Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Should I get excited about the Utah Jazz?

As a Utah Jazz fan I'm not quite sure how to take the team's 7-1 start. A couple of years ago they started 6-1 and then ended up having a season from hell. Admittedly, that season did help them land a nice draft pick spot (which they used to trade up to #3 and grab Illinois PG Deron Williams). So do I buy into this year's team or just take a wait and see attitude? I'm cynical by nature so you can probably guess which route I'll take. Not that it hasn't been fun to watch so far though. Okur, Williams and Boozer have been great. The offseason acquisition of Derek Fisher looks inspired. And rookies and other young players have shockingly been contributing. The stubborn and usually hard-headed head coach Jerry Sloan has actually been giving these young guys minutes and even starting them on certain nights (yes that sound you heard was ice cracking as hell just froze over). Rookie Ronnie Brewer started last night against the Clippers, and C.J. Miles, who came straight out of high school a couple of years ago has even started a couple of games.

And amazingly, early season success has come with Andrei Kirilenko not even being able to get many opportunities to shoot the ball. He's only seventh on the team in scoring (less than 8 points a game). How will things change now that he is injured (again)? Who knows? Even though Kirilenko hasn't been scoring, his defense has been fantastic as usual. They'll miss that while his ankle heals. One thing's for sure though, the Jazz are deeper than they have been in years. Still, player health has been an issue in the past and will probably be again (Kirilenko seems destined to be banged up his entire career). Carlos Boozer most of all needs to stay healthy as his rebounding and scoring are critical. Also, I still stick with the belief that the Jazz should have taken Chris Paul ahead of Deron Williams but I am willing to admit that Williams just may become a star in his own right. He seems very much in control for a young guy and willing to take and make big shots.

So anyway, I'm cautiously optimistic about the team's playoff chances this year. If they continue to play like they have been it could be fun year and I just might have to go to a few games. If not then I'll just go back to being the lame fair-weather NBA fan that my wife has come to know and love.

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