Friday , Oct , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Utah Jazz 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – The Utah Jazz will try and end their three-year playoff
drought in the 2006-07 campaign. They finished the 2005-06 season with a 41-41
record and were outsiders once again from the postseason.

The Jazz have a solid nucleus with center Mehmet Okur, forwards Carlos Boozer
and Andrei Kirilenko and guard Deron Williams. Okur led the team in scoring
(18.0 ppg) and rebounding (9.1 rpg) last season, while Williams averaged a
team-best 4.5 assists per game in his rookie season.

Kirilenko posted 15.3 points, 8.0 boards and 4.3 assists in 69 contests in
2005-06, while Williams netted 10.8 per game and Boozer contributed 16.3
points and 8.6 boards per contest in just 33 outings.

In the offseason, Utah acquired veteran point guard Derek Fisher in a trade
from the Golden State Warriors. The 32-year-old Fisher averaged a career-best
13.3 points and 4.3 assists for the Warriors last season. He is entering his
11th year in the league and won three championship rings as a member of the
Los Angeles Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002).

Utah also added guards Ronnie Brewer, who was selected out of Arkansas with
the 14th overall pick, and Illinois product Dee Brown, who was picked in the
second round (46th overall), in the 2006 NBA Draft. The 6-7 Brewer has good
size and will get the opportunity to become the Jazz’ shooting guard of the
future, while Brown will try and earn a spot on the club as a backup point
guard.

Head coach Jerry Sloan will be on the Utah bench for his 19th season. His
resume is very impressive. Entering the new season, Sloan has the fifth most
wins all-time (984-658), 11th best winning percentage in NBA history (.599
percent), two NBA Finals appearances (1997 and 1998) and five Midwest Division
crowns.

BACKCOURT

Williams and Fisher will compete for playing time at the point. Acquiring
Fisher takes pressure off of Williams and will allow him to develop his game
at a comfortable pace. The Jazz have a pair of competent lead guards which
will help their offense become more efficient.

Shooting guard Gordan Giricek registered 10.6 points in 37 games, including 36
starts, last season for the Jazz. He is a solid player, but the Jazz would
like more consistency at his position.

Enter Brewer. The Utah front office hopes that Brewer can emerge and play
significant minutes at shooting guard. The Arkansas product is a solid all-
around player and may be ready to contribute immediately.

Nineteen-year-old C.J. Miles, who was selected by the Jazz in the second round
(34th pick overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft, averaged 3.4 points in 23 contests
during his rookie campaign. The 6-6 Miles could surprise if he is given more
playing time.

FRONTCOURT

The starting frontcourt is the strength of the Utah squad. Okur, Boozer and
Kirilenko makeup a formidable frontcourt. All three players are strong
rebounders and can score down low. The athletic Kirilenko, who will log
minutes at both forward spots, is a monster on defense and has an excellent
all-around game.

Swingman Matt Harpring will backup Kirilenko and play next to him. The 30-
year-old Harpring averaged 12.5 points and 5.2 boards in 71 contests in
2005-06. He shot 47.5 percent from the floor, including 35.9 percent from
beyond the arc. The 6-7 Harpring is a hard-nosed player and will be entering
his fifth season in a Utah uniform.

Jarron Collins will backup Okur. The 6-11 Collins, who posted 5.3 points and
4.2 rebounds in 79 games last year, fills a role for the Jazz and does it
well.

OUTLOOK

The Jazz are not one of the top eight teams in the Western Conference and will
miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year. They have a solid starting
frontcourt and some young players who are getting better. It’s just not good
enough to compete with the top squads in the West. Another season with a .500
record is where this franchise is at.

UTA