Let's give Paxson some credit

Updated: March 16, 2005, 12:08 AM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
If you had said a year ago that Drew Gooden would be a suitable replacement for Carlos Boozer, you would have been laughed out of the gym.

Gooden had been a huge disappointment on one of the league's worst teams, failing to coexist with frontcourt mate Juwan Howard, playing virtually no defense and losing his starting job early on. Meanwhile, Boozer nearly won the league's Most Improved Player award and was selected to the U.S. Olympic team, where he was one of the few U.S. players to represent himself well in Athens.

How quickly things change. One year later, the only award Boozer contends for is the Santana Award (given annually to the biggest sellout named Carlos). After pulling the bait-and-switch of the century on Cleveland and signing a huge free-agent deal with Utah, the Jazz were supposed to be ascendant in the West and most expected the Cavaliers to struggle to crack the East's top eight.


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