I know Jazz fans aren't always the most popular fellows around opponents fan sites. But bear with me just for today.
You are getting Wesley Matthews, and I hope you enjoy him. He was my favorite rookie I've ever watched. Nobody was a bigger Wesley Matthews homer than me. Guys at SLCDunk asked why I wasn't his agent so I could get a better deal for him. I was crushed when you offered him the deal and I knew the Jazz probably wouldn't match.
So, here's what you'll enjoy:
Whenever there was a deflection, a loose ball, or a gooky pass Wesley was there. He was usually the first Jazzman going after the ball, but if he wasn't he either (1) beat out the other guys going after it first, or (2) was sprinting down the court, ready for the outlet pass and an easy dunk. Nobody on the Jazz was in either of these positions more. It happened game after game after game after game.
In the playoffs, Matt Harpring (our retired former football-playing small forward) gave Wesley a talk about getting physical, nasty, and aggressive when guarding Melo and Kobe. Wes responded. I can't tell you enough how many terrible shots and terrible spots, with all passing outlets cut off, Wes was able to get those two guys into. Of course, Kobe and Melo hit most of the shots, but if Wesley plays with that kind of physical tenacity over an entire season it will add at least 5 wins. Plus I can't tell you how frustrated Melo got with Wesley's physicality and how many times Matthews drew a charge. Melo spent the entire series in foul trouble, mostly for offensive fouls against Wesley. Some were due to a little acting by Wesley. Others were because Melo threw an elbow because he was so pissed off. You'll enjoy watching this.
He wasn't an athletic specimen, so he had to rely on smarts. Smart cuts through the lane. Smart back-door cuts. Strong screens. Running off screens correctly. Spotting up for threes in the right spots, giving his teammates the right passing angles. Reading the defense correctly and moving accordingly.
And of all the guys in the world, Wesley will never coast because he got a good contract. It's just not in him.
Of course, you never really know how things will turn out. Wesley's going come to Portland and play in a different system, with a different coach, with a different role. Who knows what effect that will have. But here's the kind of player he was on his way to becoming if he stayed with the Jazz:
12-16 ppg, 3-5 rbd, 2-4 assists, great defender, possibly a top-3 wing defender in the league. That was his potential. Will he reach it? Who knows. But last year, after finally earning the starting spot, he went for 12 pts, 3 rbds, and 2 assists. Plus great defense and balls-out, intelligent hustle. As a rookie still learning what was going on.
You know how we fans all get stupidly attached to our players. We talk about them like family. We defend them as if they care what any of us think. So I know this is cheesy and ridiculous. But it's kind of how we feel: we're sending our kid to Portland for the next 5 years. He's a great kid. Be good to him.
* Last November and December the Jazz stunk. They were mucking about to 9th place in the West. The team had horrible chemistry and no synergy at all. During those dark months, Wesley Matthews was the only thing that made the games enjoyable to watch. One day he hit some big 3's, made some great hustle plays, and someone posted: "O My Sweet Wesley" on the game thread (from Princess Bride). The nickname stuck. We called him OMSW for short.
If you back over our game threads, you'll see 3 nickname/memes/catchphrases used 1000 times than any other: Ninja! (Deron Williams), AKWSUA (Andrei Kirilenko Will Save Us All), and OMSW. That's how much we loved the dude. Come up with your own meme for Wesley if you want, but feel free to use the OMSW. All of us at SLCDunk will nod and remember the kind of stuff you get to enjoy.