The Mavs more than held their own against a talented Laker team Tuesday night but while the Jazz get fewer headlines they have the potential to do just as much damage. Coach Tyrone Corbin has a talented group of forwards and a competent backcourt that has improved and should be competitive.
The front line is loaded with All-Star caliber talent starting with Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap but they have backup as well in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. They also have a surplus at small forward from bringing in Marvin Williams so Gordon Hayward will likely spend time at the SG spot to make room. Hayward also gets my vote for the Jazz player most likely to be pleased Delonte West is no longer with the Mavs.
There is enough talent on the front line that SLC Dunk Head Writer Amar argues there aren’t enough minutes to go around. Favors played particularly well last year against Marcin Gortat and Tiago Splitter. The backcourt featured C. J. Miles and former Maverick Devin Harris last year but both are gone, so the point guard spot will fall in the hands of Mo Williams.
The Jazz have capable scorers at every position in the starting lineup and along the front line on the bench but get a little thin at the guard spot after Hayward and veteran Randy Foye. Last year they ranked in the top four in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots and there’s no reason to think they wouldn’t be equally strong this year. Although a good shot-blocking and rebounding team the Jazz weren’t highly regarded for defense overall and didn’t do nearly as well in defensive field-goal percentage, ranking 18th so Tyrone Corbin is expected to be emphasizing better defense.
All-in-all the Jazz don’t have the superstars you see on the Lakers but they are solid offensively across the board and deep in the front line so they can present many of the same problems. They play hard so the Mavs aren’t likely to out-hustle them so it’s going to largely be a matter of who exhibits the best ball control and is able to execute their game plan. The Mavs should have an easier time scoring against the Jazz than vice versa but that entails playing the way they did against the Lakers rather than what we saw much of the preseason and of course, what works is still evolving. Everything is a learning experience at this stage and it should be an interesting game.