Evaluating the Utah Jazz Players At the All-Star Break

By Shahab Khan
Al Jefferson Paul Millsap Utah Jazz DeMarcus Cousins Sacramento Kings
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Utah Jazz come into the All-Star break on a hot streak winning their past two games including a hard fought victory against the Oklahoma City Thunder and road win against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  They sit in seventh place and have a five game cushion over the ninth place Portland Trail Blazers.  The team has defied many pundits odds and if they continue to play as they are a playoff spot will be theirs at the end of the season.

The Jazz have assembled a stellar front court of big men that is the envy of every general manager in the NBA.  It starts with the should be All-Star Al Jefferson.  Jefferson has had an outstanding year commanding the ball and going after it as well with numbers that are gaudy.  He averages almost a double-double every game and his 19 points is tops on the team.

Paul Millsap is a perfect wing man to Jefferson’s play.  He does it all and is the smartest player on the squad.  Where Jefferson does it with ability, Millsap does it with heart.  He shares the most valuable player of the first half season award with his partner up-front.

Marvin Williams is the other member of the staring front court.  He has had a very off year.  His talent is undeniable but he just hasn’t been able to fit with the team.  If the Jazz could trade him they would.

The bench players Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and DeMarre Carroll have been a perfect compliment to the starters.  Favors is a star in the waiting.  He has the ability to be a start on any team in the league and it is this reason that the expiring contracts of Jefferson or Millsap might leave the Jazz soon.

Kanter has adjusted to professional life smoothly after not playing at all for the Kentucky Wildcats.  He defends well in the post and surprisingly has a nice touch.

Carroll has been the MVP of the bench.  His hard-nosed in your face style have made him a fan favorite in Salt Lake City.  His motors never turns off and that is why is he coveted around the league

The Jazz back court is week and if the team falls out of the playoff race it will be on their shoulders.  Having five point guards on your team means that none of them can be trusted and a change needs to be made.  Veterans Mo Williams, Earl Watson and Jamaal Tinsley have had their moments but overall haven’t contributed enough.  Williams and Tinsley are shoot first guards and their shots have been off.   Watson is old, too old.  Randy Foye has been getting the bulk of the minutes and has responded lately but he isn’t a true point guard either.  At any moment, his play might go back to what it was earlier in the year and that wouldn’t be a good thing.

Alec Burks has been saddled with injuries and really hasn’t been able to make an impression but does have an upside somewhere down the line.  The same can be said of rookie shooting guard Kevin Murphy who is the last man on the bench.  Jeremy Evans is going to the dunk contest and that’s all that can be said about him.

The only real shooting guard on the team is Gordon Hayward.  He’s had a respectable year but nothing like the year he should be having.  He has all the tools to excel but has been a disappointment in the eyes of many.  It is this position that is the key for the Jazz to continue their push.

Overall the roster has had a better than expected season but that might change as the deadline approaches.  One of Jefferson or Millsap’s expiring contracts will be dealt and a scorer or point will be brought in.  That and only that will make the Jazz a team to be watched in the playoffs

Shahab Khan is a Basketball Columnist with Rant Sports focusing on the NBA and the Toronto Raptors

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