Sunday , Dec , 16 , 2007 Basketball John

How To Improve the Utah Jazz

It’s the easiest thing in the world to write about your team when they’re playing well. When the Jazz are winning, the words flow like wine, except in Utah wine isn’t allowed to flow. So let’s say the words bubble like a nice caffeine-free diet Coke.

But when the Jazz – yes, the same Jazz that were in the Western Conference Finals last year – find themselves on a six-game schneid, the words flow like Utah wine.

And when your team is expected to contend for conference championship, it’s a little disheartening to see them fall apart like this.

Because the Jazz are Utah’s only major professional sports team, most fans live and die with them. So this slump has already brought out cries of, "Trade Boozer!", "Fire Sloan!", and "Vote Democrat!"

Are the Jazz as bad as their 13-11 record? Probably not. I’m sure there are a majority of fans that would swap players in an instant. And although this year’s team isn’t too much different from last year’s squad, sometimes they seem like night and day. And for them to get back to the WCF, there needs to be some changes. That’s where I come in. I can wildly speculate without repercussions. So a few things that could improve this team…

BRING IN A THREE-POINT SHOOTER

Part of the reason for the recent losing streak is that the Jazz have been figured out. All opposing teams have to do is pack it in low with a zone and double- or triple-team Boozer. Okur, the only three-point threat on the team besides Williams, is having a down year. He’s been scarily consistent the past several years. But whether it’s a nagging injury, Kirilenko syndrome, or some bad Dimes, he’s not the All-star from last year. They need someone to make other teams pay for packing it in. And sorry, Brewer isn’t the answer yet.   We need the Brent Barry type that all they do is camp on the three point line and wait for the kick out.

BRING IN A VETERAN

Although no one will deny Brewer’s athletic superiority to Derek Fisher, maybe there’s something to this veteran leadership thing. Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer are the team’s self-proclaimed leaders. But outside of high-fives from Boozer and some "come-ons" and hand claps from Williams, I haven’t seen a lot on the floor that would inspire me. It could be that Fisher took a lot off of Williams and Booze and let them do their thing without having to worry about what other members of the team were doing. So let’s get someone that’s been in the trenches and has the experience to be the veteran leader for this team.

THERE’S NO TEAM IN DEFENSE

"Can we stop playing patty-cake with everyone?" That was a classic line from my high school football coach. Seriously, tell me who the tough guy is on this team. Why aren’t there any shooting guards on their backs when they drive the lane? They get a free layup and a love pat on their way to the free-throw line. I’m not saying that they have to give them stitches, but make them think twice about coming inside. And they don’t like the comparisons to Stockton and Malone, but Deron and Carlos could adopt a few pages out of the Hall-of-Fame duo’s dirty play every once in a while. I don’t know how everyone outside of Kirilenko gets away with not playing D under Sloan’s watch.

Jazz fans don’t have any reason to panic yet. Come talk to me after we get back from next week’s four-game roady.