TrueHoop Season Previews

October 26th, 2009 | by Spencer Hall

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Crystal Ball

The consensus prediction of the TrueHoop Network bloggers … and the best hopes of Salt City Hoops.
Last Year’s Record: 48-34
Crowd Says: 46-36
Salt City Hoops Says: 55-27

Yes We Can!

The sun is out. The seas have parted. The basketball gods are shining upon us!
Money may not buy off-season tranquility, but it can buy a starting line-up featuring two Olympic gold medalists, two other former All-Stars and a rebounding beast coming off the bench. The Carlos Boozer contract saga made all the noise over the summer but with the dust settled, the Jazz seem poised to surprise people. With young Wesley Matthews providing the good luck charm, Boozer in a contract year, Deron Williams with a chip on his shoulder, and a new longer-haired version of Andrei Kirilenko the Jazz have no reason to be anything other than beastly this season. And I mean that in a good way.
Every prediction from the Jazz camp, however, comes with the ominous caveat “If we can stay healthy…” The Miller family pulled out the pocketbook to keep the team together but their investment depends on players spending time in uniform rather than in suits on the sideline.

No You Can’t

A rousing dissent from a rival blogger.
“So instead of being injured all season, Carlos Boozer is going to pout until he’s traded out of Utah. Hey, at least he’s switching things up.”
— Matt McHale, By the Horns

All-A-Twitter

A 140-character insight into the soul of the team.
“Going to shootaround at The O2 arena where we are playing the Bulls tonight! I’ve heard of green eggs and ham but I just ate blue eggs…12:43 AM Oct 6th from TwitterBerry
– Deron Williams tweeting from London in the preseason.

On the Record

Single best quote concerning the team during the last 12 months.
“He’s been an absolute total pro, absolute total pro. He’s done everything that coach has asked him to do. Just been an absolute total professional.”
– G.M. Kevin O’Connor on Carlos Boozer to the Salt Lake Tribune after an off-season of conjecture and posturing. Jazz fans can only hope for a full season of this professional Boozer, rather than Malingerer Boozer or I-Wish-I-Were-Playing-Elsewhere Boozer, or worst of all: Matador Defense Boozer.

The 2008-09 Almanac

Some key stats from last season.
Offense: 8th
Defense: 10th
Pace: 9th
Team Factor Strength(s): Offensive Rebounding (5th), Free Throws Made (2nd)
Team Factor Weakness(es): Free Throws Allowed (26th)

The Play

Down a single point with 9.2 seconds to play in a must-win game. What’s the play?
Deron Williams brings the ball near midcourt while Boozer sets up the high screen at the free throw line. Millsap is on the right block, Korver is spotted up in the right corner, Memo is lurking in three-point land on the left side. Williams fades toward the middle while Boozer slips the pick and starts to roll. Williams crosses over to the right junction while his man crumbles into the help defender. Millsap’s man tries to recover but the fade-away jumper is on its way. With a gentle push, a mild arc, the cowhide globe hits home.

The People’s Choice

The fan favorite the crowd will be chanting for to see some action.
The people have been clamoring for more Ronnie Price, but that was before the unexpected arrival of undrafted rookie Wesley Matthews. With injuries to Kyle Korver, CJ Miles, and Ronnie Price leaving the door open, there appears to be a new Wally Pipp in town.

If You’re Watching the Bottom Line, You’re Watching This

The single biggest spreadsheet issue hanging over the team.
By matching Portland’s offer sheet on Paul Millsap, the Jazz elected to spend more than $10 million dollars up front and $34 million over four years to keep the talented crowd favorite. But with Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, and Mehmet Okur also sporting max and near-max contracts, the Jazz are staring at a payroll in excess of $82 million, with luxury tax implications pushing the total closer to $94 million. That leaves the Jazz with the sixth-highest payroll in the league the season, only surpassed by the Lakers, Dallas Mavericks, New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic. Do you notice anything about that list? It includes three of the strongest contenders for the 2009-10 championship and one team that owes the Jazz their first-round pick next season.

Utah Jazz Salary Breakdown

A. Kirilenko $16.452M

D. Williams $13.521M

C. Boozer $12.657M

M. Okur $9M

P. Millsap $7.693M

M. Harpring $6.5M

K. Korver $5.164M

C.J. Miles $3.7M

R. Brewer $2.717M

E. Maynor $1.319M

R. Price $1.25M

K. Koufos $1.214M

K. Fesenko $870,000

Total $82.056M

Source: Salt Lake Tribune

The Rest of the League

TEAM BLOGGERS SAY WINS*

Bret Lagree | Hoopinion

“The Hawks have not built, nor do they appear to be building, a championship contender. … Joe Johnson is poised to be a free agent in the summer of 2010. Johnson is not a franchise player, yet he’s the Hawks’ best player.”

