shoot well from the free throw line (17/18). Refreshing.
  • The players complemented each other. Don’t know if it was AK being out, CJ being on, or Evans being up, but they were feeling it together.
  • Tough night for Hayward. He was a foul away from everybody and had absolutely no shot. I mean, you have to give the guy a bit of a break since he was playing against Anthony, but he REALLY looked out of his league.
  • Speaking of Anthony, that was the quietest 31 points I’ve seen in a long time. I was pretty shocked when I saw the final box score. Melo seemed like he was getting blocked, or forced into a tough jumper every time down the floor.
  • Raja. Where have you been?

Great night… it feels like good things are on their way for the Jazz. Tonight’s another big test, and it’ll be interesting to see how the team responds to last night’s solid play.

Author information

Jeff Lind
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Deron Williams: NBA All-Star Part Deux Fri, 04 Feb 2011 22:13:15 +0000 Author information
Jeff Lind

Deron Williams has been selected as a reserve on the Western Conference 2011 All-Star team. In a Jazz year marred with come from behind victories, a horrible January road skid, and ice picks in parking lots, it’s nice to have something for Deron to smile about.

Over the past few years, the NBA has had a resurgence of brilliant guard play, so it’s even more of an accomplishment to be named a player in this year’s All-Star game. Williams beat out other Western guards like Tony Parker, Steve Nash, Eric Gordon, and Kevin Martin to join this team. Pretty amazing when you think about what those players have meant for their respective teams.

Williams has many All-Star appearances to go if he wants to catch other Jazz greats Karl Malone (14 selections) and John Stockton (10 selections). Saying that, he only needs one more to reach Jazz legend Pete Maravich (three selections), so he’s working his way into pretty good company.

Congratulations to Deron and the Jazz organization for this honor. He’ll represent the team well.

Author information

Jeff Lind
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10 Things I Know Almost Half Way Through… Wed, 12 Jan 2011 17:22:10 +0000 Author information
Jeff Lind

