Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Underrated Utah

There is a tendancy in today's NBA to overlook solid, no frills basketball. The San Antonio Spurs never get the credit they deserve. The Chicago Bulls had to sweep the Miami Heat to get the national recognition they had coming to them. But neither team has been slighted over the years quite like Utah, going back to their glory days of Stockton and Malone in the 80's and 90's.

Does anyone realize that Utah was 7th in scoring this year? They may not have the spectacular finishers to make the highlight reel but they can put points on the board. They are not a great defensive team or a grind-it-out team that everyone wants to make them out to be. They can run the fast break, but most of all they execute in the half court as well as anyone in the NBA.

Their offense all starts with their premier young point guard Deron Williams. Burly like a QB but with nimble feet, Williams can overpower just about any guard in the league. He sees the court very well, can get to the rim and shoot from the perimeter. He is already one of the best point guards in the league and will be a perrenial All-Star. Carlos Boozer is the recipient of many of Williams pinpoint passes. Undersized but strong, Boozer has uncanny scoring touch in the paint, particuarily going left, and cleans up garbage around the rim. Mehmet Okur shoots the 3 better than any bigman in the NBA. His perimeter prowess keeps the lane clear for Boozer and he is great on high pick-and-pops with Williams. Matt Harpring brings toughness to the offense. He can create space with his upper body strength to hit the midrange jumper, or he can kamikaze his way to the rim for free throw attempts. And don't forget about Ivan Drago look-a-like Andrei Kirilenko. Though he only averaged 8.3 points per game in his nightmarish season, AK47 still can fill the lane on a fast break, lead the fast break, hit a 3 and pass surprisingly well in the halfcourt.

Everyone is gushing over Golden State right now. They're Califronia hip, celebrity-approved and fun to watch. But to the basketball purist, Utah's game has all the sizzle with more substance than Golden State. Look for them to take down the Cinderella Warriors, probably in 5 or 6 games.

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