Watching the Utah Jazz over the last few seasons has led many people to question Jerry Sloan’s use of backup power forward Paul Millsap. Any time that Millsap was in the game, it seemed like Utah would play a lot better, and if you looked at Millsap’s production over 48 minutes, it looked like a no-brainer that this guy should be a starter. Of course, due to the occasional injury by other Jazz big men, Millsap would get his chance to start and he would usually perform at a high level. Nonetheless, when the injured player returned, Sloan would send Millsap back to his role as backup, leaving many Jazz fans and basketball fans as a whole scratching their heads.
Well, this season is supposed to be different. With the departure of Carlos Boozer, it seems like Paul Millsap will finally get his chance to be the starting power forward in Utah. Millsap is familiar with the flex offense that is run by the Jazz, and he can be found in the right spot on the floor a majority of the time. He might not be the most physically gifted NBA player, but he sure is smart, and he uses everything that he possesses to his advantage.
In my opinion, because Millsap is going to play alongside a guy like Al Jefferson, he is going to benefit greatly. Jefferson is a well-respected big man in this league, and he will cause the defense to pay extra attention to him. That should mean a ton of easy deuces for ‘Sap down low. In addition to points, Millsap should also have his fair share of rebounds, as there will be a lot of defenders out of position, giving Millsap a clear path to the rock on missed shots. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Millsap is BEAST on the boards.
In all honesty, between the time that Utah got rid of Boozer and picked up Jefferson to replace him, I thought that Millsap would struggle in 2010-11. I thought that putting him in the starting role would only water down the production he had been putting up for the last few seasons, and fans would begin to see why Jerry Sloan had left him as the backup for so long. Luckily, though, we will not have to find that out. Unless, of course, Al Jefferson goes down with a season-ending injury.
If that happens, the true test for Millsap will be presented. Can Millsap truly be effective as the lead guy on the Jazz front line? Let’s just all hope we don’t have to answer that question at any point this season because this is one of those rare times when I don’t want to find out that I was right.