“And it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe
Maybe this year will be better than the last” —- Counting Crows
At 9:40 remaining in the third quarter of the Jazz blowout win over the Hornets, Deron Williams had a quick decision to make. He had just dribbled between the legs, behind the back, faked left then drove around All-Star, and MVP candidate, Chris Paul and then eyed 7-foot-1 Tyson Chandler standing between him and the hoop.
It was Chandler but it might as well have been Byron Scott, coach of the West team, who left Deron off the All-Star team again. It could have been fickle (IE…clueless) NBA fans who voted for at least 10 other point guards ahead of him for the All-Star team. It could have been any other critic who thought he couldn’t carry Chris Paul’s jock strap. But it wasn’t. It was Tyson Chandler and Deron quickly decided that dunking on the 7-footer and nearly tearing off the rim would ease the pain just a bit. I believe it did.
That exclamation point of a dunk, along with totally shutting down Paul once again, showed everyone that regardless of how good Paul is, Deron Williams can tear him up. And regardless of how great the Hornets have been this year the Jazz have still won 7 of 8 when Deron is playing against Paul.
Now this is The Team all Jazz fans were waiting for and here is the good news: Even including that horrible December stretch when the Jazz lost ELEVEN games, this team has still won a higher percentage of games than last years Western Conference finals team.
Everyone who jumped off the bandwagon should hop back on because this team is much better than last years. Mehmet Okur, is now back to playing at last year’s pace. Andrei Kirilenko is twice the player he was last year. Last season the Jazz had no real shooting guard and now are overloaded with talent. Ronnie Brewer’s average has more than doubled to 12 points and 2 steals while playing half the game. Kyle Korver gives them confidence down the stretch and something tells me that he can shoot the ball. Williams and Carlos Boozer averages continue to climb. Their number one pick, Morris Almond, can score 53 points in a d-league game and still can’t get on the court.
The great Jazz finals team of 97-98 had a total of 3 players who averaged double figures and none of their top players were under 26 years of age. This year’s team has 6 players scoring in double figures and have 8 players averaging over 8.1 points per game. Ten players on the Jazz roster are under 26 years old.
This team has got it goin’ on and if keeping Deron off the All-Star team makes him play like this, then Chris Paul will get all my future votes.