Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Scoop With SLC Dunk!

This week we got a chance to talk to the guy behind SLC Dunk. If you need a top notch Jazz blog, this is where you have to go.

1. The Jazz are playing well of late, 13 straight home wins, how would you assess their recent play?

With the exception of that three-game slide earlier this month, I couldn't be happier with the Jazz's play. Even then they could have should have won the games against Miami and Atlanta. They played great on the road and just squandered things late. With everyone healthy, everyone is finally seeing how the deep Utah bench will beat most teams.

2. While they've done well at home (only six home losses), they are a below average road team. What is the big difference on the road and how can they fix that problem?

If I had an answer for this, I'd probably have a job sitting next to Sloan on the bench. It's really hard to explain why we can't even break .500 on the road. I think a lot of it though is losing games like the ones mentioned above that you should have won. The Jazz have also lost to Washington, NY, and Charlotte on the road. Not good. To me, it's just a mentality. As much as they thrive from the fans in the ESA, it's almost like they can't play well without it. Maybe the home crowd is an addictive drug for the Jazz and they get withdrawals when they go on the road.

3. On the theme of the last question, without home court, how can the Jazz win a playoff series?
We'll have a better answer to this as they close out the regular season with a lot of tough games on the road. As of right now, I would say they could still win a first-round series if they had to go on the road. But past that would be tough.

4. I don't think Deron Williams has made a big progression in his play this year. Part of that is from that ankle problem he had earlier in the year. How has he gotten better this year and what's the area he's got to improve in?
"This was suppose to be the Summer of George!" That's how I feel about his injury and the team injuries. He's definitely been hampered by the ankle sprain. He stated around the end of January/first part of February that it was pretty close to 100%. His numbers and the Jazz W/L record from that point on have been fantastic. I think the Jazz have the best record in the West since the All-Star break.

We should have had a whole season of this but he hasn't played with the regular rotation until just recently. I think you can judge him from about February on. He's been nothing short of amazing. He had 5 straight games of 30+ points. He's averaging 11.6 assists in March to lead the league. If you don't get to see a lot of him, you wouldn't know about the things he does that don't show up in the box score. His decision making and play creating are with the best in the league.

One of the main things I would like to see him improve on is his turnovers. He hates it as well. Some of that has come from trying to do too much at times. His three-point shooting has been way down this season as well, even when he's been healthy. I don't know what's happened with that.

He's really learning the game though and I think has improved this year. He gives you that warm, fuzzy feeling late in the game when you know that it's going to be oooookay. Might be one of the more clutch players in the league.

5. Every time I watch Mehmet Okur, I think, "he's an underrated player." He can really score the ball and at an efficient rate. Does every one else not give him credit for his abilities? Where does he rank in best big man shooters?

As Bill Simmons might say, I think he's about rate. He's definitely not overrated but I think most people know what he can do. If you're going based on shooting, he's got to be in the top 3-5 centers in the league.

6. Do you want the Jazz to re-sign Boozer? Lots of people feel Millsap has what it takes to make Boozer replaceable. Do you take a players mindset and try to only worry about this season?

My goal this season has been to try to just think about how fortunate we are to have both Boozer and Millsap. When you can have a guy like Paul come off the bench, that's kind of disheartening for the opposing team because there's not really a let down. I want the Jazz to re-sign Boozer. Character issues aside, which I don't think anyone is really qualified to speak with any authority on, he's an overall better player right now than Millsap is. Paul has his strengths and I don't have much that I could speak negatively on about him, but a healthy Booze gives us a better chance to win.

7. A couple of fake Jazz play and coach Twitter accounts have surfaced recently. Which person in the Jazz organization would have the most entertaining Twitter account and why?

Kyrylo Fesenko and Kosta Koufos. They should have a joint account because Fess is the ultimate goofball and quote machine. On the otherhand, Kosta is as serious as they come when you're talking basketball and he's giving interviews. There are a lot of "Yes, sirs" and cliche statements. I may start a fake account based on this now....

8. Kyle Korver has proved to me that he can make smart defensive decisions at times. He's pretty much in his prime now, can he become any better (more all around offensive game, better D) of a bench player for the Jazz?

Offensively, what you see is what you get. He's always been a shooter. He's never going to be a one on one guy or someone that can create his own shot. That's fine. He fits in perfectly. He has been much improved on his D this year. Due to a wrist injury, his shot hasn't been there for a lot of the year. But like losing your hearing, you develop your other senses a little better (I don't know if that's true or just a stereotype/wives tale but it works for this point). His rebounding and blocks are up and unfortunately we don't have a stat for hustle.

9. Who's the x-factor for this Jazz team? What make them go?

Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko. I just wrote about this in my game recap against the Rockets. AK was the x-factor in the first half of the season while everyone was out injured. He still is to a point. But Ronnie has turned it on and has been playing phenomenal on D and causing havoc on the the offensive end.

10. How long until the Jazz are legitimate title contenders? Who do they need to acquire to get there?

I think they're contenders now. They're not favorites, but they're contenders. Their offense is probably the best in the league. With a little defensive intensity on the road, they could make some noise. But it all starts there. We'll get a good idea as we see them close out the regular season with all of their road games against high quality opponents.

Thanks man and remember to visit SLC Dunk!


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