CJ Miles - Jazz Wild Card
November 4, 2010 -
In a conversation with a fellow Jazz fan during the preseason, I stated that Utah’s wins this season would be more heavily correlated with CJ Miles’ performance than any other player. My thought process was as follows:
The PG position is rock solid. Deron is the best in the league, and the addition of Watson gives the Jazz a proven vet playing behind him. Price can fill in as needed.
The PF/C rotation is looking great with Jefferson, Millsap, AK, Memo, and a much-improved Fesenko (I'm not even counting Elson who may also contribute). The Jazz are bigger and better here on both sides of the ball over last season and will match up favorably with just about anyone.
The wing positions provide the biggest question marks. The Jazz haven't had consistent scoring from the wing in years. They've also had the propensity to get absolutely lit up by opposing SG/SFs. Bell will help with perimeter defense and outside shooting. Hayward should contribute, but it's tough to expect too much from him this year. Kirilenko will be important, but he's really more of an interior player than a true wing.
I think the major wild card is CJ. If he can provide that scoring punch and defensive energy off the bench, effectively taking some of the pressure off Deron and Al to have a big game every night, the Jazz will be a tough team to beat.
The first four games of the season have certainly supported my theory. Miles has averaged 20 points in Utah’s wins and only 2 points in their losses. Taking that a step further, he was 1-8 FG (0-3 3pt) combined in the two losses and 15-25 FG (8-11 3pt) in the two wins. That's a pretty remarkable contrast.
In the spirit of full disclosure, Miles was hardly the only Jazz player who stepped up his game in Utah's victories. But I can confidently say that no other player performed so poorly in the losses.
As CJ Miles goes, so go the Jazz… At least after four games.