SALT LAKE CITY — If the lockout-shortened NBA season of a year ago, with a Utah Jazz team trying to find an identity only to come up short in an abbreviated playoff run were a literary tome, perhaps the John Steinbeck classic "The Winter of Our Discontent" would be an appropriate choice.
So what of the outlook for this season? I submit Charles Dickens is the man to turn to for 2012-2013. If ever there was a season for "Great Expectations" it is now. With a Jazz roster sporting no less than five players taken in the Top 10 of their draft class, and a No. 2 and a pair of No. 3 overall selections, fans are not prepared for anything less than a stellar season.
True, teams in the West improved, the hated Laker roster getting another upgrade with the additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. But Jazz fans will simply use those moves as fodder to increase the animus between the two teams, if that's even possible.
No, there's no doubt it, all over town I hear, "This Jazz team should win 57-plus games." Talk about pressure. Tyrone Corbin's hair has gotten noticeably grayer in the past season and a half and the roster additions to this year's squad will do nothing to slow the process. Then again, maybe there is hope.
Randy Foye's No. 7 selection in the 2006 draft indicates an expectation of more than the 11.6 points a game average he has posted in six seasons with four different teams. His addition to Utah's roster adds depth, but also congestion at the already tight guard position. Couple Foye with Gordon Hayward, a 9th overall selection, and you have five players selected in the first 10 coming out of college.
Twelfth pick Alec Burks and No. 15 Al Jefferson round out a Jazz roster of seven Top 20 picks. Any way you slice it, there is the distinct feeling within Jazz Nation that lack of talent will not be an acceptable explanation for underachieving.
The question then, is what constitutes underachieving.
Can fans be expected to come up with a reasonable definition? After all, "fan" is a derivative of the word "fanatic" and on that basis alone any evaluation from that quarter would have to be considered suspect. Is 57 wins a reasonable number? I don't know. In this instance a team broadcaster is probably just as tainted as anyone in the seats. We try to be objective and analytical, but the truth is before any of us has had a chance to see a trial run it's just a guess.
You can bet the coaching staff won't get into any pre-season numbers game when it comes to wins. Their goal, as always, will be stated as trying to win them all. But there's also no doubt Corbin and company know the two-edged sword of increasing the talent level. It's certainly preferable to have more talent rather than less, but even PE majors are familiar with "Great Expectations", whether they've read the book or not.