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News » Kragthorpe: Jazz have questions to answer this month

Kragthorpe: Jazz have questions to answer this month

Kragthorpe: Jazz have questions to answer this month When last seen at EnergySolutions Arena five months ago, the Jazz were losing to the Los Angeles Lakers and looking bad in the process.

Because of the way they finished, they have more to show from the start. The Jazz's earliest home-court appearance of the preseason in nearly 30 years is a function of their upcoming European trip, but it also is well-timed in the interest of beginning to provide some direction of where this team is headed.

Preseason games are basically meaningless, yet Deron Williams himself is interested in seeing "how we react, how we come back this year," he was saying before Wednesday's practice. "It's got to mean a little bit more to us than it did last year."

How they blend together amid the toxicity surrounding Carlos Boozer, how they will improve defensively and how lineup rotations will develop are only a few of the October issues with this team.

No concrete answers will be coming soon, but some clues will surface immediately. My five sources of curiosity during this preseason:

? Boos for Boozer?

How will the crowd respond to Boozer? And how can we tell?

The pregame introductions -- assuming Boozer is in the lineup -- may not offer much sign of how fans feel about Boozer, simply because the traditional greeting sounds a lot like booing.

So how can they make their displeasure known? Maybe by whistling, as they do at international soccer games, or hissing, as they do at Texas A&M.

? Kosta & Kyrylo

It is about time to figure out when, where and how centers Kosta Koufos and Kyrylo Fesenko are going to fit into the team's plans. Can either of them become a rotation regular this season, or will coach Jerry Sloan divide 96 minutes at two positions among Boozer, Paul Millsap and Mehmet Okur?

Fesenko is making a lot of promises about taking his job more seriously and becoming a contributor in his third season, but we'll see if he provides anything beyond comic relief.

? Miles to go

C.J. Miles spent most of last season in the weird position of starting each half, playing for a little while and then sitting on the bench until it was time to go to the locker room. Well, I suggested last year that Sloan and his staff give Miles a defined role, and I guess they did.

Assuming that Matt Harping's not coming back, the Jazz need to find out what Miles can give them. Will he ever become more than a spot-up shooter, or he can develop an all-around game that keeps him on the floor for long stretches?

? D-Will's caddies

The competition to back up Williams at point guard may be the most clearly defined, easily judged issue of the preseason. It pairs fifth-year player Ronnie Price vs. first-round draft choice Eric Maynor. After battling with veterans Jason Hart and Brevin Knight the past two seasons, Price is the favorite to claim the precious few nightly minutes behind Williams.

Each of the contenders should have enough time on the court to prove himself in October.

? The replacements

During a labor dispute, the NBA will have fill-in referees working preseason games. Sloan figures the players will be more tolerant of the replacements and "give them a chance to breathe a little bit more."

Will he take the same approach? "I always give [referees] a break, or try to," Sloan said, suppressing a smile. "It doesn't always work out that way."

The Jazz can only hope their own issues work out better.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: October 2, 2009


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