Utah Jazz: Player Profiles for 2011-12 Season

Todd BarrowContributor IIDecember 5, 2011

Utah Jazz: Player Profiles for 2011-12 Season

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    Finally, the wait is over!  The players and owners have ended the lockout, and the NBA preseason is about to begin.  This year will be pivotal for the Jazz, with so many young talented players and a young coach fresh off his first season of head coaching experience.

    In this article, we will analyze each player, including my opinion of depth chart issues.  Please share your thoughts and comment at the end.  And for more updates about Utah Jazz and sports, follow me at http://twitter.com/toddgbarrow

STARTER: Devin Harris, PG

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    Projected Stats: 12 ppg, 6.5 apg, 2 rpg, 1 spg, .2 bpg

    * Lengthy point guard
    * Does many things well, nothing extremely well.
    * Good ball handler.
    * Quick and athletic but may have lost a step. Used to dunk occasionally.
    * Deadly step-back jumper off the dribble.
    * Average shooter from three.
    * Great vision.
    * Excellent finisher at the rim.

    Harris was damage control in the D-Will trade.  Although not an elite PG who can carry the team, he can be very effective at times, and championship teams have won with much less than Harris.

STARTER: Gordon Hayward, SG

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    Projected Stats: 10 ppg, 3 apg, 4 rpg, 1 spg, .7 bpg

    * Excellent shooter from anywhere on floor.
    * Gaining confidence.
    * Underrated defense and athleticism.
    * Great size.
    * Spotty finisher at the rim.
    * Great passer.
    * Heady player.

    Anyone who watched the end of last season saw Hayward get better and better each game.  Some may not like it, but I like him at shooting guard because his length is such an advantage and he has the quickness (while in his youth, anyway), to guard the position.  This was seen late last season versus players such as Kobe Bryant, J.R. Smith and Aaron Afflalo.

STARTER: Andrei Kirilenko, SF

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    Projected Stats: 11 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg

    * Most experienced Jazzman.
    * Very long.
    * Streaky, although clutch shooter.
    * Excellent court vision.
    * Injury prone.
    * Can't create his own shot.
    * Great at drawing fouls.
    * Not as athletic as years past, but still superb help defender.

    I think the Jazz will re-sign AK47 but for less than half of the ridiculous contract he's had these past few years.  Kirilenko isn't the shot-blocking machine he once was but he is still a very useful asset on both offense and defense... when he's healthy.

STARTER: Derrick Favors, PF

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    Projected Stats: 10 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, .5 spg, 1.5 bpg

    * Great size, great athleticism.
    * Poor mechanics on jumpshot; releases the ball on way down.
    * Great defender and will only get better.
    * Good help defense.
    * Needs to improve pick-and-roll offense.
    * Still learning the game.
    * Massive potential.

    Again, folks might not like this, but I see Derrick Favors as the long-term solution at power forward for Utah.  He has a lot to learn but with his size and potential, along with the Millsap trade rumors swirling, I like Favors starting.  He's still learning and gaining confidence so it is expedient that he see substantial minutes this season.

STARTER: Al Jefferson, C

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    Projected Stats: 17 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.5 apg, .5 spg, 1.5 bpg

    * Wide array of post moves.
    * Lethal drop-step.
    * Decent jump hook.
    * Improved mid-range jump shot.
    * Good rebounder.
    * Average athleticism.
    * Good shot blocker, but sub par help defender.
    * A bit undersized for center.

    Big Al came to Utah excited to play for Jerry Sloan and with Deron Williams.  In one fell swoop, both are gone.  At times last year Jefferson had to carry the load on offense for this young team with few playmakers.  He's one of the few players on the team you can give the ball when the team is in a drought and desperately needs a bucket.  Hopefully he'll have a little more help this year.

RESERVE: C.J. Miles, G/F

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    Projected Stats: 7 ppg, 1 apg, 2.5 rpg, 1 spg, .3 bpg.

    * Streaky shooter.  Can get hot and take over a game.
    * Good athlete.
    * Too often is a black hole on offense, refusing to pass, taking foolish shots.
    * Good effort on defense but struggles against quicker SGs.
    * Good ball handling.

    I know that CJ wants to start this year, but he's really not the best option.  He's not big enough to guard the 3 and he's not quick enough to guard the 2.  He really is at his best coming off the bench. One out of every five games or so, you can expect him to get hot and hit threes in bunches.  But he's far too inconsistent to start.  It would only stunt the growth of the team's young, new wings- Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.

RESERVE: Paul Millsap, F

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    Projected Stats: 14 ppg, 6 rpg, 2 apg, .5 spg, .7 bpg

    * Undersized PF.
    * Hard nosed, hard-working.
    * Excellent rebounder.
    * Much improved mid-range jump shot.
    * Durable.
    * Tough defender, but size hurts.

    I am a huge fan of Paul Millsap.  So it hurts me to say it, but he's not a starting power forward in the NBA.  Listed at 6'8, but more like 6'7, he's undersized to play power forward.  Problem is, that's the only position he's known.  The Jazz have experimented with him at the 3 and have found some success due to the fact that he has developed a smooth mid-range jump shot.  But he's too big and slow to guard the quicker small forwards out there.  I look to see him being the 6th man this year, coming in for both Favors and Kirilenko.

