The wait is almost over.
The lockout has kept professional basketball off the court for over a month longer than the normal off-season does.
With training camp scheduled to start in a couple of days, and the free-agent whirl winds being unleashed on the league, the scent of basketball is in the air.
Tonight the altered and shortened 66-game NBA schedule will be announced. With teams expecting to play more back-to-back games, and even the possibility of back-to-back-to-back, there is some promise for the young, and rebuilding, Utah Jazz.
The key word: young.
With what will likely be a rigorous schedule, in order to have the season finished around the same time it usually does, the NBA will cram more games into less time.
By Chistmas last year, the Jazz already had 30 games under their belt, meaning they only had 52 games left over the span of the next four months.
This year, with the Jazz’s first game not happening until after Christmas day, this means they will have to fit 66 games into a space where they usually had slightly over 50.
With the very young lineup of the Jazz, youth may prove to be very beneficial.
Certain teams are on the decline, and playing more games in less time will wear them out quicker. Teams like the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, and every Jazz fan’s favorite, the LA Lakers… (sarcasm)… are getting older. Dirk Nowitzki is 33, Jason Kidd turns 39 this season, Tim Duncan is 35, Manu Ginoblii is 34, Kobe Bryant 33, and Pau Gasol is 31.
Three teams that have been leading the west over the past decade are declining.
Now, assuming LA doesn’t get an early Christmas present by signing Chris Paul and/or Dwight Howard, and forming the Laker equivalent to Miami’s big three, it’s possible these teams will run out of gas by the season’s end.
The Jazz are young. The Jazz are eager. And you can bet that they are ready to play.
Utah has five guys with a year or fewer of experience, including Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans, and rookies Enes Kanter and Alec Burks.
Put them alongside the seasoned Jazz veterans, Paul Millsap, Devin Harris, and Al Jefferson, who are 26, 28, and 26, the Jazz are young, to say the least.
Now I’m not saying the Jazz are a definite title contender. But with a non-typical season, who knows what is in store.
Keep your eyes peeled towards
as they announce the 2011-12 schedule tonight.