The Wizards continue their quest for their first win of the new season on November 17 with a home game against the Utah Jazz. Utah is coming off a 99-93 loss to Philadelphia and is 4-6 on the year. Utah has been a bit of a disappointment following last year's playoff run, struggling to defend and having a lot of trouble (1-6) on the road.
Where, When, and What Channel: The game will start at 7 p.m. at the Verizon Center. You can watch it on Comcast SportsNet.
Why You Should Care: Utah is a young, up-and-coming team in the league. The team currently has Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson and Marvin Williams starting in the frontcourt (which isn't too bad on its own), but behind them are Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward. Each of these youngsters is already productive and has a lot of upside, with Favors in particular looking like he could eventually be an All-Star.
What They Do Well: The Jazz are huge and capable of playing four guys at the same time who are 6'8'' or taller. Unsurprisingly, they're good on the boards, ranking ninth in the league in offensive rebounding percentage and 13th in defensive rebounding percentage. Jefferson and Favors in particular are excellent rebounders, especially on the defensive glass, and how the Wizards handle them could mean the difference between victory and defeat.
What They Do Poorly: In part because of their hesitance to give playing time to some of their younger players, Utah isn't very athletic on the perimeter. Mo Williams and Randy Foye are both basically just shooters at this point, while Williams just isn't aggressive enough to to take advantage of his physical gifts. As a result, Washington's perimeter defenders should have an easier night than normal.
How the Wizards Match Up With Them: Fairly well, actually. Kevin Seraphin in particular has the perfect mix of strength, size, and quickness to bother Jefferson, although there's no guarantee that he'll be able to. Meanwhile, Utah's weakest position is point guard, so Washington's defensive troubles with point guards shouldn't be as big an issue as they normally are.
The Jazz seem to be getting to the line a lot less this year, what exactly happened?
The Jazz have seemed to abandon the inside / out basketball that got them to the playoffs last season. Dumping it in to Al Jefferson, or Enes Kanter, or Derrick Favors, or Paul Millsap . . . that puts the pressure on the other team to foul. This off-season the Jazz brought in three very solid three point shooters and now the offense is much more balanced. But no one fouls jump shooters. We're getting to the line less, and the other team is collecting long misses and running it back the other way. There are conflicting schools of thought here. The first, and more reasonable one, is that last season the Jazz could ONLY score in the paint and as such, had to always go in the paint. That meant that they did collect more fouls. They were also easier to defend and more predictable. Right now with the additions of Mo Williams, Randy Foye, and Marvin Williams -- the Jazz can be a legit team that scores inside and out. It's less predictable. You have to defend everyone. But it's also less efficient and strays the Jazz away from the type of offense they have run since the 1980s. It's new to us Jazz fans as well. We're not really sold as of yet.
What happened to Alec Burks? It seems like he can't even get off the bench this year.
The Jazz front office, coaches, media guys, and anyone else associated with the team will say that it's just a numbers game. Burks did not do anything to be suspended. He's not injured. He's not playing poorly. And it's not like when he has played, that he did anything wrong. In fact, when he has played this year he's done exactly what a young player has needed to do to get more playing time: on offense he didn't break any plays to be selfish, and on defense he's been solid and focused. It's just that with the talent the Jazz have right now they feel like they are in a win now mode (no really, stop laughing), and that veteran Randy Foye has just flat out beat him for minutes. There aren't enough minutes to go around, and when Randy Foye is shooting something like 44 percent from deep (22/50 before Friday's game), it's very hard not to give him the edge. Randy isn't as good a defender, and has been destroyed by other players this season. Still, he's got the nod right now from Tyrone Corbin and usually finishes games for the team. Burks has the potential to be a really good player in this league. I just don't know if it's necessary for guys like Dominique Jones, Jerry Stackhouse, and Jon Leuer to have played 10-20 more minutes this season than him.
I think the Jazz will continue to keep him on the bench all season long. It's important for the Jazz to depreciate the value of their lottery picks. That's moneyball. Our GM watched the movie trailer for that. We're also conditioned to disbelieve the good parts of an OKC model where young players are supposed to play and get better soon. Clearly I'm a dissident and rogue element in Jazz land by wanting Burks to play. If I was the head coach I'd find a way to get him on the floor. Even if it's just as a defender at this point.