Monson: This is not your father's Jazz
Nobody knows with any exactness how or where the Jazz will finish in the 2012-13 season, how they will stack up in the West, or how far they will go in the playoffs, if they make the playoffs.
But there is one certainty: how they will play.
For better or worse, this iteration of the Jazz is bound to be the most entertaining in years. Not that that's saying much.
Let's be plain about it. The Jazz through the seasons have been more a mud-splattered Ford 150 working the north 40 than deep-polished Porsche 911 GT2 RS blasting around the Nurburgring, more a mild rainstorm than any kind of hurricane, more a literary classic than heart-thumping thriller. They've scored at the offensive end, just not in a way that stirs the soul. Their layup-first approach has been effective, heavy on patience and execution but light on wow-factor.
They made their name with that Sominex offense, putting their opponents and everybody else in the building to sleep before striking for a score, typically finding a shot attempt in or near the paint. In the Jerry Sloan tradition, it was like a bunch of dirt farmers harvesting the crop. The overalls got sweated through, the job got done, but for anybody watching, possession by possession, bit by bit, the mind went numb.
Sloan's philosophy, as he once said it, was that the team that took shots closer to the basket usually won.
The 3-point line has changed at least some of that, and the Jazz finally seem to have realized the fact. After finishing near the bottom of NBA standings last season in shooting behind the arc, the club went hunting for somebody, anybody, who could dust the net from distance. They signed Mo Williams, Marvin Williams and Randy Foye and drafted Kevin Murphy.
Somewhere in there is a player or two who can take and make bombs.
That's big for the Jazz because having that threat not only gives them the capability of scoring quickly and closing deficits and building leads, it also creates room on the block, making their post players' jobs considerably easier. And, as Jazz VP Kevin O'Connor recently pointed out, maybe those big men, like Al Jefferson, will be more likely to pass the ball back out when they know there are shooters waiting who actually can drain the 3.
That'll be a gas for everyone to watch.
Moreover, in part because of the Jazz's depth, they will be able to get into transition offense more often, looking for quicker, easier baskets that will take some of the pressure off of their usual grind.
Look at the makeup: Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, Foye and Alec Burks all want to run. Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll, Jeremy Evans, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and even Enes Kanter can run.
They won't be the Showtime Lakers, but there are a lot of young legs in that group that can get up and down the floor. Add in Jefferson, Jamaal Tinsley and Earl Watson, if and when he's healthy, and the Jazz almost could go with a platoon system, replacing fresh energy with fresher energy in waves.
"We have a lot of good players," O'Connor said. "And now we have to step up and prove it."
Tyrone Corbin repeatedly has stressed the idea that the Jazz want to run more, and to accomplish that they will have to do what has to be done to successfully pull it off: rebound.
After that, players beyond point guard Mo Williams, such as Foye, Hayward and Burks, can handle the ball on the break, facilitating the early attack from different angles.
This, then, is not your father's Jazz.
It won't be an absolute madhouse, but they will fire up shots that back in the day might have gotten them benched, and they will rebound and run.
It's a mystery exactly how much they'll win. But the Jazz have traded in the old truck for a new coupe. And it's time to see how fast they'll get wherever it is they're going.
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 1280 and 960 AM and 97.5 FM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.
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