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Jazz Lineup…

September 3, 2008
At present, the Jazz have a starting lineup consisting of:

–a C that spends as much if not more time at the 3 point line than in the post*
–a PF trapped in a SG’s body
–a SF playing out of position
–a SG that can’t really shoot

–DWILL

*Although Memo stepped up more and more with each passing month. If you take a look at his split stats, he had nothing short of a remarkable season.

Depth in 07-08:
5 – Memo/Sap/Collins/Fess*
4 – Booz/Sap
3 – AK/Harp/CJ
2 – Brewer/KK/Almond*
1 – DWill/Hart/Price

*I think if the Jazz again send two players to the D-League, it’ll still be Fess and Almond so I’m going to take them out of the equation now.

What I’d like to see in 08-09:
5 – Memo/Sap/Collins/Koufos
4 – Booz/AK/Sap
3 – Brewer/Harp/CJ
2 – KK/CJ/Price if necessary
1 – DWill/Price/Knight

The 2 and the 3 are virtually interchangeable in the Jazz offense, hence the glut of players at these positions. If somewhat of a differentiation were to be made, Brewer’s game/skillset (slashing and cutting around the rim) seems to be more suited for a SF. Therefore, another shooter on the floor would benefit the offense, especially if Memo spends more time in the paint. Slotting KK into the starting lineup along with Brewer would make good sense AND help the Jazz bust zones (which they were helpless against last season). CJ is another guy that can hit long shots. The Jazz overpaid for him; might as well use him.

The other thing I would try out is having AK and FB on the floor at different times at the 4. In this scenario, I don’t see them starting AK and bringing Boozer off the bench, which is why I’m talking about AK coming off the bench. Although of course FB coming off the bench works even better for me (and could provide the second unit with a scoring punch).

[Let's just imagine this for a second. Let's imagine that Jerry and the coaching staff decide to let Boozer know that he is being held accountable for his lapses, and keep him out of the starting lineup until he makes an effort to fill the voids in his game. Hell, we all know that if CJ entered the game and started launching 3s with abandon because he feels like it, he would be yanked faster than you could say Doghouse. Or Gordan. Or Deshawn. Or Morris. Or 'Tag. Maybe, just maybe, such a strategy would do FB some good...give him some motivation...make him want to work harder.... help him find the guy that, not hearing his name called until the second round on draft night, "wiped my tears off...and vowed to prove them wrong."

--Cue "MIAMI" by WILL SMITH--

Unless that guy has been swallowed by money and is living the good life in Miami. And unless 30 GMs/coaches weren't wrong.

Anyway...back to reality]

Some say that AK’s ego will not accept coming off the bench. Seems to me that more than anything, he just wants to feel like he is contributing to the team and earning his keep– i.e. his primary concern is being involved and contributing in the offense, not how many points he scores or how many shots he takes (please note I did not say “only concern”). During that entire episode beginning in R1 ’07 and ending at training camp ’07, I don’t think AK ever said anything about scoring more (despite “run with it” media reports to the contrary). In fact, he said that he understands that DWill, Boozer, Memo and “even Matt” (his words) are more valuable to the team offensively. Coming off the bench, AK can play at his natural position, closer to the basket, and be more involved since Jerry’s system runs through the 4. I’m not advocating that the entire offense be run through AK or saying that he could be a 20-10 guy–I’m just saying that I think he could be used more effectively and more to his strengths than he is currently. Try it before you dismiss it?

(Incidentally, how can you fault a guy for wanting to be the best basketball player and teammate that he can be, and wants to actually earn his paycheck by contributing to the number in the “W” column?

Conversely, we have FB, who spent the entire playoffs talking to anyone who would listen about how he knows he’s a great player. I look at him and I think, does this guy have the desire to be the best that he can be? Does he to want to work harder and improve, or does he see no need because in his mind, he is an All-Star, third team All-NBA, Olympian (even if all three are based on his performance during the first half of the season only and/or his connections to Coach K)? I could be wrong, and I certainly hope that I am, but to me the answer is the latter.)

The fact of the matter is, FB/watching FB play would not be such a mutantly gigantic thorn in my side if he were only getting the MLE. However, his contract is an albatross (or one of two albatrosses, if you prefer) that will prevent the Jazz from resigning several of its core players, and/or going after guys that could push the team over the edge (and no, I’m not talking about Ron Artest). It’s simply too much to pay for someone that only plays one end of the court, and I can only hope and pray that the FO sees and realizes this.

If Boozer opts out at the end of the season (“no brainer” according to everyone), someone overpays him, and he walks and we the Jazz get absolutely nothing back in return, his 21/10.4 (14/7.5 in April and 16/12 in the Playoffs) offensive output could easily be replaced/made up for by a combination of AK and Sap. Defensively, there is no way that whoever replaces Boozer in the lineup could be worse. Summed up: if Boozer walks, the Jazz would lose very little, if anything, offensively, and would actually improve defensively and allow fewer points.

(Sap is in no way as gifted an offensive player as Boozer (Boozer IS gifted, particularly ambidexterously. It’s his work ethic and/or decision making skills that are the problem), but he is what we need at the PF position–a low post power and hustle player. For whatever reason–laziness, physicalcontactphobia, rare allergy to paint, complacency, ADD, bruises easily–FB has decided that the baseline is at the elbow and shoots Js from there 95% of the time. Do we really need another mid-range chucker on the team? Seems like we have enough of them already.)

A happy AK is a productive and often awesome-to-watch AK. I don’t know about everyone else, but when I see AK smiling, having fun on the court, enjoying playing ball, it makes me feel good–more so than any other Jazz player.

Finally…I would make the case that Boozer is the kind of player that can help a non-playoff team become a playoff team. AK, on the other hand, could very well be “the missing piece” that pushes a playoff team into contender territory (though, unfortunately, perhaps/probably not in the Jazz system). A lot of mediocre teams would love to have Boozer, but I’d say that virtually every contending/almost-contending team in the NBA would love to have AK.

Almost every Playoff and/or > .500 team last season had at least an 18-8 guy. In other words, 18-8 guys help you get to the playoffs, but aren’t especially rare or a ticket to the Finals.

[--Detroit, as we all know, is built very differently than other teams in the NBA.
--Denver had both the number 4 and number 5 scorer in the NBA.
--GS had three 20+PPG guys.
--*There was only one 18-8 guy in the league last year that didn't make the Playoffs--the pesky Timberwolves' Al Jefferson, who averaged 21.1/11.1.*]

13 out of 17 >.500 teams last season had at least an 18-8 guy. These guys get their teams to the postseason, but don’t make their teams contenders (particularly the Eastern Conference ones). What will take them into contender territory? One of the answers: a complementary, do-it-all guy like AK.

And how well does he do it all…to put it into perspective, there was only one guy that averaged more than 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block, and 1 steal last season, and that was Lebron James. LBJ and AK were the only players to average 4-4-1-1 last season. (AK actually averaged 4.7/4/1.5/1.2.)

And that, boys and girls, is [the long answer to] why we keep AK if it comes down to him or Booz.

An unrelated aside: Waiting for the season to start is so boring that I’ve been rewatching games from last season. Warriors commentators are the Biggest.Worst.Homers.Ever.

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