Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Miami Heat Fail to Burn Jazz Again

The Miami Heat had beaten the Utah Jazz 7 straight times. Not even the Spurs have an active streak like that against the Jazz. Forget trying to explain how they've mastered the Jazz, other than saying Pat Riley has been around the block a few times and has been able to get his teams to rise up. But like all streaks, they are made to end. Behind big performances from their rising stars, the Jazz cooled the Heat and ended the streak with a 110-101 (box score) victory at Energy Solutions Arena Monday night.

Dwayne Wade summed it up pretty well:
"This team brings out the best in you," Wade said about the Jazz. "I thought we played a great game but they just made more plays when it counted to win the ballgame."

Give the Heat credit, they battled hard and the game was very much in doubt most of the way. In the end, Miami simply doesn't have enough talent to finish what it started. They did however shoot 53% from the field and 41% from 3pt range. What they didn't do, was what winning teams must do - play defense down the stretch and make free throws. The Heat allowed the Jazz to score 36 points in the 4th quarter and pretty much lost this game at the free throw line by going 16-31 for 51%. I haven't done any digging, but when is the last time you saw an NBA team miss that many free throws and shoot so poorly? Before you blame it all on Shaq (2-6 FT), you should know that Mr. Wade was the biggest offender (6-12), and Alonzo Mourning (3-6) didn't exactly look comfy at the stripe. If the Heat had shot 80% from the line, they would have scored 9 more points in this game...which was the margin of defeat.

Some Headlines -
  • Booz continues to roll: Carlos Boozer came back from injury in a big way with 24 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists.
  • Jazz get their money man back: Mehmet Okur had perhaps his best game of the year after returning from his back injury - 25 points and 6 rebounds while finding his outside stroke, with 10-14 shooting and 4-5 from downtown.
  • DWill decisive over JWill: Deron Williams continued his red hot streak with 24 points, 15 assists, 2-3 from 3pt range, and only 2 turnovers. For the season he is shooting 52%, averaging 9.1 assists and now up to 19.3 ppg. If you are not watching him play these last few weeks, you are missing some special PG play.
  • Team ball produces results: The Jazz assisted on 38 of their 42 field goals (90.5%). So in today's 1-on-1 game, Utah stands out as unique. They lead the league in assists per game, field goal percentage, and 3rd in the league in points per game.
  • Brewer slows Wade: We give Ronnie Brewer the heat whenever a stud guard scores 35 points, we should give him credit when he slows down a great one. DWade still had 26 points and 10 assists, but he did have to take 20 shots to do it and was not able to get to the basket down the stretch the way he has in the past. DWade against last year's Jazz would have taken over the close game late.
Was it throw back night or what?
Sixty percent of the Heat starting line-up could very well be 10 years past their prime, and if you didn't know better, you'd think it was throwback night.
Consider Penny Hardaway, started with Orlando 15 years ago and the 1999 season was the last time he scored more than 12 points a game. You are forgiven if you didn't realize he as still in the league - he play only 37 games for New York 3 years ago, 4 games for New York and Orlando 2 years ago, and last year ago he took the year off - so that is 41 games in 3 years. Talk about a reclamation project! Penny however went scoreless in 14 minutes against the Jazz.
Consider Jason Williams, who has been solid in Miami, is now in his 10th season and maybe will never find his prime. Remember the aggressive, bald-headed Jason Williams from his Sacramento days. Who had all the promise in the world, but was too out of control. Looking at his career, he has found control - but never shooting accuracy (only 1 season has he shot better than 41% from the field) or big time scoring (only 1 season has he scored more than his 12.8 ppg rookie average).
Consider Shaquille O'Neal, who is now in his 16th season and 4th for the Heat and officially on the downward slide statistically. While he has had some terrific seasons in the last 10 years, he just isn't in the physical shape to impact the game the way he has in the past. Rather than be negative with the Diesel, let's be real - he is a giant man who has had an amazing career and has been one of the most dominant big men to play the game. It's no fair to ask him to carry the load these days.

Up next for the Jazz, are the Sacramento Kings in California. The Kings have all 6 of their wins at home (6-3) and join the Knicks as the only win-less teams on the road (both 0-7). To read up on the Kings, I recommend Sactown Royalty as a strong blog (and one of the best looking too).

