Utah Jazz: 4 big men give Jazz plenty of options — and tough decisions, too
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz's big man situation is either the team's biggest strength or its biggest quandary, depending on how you look at it.
Jazz opponents and coach Tyrone Corbin — not to mention those who mock the decisions of those who make the decisions — will have their work cut out for them as they try to manage Utah's loaded frontcourt.
After all, established veterans Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are a commanding presence on the court.
At the same time, potential-packed talents Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter command their presence on the court.
Corbin's smile always seems to brighten up when he discusses the depth of his power positions.
"Great group of big bodies," the coach said.
"Give me one team that wouldn't like to have the problem," Millsap added. "We're blessed to have a lot of bigs on our team. You never know what can happen."
Corbin isn't exactly giving over his game plan, either. Then again, he said things could change depending on several factors, including how players play, of course, and match-ups.
The media aren't allowed to watch practices (aside from the first 15 minutes, which usually is just stretching), but all four bigs have been spoken highly of during the first week of camp from people who've been in the gym when it matters.
"They know the competition's stiff. They respect each other's game," Corbin said. "It's been some really good play to watch. They all have their moments."
They all sound like they're on each other's side, too.
"We helping each other. Them guys pushing us and they learning from us," Jefferson said. "It's kind of like we helping each other to become a great set of bigs. My personal opinion is we got the best set of bigs in the league."
Jefferson has been lauded for his improved leg work, something he focused on this summer at the P3 performance lab in Santa Barbara, Calif.
With offensive skills sharp as ever, Jefferson's main focus is on the admittedly duller portion of his game. He wasn't just bitter about the Jazz being swept out of the playoffs last May. Big Al was upset about his personal defensive struggles, which explains his offseason emphasis on improved lateral movement.
"That's one of the things I'm working on, trying to get a little bit quicker, so I can be able to show on the pick and roll and get to my man," Jefferson said. "That's one of the things that hurt us in the playoffs last year. That's one of the things I worked on — get my legs back under me."
Corbin didn't hesitate to point out that Jefferson hasn't lost a step on his offensive game. The Jazz's leading scorer from a year ago (19.2 points per game) has kept his moves "polished," as Jefferson described it.
"Al on the post scoring is probably the most efficient guy," Corbin said.
The coach then added, "But the young guys are coming along."
Don't forget Millsap, either.
Entering his seventh season, the 6-8 workhorse kept up his trend of reporting back in terrific shape. As a bonus, the longest-tenured Jazz player has also stepped into a leadership role.
"Everybody knows what I can do," Millsap said. "But it's a league where you've still got to go out there and prove yourself every night, which is good. It keeps the chip on a lot of guys' shoulders. You've got to go out there and compete every night. If not, you will get exposed."
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