Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sorry Haters -- Deron Williams' injury isn't going to hurt the Jazz

Not playing Deron for the first few weeks doesn't hurt Utah one bit

First of all, Deron Williams got hurt over the weekend. Everyone knows about this already, and it's been blogged about already. (Some good reads on the subject can be found: here, here, here, and here) I was particularly surprised to find that David James had basically blogged about exactly what I was going to write. (Props to you, DJ!)

That said, everyone is entitled to their take on this situation -- I look at the 'glass if half full' point of view on most things, and as a result, this injury is not going to hurt the Jazz.

The best news so far is that Deron isn't going to be out for the season. He's only going to be out somewhere between 2 weeks to a month. That's the estimate that I've read the most online, and as a result, let's say that the worst case scenario is that Deron can't play for 6 weeks. (Three times the best case scenario)

What's going to happen in 6 weeks time (from his injury, back on October 18th)?

During this time span the Jazz would have played around 20 games (18 regular season and 1 pre-season), and the first possible game Deron will play in would be the 1st game of December. So that means that in the worst case scenario Deron *may* miss the entire first month of the season. It's a really good thing that the NBA finals happens in June, and not November then. Furthermore, the schedule is pretty light during this time period -- you can take a look at the full schedule here, or read about how important it is for the Jazz to get off to a good start here. The types of teams we play don't change if we don't have Deron playing. For the most part, these teams are pretty crappy.

Lastly, there are some key injuries/suspensions to other players that do make a significant difference as well. (unless, of course, you don't think that Carmelo Anthony, Baron Davis, Gilbert Arenas, Steve Nash and Manu Ginobli aren't difference makers) Now let's break down the hypothetical (and entirely unnecessary) 6 weeks without Deron Williams:

Week 1: October 19th, 2008 - October 25th, 2008

Number of games Date Type Opponent Location Opponent Ball Handlers
1 Oct 23 Pre-Season Portland Home Steve Blake
Jerryd Bayless
Brandon Roy
Sergio Rodriguez

The NBA season doesn't start for the Jazz until October 29th, and there is only one Pre-season game left. This game (against the Blazers) means nothing for Deron, so there's nothing lost by having him out. So for the first week of Deron's injury the Jazz are missing nothing -- in fact, the Jazz get a chance to really figure out who can handle the ball, get the Jazz in their offense, and find out who's going to start between Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight. Other candidates for running the team include C.J. Miles, Ronnie Brewer and Andrei Kirilenko. For a whole week of only ONE game (a preseason one at that), this isn't going to be any problem for a Deron Williams-less Jazz team.

For the record, the T-Blazers have the advantage when it comes to ball handlers in this game, but this game doesn't matter at all.

Week 2: October 26th, 2008 - November 1st, 2008

Number of games Date Type Opponent Location Opponent Ball Handlers
2 Oct 29 Regular Denver Home Allen Iverson
          Chucky Atkins
          Anthony Carter
          Smush Parker
          Mateen Cleaves
  Nov 1 Regular LA Clippers Home Baron Davis *
          Eric Gordon
          Jason Hart

The 2nd week is when the Jazz start their NBA season. The first game of the season is against the Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets have the advantage at the point with Deron out as they have Allen Iverson, Chucky Atkins and Anthony Carter all available (as far as I know). I don't know if Smush Parker or Mateen Cleaves will make the roster, but the Nuggets are more capable at the 1 for this game than the Jazz. The good news is that this game is at home, and the Nuggets will be without Carmelo Anthony -- who will be suspended for this game. This is the home opener, and the other team is more hurt than we are (Deron vs. Melo), so I say that we start off the season with a win.

The 2nd game of the season is against the LA Clippers. The only thing we have to know about this game is if Baron Davis will play in it or not. There are conflicting reports on the Internet (he may not miss any time, or he may miss 4-6 weeks), but if he doesn't play, this doesn't look like that bad of a week if you ask me. If he does play changes things a bit, but the Clippers are still a less talented team than the Jazz are without Deron Williams. If the game ends up being Eric Gordon and Jason Hart against Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight I think my Tivo will destroy itself.

Oh, and by the way, most reports suggest that Deron will be shelved for two weeks. This is the end of two weeks. Not too shabby . . .

Week 3: November 2nd, 2008 - November 8th, 2008

Number of games Date Type Opponent Location Opponent Ball Handlers
3 Nov 3 Regular LA Clippers Road Baron Davis *
          Eric Gordon
          Jason Hart
  Nov 5 Regular Portland Home Steve Blake
          Jerryd Bayless
          Brandon Roy
          Sergio Rodriguez
  Nov 7 Regular Oklahoma City Home Earl Watson
          Russell Westbrook
          John Lucas III

This is when things start to get a little bit more challenging. There are three games on tap, a road game against the LA Clippers, then home games against Portland and the "we're not even settled in yet" Oklahoma City Thunder. There is nothing too special about any of these games save for the fact that Baron should be healed by now, if he wasn't for the previous game. Over all I'd take the Jazz to win any of these three games (if not all three) as they are the most talented team (hype be damned!) on each night this week. I think the Jazz will be up to play against Portland, and defend their home court against a team that owned us last season. Oklahoma's ball handler's don't scare anyone.