Friday, November 30, 2007

Jazz Dismantle the Lakers

The Jazz hosted the Lakers, and before tip-off received the crushing news that two starters would miss the game with injury. Undoubtedly the hearts of Jazz fans sunk when they heard that Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur would miss the game with injuries. So much for the great start to the season - losing 37 points and 16 rebounds a night would be fatal against the Lakers.

Instead, in a shocking display, the Jazz crushed the Lakers 120-96 (box score). Sure, the Lakers came in on the 2nd night of a back to back - but before you write this off as Laker fatigue - consider that the Jazz scored 70 points in the first half and led by 19 at the break. This was not a typical back to back outcome where the road team wore down in the second half, as this game was over long before fatigue was the issue, plus the Laker's blew out Denver last night and were able to rest many guys.

It was a Jazz night all around:
  • Deron Williams scored a career high 35 points and took it upon himself to pick up some of the scoring slack with Boozer and Okur out.
  • Andrei Kirilenko's line was ridiculous - a triple double, the 3rd of his career and plenty more. AK47 produced 20 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 6 steals, and 4 blocked shots - with no turnovers in 41 minutes.
  • Paul Milsap tied a season high with 20 points and added 9 rebounds while starting in Boozer's spot. Milsap is two things that the Laker big men are not - fearless and physical.
  • Ronnie Brewer worked hard against Kobe, didn't get lit up for 50 again, and put up a nice line scoring 14 points, 6 assists and 2 more steals.
  • The NBA got it's first peak at Kyrylo Fesenko, Utah's 7'1", 20 year old rookie who out hustled and over powered the Lakers interior players in his first NBA action with 6 points, 7 rebounds, in 17 minutes - just one night after playing for the Utah Flash in the NBDL. He's big, he's agile, but he's very young and raw.
  • Utah Jazz Injury Update: Boozer's sore ankle is healing, but still has some swelling. I'd guess he'd be ready to roll Monday Night. Okur's back spasms also sound like he is close to return, and he also looks to be ready to return Monday.
For Lakers, a few things worthy of note:
  • Kobe got his average with 28 points, and put on a show in the 2nd quarter - but failed to torch the Jazz and maintain the dominance that he has asserted against Utah over the last few years. Credit team defense and individuals Brewer and AK for big defensive efforts.
  • Fisher has a miserable return to Utah. 1-8 shooting for 3 points and was absolutely torched in the 2nd quarter by Deron Williams.
  • Andrew Bynum shows flashes, but is young, isn't a strong finisher yet and the Lakers seem to give up on him pretty easy. That said, the kid had 8 points and 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. To AB's defense it's hard to contribute on offense when the triangle seems set to produce jump shots.
  • What happened to Odom? He is a good shooter, but was Lamar sleepy or what? He was a pedestrian with 7 points, only 5 shot attempts in 29 minutes. This guy has to be big if the Lakers are going to be and for him to disappear on the road is surprising. I subscribe to theory that stars play almost the same at home and away, and it's the average and young guys that fluctuate. Odom is too good to disappear like this.
  • Insanity! Phil Jackson signed on for two more years for a reported $24 Million. What the heck is going on? Phil has had some amazing benefits in his coaching career - big money, big stars, and now dates the owner's daughter while earning $12 Mil per year with little prospect of getting out of the first round. Sure, he spouts enough philosophy to keep some lunatics in line - BUT has had the pleasure to always have at least one of the top 3 players in the league on his team, and at times has had two of the top 10 at the same time.
In closing, this game was terrible fun for Jazz fans. With two stars out - the Jazz saw their remaining stars DWill and AK just take over and the team as a whole played very unselfish team ball the whole night. Williams ball-handling was an amazing display. Poor Farmar and Fisher got absolutely scored in the 2nd quarter. All the bench guys stepped up big and just hammered the Lakers. Los Angeles has to be very embarrassed by this display.

Want to read on the opponents? I'd recommend The Forum Blue and Gold to get a lot of good content and comments on the Lakers. Up next for the Jazz is Miami, you can peak ahead at the Heat by reading some strong stuff on the MVN's Miami Heat Blog - Crazy From The Heat.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Jazz Finish Eastern Booz' Cruise

The Jazz wrapped up their week long trip to the East Coast with a 106-95 victory (box score) over the Philadelphia 76ers Wednesday Night. The win meant the Jazz finished a solid 2-1 on the trip, and improved to 5-4 on the road this season. After the Jazz opened the trip with a win at Detroit, a sweep seemed possible - so the loss to the Knicks was a disappointment.

