Over the last two NBA seasons, only the Dallas Mavericks at 70-12 have had a better home record than Utah's 68-14 tally at EnergySolutions Arena. Away from ESA, the Jazz have been a pedestrian 37-45.
But how did the Jazz improve their chances to get home-court advantage throughout the playoffs? The Hornets, the Southwestern Division champs, added newly minted champ James Posey to help put opposing scorers on lockdown. The Lakers, the Pacific Division and Western Conference champs, get
Whether that's whistling past the postseason graveyard, where the bones of many Jazz teams have come to rest short of an NBA title, or whether they're whistling a happy tune is yet to be determined. But the Jazz have been down this path before. The question in Jazz-land is, as it was in the late '80s and early '90s, whether the franchise should practice patience or whether it should pull off a huge deal.
As you can see, the Jazz haven't done much in terms of player personnel changes except make three draft picks and swap Jason Hart for Brevin Knight. Luhm, at the end of his article, believes the Jazz will hold steady because the young nucleus featuring the ever-improving Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer not only can contend for a title not only this year, but can also contend for the next few years.
Williams may be the main reason for that optimism. As deep and as talented as this Jazz roster is, Williams fits Jerry Sloan's pick-and-roll offense perfectly. He's strong, he makes good reads and, if they need a bucket from him, he can nail shots. He may not be as quick as Chris Paul, his 2005 Draft mate (but then again, who is?), to whom he'll always be compared, but he's as important to his own team as Paul is to the Hornets. This became clear this summer when Williams and Paul essentially split time at the point as they helped lead Team USA to a gold medal.
After starting 47 games in his rookie season, Williams started 80 games his sophomore campaign and made all 82 starts last season, where he averaged 18.8 points and 10.5 assists per game. Considering John Stockton didnít become Sloanís starter until his fourth season (at 25 years old) and never averaged more than 17.2 points per game, you can understand why Jazz fans are giddy about Williams, who turned 24 in June.
After three seasons of improvement, it's not unrealistic for people to expect Williams to be even better in his fourth. Because if Williams gets better, then so do the Jazz.
Then, maybe the dreams of home-court advantage in the playoffs become a reality.
-- Rob Peterson