Utah Jazz Preview 2010-2011

October 13th, 2010 | by Jefferson

The Floor General and his Soldiers

In conjunction with the good folks over at Celtics Blog and 70 other NBA blogs, enjoy the following recap of off-season moves and story-lines to follow as the new season kicks off:

Team NameUtah Jazz

Last Year’s Record: 53-29 (Second Northwest Division)

Key Losses: Wesley Matthews (Portland), Kyle Korver & Carlos Boozer (Chicago)

Key Additions: Al Jefferson (via trade with Minnesota), Raja Bell (free agency), Gordon Hayward (draft), Earl Watson (free agency)

1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?

This off-season was one of the most active in recent history for the Jazz.  Not surprisingly, Carlos Boozer fulfilled his contract with Utah, only to be signed by Chicago (a broken hand has only added to his legacy as Mr. Glass in the NBA).  Sharpshooter Kyle Korver also made his way to Chicago as a free agent.  Undrafted rookie Wesley Matthews was lured away by Portland with a HUGE offer sheet that the Jazz were unwilling or unable to match.  With the number 9 overall pick in the draft (acquired from the NY Knicks) the Jazz selected NCAA tournament stand-out Gordon Hayward from Butler – a skinny wingman that has tremendous upside.  Kevin O’Connor and the organization pulled the trigger on a blockbuster trade to bring “Big” Al Jefferson to Utah in exchange for a couple of draft picks and perennial bench-warmer Kosta Koufus.  Adding to the bevy of new talent, the Jazz brought in some veteran role players, including former Jazz-man Raja Bell and backup point guard Earl Watson.  Another key addition? New Uniforms.

2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?

Led by floor general Deron Williams (arguably the best point guard in the league), the Jazz will continue to run a disciplined offense that generates open looks and layups.  Expect plenty of assists from D-Will and friends running Coach Sloan’s tested and perfected system.  The team got longer in the off-season, so expect its rebounding dominance to continue.  Home court advantage will, once again, have opponents dreading their trip to Salt Lake City, and not just for the lack of night life.

3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?

In a word: consistency.  Although you’d expect a young team to have some mental lapses, this team has been consistent only in its inconsistency.  It’s amazing that a team can compete with just about anyone in the league and then lose to a lowly opponent in the same week.  The Jazz also need to improve on the road and on the second night of back-to-back games.  Last year, the team tried to simply outscore its opponents – in order to complete with the elite, though, the team needs to commit to playing defense.  Raja Bell (aka, the Kobe-killer) will help.

4. What are the goals for this team?

The Northwest division (at least on paper) is stacked.  The traditional goals are to win the Northwest division and reach the Western Conference Finals.  This team is certainly capable of meeting those goals (if they gel and commit to playing team defense); a more realistic goal, however, would be to aim for one of the top two spots in the division and reach the Conference Semi-Finals come Playoff time.  Utah will be solid at Energy Solutions Arena, as usual – another attainable goal would be to take the “Energy” on the road and post a winning record away from home.

Beginning next Monday, check in at Salt City Hoops for a team-by-team preview series of how the Jazz stack up against all of the NBA contenders.

BLOGGER PREVIEWS after the jump…

Atlantic Division Blogger Previews

Celtics: CelticsBlog Celtics 24/7Celtics CentralCeltics HubCelticsLife | Gino’s JungleRedsArmy.comSBNation BostonSBN

Knicks: Posting and ToastingBandwagon KnickKnickerBlogger.NetSBN Recap

Nets: NetsDaily NetsAreScorching FanwaySBN

Raptors: Raptors HQHoops AddictHip Hoop JunkiesSBN

Sixers: Liberty Ballers

Central Division Blogger Previews

Bucks: Brew HoopNBAMateSBN
Bulls: Blog-A-BullSBN
Cavs: Fear The SwordWaitingForNextYear

Pacers: Indy Cornrows

Pistons: DetroitBadBoysDetroit BasketballNeed4Sheed.comSBN

Northwest Division Blogger Previews

Jazz : SLC DunkSalt City HoopsSBN
Nuggets: Denver StiffsRoundball Mining CompanyThe Nugg DoctorSBN
Thunder - Welcome to Loud CityPlanet BBallSBN
Timberwolves - Canis HoopusTwolvesBlog

Blazers - Blazersedge.comSBN

Pacific Division Blogger Previews

Clippers: Clips Nation | SBN

Kings: Sactown RoyaltyCowbell Kingdom | SBN

Lakers: Silver Screen and RollForum Blue & GoldNBAtipoff | SBN

Suns: Bright Side Of The SunSB Nation ArizonaValleyoftheSuns | SBN

Warriors: Golden State of MindSBN

Southeast Division Blogger Previews

Bobcats: Rufus on FireHoops AddictSBN Recap

Hawks: Peachtree Hoops

Heat: Peninsula Is MightierSportsAgentBlog.com

Magic: Orlando Pinstriped PostMagic BasketballOrlando Magic DailyOrlando Sports Central

Wizards: Bullets ForeverSparty and FriendsTruth About ItSBN Recap

Southwest Division Blogger Previews

Grizzlies:  Straight Outta Vancouver3 Shades of BlueSBN Recap

Hornets: At the HiveHornets247 SBN Recap

Mavericks: MavsMoneyball The Two Man Game

Rockets: The Dream ShakeSBN Recap

Spurs: Pounding the RockProject SpursSBN Recap

Jefferson

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3 Comments

  1. mike says:

    Lack of a night life. Its funny the writer of this column probably doesn’t have a night life to start with. If you live in SLC you know there is a night life.

    Now to the actual evaluation of the upcoming season. The thing about what everyone is saying about the Jazz is based off last years team. With Boozers negative out look on team basketball gone. The jazz can focus on what they need to fix and they will.

    Now to the Lakers. We definitely match more with the Lakers the the writer lets us believe. If you just look at the two preseason games against them you can see how Big Al can wear out Gasol and Odom. Also adding Bell is another example. Not when just BELL IS guarding Bryant but the teach of him and how he works will trickle down the line up.

    Projected Record: 56-26

    1St in NW

    Beating Lakers in the Western Con Finals

    Beating Orlando in 6.

  2. Jefferson says:

    Funny Mike. Actually, the author lives in Las Vegas and has a wife and two kids, so you’re right, my night life = reading with my kindergartner. While I know that SLC has a pretty decent nightlife scene, its got quite a reputation for being awfully tame, especially by NBA standards.

    I wrote this article well before Utah’s preseason victories over LA, and after a quick re-read, not sure I even mentioned how we match up against the Lakers (though that article is coming on Friday).

    I laud your optimism and hope you are right that this is the year Utah wins it all. I’m glad you’d read and leave a comment. Always happy to have a dissenting opinion, but next time, lay off the personal barbs.

    Cheers!

  3. UTJazzBlog says:

    Nice article. My predictions actually land right in between Mike’s and Jefferson’s. I’m forecasting 55-27, good for 2nd in the West. This is the most optimistic I’ve felt about the Jazz since Stock and Malone left. You can see my individual player predictions in the Utah Jazz 2010-11 Season Preview article on my blog.

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