25 October 2009

This is not last year, yet

With all of the injuries the Jazz have accumulated in the preseason, the world has started to wonder if the injury curse that started last October has yet to wear off.

While it is too early to say it has not worn off, it is too early to even ask the question. Last year's injuries happened to the Jazz's best players. So far, the injuries have been limited to role players.

Role players are important. Crucial. Vital.

But injuries to them are not fatal, because role players are also expendable. Replaceable. A dime a dozen.

Over the years, the Jazz have surrounded their quality players -- Misters Williams, Boozer and Okur -- with fairly high-quality quantity. Whether by creation or picking them this way, the 'quantity' also boasts versatility. Many players can do time at more than one position. In a bind, a few of them could provide service at as many as three positions. Despite my efforts to forget him, I just remembered that Kirilenko can play four or maybe even five positions. (I should note: I would make a deal with a genie that took away his versatility if he could excel at one position [small forward]).

Here is a breakdown of the players who can play more than one position. Alphabetical order:

Boozer, PF: Can also play center, and probably should be unofficially considered the back-up. This isn't a stretch at all, as the center position has deteriorated throughout the league to where it has no identity.

Brewer, SG: Can play small forward with ease.

Kirilenko, SF: Should get a lot of time at power forward, especially against smaller line-ups. Based on match-ups, also able to play some bits at center and shooting guard.

Koufos, C: It is a stretch, but he could play power forward when Fesenko is at center.

Millsap, PF: Must be effective at small forward as well. Will probably be part of a 3-person PF-C rotation with Boozer and Okur. Said Sloan to the Deseret News: "We've got to keep him on the floor as much as possible."

Okur, C: Will see a lot of time at power forward.

Price, G: Able to play both guard spots, but is neither a point guard nor a shooting guard. Anyhow, I'm really looking forward to the one playoff game he makes a difference in.

Williams, PG: When you have a point guard as good as him, why even bother to put him at shooting guard? Have you ever sat in the passenger seat when your friend drives your car. If so, you've only done it once on account of massive awkwardness.

Left off list:
Miles, Korver, Harpring (injuries)
Maynor, Fesenko (can only play one position)
Matthews (too unknown)

Let's paint the injury problem gold:
People always say that Sloan doesn't trust rookies. It's not true. Rather, he makes rookies earn their playing time, just as he does with veterans. This meritocracy fails when nobody play deems them worthy of playing time. So, he is forced to play players that don't deserve to play. These injuries give him less options, which gives the remaining players more chances to gain his favor. This could solidify the core of the team to where he only has to use a 9-man rotation.

Until Williams, Boozer or Okur has a significant injury, though, the Jazz do not have an injury problem.

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