Booz' Cruisin on the East Coast
Carlos Boozer missing a shot on the the 3 game trip was a rare thing. That is not much of an exaggeration, considering the numbers he piled up:

Philly: 12-17 FG, 26 points 7 rebs
New York: 12-18 FG, 30 points, 12 rebs
Detroit: 17-20 FG, 36 points 11 rebs
The Tally for the Eastern Cruise - a whopping 41-55 for 74.5% from the field, while averaging 10 rebounds per game.

The 76ers have some pieces to the puzzle, but not nearly enough talent to battle the big boys. After starting the season 2-2, they've now dropped 8 of the last 10 games to land at 4-10 and in the basement of the Atlantic Division.

Since the Jazz don't see the Sixers often - let's answer the question - who are these guys? Really they have three guys worth noting, and then a bunch of spare parts.

The Big 3 from my perspective - not in order:

Andre Miller - I'm still a Miller fan and think a pass first guard helps any team. That said, I could see them dealing him at some point this season to a competing team that faces a PG injury.

Andre Iguodola - AI, the 2nd is of course a well rounded athlete who is the star of the team. On this night he had 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, but only took 12 shots. He isn't the type of player who does well in the half court however, and therefore didn't get a lot shots he wanted. In the open court he is big time.

Kyle Korver - Beside being Ashton Kutcher's look-a-like, Mr. Korver is a long range assassin - so says his rep anyway. In the game against the Jazz he had trouble making anything - in fact, this might have been Kutcher covering for Kyle. Korver was 1-9 from the field, and only 1-6 from 3 point range. Before you assume it was him having to deal with the athletic duo of Kirilenko and Ronnie Brewer think again. Half of Korver's misses where wide open 3s that the Jazz almost seemed content with him taking. Looking at KKorver's numbers on the season, you notice he's only 39% from the field and 37% from downtown. I like the guy - but geez - half his FG attempts this year are from behind the Arc and he's not impressing anyone.

Other warm bodies:
Samuel Dalembert - Solid young big man who averages 11 points and 8 rebounds.
Willie Green - Another double figure scorer (11pts), but awful FG% (38%) and poor assist to turnover ratio of 1.10 to 1.0.
Reggie Evans - Just over 4 points and 8 rpg - a defensive hustler with no offensive game.

The next best player on the Sixers is clearly Maurice Cheeks - the coach and former all-start guard. That means it's going to be a long season in Philadelphia.

Quick Shots:
  • The stat of the night? The Jazz assisted on 32 of their 39 field goals. Deron Williams passed out 15 assists in what was at times just beautiful team basketball.
  • Ronnie Brewer won't be a secret much longer. He tallied 19 points and 3 more steals as he continues to be 2nd in the league in steals, while shooting well over 50% on the season.
  • 3 NBA teams are winless on the road: Knicks, Sacramento, and Portland.
  • 1 NBA team is winless at home: Seattle is 0-6. With the city of Seattle deciding not to fund a new arena - and the Sonics deciding not to compete in the existing arena - maybe Stern will step in and let them head to Oklahoma City a little early - say after the all star break?
  • Didn't see this coming#1 - Boston is 11-2, and I thought they'd be good but this is amazing. Still, let's give them some time. They have played 10 of 13 games in the Eastern Conference.
  • Didn't see this coming#2 - The Bulls are 3-10? What the heck is going on? Maybe Pippen should have come back. Did they offend their whole team when they tried to trade them all away for Kobe?
Up Next for the Jazz are the Lakers at the ESA Friday Night. Phil's triangle makin' boys are 8-6 and playing reasonably well with Kobe doing the scoring and Andrew Bynam growing in to his high trade value at quick pace. To read up on the Lakers, I'd suggest the Forum Blue and Gold.

I don't make a lot of predictions - but I think the Jazz avenge an early season loss and take the Lakers by 10+ on Friday night.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Knicks are Ugly, Selfish, Non-Coached, but Winners

The Knicks beat the Jazz in the Garden last night 113-109 (boxscore), giving New York it's 2nd straight win and once again proving that life on the road in the NBA can result in many surprises.

