By: Librado Wright
It's early in the NBA season, and looking around the league it is so easy to overlook the Utah Jazz -even with a 6-1 record that makes them the second best team in the Western Conference. There is no surprise to anyone how much talent and depth this roster has, but what has raised eyebrows around the league is how good this team was (5-1) before Deron Williams made his return to the lineup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.
It must be noted that the early season schedule has played a part in the Jazz success, playing the likes of the Los Angeles Clippers twice, Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, and Denver Nuggets at home.
Doing all of this without Williams now brings about the question: How good can this team be?
Let's look at a few reasons why Utah is probably the most balanced team in the league, and why not having Williams in the lineup did not effect the team's success.
Names like Ronnie Brewer and Paul Millsap aren't household names that everyone has grown to know, but with what they both have shown thus far it won't be long before the opposition starts to game plan around them.
Brewer is averaging a career-high 12.6 points per game and he is the ring leader on defense, notching two steals on a nightly basis. This third year pro has played hefty minutes this season and when the Jazz needed a basket in the clutch Brewer hasn't hesitate.
The Jazz already possess one of the best big men in the game in Carlos Boozer to anchor the post for this team, but when the opposition chooses to double team him, third year forward Millsap has stepped in and delivered. Millsap is also averaging a career-high 11.3 points and closely 6.1 rebounds per game in limited minutes.
Big contributions from guys who aren't
accustomed to producing is the main reason why Jazz fans are possibly
looking at a magical season.
This team has depth going with a steady ten-man rotation and getting production from anyone that head coach Jerry Sloan calls on.
In Williams absence, it has been a collective effort from reserve point guards Ronnie Price and Brevin Knight who have been the stabilizers to keep this high octane offense going. Before this season Price started a combined four games in four years in th league and this season alone he found himself in the starting lineup six times, averaging a steady five points and assists.
If having the talent wasn't enough to win games, their biggest asset as a team is the ability to pass the basketball and create easy baskets. The Jazz currently lead the league in assists (25.7 per game) and are the most unselfish team who always looks for the extra pass.
There are many things that can be said about this team, but this continuity that the Jazz are showing did not just appear this season. This group assembled by Sloan has been around for the past two seasons, excluding guard Kyle Korver, and they have shown their likeness for each other on the court since last season.
It's too early to tell if this team is the best team in the West, but they have definitely shown they will be contenders in a tightly packed conference.