45

Zach Lowe | CelticsHub

“It seems reasonable to say anything short of an 18th championship would be a disappointment.”

58

Brett Hainline | Queen City Hoops

“Great defense + equally bad offense = average. With an improving division around them, that equation does not get them their first playoff berth. But at least they won’t suck.”

36

Matt McHale | By the Horns

“During the offseason, the Bulls lost free agent Ben Gordon, whom many people considered the team’s best or second-best player (after Derrick Rose). Memo to Chicago fans: Don’t sweat it. Seriously. Gordon will be replaced by John Salmons, who not only gave the Bulls almost as many points per game (18.3 versus 20.7) but was slightly more efficient in how he scored them.”

43

John Krolik | Cavs the Blog

“After last season’s playoff heartbreak, Danny Ferry has changed up the equation … However, Shaq could disrupt the delicate offensive and defensive chemistry the Cavaliers rode to 66 wins and the conference finals, despite the fact he will be the best player LeBron has ever played with if he continues to play like he did last season. The big question for the Cavs this seasons whether they overreacted to two clutch 3s by Rashard Lewis, or made the risk they needed to take to finally get LeBron a ring.”

61

Rob Mahoney | The Two Man Game

“’Rebuilding’ teams seek financial flexibility and the acquisition of young, productive assets. Quality squads amass veteran talent, no matter the cost, in pursuit of a title. Defying all logic, the Mavs have simultaneously moved in both directions.”

50

Jeremy Wagner | Roundball Mining Company

“The only players still on the roster who exceeded expectations in 2008-09 were Nene and Birdman. It is reasonable to expect every member of the Nuggets, other than thirty-something Chauncey Billups, to improve.”

53

Dan Feldman | PistonPowered

“However the minutes shake out between Chris Wilcox, Kwame Brown and Ben Wallace, they won’t be as good as Rasheed Wallace. But Sheed wasn’t that great last year. He looked old and disinterested, so the drop here won’t be too steep.”

36

Rasheed Malek |Warriors World

“Under the ownership of Chris Cohan, the Warriors have made the playoffs exactly one time and have gone through numerous coaches, players and executives. Going into this season, Larry Riley is the man in charge taking over for Chris Mullin.”

28

Anup Shah and Brody Rollins | Rockets Buzz

“The speed revolution has overtaken some of basketball’s peers, most notably football … Is basketball headed in the same direction? [Aaron] Brooks provides an excellent case study. Beginning the year as the Rockets number one threat on offense with Ron Artest’s departure and injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, Brooks will have every opportunity to prove that size really doesn’t matter.”

39

Jared Wade | Eight Points, Nine Seconds

“It’s hard to believe that anything short of the postseason will remove the dark cloud over Conseco. … Ultimately, it will come down to one thing: [Mike Jr.] Dunleavy’s knee.”

32

Kevin Arnovitz | ClipperBlog

“[Blake] Griffin and [Eric] Gordon may not be saviors, but they’re something. Griffin’s skills and his tenacious work ethic (the guy runs up sand dunes in his free time) will be a boon to a team desperate for cultural overhaul. Gordon offers an enticing combination of spot-up shooting and forays into the paint. He finished third in true shooting percentage among starting off guards in his rookie campaign, something that can only help a team that ranked dead last in offensive efficiency last season.”

32

Kurt Helin | Forum Blue and Gold

“God, is it good to be hated again.”

64

Chip Crain | 3 Shades of Blue

“The 2009-10 version of the Grizzlies have put together a starting five where every player scored 30 points or more in a game last year. The oldest starter is only 28 years old (Zach Randolph) and the youngest won’t turn 22 until after the start of the season (O.J. Mayo). They are young, talented and hungry for success. So why do most people focus on the two players not on a rookie contract this season?”

20

Matthew Bunch | Hot Hot Hoops

“38.6 minutes. 30.2 points. 49.1 percent shooting. Five rebounds. 7.5 assists. 2.2 steals. 1.3 blocks. That’s what [Dwyane] Wade averaged last season. You’re going to keep that guy out of the playoffs? Good luck.”

44

Jeremy Schmidt | Bucksketball

“If the Bucks get anything out of their three small forwards, if they can keep [Andrew] Bogut and [Michael] Redd healthy and if they get a season worthy of the number ten selection out of Brandon Jennings at the point, the playoffs will be within reach. But that’s a lot of ifs.”

29

Patrick Hodgdon | Howlin’ T-Wolf

“”Ever since his arrival, David Kahn has had seemingly one mission, other than to look like the smartest guy in the room at every turn, and that is to get as much cap space for next summer as he possibly can. … The obvious question lies in whether or not the Wolves will actually be able to lure one of the better free agent players to come to Minnesota.”

23

Mark Ginocchio and Sebastian Priuti | Nets are Scorching

“Lingering doubts about Brooklyn could spoil any change the Nets have of landing a top free agent next summer.”