I think the New York and Utah battle was very much a battle of Good and Evil. The Jazz who play team first ball with some structure are Good. The Knicks who play an ugly one-on-one style game with very little structure are Bad. Therefore - a biased, Jazz first mentality leads to many quick thoughts....

  • Rest is Good. The Knicks have been at home since Thanksgiving, and were off since Saturday waiting for the Jazz game. Utah was playing a back to back road game and didn't arrive with the defensive energy it need to stop the Knicks. The result - the lack of rest is either a loser's excuse, or a benefit to an idle home team.
  • A cardboard cutout of Luke Skywalker could coach this team as well as Isaiah. The Knicks winning had nothing to do with scheme, play calling, or the type of suit that Isaiah thought would provide the best balance of the late fall season - yet contrast to the road team's uniforms. Down the stretch when the game was tight, Cardboard Cutout guy could have called as many plays as Thomas. Instead, whoever happened to get the ball would go one on one. It worked for one night, and might work a few nights at home or against the weak Eastern Conference. Congrats to Cardboard Cutout Guy!
  • Making Shots is Bad.The fact that some of these awful shots went in for New York will do nothing but convince some of their players to keep taking them. Zach Randolph had a terrific shooting night. He made some tough shots. Truth is - he is a black hole who took some dumb shots. On this night they went in. The bad thing is - Zach thinks he should keep taking them. The ball doesn't move and the Knicks are easier to guard when he is in the game. Zach making dumb shots is bad.
  • Crawford and Richardson are Square. Okay, not square but not well rounded. How about 1-D, as in one dimensional. In 76 minutes of combined playing time the teamed up for a total of 2 rebounds and 3 assists. I guess it's a style of play to get some talented offensive guys and ask them to shoot the ball, but don't require anything else.
  • One Way Only. Fallen Star-bury played a nice game, on ONE end of the floor. Guess which one? Well, he played no defense on DWill, and a couple times go burned so bad he wouldn't even be in frame for a poster. Still, on offense he was motivated, agressive and when he was creating - the Knicks where tough. He did a great job of getting his shoulder in front of Deron Williams a couple times and drawing fouls or getting into the lane to create for others.
Up Next for the Jazz are the 76ers in Philly tomorrow night. The 76ers feature a couple of my favorite NBAers to watch - Andre Miller, a former University of Utah player who still favors team first ball, and Kyle Korver one of the best long range bombers in the league. The Jazz need the win to finish the 3 game trip at 2-1. To read up on the 76ers, I'd suggest Passion and Pride, a solid blog on the MVN.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jazz Beat Detroit for 5th Straight Time

When I think of the Detroit Pistons, I think of two strengths - their tough defense and the talent of their starting five. Unfortunately for the Pistons, neither element was on display Sunday afternoon as the Jazz handed Detroit their first home loss of the season 103-93 (box score). For the Pistons, Rasheed Wallace missed the game and the Detroit missed his defensive spark and overall intensity. The Jazz trailed by 8 in the second quarter, went on a run and pretty much never gave up control after that. At the end, the Jazz beat the Pistons for the 5th straight time (3 in Detroit) and ran their win streak to 3 games and totaled their 8th win in 10 games.

Boozer Near Perfect
There were several bright spots for the Jazz - but none brighter than Mr. Carlos Boozer, who posted a season high 36 points, on an eye-popping 17 of 20 from the field. Boozer hit everything - some layups and put backs (8-8) and an array of jumpers (9-12) over a variety of defenders - check out the shot chart. Not having Wallace to guard Boozer was a big thing in this game. Though we all know how Rasheed can be - he could have very well gotten frustrated by the Jazz offense, landed in foul trouble and picked up a technical or two. Funny thing about Wallace- he must have felt left out and contributed a technical while on the bench in street clothes.

As a side note - the referees were not the Pistons' problem. The Pistons were actually called for 6 fewer fouls on the night, and the call that got Flip Saunders tossed was a correct call - though I had the advantage of replay and Flip tried to make a judgement all the way down the court and had a over-reacting player that probably swayed his viewpoint.

