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E-Mailing with the Enemy: Utah Jazz

Our own Dennis Velasco goes on an e-mail back-and-forth with All That Amar, Editor and Taskmaster at SLC Dunk to talk about the Utah Jazz and their upcoming match-up with the Nets!

Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE

Dennis Velasco: Well, it seems the Nets aren't particularly good against the young teams during this equally young season. Losses to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic, two games that should have been Ws in the minds of every cocky Brooklyn Nets fan with self-realized delusions of a title this season (see: me). BUT the Nets did win against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat!!! Yes, another old (on average) team like the Nets, but they're the champs! That matters, right? In any case, here comes the winless Utah Jazz into Brooklyn's Barclay Center, another team with promising and talented youth, including former Nets third overall pick, Derrick Favors. Surely, the youngsters are hungry for a win.

What do you see happening in regards to develop for the two bigs in Favors and Enes Kanter now that both Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are no longer with the team? Can Favors actually fulfill his promise and show some signs of validating his recent contract extension? And, how about Kanter? He always seemed to play second fiddle to Favors, but could he turn out to be better? Alec Burks is looking good thus far (if you can turn your head when he shoots treys), but I have to say that Gordon Hayward is probably the guy I like best out of all those previously named. He just seems like he can do a lot of different things. What are your thoughts on him and how this team could change when Trey Burke gets on the court. What else should Nets fans know about the Jazz?


AllThatAmar: Hey Dennis! The Jazz team certainly will be hungry for a win, but they may remain hungry for a while (the four-game road trip that starts in Brooklyn isn't going to be easy). Almost nothing in the NBA is easy, so the Jazz have decided to go the "hard" way with their development of Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap were perpetual "NBA All-Star game snubs list, honorable mentions" type of guys and most people in Utah feel like Favors and Kanter will end up being better players. There are two key ingredients that you have to add to a young big man to make sure they can reach their potential. The first is that they actually need playing time, which was something that just wasn't happening behind two slightly above-average players who were playing over two-thirds of the possible minutes in the frontcourt. The second thing is they need someone to kick them in the butt, and the Jazz have brought in Karl Malone to be a part-time big man coach. He has worked with both Favors and Kanter a few times during the summer, and the entire team during training camp.

Favors has the height and athleticism that Karl Malone never had, and Karl has imparted to him a few better basketball instincts. As a result the fourth-year former Nets player is averaging a double-double so far this season and is our defensive anchor. Kanter, who lived with Karl Malone for a few weeks during the summer, looks to be much more ahead offensively and Karl worked on getting him to extend his range on face-up jumpers and helped him learn how to run the floor and get easy baskets. Obviously, the idea is that the two will compete against one another and help raise their games as a result. Second fiddle syndrome could come up, or interpersonal conflict if Kanter (also averaging a double-double) gets closer to a 20-10 guy, while Favors continues to post pedestrian scoring numbers.

The loss of Trey Burke (I've talked to his surgeon the night before the operation, and his agent/father a few hours after it) hurts right now, but it may be for the greater good. It has given the Jazz coaches a chance to see both Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks taking more overt control of the games they are in. Previously, Hayward (an occasional starter) would be the fifth option on the floor; and Alec could only get on the floor during garbage time. It's silly that all four lottery picks were question marks going into their respective fourth and third seasons in the NBA (Utah kind of does things backwards). I think that Hayward has a more all-around game and sets the table for others. Burks can attack the basket and thrives on his own individual shot-creating. They are a good mix, but... when Trey comes back, both will have to relinquish some of the ball-handling duties.

Hayward wants it known that it's his team, but not signing a contract extension only adds individual pressure to him to succeed this year; and will take some of the focus away from developing a solid, young, unified core.

The Trey Burke absence hurts the Jazz in the short-term. But, what isn't hurting Trey is missing this road trip where he would have faced Nets point guard Deron Williams, (all things being equal and healthy) the Boston Celtics' Rajon Rondo, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose and the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowery - four tough assignments in five nights. That kind of brutality could have derailed any positives gained from early season action. How would you rate these four point guards - and as a Jazz guy, I will say I think D-Will is still the best of that bunch. And no mention of D-Will isn't complete without a question about his boy, Andrei Kirilenko. Back when they were Jazz teammates they used to do some pretty wild things at parties. Did Andrei have a crazy Halloween party this year?

DV: I love Deron Williams as well. I think he does enough in regards to scoring and passing that he could be right up there at the top. But, honestly, I would put Derrick Rose just above him because he's just so much more dynamic, plus he handles the rock and takes the last shot for his team. Everyone knows that when the game is on the line, it's in D-Rose's hands. Rondo is the better passer, possibly the best passer, and hands down the best defensively among this group. So, that all said, I'd go with Rose, D-Will, Rondo (with the ranking between them being close for various reasons) and then Lowry, who is very talented, but has been injury-prone in the past. Plus, he got stuffed by little Kevin Hart. As far as what Kirilenko did for Halloween? I have no idea, but I really liked his costume as Bargain Buy Guy. Heard Bargain Buy Guy also owns an invisible yacht that no one can see, as well as a diamond mine for his headquarters! Again, invisible.

So, to finish this up, give some points for us Nets fans to watch during the game. What needs to happen for the Jazz to beat the Nets and vice versa. Put on your Predicting Hat and give me a final score!


ATA: It made me very happy last year to hear Nets fans "oooh" and "aaah" after good plays from their former draft pick, Favors. He has one or two really good plays a game that make Jazz fans feel like he has the potential to be something special. Aside from Favors and the rest of the young crew, it's always fun to watch Rudy Gobert struggle with learning both a) the NBA game, and b) the game of basketball at the same time.

For the Jazz to have any chance they're going to need some three-pointers to go down, and to stop turning the ball over. Defensively, they've been solid and really work the offensive glass. Ultimately, though, Deron Williams will be motivated to really show his stuff against his old club, and the Nets as a whole will be motivated to get back to winning basketball. It's over early, Nets take it 111-87. John Lucas III and Jamaal Tinsley just can't match up against Jason Kidd at this point, let alone an All-NBA point guard in D-Will.

DV: Yes, the Nets should be really motivated to get a W, ever moreso, get to winning consistently. Due to that old man pride, I think Kevin Garnett will use his psionic powers of pushing a "we can't lose or KG will kill me" thought into his teammates' minds and the Nets take it 108-79. Thanks for doing this up, Amar!