When Carlos Boozer bolted for Chicago and Al Jefferson found himself traded to the Utah Jazz, the Salt Lake City fanbase breathed a sigh of relief. The tandem of Boozer and Williams was something that was constantly compared to Stockton and Malone of old, and the thought of not having that anymore for most of us was...well...horrid.
But no worries. Once again the Jazz front office pulled off a deal that eased all of our fears, trading Kosta Koufos, some change, and a few granola bars to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Al Jefferson. We were all happy.
But we all seemed to be forgetting about one key piece of the Jazz rotation. He is a power forward that stands at 6'8" and 250 lbs. Although a bit undersized for a power forward, he hails from the same school as Jazz great Karl Malone, Louisiana Tech University. I'm talking about Paul Millsap, the Jazz's surprising 47th pick of the 2006 NBA Draft.
Millsap's career as a Jazzman, thus far, has been spectacular. No one expected him to be the kind of player he has become, and yet it still seems that he doesn't receive the respect that he deserves, although the Jazz organization's faith in him seemed to be on display when they matched Portland's offer sheet of $32 million for four years this past year.
Millsap is part of the future.
But how will he fit in now that Al Jefferson has made his way to town? We still have Mehmet Okur on the team and Fransisco Elson was just brought in to boost their deep frontcourt.
A good scenario seems to be that Millsap will be the starting power forward and Jefferson the starting center. Okur will make his way to the bench as the team's sixth man.
This lineup would be the most logical for the Jazz this upcoming season. Millsap is ready to show what he can do as an starting NBA power forward. In the past, he has definitely shown what he can do when given the chance.
During the 2008-2009 NBA season, when Carlos Boozer was sidelined with a knee injury, Paul's numbers were fantastic. Along that stretch, he averaged 15.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg while shooting 56 percent from the field. He also had the longest double-double streak for much of the season, ahead of All-Star Dwight Howard.
As a starter, Millsap's numbers will continue to improve. This season, expect him to average about 17 points and 10 rebounds a game. This guy, who has withstood all previous doubts, will one day be an All-Star and a staple in the Jazz locker room for years to come.
So now, he can also breathe a sigh of relief.