What is up with our wings? In today’s NBA you need athletic, long wings who can hit threes and play good defense. The Jazz franchise can apparently only get their wings to fulfill one (or rarely, two) of those qualities at a time. The Jazz had this Pistol Pete guy, and since then, it’s been all downhill. Griffith could dunk and hit threes, but couldn’t defend Ostertag on the perimeter. Hansen could play okay defense, and that’s really it. Jeff Malone could do none of those things, yet still was able to somehow score 20 ppg. Hornacek could hit threes, but was robbed of any athleticism by injuries and was a 6’4 shooting guard . . . so you’re automatically conceding length. Byron Russell was athletic and could hit threes . . . but as Michael Jordan proved, he wasn’t always the best defender for the job. DeShawn was athletic, and well, stupid, but that’s not a quality to have. Raja Bell was a good defender, but didn’t really learn to shoot threes until he played with Steve Nash. Gordan Giricek, uh, don’t even get me started. Derek Fisher was, well, an elderly point guard and not a wing at all.
What about today’s crew? Where to start?
Let’s start with C.J. Miles. He can hit threes. He’s athletic. That’s halfway there, so we’re looking good so far. He’s only 6’6 (which is the prototypical height for the 1988-1998 decade), and his defense has improved from non-existent to poor.
Kyle Korver, the dreamboat that gently ushers tween Utahns into puberty, is great at hitting threes. He’s slightly more athletic than I am though. So that’s not so great. He is 6’7 and gets some good blocks on guys, so he has that going for him. But I wouldn’t actually call him long, nor able to consistently play good defense.
Matt Harpring, at this stage of his career, can do nothing except foul on defense and make open 15 foot jumpers. He would fit right in with me and the rest of the guys who run in my ‘old guy league’ at the YMCA.
Morris Almond is able to hit threes and while less athletic than C.J., he’s still more athletic than Matt or Kyle. He’s also 6’6 and has only played NBA defense exactly once in his life. It was against Kevin Martin. It made me very proud. Jerry Sloan rewarded him by benching him and eventually sending him back to the NBA-DL. He may be a solid NBA player, but he does not appear to be in our long term plans.
There once was this All-Star by the name of Andrei Kirilenko. He was very long and super athletic. He was one of the top 5 defenders in franchise history as well, and was able to hit his fair share of threes. Sadly, he’s not that same guy anymore . . . it’s like he’s a buggy computer with a virus or a lot of spyware because he can only seem to work some of the time, and at that, with varying levels of functionality. Some days he doesn’t do anything at all, while other times he is athletic, long and can hit threes. His level of functional impairment seems to even vary during the course of a game . . . like the game against Phoenix where he didn’t make a shot in four quarters, yet ends up making a four point play in overtime to help the Jazz come from behind to win.
Ronnie Brewer is our Obi Wan – our only hope, it seems. He’s long and athletic. His defense is getting much better and he can hit the occasional three. Somehow this guy doesn’t even get to play in the 4th quarter of games. To make things even more ironic, we’re putting our wingman hopes on a guy who, as a kid in Arkansas, broke his own wing and it never healed properly.
Thus, I must repeat my initial statement: What the Hell, Utah?