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8 Utah Jazz As the tandem of Karl Malone and John Stockton makes (perhaps) its last stand, the Jazz considers variations on an old theme at shooting guard

Oct. 28, 2002
Oct. 28, 2002

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Oct. 28, 2002

NBA Preview 2002-03

8 Utah Jazz As the tandem of Karl Malone and John Stockton makes (perhaps) its last stand, the Jazz considers variations on an old theme at shooting guard

For years it seemed that almost every Jazz off-guard fit the same
mold--a spot-up shooter who could cash in on the open looks he got
out of John Stockton and Karl Malone's two-man game. But with
Jeff Hornacek retired and his successor, John Starks, unsigned,
coach Jerry Sloan is looking at two potential replacements: a kid
two years out of high school who plays above the rim (DeShawn
Stevenson) and a vet who can barely hit it (Calbert Cheaney, 31,
who hasn't made a three-pointer in two seasons). It's as if the
Rolling Stones had begun looking for Bill Wyman's replacement by
auditioning a teenager from a garage band and a tone-deaf guy.

This is an article from the Oct. 28, 2002 issue

Stevenson isn't exactly a deadeye from downtown either. He has
made three threes in two seasons in Utah, a rate that will enable
him to surpass Hornacek's career total of 828 midway through the
2552-53 season. Acutely aware of his shortcomings, Stevenson
spent most of his off-season in Los Angeles working with shooting
coach John Welch (who has since been hired as a Grizzlies
assistant), taking at least 1,000 jumpers a day. "I still want to
slash and get on top of the rim, but mostly I'm going to get open
shots and knock them down," says the 21-year-old Stevenson. "I'm
trying to fit myself into that [traditional] role but also put
some of my style into it."

While Stevenson learns to rein in his freelancing,
take-it-to-the-hole tendencies, the Jazz hopes he can contribute
defensively and on the glass. With Malone turning 40 in July and
Stockton already there, Sloan has to see if Stevenson is a player
the team can build around when the ageless duo is gone. At the
same time, Sloan doesn't want someone who plays as if he has
something to prove. Last year the Jazz had eight players in the
walk year of their contracts, which led to selfish play and a
44-38 record, Utah's worst in 15 seasons. Memories of that
debacle could enhance the appeal of the less individualistic
Cheaney, who signed as a free agent after two seasons with the
Nuggets. "He's been in team situations before," says Sloan of
Cheaney, who played for Bob Knight at Indiana. "That's where he
had his most of his success."

With Cheaney, though, the best-case scenario is a dozen points a
game. Stevenson has a far greater upside, and after two years
alongside two sure Hall of Fame players, he might begin to reveal
it. "I feel more like a vet," he says. "I feel more comfortable.
I've paid my dues, and it's my time." --Mark Bechtel

COLOR PHOTO: GLENN JAMES/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES SHOWTIME Stevenson can play with pizzazz, but Utah has a more mundane need: someone to hit open jumpers.COLOR PHOTO: JOHN W. MCDONOUGH POINT DRIVEN? Though he's only 3,680 points from the alltime scoring record, Malone has hinted at retirement.

FAST FACT
Andrei Kirilenko last season became the first Jazz player since
Karl Malone in 1985-86 to make the All-Rookie first team.

ENEMY LINES
an opposing team's scout sizes up the Jazz

"Utah was second in turnovers (16.5 per game) behind Golden State,
which was a big surprise because John Stockton prides himself on
protecting the ball. I saw him forcing passes he used to make
easily, which may be because of age or because the guys around
him aren't as good. He can still catch and shoot, get in the lane
and make a steal, set up the offense and flop to draw a blocking
foul, but his drives aren't as effective as they used to be....
There's no question the new defensive rules affected the
isolation plays and two-man game of Stockton and Karl Malone
because now you can double-team Malone before he gets the
ball.... Malone is showing a drop-off in the paint. When he gets
offensive rebounds, his lift back up to the rim isn't what it
used to be. He used to power his way inside consistently, but he
doesn't want to get hammered every time so he's taking more jump
shots.... Matt Harpring fits right in with the Jazz. The last
couple of years it looked like Jerry Sloan was feeling let down
by Scott Padgett, Bryon Russell and Donyell Marshall. But with
Harpring, Jerry gets to coach somebody who plays the way Jerry
played.... Then there is Greg Ostertag, who is the polar opposite
of everything Jerry believes in. He isn't very serious, he
doesn't work on his game, he's a mistake player with no
toughness. You see him miss a dunk or lose the ball, and he looks
over at the bench with an expression that says, I tried! And
Jerry's saying to himself, Give me a bleeping break.... If this
is the last hurrah for Stockton and Malone, I bet they worked
harder this summer so they'll be ready. They've still got the
toughness and heart to knock out teams with less desire, which
gives them the edge for the last playoff spot."

DEFENSIVE RATINGS

Tough D
MALONE
KIRILENKO
STOCKTON

Fair D
COLLINS

No D
STEVENSON

PROJECTED LINEUP
2001-02 record: 44-38 (fourth in Midwest)
Points scored: 96.0 (14th) Points allowed: 95.1 (13th)
Coach: Jerry Sloan (15th season with Jazz)

STARTERS PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

SF Andrei
Kirilenko 59 10.7 ppg 4.9 rpg 1.94 bpg 1.41 spg 45.0 FG%
PF Karl Malone 24 22.4 ppg 8.6 rpg 4.3 apg 1.90 spg 45.4 FG%
C Jarron Collins 165 6.4 ppg 4.2 rpg 0.8 apg 0.31 bpg 46.1 FG%
SG DeShawn
Stevenson 154 4.9 ppg 2.0 rpg 1.7 apg 0.43 spg 38.5 FG%
PG John Stockton 56 13.4 ppg 3.2 rpg 8.2 apg 1.85 spg 51.7 FG%

BENCH PVR* 2001-02 KEY STATS

G-F Matt Harpring[1]119 11.8 ppg 7.1 rpg 1.3 apg 0.86 spg 46.1 FG%
G Mark Jackson[1] 235 8.4 ppg 3.8 rpg 7.4 apg 43.9 FG% 40.5 3FG%
G Calbert
Cheaney[1] 253 7.3 ppg 3.5 rpg 1.6 apg 0.50 spg 48.1 FG%
C Greg Ostertag 277 3.3 ppg 4.2 rpg 0.7 apg 1.47 spg 45.3 FG%
C Curtis
Borchardt(R)[1] 284 16.9 ppg 11.4 rpg 2.0 apg 2.93 bpg 57.6 FG%

[1]New acquisition
(R) Rookie (statistics for final college season)
*PVR: Player Value Ranking (explanation on page 92)

OSTERTAG DOESN'T WORK ON HIS GAME; HE'S A MISTAKE PLAYER WITH NO
TOUGHNESS.