DWill vs. CBill
One of the other bright spots was Deron Williams, who handled Chauncey Billups in a similar fashion as he did Jason Kidd a few nights ago. Meaning - taking another of his US National Teammates to task with a one sided result. To be fair, CBill's game was not the disaster that Jason Kidd posted against Williams, as Billups tallied 15 points and 6 assists falling just short of his season averages of 17 and 8. Deron Williams on the other hand was brilliant with 21 points and 14 assists, while adding 4 rebounds and 3 blocked shots. A couple of Deron's baskets were the result of his quick pushing the ball up the court and then exploiting Billups or Rip Hamilton in a one on one match-up. Watch-out NBA, DWill might have been soft for a few games with the sore toe, but as he said tonight - he is pain free for the 1st time in two weeks.

Detroit Pistons forward Jason Maxiell (54) has his shot blocked by Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko (47), of Russia, in the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Nov. 25, 2007, in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

Quick Shots:

  • The Piston game was the first of a stretch that includes 12 of 16 road games for the Jazz.
  • Ronnie Brewer is a relentless cutter without the ball and a terrific finisher. Today was the 13th time in double figures - out of 14 games. He was 4-6 from the field and 3-3 from the line - check out his shot chart - and notice were all the makes are.
  • AK47 posted 11 points and 10 rebounds, but only one block. The one block would say that he wasn't a defensive force - but if you saw the game you saw him contest and alter shots all day.
  • Want to see NBA confidence in action? Memo Okur finished the game with 12 points and hit a couple of big hoops in the 2nd half. But, Why in the Heck was he still shooting? I believe Memo was 1-10 at the half, but went 3-6 in the 2nd as he kept taking the shots that came to him within the offense. I count it as trust in himself and trust by the coaching staff.
  • Detroit's starting guards - Hamilton and Billups combined for 11-30 shooting. That is a lot of shots, a lot of misses, and wow are these guys going to need some help off the bench at some point in the year. When they aren't hitting shots, who can they turn to? Bueller? Bueller?
Up next, the New York Knicks - tomorrow night in Madison Square Garden. After a chance to witness the train wreck known as the Knicks up close and personal, the Jazz will move on to Philly on Wednesday and then close out the week at home with Kobe and Lakers Friday Night.

To read up on the Knicks, I recommend KnickerBlogger.net for not only good writing, but an analytical view into how the Knicks are doing. Check out the 4 Factors they track for each game.

My Quick Take on the Knicks - from a distance without seeing much of them:
The Knicks have a bunch of guys if you looked at on paper, by themselves, appear to be very talented. However, mix them together on a court at one time and you have no chemistry, no flow, not enough balls, not much defense, not much rebounding, and not many wins. Looking at some official league stats you can see the Knicks are 2nd to last in the NBA in assists per game, 27th in FG%, 26th in point differential (-7.3 OUCH), 26th in 3pt FG%, 28th in turnovers per game, and last in the league in blocks. I won't even start on Isaiah Thomas who has done little off the court to warrant employment of any kind. I'm still trying to decide if I feel bad for the owner of the Knicks, or if he is simply having to deal with the results of some very bad decisions. Either way, in order to truly start again the Knicks will have to write another coach a big check in order to leave town (see Larry 'newtown' Brown).

All this means of course that it's the NBA, the Jazz are playing road games on back-to-back nights, and for all my comments - the Knicks might pull the upset. The keyword there is MIGHT. If the Jazz youngsters stay in their system and rely on each other, we may well get to see a few more cars fall off the track in New York.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Jazz Squash Pesky Hornets

The final score of Saturday's Utah Jazz and New Orleans Hornets game is misleading to those who missed the first half of the game. Utah's 99-71 victory (box score) looked very much in doubt for most of the first half - as New Orleans led nearly through the first two quarters and owned a 5 point lead just a few minutes before half. The Jazz however, scored the final 6 points of the first half and the first 6 of the second half and never lost control.

Think about the two halves this way...
First Half Hornets - as dictionary.com defines a hornet, "A large stinging wasp". Wiki chimes in with "typically stings multiple times. Doesn't die after stinging. Capable of biting and stinging at the same time". Those were the Hornets that played at the ESA in the first half - while shooting badly, they were tenacious on defense and very tough on the boards.

Second Half Hornets? Think Bee movie. The Hornets, after trailing by one at intermission, got lit up 55-28 in the 2nd half and tied an all-time Hornet record for fewest points in a 4th quarter (7). The Hornets record for the fewest points in any quarter is 6 points (vs. Milwaukee in 1996). In case you are wondering about the fewest points the Jazz have given up in a quarter - it's also 6 (Detroit in 205).

