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SALT LAKE CITY - As much as no one wants to admit this, the Jazz just aren't a household name around the country. There are some people that talk about them, but they aren't the NBA elite.
While they might not be the Heat, Lakers or Thunder there are a lot of people talking about the Jazz climbing the ladder and maybe even being a surprise through the season.
The season starts this week, Tuesday for the NBA and Wednesday for the Jazz. That means the first set of power rankings with substance have come out. With the preseason to show what this team can do the national media has taken notice.
First is the rankings from Yahoo! and ESPN. Yahoo had theirs put together by Marc Spears and he has the Jazz ranked 14 in the league. His synopsis is, "The Jazz have quietly put together a talented and deep roster with the additions of Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Marvin Williams."
ESPN actually had a previous edition of their power rankings with the Jazz in the lower half of the league at 16, but after actually playing basketball they have taken the biggest jump in the league going up six spots to 10. Their rankings are from Marc Stein who had this to say about the Jazz's preseason, "Enes Kanter's big preseason presumably makes the eventual trade of Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap for a top guard even more of an eventuality. Safer assumption: October health setbacks suffered by Dirk and K-Love have given Utah's playoff hopes an early boost."
So far, the Utah big man has displayed a combination of brute strength and stellar productivity that has Jazz fans experiencing sudden flashbacks to a young Karl Malone.
–ESPN's Tom Haberstroh, regarding Enes Kanter
Being the tenth team would make the Jazz an actual contender, if one or two things went well they could be competing for the Northwest division, which might be the toughest division in the NBA. Dave Del Grande put out a season preview through Yahoo, that has the Jazz as the sixth-seed in the West, but third in the division. He predicts through the playoffs and has the Jazz upsetting the Denver Nuggets in the first round and losing to the Lakers in the second round.
One thing that the media is still talking about, and not just Utah's, is Kanter. Stein talked about his production leading to a possible trade of Jefferson or Millsap. ESPN's insider preview, 10 things to watch in 2012-13, has as the number 7 point: "Is Enes Kanter the early favorite of MVP?" It was sort of a joke, but has immensely flattering words about the 20-year-old.
Tom Haberstroh, who wrote the article, might have even committed a form of Jazz blasphemy when in a comparison he has. This might not have ever been said or thought before, but here it is in writing, " In all seriousness, have you seen this guy in the preseason? So far, the Utah big man has displayed a combination of brute strength and stellar productivity that has Jazz fans experiencing sudden flashbacks to a young Karl Malone."
Now after asking forgiveness from a Stockton and Malone poster, honestly think about that. This isn't a Utah Jazz homer, this is a national media member, granted he is younger and might not remember early Malone. He grabs every rebound with ferocity, his body is Malone-esque and his jump shot is improving.
Jazz fans should be prepared. This team isn't completely unknown anymore. They won't be the feature story on ESPN, but the buzz is coming. It doesn't hurt to have the consensus top play of the preseason, in case anyone isn't sure which one that is it involves Jeremy Evans, a good 90 inches of vertical, one dribble from half court and a fantastic reaction from every one on the Jazz.
And actually NBA.com has that one and Alec Burks' dunk as the two top preseason dunks here. Feel free to watch the other videos on that site, including Evans in the top-10 steals, dunks, blocks and plays. Yep, all of them.
Buzz, hype, power rankings and predictions will mean nothing in two days. But, if everyone is right it will be an exciting year for the Jazz.