The Utah Jazz have a tradition of excellence.
Since 1984, the Jazz have only missed the playoffs twice. While they are yet to win an NBA title, Jazz personnel make it their focus every off-season to prepare their squad to compete for the NBA championship.
Last season, the Jazz exceeded expectations, going 36-30 in the lockout-shortened season and making it into the playoffs as the eighth seed. In the first round of the playoffs, the Jazz had more than they could handle in the San Antonio Spurs, who swept the Jazz in four games.
This summer, the Jazz made it a priority to strengthen their two most glaring deficiencies, outside shooting and perimeter defense.
The Jazz’s first off-season move was signing free-agent point guard Mo Williams. Williams started his career with the Jazz, however he played for the Jazz for just a season before he was let go, a move that Jazz General Manager Kevin O’Connor claims to be “the biggest mistake of his career.”
Williams brings tenacity and toughness to the Jazz. The former all-star is also a deep threat, with a 39 percent three-point shooting average.
With the signing of Williams, there seemed to be a logjam at the point guard position for Utah, as they had four players at that position on contract. The issue was resolved on July 11th, when the Jazz traded last year’s starting point guard Devin Harris, for small forward Marvin Williams from the Atlanta Hawks.
Marvin Williams, a former #2 pick from the 2005 draft, is a utility player, doing a little bit of everything. His greatest asset may be his length. At 6″9 and 240 pounds, Williams has the wingspan and quickness to be the great perimeter defender the Jazz were so desperate for.
Williams is especially excited to have the famously rowdy Jazz fans cheering for him now.
“Everytime I have come here it has been very, very tough to sneak out a win. It’s always so loud. So any time you get a chance to play for an organization like that its really going to be fun,” Williams said.
With the additions of Mo and Marvin Williams (no relation) seeming to fill the off-season needs of the Jazz perfectly, no one expected the team to make any more moves this summer.
However, on July 23rd it was announced that the Jazz would make yet another acquisition, free-agent Randy Foye from the Los Angeles Clippers. Foye, a six-year player from Villinova, averaged 11 points and 2.2 assists last season, playing alongside his now reunited teammate Mo Williams.
Foye gives the Jazz added depth to their bench, and may even compete with Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks for the starting shooting guard position.
Chad Ford, an NBA analyst for ESPN praised the smart moves by the Jazz this off-season.
“The Jazz continue to quietly rebuild. They shocked just about everyone when they made the playoffs last season and did a few things this summer to make sure they stayed in contention for a playoff spot in the West,” Ford said.