Utah Jazz: 5 Bold Predictions for the 2011-12 Jazz
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The Utah Jazz are in a state of flux right now. Tyrone Corbin is a new, untested coach that went 8-20 after taking over from Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan in the latter half of the 2010-11 NBA season. Deron Williams is now lacing it up with the New Jersey Nets and once All-Star Devin Harris is now leading a young, inexperienced squad into the lockout shortened 2011-12 season.
What will become of this fresh-faced Jazz squad? Five bold predictions lie ahead.
No. 5: Enes Kanter Will Be a Posterizer
Kanter's leg weighs as much as Stern
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Though Kanter has a loooong way to go to reach the skill level of Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol, and the elite centers of the NBA; Enes' size will prove useful as the young big learns how to create space in the key.
He will be matched up against perennial All-star Howard when they meet up this year on either April 21st (when the Jazz play Orlando) or on January 14th (when the Jazz play the New Jersey Nets, a rumored destination for Howard), Kanter will throw at least one dunk down on the massive swat machine. Sure Kanter will get a bit beat up on the glass, but with Enes’ size he will quickly learn to control the paint in this shortened season while he fills in the void left by recently departed Mehmet Okur.
No. 4: Al Jefferson Will Come off the Bench for More Than 30 Games
Al Jefferson at his fastest
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With the young talent that the Jazz have at their disposal Al Jefferson will be forced to come off the bench and fuel the second squad in the latter half of the season. Though still young at only 26 (soon to be 27 on Jan. 4) Jefferson will be placed on the back burner in order to give the Jazz youngsters (Favors and Kanter) more playing time, which sends him into a deeper self-esteem spiral while he seeks out a new girlfriend.
No. 3: C.J. Miles Will Finally Have a Break-out Season
C.J. Miles will excel in the new Jazz system
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C.J. Miles’ numbers have improved in each of the seasons he has played for the Jazz, with his points moving from 3.4 point per game in his rookie season to 9.9 in 2009-10, to his career high of 12.8 last year (he also had a career high 3.3 rebounds, something that needs to drastically increase if the Jazz hope to get into the playoffs).
Granted he played more minutes during the 2010-11 campaign than he had in any previous season, Miles will flourish in a revamped Jazz offense that will feature more movement and rely more on the athleticism of the young players waiting for more minutes.
No. 2: Paul Millsap Will Be an All-Star
Millsap putting the biscuit in the basket
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With Mehmet Okur leaving the frontcourt just got a lot friendlier for Paul Millsap. While Al Jefferson and Enes Kanter will rotate at the center position, Millsap and Favors will take turns at power forward. With less competition for playing time than expected, and as efficient as Millsap has been in recent years, Millsap is going to put up some big numbers in the 2011-12 season.
Not only has Millsap improved in nearly every statistical category the last couple of seasons (with the sole exception of blocks per game), he has also been heralded by teammates and coaches for his iron-horse work ethic. His hard work will pay off this year as he will be selected as a Western Conference All-Star in his sixth season in a Jazz uniform.
No. 1: Alec Burks Will Start His Quest for His Future Spot in an All-Star Game
Does anyone else think he looks like he is saying, "Hey Adrian!"
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Ok, ok, so the end result of this prediction does not exactly occur during the upcoming season, but Alec Burks will shine this year and will surprise people with his ability to flourish in the NBA. He can create his own shot, get to the foul line, and at 6’6” is an ideal height for a shooting guard. Further, the Jazz will need helping filling buckets, and playing alongside unselfish Gordon Hayward will help boost Burks' production.