Utah Jazz position breakdown

Published: Saturday, Oct. 23 2010 8:27 p.m. MDT

Rookies Gordon Hayward (left) and Jeremy Evans sit on a table and talk as they wait to be photographed during media day.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

THE STARTERS

DERON WILLIAMS

Point guard

6-3, 209

26 years old

Prior NBA Experience: 5 years. Other NBA Teams: None. From: University of Illinois. Acquired: First-round draft pick, No. 3 overall in 2005.

UPSIDE: He was a first-time NBA All-Star last season, but certainly won't be satisfied playing with the best just once in his career. The 2008 Team USA Olympic gold-medal winner has averaged at least 18.7 points and at least 10.5 assists per game each of the past three seasons. His career average of 9.0 assists is second-highest in Jazz history, trailing only John Stockton's 10.5. Williams should have extra motivation to perform this season because he finally has a bona fide low-post presence in Al Jefferson, who is bound to be on the receiving end of countless feeds.

DOWN: All eyes in Utah will be on Williams, partly to see how he handles making the transition from Carlos Boozer to Jefferson as his main man inside. But how will he balance the inside presence of popular power forward Paul Millsap along with that of Jefferson? Can he be truly happy in small-market Utah, and, if so, for how long? And how soon is it before rumors about Williams being wanted in higher-profile NBA locales start to get in the way of what he is doing here? Those questions, and perhaps more, could arise this season.

RAJA BELL

Shooting guard

6-5, 206

34 years old

Prior NBA experience: 10 years. Other NBA Teams: Philadelphia, Dallas, Phoenix, Charlotte, Golden State. From: Florida International. Acquired: Free agency, July 2010.

UPSIDE: Bell brings defensive intensity and outside shooting — at about half the cost of Wesley Matthews, the undrafted rookie who ended last season as the Jazz's starting shooting guard and left for Portland as a restricted free agent. The U.S. Virgin Islands native spent two previous seasons — 2003-04 and 2004-05 — in Utah, so he knows the Jazz system and what it takes to play for coach Jerry Sloan. Moreover, Bell's penchant for getting under Kobe Bryant's skin should be a good thing for a team that's been eliminated from each of the past three postseasons by the Los Angeles Lakers.

DOWN: The also-undrafted Bell simply does not have the youth, and all that goes with that, of the departed Matthews. He played only six games last season, missing most of it due to surgery to repair a ligament tear in his left wrist. He's played for three teams over the past two seasons, though it should be noted that he did start for Phoenix during his three-plus seasons with the Suns. And while he has appeared in 68 NBA playoff games, in his prior two seasons in Utah the Jazz failed to make the playoffs both times.

ANDREI KIRILENKO

Small forward

6-9, 235

29 years old

Prior NBA Experience: 9 years. Other NBA Teams: None. From: Russia. Acquired: First-round draft pick, No. 24 overall in 1999.

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