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Team Preview #8: Utah Jazz

by Eric Wong AKA Roto Evil

August 8th, 2008


The Jazz won the Northwest Division, but lost in the 2nd Round to the Lakers. They finished 5th in scoring, 2nd in assists, 2nd in FG%, and 3rd in steals, but 1st in personal fouls, 24th in rebounds, and 26th in threes made. Over the past 20 years (all with Utah!), Jerry Sloan has compiled an impressive 995-596 (.625) coaching record and reached the Conference Finals 6 times, but has yet to win it all or be named Coach of the Year.


Key Additions: Brevin Knight, Kosta Koufos
Key Losses: Jason Hart

In a trade of backup point guards, the Jazz got rid up Hart and brought in Knight. This will be Knight's 9th team in 12 seasons, but he should fit nicely into Coach Sloan's style of play. He's one of the worst 3-point shooting guards in NBA history (16-113 for his career), but he knows how to run a team and play pressure defense. Utah used their 1st round pick on 7-1 center Kosta Koufos. Like Memo Okur, he's able to face the basket, knock down outside shots, and put the ball on the floor to create, but he's still just 19 years old and has a long way to go. Ideally, Koufos will replace Okur in a couple of years.


This team is led by Deron Williams, who appears to be firing on all cylinders for Team USA. Expect 38 impressive minutes from Williams every night, while Knight & Ronnie Price battle to be his backup. At power forward, Carlos Boozer is the man and will continue to get 34-35 mpg. Utah is able to rest him more than others might, because Paul Millsap (20.7 mpg) is one of the top backup PF's in the league. At center, Okur can play anywhere from 30-36 mpg depending on how pleased (or displeased) Sloan is with him. Grizzled vet Jarron Collins will be his primary backup, but Utah would love for Koufos and/or 21-year old Kyrylo Fesenko to emerge as solid contributors.

At the swingman positions, things are a little cloudier. Everyone's favorite Russian rifle, AK 47, saw his minutes fluctuate from 32.6 before the All-Star break to 27.0 afterwards, and then back up to 32.3 in the Playoffs. The guy is simply too talented to NOT play 30 minutes every night. In the past, Matt Harpring has been his primary backup, but Harpring's minutes have been declining rapidly in recent years. In a somewhat surprising move, the Jazz decided to retain CJ Miles for 4 years and $15 million, making him Sloan's #1 whipping boy for '08-09 and beyond. At shooting guard, there's a serious battle brewing between Ronnie Brewer (27.5 mpg) and Kyle Korver (21.5 mpg with Utah). The Jazz love Brewer's defense and athleticism, but they desperately need Korver's outside shooting. Morris Almond also has some game, so watch them closely in preseason to see if Sloan has a favorite.

DON'T SLEEP ON: Mehmet Okur

At the start of the '07-08 season, Okur was being bothered by a sore foot and bad back. In December, he injured his shoulder and missed 7 games. As a result, he played just 30 minutes per game to start the season, was shooting in the low 40's, and was pulling down a meager 5-6 boards per game. At that point, his fantasy owners were miserable and possibly thinking about dumping him.

But after the All-Star break, Okur started balling. In those 27 games, he averaged 17 points, 10.3 boards, 2 assists, .9 steals, .3 blocks, and 1.9 threes per game while shooting 48% from the field and 80.7% from the line. Those are near stud-like stats, and he didn't slow down in the playoffs (15.4 points, 11.8 rebounds, .7 blocks, and 1.6 threes in 12 playoff games). He'll be more than worthy of a 5th round pick, but he could fall to the 6th, at which point you should not hesitate to draft him.

BE CAREFUL OF: Ronnie Brewer

After barely playing as a rookie, Brewer exploded onto the fantasy scene in '07-08, finishing 12th in steals and 7th in FG%. The latter stat was aided by his 119 total dunks, which was 9th best in the NBA and 2nd among all guards (after Iguodala). At 23 years old, the guy is still improving, but something happened on 12/29/07 that stunted his progression. Kyle Korver was traded to Utah that day because the Jazz needed his outside shooting. In Brewer's 32 games BEFORE Korver's arrival, he averaged 30.4 minutes, 12.9 points, 2.3 assists, and 2.1 steals. In the 44 games AFTER, he averaged just 25.3 minutes, 11.4 points, 1.4 assists, and 1.4 steals. There's a huge difference in fantasy value there, so you need to be careful. And with CJ Miles and Morris Almond also in line for more minutes, Brewer will have a tough time replicating his stats from '07-08. Unless you're desperate for steals, I suggest waiting till Round 11 to pick him up.


(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)

Deron: Late 1st - 2nd
Boozer: 2nd
Okur: 5th - 6th
Kirilenko: 6th - 7th
Brewer: 11th - 12th
Millsap: 13th - 14th
Korver: Last round (if you need threes)

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