Mo Williams and New Backcourt Can Lead Utah Jazz Back to the Postseason
With all the talk of the Utah Jazz's deep frontcourt, the fact that their backcourt has undergone a complete overhaul has not received quite as much attention as it probably should.
A key component of a playoff team has changed almost as much as it possibly could. Can the Jazz get back to the playoffs with the dramatically different backcourt?
Of course they can. Let's take a quick look at the overall changes to the Utah backcourt.
First, starting point guard Devin Harris was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in exchange for small forward Marvin Williams. Harris was not an ideal fit for Utah's offense, as he was more of a scorer and slasher than the distributing floor general that is ideal for this offense.
Harris' successor, Mo Williams, is also not the prototypical assist machine that is necessary to maximize Utah's offensive efficiency, but he's much better at stretching the floor and hitting threes. He is also a minor upgrade on defense.
In terms of guard play, the Jazz also added by subtraction, bidding adieu to C.J. Miles—his poor shot selection won't be missed.
The Jazz are also all but certain to be parting ways with Raja Bell—who looked to be a shell of his former self on the floor—once a contract buyout can be agreed upon.
Replacing Miles and Bell, at least part of the time, will be new acquisition Randy Foye, who started for the Los Angeles Clippers on numerous occasions and averaged double figures.
Like the Harris-to-Williams change, replacing Miles and/or Bell with Foye should be a minor defensive improvement. Foye is also a much more proficient three-point shooter than Miles or Bell, and has the versatility to run the point.
The key component in Utah's backcourt quality is the continued improvement of young guns Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.
Hayward shook off an inconsistent start to 2011-12 and finished the season out very strong, playing significant minutes at shooting guard.
Hayward proved his ceiling is much higher than many previously thought, and that he can hold his own at the off guard position in Utah's "big" lineup, which features normal power forward Paul Millsap at small forward.
Alec Burks oozes confidence, and he is rapidly improving his shooting and familiarizing himself with Utah's defensive rotations. If Burks' brief career keeps improving at this rate, he has the potential to be a future starter.
If Utah could make the postseason with Harris, Miles and Bell, this new unit can definitely make some noise in the 2012-13 NBA playoffs.
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