RESERVE: Ronnie Price, PG

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    Projected Stats: 2.5 ppg, 1.5 apg, 1 rpg, 1.5 spg, .1 bpg

    * Superb athletic ability.
    * Pure hustle. 
    * Poor shooting and passing ability for a point guard.
    * Excellent defender who can stick with fast guards.
    * Consummate teammate.
    * Can't create offense in half-court.

    Price wants to stay in Utah.  Most fans like him.  Some fans hate him.  If anything I think the Jazz will keep him around just for his energy and defensive abilities.  Not a true passing point guard, but not a scoring point guard either.  Most points come off of turnovers or in transition.

RESERVE: Earl Watson, PG

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    Projected Stats: 2 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1 rpg, 1 spg, .1 bpg

    * Crafty veteran.
    * Very unselfish passer.
    * Quick-footed defender.
    * Rarely drives to rim.  Unable to create own shot.
    * Very few mistakes.

    Watson provides a steady backup role with the ability to create offense and get others involved.  He can sometimes be a little too unselfish.  He's not going to put a lot of points on the board but he won't hurt the team either.  Decent back up point guard.  According to this article, however, the Jazz are in the mix to sign Sebastian Telfair from Minnesota, who would be an upgrade from both Watson and Price.  So look for one of the two backup point guards from last year to not be signed.

RESERVE: Raja Bell, SG

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    Projected Stats: 4 ppg, 1 apg, 1.5 rpg, .5 spg .1 bpg

    * Tough, gritty defender.
    * Streaky shooter from three.
    * Leader mentality.
    * Unable to drive despite decent ball handling skills.
    * Decent catch-and-shoot ability.

    Raja came to the Jazz instead of the Lakers because he thought he could be a starter.  For the most part that was true last season.  But last year was a bad season.  He started getting better later in the season, but in the beginning and middle, he shot very poorly.  Raja is known as a defensive stopper, but at 35 years old, he struggles to keep up with younger, quicker players.  If the Jazz don't use the amnesty clause on Okur, look for Bell to be cut in order for younger wings like Hayward, Burks and Miles to get minutes.

RESERVE: Mehmet Okur, C

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    Projected Stats: 3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, .7 apg, .3 spg, .4 bpg

    * Big man with great shooting touch.
    * Excellent jump shot anywhere on the floor.
    * Average post moves.
    * Good one-on-one defense. Poor help defense.
    * Very slow-footed, looks like he's running with cement buckets on his feet.
    * Clutch.

    For most of his career, Memo was a very durable guy.  Last year he sat out most of the season recovering from a torn ACL.  When he finally made it back, he had back problems.  He will be 33 this season and age is catching up to him.  There have been talks that he will be amnestied to dump his nearly $11 million salary.  He is in his final year of the contract so don't be surprised if they keep him as a third center behind Enes Kanter to provide some depth and offense at the center position.

RESERVE: Jeremy Evans, F

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    Projected Stats: 2 ppg, 2 rpg, .5 apg, .5 spg, .5 bpg

    * Freak athlete.
    * Very, very slender. Gets pushed around.
    * Underrated touch on jumpers.
    * Length and athleticism make him a good shot blocker.
    * Most dunks per minute than any player in NBA.

    Evans was a pleasant surprise last year for Utah.  With the ability to catch alley-oop dunks from Earl Watson, he seemed to find a little niche for the Jazz.  Look for him to continue where he left off.  He's not much more than a third string forward that can come off the bench and provide a little spark.  But he knows his role and performs it well.

RESERVE: Enes Kanter, C

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    Projected Stats: 5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1 apg, .5 spg, .4 bpg

    * Very soft touch around the rim.
    * Likes contact on post.
    * Sub par athleticism.
    * Excellent rebounder.
    * Average one-on-one defense, poor help defense.
    * Good short to mid-range jump shot.

    Kanter is one of the biggest mysteries of this past draft.  He sat out the entire last season.  Video clips from years before give us a little glimpse of him, as well as his playing in Europe this past offseason.  Kanter isn't your prototypical soft European center.  He loves creating contact on offense.  He needs to improve his post move variety to get better because he can't rely on his size or athleticism in the NBA.  Players will be bigger and more athletic, and won't be pushed around.  Should get some decent playing time behind Jefferson, but really will need a few years to develop after sitting out so long.

RESERVE: Alec Burks, G

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    Projected Stats: 8 ppg, 2.5 apg, 1.5 rpg, 1 spg, .3 bpg

    * Great athlete.
    * Good ball handling ability.
    * Ability to drive with either hand.
    * Thin.  Draws fouls, but could be pushed around.
    * Good three point and mid-range jump shot when balanced.  Kicks his leg out.
    * Defensive ability seems to be there.
    * Willing passer.

    Alec Burks will be a starter in this league.  I don't know if it will happen this season, but the kid is very talented. He was the go-to guy in Colorado and didn't have much help around him.  It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to being a role player.   He also needs to put on muscle.  Any doubts about his shooting ability were erased after I watched this video of Burks out-scoring AND out-shooting Jimmer Fredette.  Look for Burks to see more and more minutes as the season progresses, it will be too hard to keep him off the floor. Offensive ability is already there and he's already a better passer than C.J. Miles.  Might play a little point guard this season too.