StrategyOctober 7, 2008

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Team Preview: Utah Jazz

By Brett Roberts

The Jazz were one of the top teams in the West last season and were among the eight 50+ win teams that made the playoffs. There’s a lot of reasons for Jazz fans to be excited. Many felt after Karl Malone and Stockton left that the franchise would wallow in mediocrity for a long while, but even following their departure, Sloan kept the Jazz relevant, and once he got some more talent to work with, he made them into a contender. They have the potential to win 60 games and take the West this season.

Projected Starters:

PG- Deron Williams

SG- Ronnie Brewer

SF- Andrei Kirilenko

PF- Carlos Boozer

C- Mehmet Okur

Key reserves: Matt Harpring, Paul Millsap, Jarron Collins, Kyle Korver, Brevin Knight

Worth watching: CJ Miles, Kosta Koufos, Morris Almond

The Jazz offer a plethora of valuable fantasy options. From the solid 20-10 presence of Boozer to the 10 assists per game of Deron Williams, the Jazz provide it all. Looking for steals? Try Ronnie Brewer on for size. Threes from the center position? Okur will provide. Need some blocks and steals? Take on defensive guru Andrei Kirilenko.

All five Utah starters will be drafted in the top 7 rounds, with Brewer being the lowest of the five. Brewer brings a nice rounded game to the table and is very roto-friendly because he gives you 55% FG from the guard position and 1.7 steals to go with it. Brewer should go in rounds 6-7 in most fantasy drafts, though you might be able to sleep on him and get him in round 8 or 9, especially in novice leagues where managers draft for points, since Brewer only averages 12 a game.

Deron Williams is as durable as they come, having played 80+ games all his first three seasons in the league. He’s gotten better every season, and is the second best young point guard in the league (behind Chris Paul of course). He gives you 18 ppg (maybe 20 this year?) and 10.5 apg, while shooting 50% FG and 80% FT. Deron makes a solid second round pick and should be considered in the same breath as Chauncey Billups and Jose Calderon.

Boozer is a great guy to have on your squad too. He puts up 20 pts & 10 boards almost every night and gives you help all across the board except for blocks (0.5 per game). Despite logging most of his minutes at power forward, he is center eligible in Yahoo leagues, which makes him even more valuable and attractive to fantasy owners. Some may say that he will be fatigued from playing in Beijing, which would hold some merit if he actually did play in Beijing, but being relegated to the bench there he was more or less along for the gold medal ride. I don’t expect the experience to affect him much if any once the season rolls around.

Kirilenko is an interesting specimen. He’s not putting up the all star numbers of three seasons ago when he was a primary option on offense for the Jazz, but he still does a lot of things that are valuable in fantasy and is one of the few guys capable of a quadruple double on any night. Last year was a career low in blocks for AK-47, 1.5 per game, but that’s still a solid contribution and I do expect him to rebound this year to maybe 2.2 blocks a game. He averaged a career high 4 assists per game last year and his FG% was actually a career high at 50% too. Kirilenko is an enigmatic one, but offers a lot of things that are hard to find (the blocks, steals, assists from the F slot) and it makes him worth a 5th-6th round pick.

Okur is the other main fantasy threat on Utah. His scoring fell off by a few points last season, down to 14 a game, but his other cats remained constant. He gets you 1.6 threes a game from the center position. Only Sheed will offer that outside Okur. He doesn’t really get you any blocks, though, so you may need to shore that up by drafting another center who does, like Dalembert for instance. Okur is worth a 6th round pick.

Outside of the starting five, the only other relevant player is Paul Millsap. He’s a player that could start on a lot of teams, and if he were to be traded, would be instantly owned in every league. Playing only 20 minutes a game, he still almost is a part of the 1 block & 1 steal club, and puts up 8 & 5 in that limited time. I have to believe that if he played for a lesser team and started that he could put up 15 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.4 bpg, and 1.2 spg. But he doesn’t. He plays behind Okur and Boozer and is only worth a late round flier, if at all. But keep an eye on him if one of them goes down with an injury and be the first to snap him off waivers if so.

Studs: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer

Solid mid-round selections: Andrei Kirilenko, Ronnie Brewer, Mehmet Okur

Late round flier: Paul Millsap

Brett Roberts is one of a growing number of fantasy experts who write for the Cafe. You can catch up with Brett in the Cafe's forums where he posts under the name of Nene.
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