HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — If we didn’t know better and hadn’t looked at the standings, we’d think the Utah Jazz had a one way ticket to the draft lottery this season.
The doomsday talk surrounding the Jazz these days is a bit overboard for a team that has struggled recently but is certainly still a factor in the Western Conference at 24-12.
But if you listen to the Jazz or their many faithful, we’re seeing the first signs of the demise of a longstanding league power (we do not agree). The Jazz, 9-7 in their last 16 games with just one win over a team .500 or better during that span, certainly sound like a team unsure of themselves.
After the Hawks fattened their lips Wednesday night, smoking the Jazz by 23 points at EnergySolutions Arena, Jazz All-Star and captain Deron Williams sounded the alarm to the Salt Lake Tribune:
“Obviously we’re struggling, then,” said Williams, when asked about Utah’s mark against winning clubs. “We’re not beating the caliber of teams that we’re going to be playing in the playoffs — if we get to the playoffs.”
If we get to the playoffs?
Now you see what I mean. Is it time to maybe rethink our summer predictions of the Jazz being a contender in the Western Conference? Well, maybe. They have had to deal with an assortment of injury issues and we might have underestimated the severity of all the personnel they lost from last season and overestimated the addition of Al Jefferson.
But they are still a playoff team.
Do they have issues? Absolutely. But what team doesn’t this time of year? At least the Jazz have a problem that can be solved without someone losing a job or a franchise being ripped apart.
The Prime Minister is the biggest Jazz fan/critic we know of and he broke it down for us like this: “The problem is simple. No one on the team other than D-Will is able to consistently make a perimeter shot. From Paul Millsap to Raja Bell and everyone else in between, it’s can be an adventure when someone shoots from beyond the paint.”
Sounds like a trade for a quality shooting guard is in order. Why the Pistons and Jazz haven’t figured out a way to send Rip Hamilton to Salt Lake City already is beyond us.
Rip would be the ideal fit alongside Williams and under Jerry Sloan, who would surely relish having a scrappy scorer like Hamilton around to help win now and groom some of the Jazz youngsters on how to compete properly against the best of the best.