29

Niall Doherty and Ryan Schwan | Hornets247

“Enter Emeka Okafor. He’s a near match to a healthy Chandler, is more durable, and doesn’t look like he’s having muscle spasms when making a post move.”

47

Mike Kurylo | Knickerblogger

“2010 could be New York’s return to winning.”

31

Royce Young | Daily Thunder

“The Thunder may not win more than half their games, but with over half the roster unable to get an alcoholic beverage still, steady improvement and progression is the name of the game.”

34

Zach McCann | Orlando Magic Daily

“Take away either Hedo Turkoglu or Courtney Lee and the Magic aren’t getting to face the Lakers in the Finals. No way. But does that mean the Magic were wrong to let them go? Were the Magic foolish to allow a borderline All-Star and a possible future All-Star leave the team when both clearly wanted to stay in Orlando? Absolutely not. I believe the Magic are an entirely better team than they were four months ago.”

59

Carey R. Smith | Philadunkia

“The travesty of a deal that Billy King gave to Samuel Dalembert remains easily one of the worst contracts in NBA history. Hopefully this season Dalembert, his inflated self-worth and his contract will be dealt for a couple of expiring contracts and some much-needed cap space.”

39

Michael Schwartz | Valley of the Suns

“Two years ago the Suns were chic championship picks. Last year, the Suns were (accurately) thought to be a fringe playoff team. This year there are almost no expectations outside of their locker room. … There will be no mistaking what the Suns are this season: a lightning-speed team that will score points in bunches and likely give them up almost as quickly while struggling badly on the boards. But they will once again be the most exciting team in basketball.”

46

Max Handelman | Beyond Bowie

“The Blazers effectively bumbled their way to a 54-win season despite a mediocre performance from Greg Oden, the loss of Martell Webster for the season, and at times starting three rookies. This team is only getting better, kids.”

53

Zach Harper | Cowbell Kingdom

“Enter Tyreke Evans — a bulldozer-sized menace who will test the strength of every team’s defense at its entry point. He immediately creates matchup problems against teams with traditional point guards and will look to have a similar impact as fellow Memphis alum, Derrick Rose.”

22

Timothy Varner | 48 Minutes of Hell

During the Celtics heyday, Red Auerbach boasted a winning percentage of .719. In the modern era, Pat Riley’s Showtime Lakers played to the tune of .733. Phil Jackson’s Jordan Bulls dominated the 90s with an otherworldly percentage of .771. Jackson’s three-peat Lakers? .735. In his 12 seasons with San Antonio, Gregg Popovich, whose cynical disdain for the regular season runs more than skin deep, has, nevertheless, posted a winning percentage of .707. That’s the company the Spurs keep. What should we expect this season? 58 wins and a run at the title. Same as every other year.”

55

RaptorsRepublic

“How is a rookie(ish) head coach going to integrate nine new players into a new system with two new assistant coaches?”

41

Spencer Ryan Hall | Salt City Hoops

“With young Wesley Matthews providing the good luck charm, Boozer in a contract year, Deron Williams with a chip on his shoulder, and a new longer-haired version of Andrei Kirilenko the Jazz have no reason to be anything other than beastly this season. And I mean that in a good way. Every prediction from the Jazz camp, however, comes with the ominous caveat ‘If we can stay healthy.'”

46

Kyle Weidie | Truth About It

“Flip Saunders has never gotten a team ‘there.’ That worn out cliché always runs rampant, plaguing almost every coach who hasn’t won … until they win. Red Auerbach (647), Larry Brown (1,900), and Dick Motta (738) all took their lumps before winning a championship (games coached before title season). Don’t be surprised when what you think is impossible becomes a reality. … 2010 is the Chinese Year of the Tiger. Factor in Gilbert Arenas’ stomach tattoo and the fact that the Wizards play their home games in D.C.’s Chinatown, and all the cards are in place.”

42

* As predicted by a consensus of all TrueHoop Network bloggers.

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at KSL.com
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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One Comment

  1. Dustin says:

    I know the season is early, but I think we can all see the Jazz are nowhere near the level of the Lakers or Nuggets, and forget about comparing the Jazz to the Celtics. They are in a league all of their own.

    Having said that, what would be so bad about throwing this season away and fighting for a lottery pick? Sure, the Jazz could finish the season with a respectable record, go to the playoffs, lose in the first round like last year, and end up with a draft pick somewhere in the lower 20’s. To see how effective those picks turn out, just take a look at the Malone/Stockton years. You are lucky to find a role player at that pick.

    Imagine if the Jazz add to the already coming New York Knicks lottery pick. Did you see how the Jazz scored when they got their one and only ever lottery pick? Deron Williams! What if the Jazz could land two players like D Will in the same draft?

    It would make for a painful rest of the season. But lets be honest, can it really get any more painful than it already is?

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