Mailbag: Week 15
By Maurice Brooks
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You need to make sure Mehmet Okur is in the top 20. There are very few players in the league that come through in the clutch like Okur. I can't think of anyone who has made as many game-winning shots this season as he has. He's really stepping up with Boozer out.
-- Michael in Indiana

Where is Carlos Boozer in the Race to the MVP player rankings? He's putting up better numbers than a lot of those players on your list.
-- Michael in Mapleton, Utah

Hey, your articles are always a good read. Anyway, yes, I'm a Jazz fan but I feel Deron Williams does the same thing for us that Steve Nash does for the Suns. Just a thought.
-- Tammy in Utah

Hey Maurice, get a clue. You can't have Deron and Okur in the rankings and leave out Boozer. I hope you find a spot for all three of them next week.
-- Raj in New York

Utah is one of the best teams in NBA right now and with Boozer out they are still getting it done. You haven't shown a lot of love for Memo. He is a big part of their success and has been the most consistent player in the lineup.
-- Andrew in Utah

Where did Boozer go? I think he is just injured, not dead.
-- Jim in Sandy, Utah

Being a Jazz fan, I'm thrilled with this year's performance. How can you leave Carlos Boozer off the Top 20 list? I realize they are still winning without him but the guy's numbers are as good as any postup player in the league. Deron has been great and Mehmet has been very clutch. They both deserve props but so does Boozer.
-- Dana in Salt Lake City

SECAUCUS, N.J., Feb. 20, 2007 --Forget about the Race to the MVP. In Utah, fans want to know who is the MVJP (most valuable Jazz player)?

In the beginning of the season, the choice was clear-cut. Rugged forward Carlos Boozer was the heart and soul of the squad. Finally healthy, Boozer was using his strength inside to put up 22.1 points and 11.8 rebounds an outing.

Utah was winning and fans were digging in closets and attics everywhere in an effort to find their Jazz gear from the Stockton-Malone era.

Boozer, who was selected as a Western Conference All-Star, went down with a hairline fracture of his left knee on Jan. 27. This meant doom in Utah right? Not exactly. The Jazz have only lost once in the seven games without Boozer to open up an 8.5-game lead over Denver in the Northwest Division.

Deron Williams, PG

Any conversation about the top point guards in the league will probably include Steve Nash, Jason Kidd, Chris Paul and Gilbert Arenas. Don' t look now but Deron Williams' name needs to come out of someone's mouth, too.

Williams is firing in 17.4 points and handing out 9.2 assists per contest. He showed the Cavaliers no love on Valentine's Day, roughing them up to the tune of 33 points and 12 assists in a Utah win.

Like every elite point guard, Williams gets his teammates the ball at the right moment and does an excellent job of directing the offense. He is second to Nash (11.8) in assists per game.

His development is just as crucial to the Jazz's run towards the top of the Western Conference. He averaged 10.8 points and 4.5 assists per game last year.

Mehmet Okur, C

The Jazz are 35-17 this season and Mehmet Okur has been in the starting lineup for all 52 of those games. The fifth-year big man is averaging 18.2 points and 7.4 rebounds and connecting on 39 percent of his 3-pointers.

He was added to the Western Conference All-Star team as an injury replacement.

During Utah's current six-game win streak his point totals have been: 31, 29, 20, 29, 19 and 22. In a 100-95 win over the Bulls on Feb. 5, he scored 12 of the Jazz's final 14 points.

Okur is as dependable as the come. He hasn't missed a game since the 2003-04 season when he was a member of the Pistons.

If Utah's Jerry Sloan doesn't win Coach of the Year this year, he never will. And if he does finally receive the award for the first time in his remarkable career he'll have a trifecta of players to thank.

As far as the Race to the MVP. Two is company, three is a crowd. Boozer is the odd man out. For now.



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