The House that Larry Built

  1. With each passing week, the concept of Super Team is looking rosier and rosier. Fans throughout Utah’s base panicked this summer after hearing all about the superfriend’s super alliance. There was a certain contingent that felt if the Heat’s team worked well, guys like Deron Williams and Chris Paul would run from small markets to form their own super groups with other “elite” players. Well, we’re almost half way in, and the Super Team concept has proven to be anything but failure. Sure, they struggled out of the gate losing 8 of their first 22, but since then…. look out. The Miami Heat have now won 9 of their last 10 (Dallas), and 21 of their last 22! I don’t know what Deron thinks when he sees that team, but it makes me nervous. It’ll be VERY interesting to see how they do in the playoffs.
  2. Blake Griffin is the real deal. Have you seen that guy dunk (dumb question since if you’re reading this blog, you probably like basketball, and if you’ve ever even expressed an interest in basketball, then you’ve inevitably been forwarded one of his highlights)? The guy can jump out of the gym, and throw down harder than almost any player I’ve ever seen. I’ve actually found myself flipping over to Clippers games JUST to see what he may do next. Before this season, I’d never flipped to a Clipper game for ANYTHING let alone to see quality basketball. I’m very interested to see how he’ll do in the dunk contest. Blake’s strength seems to be in-game dunking, and it will be fascinating to see him try to build the same type of momentum when he’s not competing head to head with someone.
  3. This whole slow start issue is a weird problem to have. It’s common enough in the league, but most teams that have the issue don’t have a winning record. Those teams start slow, claw back, and eventually collapse. The Jazz, on the other hand, have exceptionally slow starts, but then follow them with mind bending second halves. So in one game you see a team go from the lottery, to top 3 in the west in a 48 minute time frame. Why can’t they bring the intensity of the fourth quarter to the first? From my seat they look lazy out of the gate (I’m looking at you Deron). The team seems to settle for A LOT of ill advised jumpers, while giving a horrendous perimeter defensive effort on the other end. When they play bad teams, it doesn’t really matter, but when they’re up against good perimeter shooters, it can get devastating FAST (read: Dallas). Forget the trade talk, get defensive stoppers out there early and put a hand in shooter’s faces on the perimeter (Hayward?). I think that solves the problem. Either way, I think this is a better problem to have than some, and one that can be fixed with mid-season discipline. I’d rather have a slow start problem, than a “lack of talent” problem, or a “can’t finish in crunch time” problem.
  4. The Lakers aren’t invincible. In their last 10 games they are 6-4, they have been inconsistent at times, and Kobe doesn’t seem to be as lethal as he has in previous years. Don’t get me wrong… they’re still A team to beat, but that Everest doesn’t look quite as insurmountable as it did a couple months ago… especially if Kobe really is dialing down his practice time with the team (and/or has bone on bone issues in his knee, as reported).
  5. The Jazz bench is key to success. I’m not ready to pin it on one guy (like CJ Miles, Earl Watson, or Fes), but collectively they have been the spark plug for the Jazz. Guys like Ronnie Price have fearlessly stepped up to better known, more established vets and shown them that every player is in the NBA for a reason. I love the chemistry of the second unit, and the desire to win. It’s no secret that they’ve saved the Jazz on multiple occasions from these pitiful, slow starts.
  6. I’m really, really liking Fes… as a player. He needs some good minutes in the second half of the year, because the Jazz will need him come playoff time. He had some good moments last year in the playoff’s, but he needs to gain Sloan’s full trust. Don’t underestimate the importance of having a good Memo and a serviceable Fes in any 7 game series vs. the Lakers or Spurs.
  7. I’d rather have a pouty Deron Williams leading my team than a giant-knee-brace-clad Chris Paul. Two things stir up ESPN’s Daily Dime chats more than any other topic: 1) who is the better point guard: CP3, or DWill, and 2) what tastes better on ice cream: chocolate or bacon. For now, the overriding opinion is that Paul is better despite H2H matchups, and durability (I’m called an apologist EVERY time I bring either of those things up). People love CP’s efficiency, and his pizzazz. Time will tell, but my stance will continually favor long term durability and very good efficiency over amazing efficiency over a few shortened seasons.
  8. Can we just collectively decide to rename the Coach of the Year award to the Jerry Sloan Coach of the Year award? Forget giving him the stupid thing, he has become the award. I mean, seriously NBA… this has become one of the biggest, longest running jokes. If we’re not going to change the name, then give him the freaking award while it still means something… the longer you wait, the more it’s going to look like Scorsese’s Best Director for “The Departed.”
  9. The Jazz gelled pretty fast, but they’ve had some rocky moments lately. They’re at a tipping point right now. They need Memo to get back, and play like we know he is capable of. If he does, and can stay healthy, then I think the Jazz have a legitimate shot at a deep run in the playoffs (as currently constituted). With Memo, the Jazz get deeper at the center and PF position, get a scorer who can put the hurt on opposing defenses in a hurry, a bigger spread on the offensive side of the ball (leaving Jefferson and Millsap space to destroy the paint), and add height.
  10. The Spurs are scarier than the Lakers right now. While the idea of facing EITHER in the playoffs is pretty scary, the Spurs have taken things to a new level, and are actually competing as a complete unit. They have discipline, heart, and all the pieces in place to win now. The Lakers are good, but currently they live and die by two or three key players (Kobe, Pau, and Odom). I look down the road, and I forsee more problems for the defending champs then I do for San Antonio.
  11. Oh… and Millsap is ridiculous (one for good measure). He should touch the ball 805 times per game.

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Jeff Lind
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Take it to the Court: Thanksgiving Edition Wed, 24 Nov 2010 16:34:51 +0000 Author information
Take it the Court is a new weekly column on SCH featuring the arguments, opinions, and random musing of a Utah Jazz fanatic.

