Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Utah Jazz Pre-Season 2008-2009: Top Transaction of the Off-Season

After being bounced out of the 2007-2008 Playoffs by the eventual Western Conference Champion LA Lakers the Jazz were faced with some glaring roster talent holes. The top three (for as long as this group as been together) have been:

  1. the need for a defensive bigman,
  2. a defensive wing player,
  3. and more insurance at the point.

That last point is interesting because with Deron Williams' being drafted by the Jazz in the 2005 Draft you'd think that we'd be pretty solid there. It's actually a double edged sword because we have such a good point guard that we rely on him so much (over 37 mpg the last two seasons). If something were to happen to him (knock on wood, or well, knock on the current injury) then we would need to make up that 37 mpg that he's not going to be able to play somewhere. For those of you who are late to the party, this is exactly the current situation that the Utah Jazz are in.

You guys needs this . . . you need what Brevin brings to the table

And because of it, and a variety of other reasons, trading for Brevin Knight was the top transaction of the Off-Season.

But back to those points for a bit . . .

The need for a defensive bigman has not been taken care of, though, the Jazz have been drafting size for a bit now (Kyrylo Fesenko in 2007, Kosta Koufos and Ante Tomic in 2008 -- all three are 7'1 or better).

The law of averages suggests that maybe one of them will develop into a better interior defender than either Carlos Boozer or Mehmet Okur sometime down the road. As it stands right now, Fesenko's blocks per foul ratio was already better than both of theirs (significantly) as a rookie.

When was the last time you saw Booz or Memo actually discourage people driving in for layups?

The Defensive Wing project (aka. Ronnie Brewer), on the other hand, is going into it's third year of existence and early projections look promising. So really, the only thing Kevin O'Connor (who is severely underrated as a GM) had to address urgently this off-season was shoring up point guard. [Which is fine, as he's going to be really busy next off-season]

The Defensive Wing project, starring Ronnie Brewer

So what did Kevin do this off-season? He turned Jason Hart (our 3rd string guy) into Brevin Knight (who might actually start for us if Deron is out for longer than 2 weeks). Hart was so bad for us last season that trading him for Miami Heat's Chris Quinn would have clearly been a great trade for the Jazz. Trading for a better player, a guy who has a career assist to turn over ratio greater than 3:1 over a decade in the league, mind you, makes this transaction as a no brainer. The absolute cherry on top is the fact that Knight makes less money than Hart, and Knight is an expiring contract.

It's an under-rated move because it wasn't a team with a lot of cap space signing a big name guy like Elton Brand or Baron Davis . . . but as far as reward goes this was huge. Knight is a steadying force, a veteran guy who can help us win on the road (we won on the road with Fisher, we lost on the road when our veteran presence was Harpring), and a really tenacious defender. He gets a lot of steals and he's really scrappy. He can play man-to-man defense against the shorter, quicker guards. (There's currently a pretty good one right now that the press talks about)

Lastly, with the events of this Pre-season resulting in a very key injury (that we shouldn't be too worried about), hind-sight suggests that out of all of the transactions made this off-season (and there was more than one) . . . that this was the most important one to make.

Really, if we had to go one week without Deron and rely on Hart and Price I'd really be worried. We could conceivably go for one and a half months without Deron now that we have Knight and Price and still be leading our division.

Trading for Brevin Knight was the top transaction of the Off-Season. Thanks Kevin O'Connor!