So far we've only played 1 playoff team -- and that's Denver without Carmelo Anthony. I'm sure if Deron is out three weeks that we're not going to be really hurting without him.

Week 4: November 9th, 2008 - November 15th, 2008

Number of games Date Type Opponent Location Opponent Ball Handlers
5 Nov 9 East Road Trip New York Road Stephon Marbury
          Chris Duhon
          Nate Robinson
          Jamal Crawford
  Nov 11 East Road Trip Philadelphia Road Andre Miller
          Louis Williams
          Royal Ivey
  Nov 12 East Road Trip Washington Road Gilbert Arenas *
          Dee Brown
          DeShawn Stevenson
          Juan Dixon
  Nov 14 East Road Trip Charlotte Road Raymond Felton
          D.J. Augustin
  Nov 15 East Road Trip Cleveland Road Mo Williams
          Daniel Gibson
          LeBron James
          Delonte West
          Eric Snow

If Week 3 was a bit more challenging, then Week 4 is a killer. This is one of our numerous Eastern Conference Road Trips. This trip is going to be *only* 5 games long, and all takes place within a week. Furthermore, this team features two sets of back-to-backs, three 3 games in 4 nights deals, and ends up being 5 games in 7 nights. How ridiculous! If Deron isn't healthy by Week 4 I just say keep in him Utah. The last thing we need is for him to test out his body against this Eastern Conference Circus. For the record, Gilbert Arenas may not play in this game, the Bobcats suck, and the Knicks do as well. There is no way that we're winning in Cleveland when it's the 2nd night of a back-to-back and the 5th game in 7 nights though.

That said, if Deron is healthy, we can win quite a few of these road games . . . if not, this is the only bad week if he's out for 6 weeks.

Week 5: November 16th, 2008 - November 22nd, 2008

Number of games Date Type Opponent Location Opponent Ball Handlers
4 Nov 17 Regular Phoenix Home Steve Nash *
          Leandro Barbosa
          Goran Dragic
          Grant Hill
  Nov 19 Regular Milwaukee Home Luke Ridnour
          Charlie Bell
          Tyronn Lue
          Damon Jones
  Nov 21 Regular San Antonio Road Tony Parker
          Jacque Vaughn
          George Hill
  Nov 22 Regular Memphis Road Mike Conley
          Javaris Crittenton
          Kyle Lowry

Week 5 is much better than Week 4, as there are only 4 games to play. The first pair of games are at home, and the last two are on the road. The first game is against the Phoenix Suns, though Nash may be injured for this game as well. (what luck! No Carmelo, possibly no Baron, maybe no Gilbert, and now maybe no Nash!) It's still going to be tough to beat the Suns without Deron though. Thankfully the next game is against Milwaukee -- and their point guards are worse than ours are. (How many times a season are our ball handlers going to be better than the other teams' when Deron is injured?) The first road game is in San Antonio (Manu is injured as well), but I still expect a loss, as it's in San Antonio. The last game of week 5 is against Memphis -- which isn't a very experienced team when it comes to handling the rock either.

I'd be happy with a 2-2 split this week -- especially after the horrible Week 4 East Road Trip.

Week 6: November 23rd, 2008 - November 29th, 2008.

Number of games Date Type Opponent Location Opponent Ball Handlers
4 Nov 24 Home stand Chicago Home Kirk Hinrich
          Ben Gordon
          Derrick Rose
          Larry Hughes
  Nov 26 Home stand Memphis Home Mike Conley
          Javaris Crittenton
          Kyle Lowry
  Nov 28 Home stand Sacramento Home Beno Udrih
          Bobby Jackson
  Nov 29 Home stand New Jersey Home Devin Harris
          Eddie Gill

This is the last week of my hypothetical worst case scenario . . . we all know that Deron Williams isn't going to be sidelined for the first 18 games of the season with an ankle injury. If he was, though, this last week could finish on a very high note on this four game home stand. All four of these clubs stink, and while they appear to have an advantage at PG with Deron out I know that we are still more talented then all of them. The first game is against the Bulls, and you know that the Jazz will be fired up for that, as it's at home (and you know, the revenge factor). The home game at Memphis could very well be an AK-47 5x5 night. Sacramento has a lot of shooters, but they don't have any defenders. New Jersey is crap.

I have the Jazz going 13-5 over the first 18 games of the season without Deron Williams. I have the Jazz maybe winning 3 more games if they had him. The schedule and injuries are in our favor -- and any rest for Deron is fine with me. So yeah . . . Deron Williams' injury isn't going to hurt the Jazz. If anything, all of this time without relying on him is going to make them better.

And really . . . he's not going to be out for 6 weeks, probably 2 or 3 if there is a set back. (You know, a grand total of 5 games)