Over the past several years, the Utah Jazz have teamed up with the Salt Lake Mission to provide Thanksgiving to thousands of underprivileged Utahns.  Thus, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a sampling of the Utah Jazz as your traditional holiday meal:

  • Turkey: I know you’re thinking Deron Williams as the main course, right?  Guess again…how about Jerry Sloan?  Don’t sleep on Sloan for Coach of the Year, tryptophan notwithstanding.  Surrounded by change (during his tenure, he’s seen different players, management, different uniforms, even a different arena, and later a new arena name), Sloan is as constant as the Thanksgiving turkey tradition.  This Coach won’t let his players nap on defense (or they’ll find themselves camping on the bench).  Turkey is Thanksgiving and Jerry Sloan is the Utah Jazz.
  • Mashed Potatoes: Half Millsap + half Jefferson = one tasty serving of “Jeffersap.”  Night in and night out, these two take turns filling the plates of opposing teams with tasty points and rebounds.  Together, they are the glue that holds the meal together – It would nice to see them both on the table at the same time, but at least we can always count on one or the other. Thru 15 games, the duo is averaging a combined 36 points and nearly 18 rebounds per outing.
  • Gravy train? Here’s where D-Will comes in.  You know that the key to turkey and mashed potatoes is a sweet tasting gravy to tie it all together.  Likewise, Deron is the link between Sloan and his two-headed Jeffersap.  When Williams is hot, he makes Sloan, Millsap, and Jefferson ALL look better.  You can bet that opposing teams wish they could go easy on Williams – just like passing by the gravy at your family feast, overlooking D-Will is a recipe for destruction.
  • Sweet potatoes: How come we only eat sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving?  It must be some holdover from a long forgotten era – but it still makes the menu every November.  Raja Bell is the sweet potato in our analogy – a little old school, but the meal just isn’t complete without him.  With Raja on the bench, the defensive difference in Utah’s home loss to OKC was palatable.  Raja hasn’t had a defining game yet, but he makes his teammates better defenders.
  • Homemade rolls: Unless your willpower is stronger than mine (sweet, sweet carbs), you really can’t stop after one serving…just like Andrei Kirilenko.  When AK is playing well, the team wins – plain and simple.  Recall that is was AK’s inspired play that initiated the streak of comebacks.  Pair him up with some Gravy or Mashed Potatoes, even cranberry sauce – and you’ve got a winning combination.
  • Green Beans: Not everyone likes CJ Miles.  I have several FB friends who insist that he is the problem with the Jazz and needs to be shipped away as soon as possible.  And then he knocks down HUGE buckets to keep the Jazz from dropping a close one to division rival Portland, followed by a great showing against the Kings.  I, for one, am a fan of green beans AND CJ Miles.  My only qualm? I don’t want my green beans thinking that it is my gravy.  CJ, I love ya, but this is Deron’s team – you don’t have to be the hero every time you get the ball.  Be content to be a green bean, for crying out loud!
  • Cranberry Sauce: Like it or not, a little bit goes a long way; enter the Utah bench – Fes, Elson, Price, Hayward, Watson [reserve "white meat" jokes about Fes and Hayward for another time].  The Jazz don’t need huge minutes OR huge numbers from their bench players.  Instead, they need small doses of energy to keep things together.
  • Pumpkin Pie: If you don’t finish your meal with a slice of pie with some fresh whipped cream, you’re missing out.  There’s just something about Mehmet Okur [shouldn't HE be the Turkey?] that can put the finishing touches on the Utah season.  Sure, you may think there is no room for pie, but come on, you can always make room for a nice slice of pie – and a silky smooth jumpshot.  Word is, Memo is getting close.

My wish is that each and every reader out there has a happy and healthy Thanksgiving with more food than you can eat and plenty of friends and family to share it with.  From the staff writers of SCH, we’re grateful for you stopping by for the finest news and opinions on the Utah Jazz.

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Contact Jefferson W. Boswell at jeffersonboz [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

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Morning After Drill: Don’t Call It a Comeback. Thu, 11 Nov 2010 22:28:28 +0000 Author information
Jeff Lind
I’ll admit it… I didn’t think the Jazz would win this one. I knew they had the skill to beat Orlando, but after an improbable come-back in Miami, I didn’t really expect the Jazz to get back out there the following night and bring it against another Eastern Conference power. I was (gladly) wrong, and Jazz fans across the world are in a euphoric (and maybe confused) stupor today.

