PK: Here's the Formula
Here's the Formula
By Patrick Kinahan
So here we are, at the All Star break, the recognized halfway point NBA season. Whether you’re sitting at home in Utah, enjoying the All-Star weekend in Orlando or lounging on a beach in Cancun, we’re all pondering the same question.
What to make of the Jazz going forward?
Depending on the snapshot, it’s going either way. More than one month removed from a five-game winning streak, the Jazz enter the break on a three-game losing streak, having lost 10 out of 13 games this month.
With another two games this month, March looks to be just as cruel. The Jazz play 19 games, including 12 away from EnergySolutions Arena. From March 22 -31, they play seven games, a stretch so grueling that would make crusty Jerry Sloan long for the old days.
It doesn’t look so good. But as always, I’m here to help.
For the Jazz to reach their potential this season – and yes, Earl Watson is correct in thinking this is a playoff team – each player has to improve. In a two-word phrase, here’s the formula:
Devin Harris: Deja Vu.
Harris was an All Star for one reason – he was good enough. For whatever reason, those credentials have vanished during this season.
The lightning-quick point guard needs to shake off whatever is ailing him and get back to form. For starters, he needs to rely on the obvious asset that got him to the NBA. If there’s an opening to the basket, take it.
Raja Bell: Stay healthy.
The 35-year-old guard shook off a slow start and has silenced his critics. As the resident tough guy on this team, Bell has to find a way to avoid the nagging injuries that cause him to miss the occasional game. The Jazz need more of what he brings.
Gordon Hayward: Find consistency.
The lanky Opie Taylor-look-a-like has got to lose his tentativeness and stop disappearing for games at a time. Hayward already possesses the necessary skills to make a significant impact, but now he needs to play like he belongs in the starting five of an NBA playoff team.
Earl Watson: Stay true.
A savvy veteran, Watson is this team’s spiritual leader. For anything he lacks in talent, he makes up for it with intangibles.
Watson needs to step up even more in his unofficial role as player-coach. Like any staff, Ty Corbin and his assistants can only do so much.
Alec Burks: Playing time.
Gems are found in nearly every draft, which at times is nothing more than a roll of the dice despite the thousands of hours of preparation. We’ve all seen enough to think this Colorado kid could be one of them.
Al Jefferson: Decide quickly.
It’s clear that Jefferson is the team’s best offensive weapon. The only criticism is for him to make his move faster, which would force the defense to react instead of allowing it to settle in.
Enes Kanter: Develop moves.
The only thing holding back this glass eater is a lack of explosiveness around the basket. While Kanter is never going to possess the leaping ability of a Jeremy Evans, he will find ways to score in traffic off an offensive rebound as he matures
The Jazz targeted the teen-ager after learning they would get the third pick in last summer’s draft. So far he hasn’t disappointed.
Paul Millsap: Stay hungry.
The more he’s disrespected the better Millsap plays. He needs to keep hearing that he’s not good enough.
Derrick Favors: Wake up.
The all-world talent hasn’t come close to playing up to his ability in recent games. The quiet type, Favors needs to snap out of his slumber.
While it’s not advisable to toss the ball into the stands again, Favors has to play with more passion. As soon as his game comes around, he’ll get plenty of playing time.
Josh Howard: Flash Back.
Like Harris, Howard is a former All-Star who isn’t close to playing at that level now. But the Jazz don’t need him to go back in time.
All that is necessary is to regain the form he showed before suffering an injury earlier this season. The good news he goes into the break showing signs of coming around.
C.J. Miles: Stop (the) madness
Admittedly, we’re breaking the rules here by inserting a word in parenthesis but it’s appropriate in this case.
For much of his seven-year career, Miles has played the role of big tease. It’s time to pick a path - become a bona fide NBA player or grab a seat. Either way, stop driving us crazy.