With the Utah Jazz making their annual trip to New Jersey tonight, we thought it would be a good opportunity to get some insight from the great Salt Lake. So here's Spencer Hall from the fantastic TrueHoop Jazz site, Salt City Hoops to talk about Utah's inconsistent, but overall solid start to the season.
NAS: The Jazz are coming off a big week, having beaten the Lakers, Spurs and Magic. Any thoughts on what's bringing this team together and helping them play better?
The addendum to that list is the bizarre loss at home to the Timberwolves on Monday. Two of Minnesota's four wins have come at the expense of the Jazz. It's frustrating as a fan, but the identity of this Jazz team is talented inconsistency. Some nights, especially games on national television or against a strong opponent, they'll play spectacular ball. On other nights they'll miss 11 of 12 free throws through three quarters and end up losing by two.
On the good side, they're almost always fun to watch. Deron Williams has been out of his mind lately, and last week's WC Player of the Week award was well deserved. Carlos Boozer is on a tear. The rookies Wesley Matthews and Eric Maynor have been fun to watch and seem to have a very positive effect on the team chemistry. I almost feel like the short bench due to injuries to Kyle Korver, CJ Miles, Ronnie Price, and Andrei Kirilenko (among others) resolved a lot of playing time issues and forced everyone to come together as a team and share the ball.
NAS: What are your thoughts surrounding Carlos Boozer? He's off to another nice season, but he seems destined to leave Utah at the end of the year and is now getting criticized by Charles Barkley for not helping the Jazz win. Do you agree with Sir Charles?
First of all, a healthy, motivated, contract-year Booz is a sight to see. He's had some monster games this season and since October he's said all the right things. I had no shame in jumping back on the bandwagon, even after all the nonsense he said this summer as the contract situation was resolved.
NAS: Is this the year Deron Williams finally makes an all-star team?
The Cadaver of Tracy McGrady is poised to make the All-Star team, so obviously the process needs some work. But as it is, he's not even close in the voting. Production-wise he's having a brilliant year, but he has the misfortune of playing in the same conference as some very talented and popular guards. It has to happen sometime, though, but it's going to have to come from the benevolence of the coaches.
NAS: A Nets-centric question here: Andrei Kirilenko has been a vocal supporter of prospective new Nets owner, Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov - so much so that there's been buzz that Prokhorov will see to it to get AK-47 on the Nets once he's approved as owner. Can you see this happening or do you think Kirilenko remains in Utah for the foreseeable future?
It will be interesting to see what becomes of Kirilenko. As much as I love watching him play, I've always wondered what an un-tethered Kirilenko might have done to the league. Can you imagine if he'd be running with those early Nash/D'Antoni Suns teams? Part of me feels like we've been robbed of the entire Kirilenko experience by forcing him to be a cog in a halfcourt system. Lately he's been reduced to standing around the perimeter and launching 20-foot jumpshots, doing his best Jeff Hornacek impersonation. It's sad, really, so hopefully we get a shot to see him in another system before he's done.