Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Need a quick tip on how to make Tyrone Corbin grin?
Simply mention the bevy of big men the Utah Jazz coach has at his disposal now that his team's training camp has finally arrived.
Al Jefferson. Paul Millsap. Mehmet Okur. Derrick Favors. Enes Kanter.
Stack 'em up, and that's 34-feet-2-inches and 1,270 pounds of post power packed with potential and proven play.
That's why a wide smile joined the sweat beads on Corbin's face Friday afternoon in the team's warm practice facility when that subject was brought up.
Excitement gleamed in the second-year coach's eyes while he thought about the prospects of his talented and versatile post patrol.
"Practice," Corbin said, "is going to be fun."
He couldn't help but break out into laughter while saying that. It should be noted that his definition of fun might differ from others, too.
"It's going to be fun watching them compete," Corbin said. "If you're a player, I've always thought that I wanted to play against the best guys. I wanted to have to fight and work for everything that I get.
"That group of guys, they're all extremely talented cats," he added. "They're going to work hard. It's going to make some interesting practices."
In other words, Corbin expects to see more sweat than smiles on the faces of his bigs the next few weeks.
The battle for rotation positioning down low — perhaps the Jazz's biggest strength, so to speak — should be as intense as it is interesting.
Just how Corbin (enter evil laughter) wants it to be.
The guys looking to get the inside track feel the same.
"We got a lot of 'em (bigs)," 6-10 Big Al said. "It's going to be good for training camp. I know that."
Added Okur: "It's going to be a good challenge for all big guys."
When it comes to starting spots, Corbin revealed before camp started that, "Everything's wide open."
That means Jefferson, Okur or, heck, even Kanter could be inside the circle for the opening tip, while Millsap or Favors could be starting alongside as the power forward.
Rotations are likely to be fluid depending on match-ups, player progression (or the opposite) and game flow. Jeremy Evans could even be thrown in the mix to give the Jazz a quick, athletic, springy power forward option.
Corbin's eyes lit up when the word "versatility" came out of his mouth regarding the bigs.
"We've got some guys that can go in different positions," Jefferson added. "I'm looking forward to it."
So are smaller teammates, who view inside depth as a bigger blessing than curse despite limited playing time.
"I've never been on a team where you have so many great bigs and wings. That's impressive," re-signed Jazz point guard Earl Watson said.
"Even when we had amazing runs in Memphis, we only had Pau Gasol at the big position. … But there was no Derrick Favors coming off the bench. There was no Enes Kanter or Paul Millsap, Okur or Al Jefferson. That's tough. As a point guard, for me, it takes the pressure off. The shot clock goes down, you dump into the post."
Heeding advice from Utah brass last spring, Jefferson spent the offseason toning up his body and skills at a Jazz-recommended performance facility in Santa Barbara.
"I worked real hard, man," Jefferson said. "It's just time now to show it on the court."
Now with a leaner, more muscular physique, and a renewed emphasis on fitness and defensive effort, the 280-pounder has the edge on the starting center position.
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