Other Jazz Notes:
  • Battle at the Point - Deron Williams and Chris Paul both had some nice moments at the point. DWill blew by Chris Paul 3 different times to end up with a layup, while Paul show some slipperiness off of screens and nice kicks to the wings. The truth is however, that Williams was slowed most of the game with foul trouble and a sore toe that he had an in-grown toenail removed earlier in the week. Paul never really got on track offensively, but stilled ended with solid 15pts, 6 rebounds and 6 assists.
  • Why don't these Hornets run the ball? The have a point guard built for speed in Paul, they have shooters for the wing (Stojakovic and Mo. Peterson), and two seemingly mobile big men in West and Tyson Chandler. What gives? I'm not asking for them to abandon their defense and rebounding strengths, but why not push it a bit more. New Orleans has scored 100 or more only 5 times in 14 games - very surprising.
  • Clunk, Clunk, Clunk - that was your replay of the shooting exhibition that Peja Stojakovic, Bobby Jackson, and Morris Peterson put on, going a combined 2-19 from the field and and 1-12 from 3pt range. You must admit, these guys don't lack confidence as they kept firing away. If I remember correctly, one of these mis-guided missiles hit Memhet Okur in the head.
  • David West is a nice player. In the first half he had 13 points and owned the glass. In the 2nd half the Jazz collapsed with a zone and let the Hornets continue to hoist outside shots.
  • Back-up Point Guard Problems? Jason Hart has caught a lot of fire for this 3.8 ppg and 34% shooting early in the season, while he tries to handle the back-up point guard position. On this night, Hart and fellow reserve guard, Ronnie Price, nearly stole the show as they combined for 23 points on 9-13 shooting, including 5-7 from 3pt range in over 34 minutes of combined play.
Up next for the Jazz are the Pistons, in Detroit on Sunday. Detroit leads the Central division with a 8-4 record, including 4-0 at home. Utah, however, has won 4 straight games against the Pistons. To read up on Detroit, I recommend an interesting Piston blog - Detroit Bad Boys.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jazz Scorch the Nets - look ahead to Hornets

Monday night the Utah Jazz played their final game before the Thanksgiving holiday and had to be thankful for the feast that awaited them. The New Jersey Nets came into the game, having only played 2 of their 10 games this season on the road. To say they look uncomfortable and out of their element in Energy Solutions Arena would be an understatement. The Jazz on the other hand looked completely at home and hammered the Nets 102-75 (box score). New Jersey played again without Vince Carter and when he isn't on the floor they do not appear to have an NBA ready offense.

Many Jazz fans wanted to see this game for the match-up between Jason Kidd and Deron Williams. Williams who grew up in Dallas, Texas and idolized Kidd, certainly got the best of this battle. Kidd who came into the game nearly averaging a triple double - 10 points, 10 assists, and 9 rebounds - was held amazingly in check. Kidd sat out the 4th quarter of the blowout, but was dominated by Williams on the court and in the stat sheet.

Knocking off the Idol

Kidd: 1-9 FG, 0-4 3pt FG, 2 pts, 2 rebs, 8 asst, 6 TOs, in 28 mins.
DWill: 8-11 FG, 2-3 3pt FG, 20 pts, 4 rebs, 6 asst, 4 TOs, in 34 mins.

Williams assist numbers have dropped a little in recent weeks, but much of it has to do with the team approach the Jazz employ. Often Williams will deliver the ball, and the the teammate rather than taking a good shot, will make another pass for a even better shot. It's a beautiful thing to watch, even if it isn't the best in stat land.

Up next for the Jazz, the impressive New Orleans Hornets. It's impossible to talk about this game without jumping into the Chris Paul vs., Deron Williams debate. The key thing - both guys are supremely talented and are the future at the PG position in the NBA. In Utah we certainly wouldn't trade DWill for CP3, but the Hornets fans probably feel the same way about their guy. At the end of the day, the Jazz picked first and took the bigger, more rugged guard in Deron, while leaving the speedster Paul for the Hornets. One stat that validates the Jazz selection is durability. In just over two seasons, Deron Williams has only missed 4 Jazz games (2.3% of Utah's games), while Chris Paul has missed 24 Hornet games (13.6%).

To read ahead on the Hornets, I recommend Hornets247.com, a strong site featuring the thoughts and opinions of Ron Hitley.