Here are some quick thoughts from last night’s victory in Orlando (set to LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”)…

Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

“I’ve been here for years.” Deron is amazing. At Miami he was spinning out of triple teams to feed Millsap, and in Orlando he was raising up silky smooth jumpers to seal the game. The man is playing out of his mind right now… distributing well, hitting the right shots at the right time, and just leading his team to hard-nosed, well fought victories. He knows that system, and fans are starting to see the ridiculous upside of this team as the other guys fall in line behind him.

“Mama Said Knock You Out:” Sloan preaches a pick & roll, open jumpshot, cut up the middle, lay-up drill, unrelenting system. People keep asking how the Jazz get back into these games, and “the system” is the answer. The flex allows a well executed offense to hang around through the inherent runs that NBA basketball produces. While iso/catch and shoot systems rely on low percentage shots falling, the flex relies on high percentage looks opening up. So far, Miami and Orlando (even the Clips) have had streaks of hot offense coupled with poor defense from the Jazz. These streaks create gaps in scoring, and make teams feel like they have control, but the flex is a lot like the tortoise in Aesop’s fables: It keeps moving at a methodical pace. As the Jazz’ defense warms up and opposing offenses flatten out, it’s the flex that keeps churning… eating away at leads, and eroding spreads.

“I’m gonna knock you out:” The Miami game was the worst thing that could have happened to the Orlando Magic. It gave the Jazz confidence in a compromising situation… even when they were down 18, they played like a team that knew it could get back in. They just came out, got to work, and showed Orlando what it was like to play Utah Jazz Basketball.

“Don’t you call this a regular jam.”  How about that wacky man-zone the Jazz played in the third? If anyone’s ever questioned Sloan’s ability to coach, they need to watch that game. Not only did Sloan know when to call the zone up, but the team knew exactly how to execute, and it confused the Magic. The Jazz allowed cutting players space to run around, but as soon as those cutters broke to the perimeter, they was covered. When the covered man passed into the interior, the defense swarmed. There were no open looks, no easy baskets, and Orlando couldn’t break the defense in time to regain the ground they’d lost.

“The man of the hour.” Millsap was an absolute stud. Again. It wasn’t a 46 point performance, and it didn’t need to be. Right now Mansap is leading the team in points (23.9), rebounds (10.1) and in steals (1.3).  I think a lot of Jazz fans thought that Millsap would produce similar numbers to Boozer, but not better. Well, so far he’s been a complete upgrade. It’s fantastic.

“Tower(s) of power.” Let’s talk centers for a second:

  • Al Jefferson was legit (21 points on 10-16 shooting, 8 rebounds, and a block).  He came out and showed that A) last night’s poor performance was a fluke, and B) that he could hang with the big-boy centers in the league.
  • Fesenko. How much more comfortable does Fes look this year? I actually get excited when he gets the ball. Williams has done a good job of creating high percentage (high confidence) shot opportunities, but he’s also showing marked improvement controlling his body around the basket (including his MUCH improved defense). Besides that, he dwarfed Dwight Howard on the floor. My mind can’t comprehend the thought of having a serviceable, strong 7+footer, so I’m not going to talk too much about it, but man… this could be pretty cool if he continues to develop.

“And I’m just gettin’ warm.” Right now, the Jazz are looking pretty tough. They’re letting other GOOD teams have it, and they’re winning in style. However, as the season continues, they can’t rely on teams letting off the gas once they have the lead and letting them back into the game. Teams like the Lakers, Boston, and a matured Heat aren’t always going to give opposing teams those kind of opportunities. The Jazz need to open strong, stay strong, and grind it out. That’s the kind of basketball Sloan wants and that will ultimately succeed in a seven game series… and the Jazz are showing great promises of things to come.

“Competition’s payin’ the price.” That’s been true on this road trip. Opposing teams have overlooked parts of this Jazz team and they’ve been embarrassed. No more overlooking, though.  If the Miami game didn’t do it, last night’s did… The Jazz are on people’s radar. You can’t go and sweep the Florida basketball scene on national TV two nights in a row and not raise some eyebrows. This is the moment the Jazz have been waiting for… time to seize it and prove that this is an elite team in the Western Conference.

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Jeff Lind
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