Friday, September 09, 2005

Offseason Overview: Utah Jazz

Last year was expected to be a banner year for the Jazz. After a surprisingly successful first year A.M.S. (After Malone and Stockton), they shored up their front-line with big free-agent signings, and their starting PG was on the verge of a breakout season. The Jazz were pretty consistently picked as playoff contenders. The result? 26-56, and it’s back to the drawing board. The drawing board told them, apparently, to give up Raul Lopez, Kirk Snyder, Curtis Borchardt, and three first round draft picks for Deron Williams and … Greg Ostertag. Um.

The stud: Andrei Kirilenko, SF
So things didn’t go so well for AK-47 last year. That’s ok. There’s no reason to think that he won’t be fully recovered from his broken wrist, and he seemed to fully recover from his knee problems last season as well. His injuries mean he might fall towards the bottom of the first round this year, and if that’s the case, you should take him. The one reservation you have to have taking him – other than the injury risk – is that it’s tough to take a guy in the first round that won’t score 20 points. But if you can get Kirilenko in the first and a guy like Allen Iverson in the second, you’re off to a great start.

The support: Carlos Boozer, PF
While Kirilenko is coming back from a broken wrist – something that can heal – Boozer is coming back after missing 30 games with a “sore foot” that never really recovered. Is it better now? I mean, I guess so, but a sore foot sure sounds like something that could happen again. Boozer is sort of a Zach Randolph clone fantasy-wise, and the injury risk means he should fall pretty far before you consider taking him.

The supporting support: Deron Williams, PG
You have to think that Jerry Sloan has a ton of confidence in this kid, as he gave up 2 first round picks this year and another one next year to get Williams. He’ll be thrown into the fire and could put up something like 13/7 this year. That said, there were a lot of folks claiming Carlos Arroyo was going to blow up last year, and that didn’t exactly work out. But we think Williams is worth a shot somewhere in the middle rounds of your draft.

The sleeper: Kris Humphries, F
Humphries was a first round pick last year, but didn’t make much of an impact. Another year under his belt, though, and a thinner roster, means he might get more minutes. He won’t have any value unless the injury bug strikes again, and he shouldn’t b e drafted this year under any circumstances, but he’s worth watching.

The slacker: Matt Harpring, G/F
Harpring returned from an injury-plagued 2003 to play in 78 games last year, but his stats were pretty disappointing. He seems uninterested in shooting 3-pointers any more, His rebounding and scoring have dropped, and he’ll never be much of a defensive asset. He should be on and off fantasy rosters all year long. Don’t waste a draft pick on him.

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