Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What's Wrong With the Utah Jazz?

Jerry Sloan, one of the most prestigious coaches in the NBA has been with the Utah Jazz longer than any other coach has been with any other team in professional sports. He began coaching the Jazz in 1988 taking over for Frank Layden. Since that time, his team has had one losing record (2004-05) and missed the playoffs just three times (2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06). He has coached a 2-Time MVP, the all-time assist and steals leader and several NBA All-Stars. In the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons his team made it the NBA Finals only to be ousted by Michael Jordan both years. Since the retirement of John Stockton and departure of Karl Malone they've struggled to get to where they once were. Atop their division, have annual all-stars and be a championship contender.

So what is wrong with the Jazz now? Since Utah drafted Deron Williams 3rd in the 2005 draft they've won their division twice but have never been a top 3 seed in the playoffs. A place they frequented while Stockton and Malone were in SLC. Williams was the highest selected player the Jazz have ever drafter or ever had on their team. It has been a question as to what the problem is with the Jazz. How can a coach be so successful and not have any championships (or coach of the year awards)? The difference, is the caliber of players. Not only the top role players but the supporting cast as well.

Below is a list of the roster the two seasons the Jazz went to the finals. Underneath that is their current roster. They are listed in how highly they were drafted and in parenthesis of the team that drafted them if not by the Jazz.

Finals Roster

1st round
#4 Chris Morris '98 (New Jersey)
#8 Antoine Carr '83 (Detroit)
#10 Adam Keefe '92 (Atlanta)
#13 Karl Malone '85
#16 John Stockton '84
#27 Jacque Vaughn '97 (only played on 97-98 finals team)
#28 Greg Ostertag '94

2nd round
#30 Howard Eisley '94 (Minnesota)
#35 Greg Foster '90 (Washington Bullets)
#45 Bryon Russell '93
#46 Jeff Hornacek '86 (Phoenix)
#54 Shandon Anderson '96

Stephen Howard


1st round
#3 Deron Williams '05
#9 Gordon Hayward '10
#23 Kosta Koufos '08
#24 Andrei Kirilenko '99

2nd round
#34 CJ Miles '05
*#34 Carlos Boozer '02 (Cleveland)
#38 Mehmet Okur '01 (Detroit)
*#38 Kyrylo Fesenko '07 (Philadelphia)
#47 Paul Millsap '06
*#51 Kyle Korver '03 (New Jersey)
#55 Jeremy Evans '10

Sundiata Gaines
Ronnie Price
*Wesley Matthews
Othyus Jeffers

*Currently a Free Agent

Sloan has been given alot of credit for "having success with a bunch of second rounders on his team". He is back to having a winning record every year. Yet, that is still the difference between where they are now and where they want to be to win a championship (and keep Deron Williams). Of that entire list, one player, Mehmet Okur has a championship ring. He was buried on the bench of the 2004 NBA Champions Detroit Pistons. Jacque Vaughn was a part of the 2006-07 San Antonio Spurs Championship team after he left Utah.

From the above information I can see a few differences. The current squad's first round draft choices are often busts, or they're not involved enough in trades or the free agent market. The finals teams had five top 20 draft picks. The current team has four total first round draft picks. It is possible for players drafted low to succeed. Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer are All-Stars. Jeff Hornacek and Kyle Korver are two of the best perimeter shooters ever. Both have won a pair of three-point shootout contests. But surrounding your best players with top talent is highly important in having the success you want. And, usually players with that top talent are drafted high. That's a no brainer for us all to understand. Just don't tell the current Jazz front office that. Hopefully as the free agency market starts tonight at midnight eastern, Utah will be active in improving their team.

There's my take on what's wrong with the Utah Jazz. I can see the logic. Can you?

1 comment:

  1. I personally think the problem with the Utah Jazz is that we are a lowe market team. We do not have the money to get really good players who are asking for a lot of money. I love the Jazz, and will always, but it sure is tough when Sloan makes the choices he's made for the past 22 years with the Jazz. He is one of the only coaches out there that doesn't let his star players take control of certain situations. I guess we'll see what happens with the free agent market tonight at midnight. Hopefully something good!