In honor of former Jazz great Jeff Hornacek (and because 10 seemed too few and 20 seemed too ambitious) below are the top 14 things I am excited about with the upcoming season and how it relates to the Utah Jazz.
1. Al Jefferson playing with a real point guard. Jonny Flynn, Sebastian Telfair, Marko Jaric and Delonte West are some of the better point guards that have been passing Big Al the ball. Now one of the best low post scorers in the NBA will be playing with one of the best (if not the best) point guard in the NBA. Jefferson is now happy, motivated and in a great situation for him to succeed. I can’t wait to see his first 30 point 16 rebound game.
2. The potential of Jeremy Evans. I have never seen Evans play even one minute of basketball. In fact if he walked past me on the street I don’t know if I would even recognize him. Still it is hard not to be excited about the potential that Evans will be a really good player. I know it is just preseason, but have you seen his preseason stats? There is a great wages of wins article about rookies which predicts his WS/48 (.211). Or what my fellow Salt City Hoops writer Mychal wrote about him when he wrote “Jeremy Evans will be the steal of the draft?” Or the fact that the Jazz seem to know what they are doing in the 2nd round since they have drafted Mo Williams, Paul Millsap and CJ Miles in recent years. I am very excited to see Evans play to see if he is even 1/10 as good as the hype.
3. LeBron James and the rest of the Miami Heat. Come on it is hard not to be excited about watching this team play basketball. I know I am supposed to not like them, but it isn’t like they are in the Western Conference. Also, I didn’t grow up in Cleveland. In my mind there is nothing to dislike about the Heat until the Jazz (possibly) face them in the NBA Finals. In the meantime I am excited about watching to see whether or not this season will be a success.
4. The downfall of the Denver Nuggets. Just the possibility of this happening with all of the off-season turmoil is enough for this Jazz fan to get excited.
5. Deron Williams winning his first of many assist titles. He has finished in the top three in assists per game over the past years, so it isn’t much of a stretch to see him winning the APG title this year. In Vegas his odds of winning the assists per game title is 2/1, which is tied with Steve Nash and just behind Chris Paul.
6. Paul Millsap winning the rebound title. A lot of people might think Big Al is the pick here of any Jazz player who stands a chance of winning the rebound title, but my best guess is Millsap. He won three of them in college and I think the possibility is there thanks to the next point on my list.
7. No more Boozer. Boozer was a great player for the Jazz and someone who provided Jazz fans with some memorable moments. I am a Boozer fan and while it was a good signing at the time it was time for Boozer to go. There should be no more trade rumors or speculation on what is going to happen with Boozer. I don’t know how much it matters, but even the most ardent Boozer fan has to concede that he might have been a slight distraction the past couple years. The Jazz can now move on with Okur, Jefferson, Millsap and no more distractions.
8. The emergence of Gordon Hayward. Since the Jazz normally make the playoffs they don’t normally get lottery picks. The last one they did they used (with the help of Portland) on Deron Williams. That worked out well.
9. Coach Sloan winning the Coach of the Year. Unbelievable that Sloan has never won the award, but this should be the year. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining that much since six of the past seven COY winners (all but last year’s winner Scott Brooks) are no longer coaching the team they won the award with. That might be the most crazy fact I have come across in awhile. Seriously check out the list.
10. The best home court advantage in the league. I don’t know how to make this objective besides pointing out that the Jazz had the 6th highest attendance and 6th best home record. I guess that might point to them having the 6th best home court advantage, but like Raheem Morris of the Bucs said “stats are for losers.” So I’m still calling the ESA the best house in the league.
11. Watching Wes Matthews make $5.7M for the Blazers as their backup. It was fun watching him play last year, but I have no idea why the Blazers signed him for so much. I am on the record for thinking that he isn’t worth the contract he signed.
12. Kosta Koufus as a Minnesota Timberwolves player. Some things just go well together.
13. The new uniforms look great. I can’t wait for my wife to comment on their “outfits”
14. Andrei Kirilenko in a contract year. There seems to be nothing wrong with this situation as the Jazz finally are finally off the hook from paying Kirilenko $10M+ ($17.8M this year). The Jazz hopefully should get a productive player and if not at least he could possibly be used as trade bait.