2013-14 Utah Jazz Preview
By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
(SportsNetwork.com) - Tanking will be a trendy word in the NBA this season.
Tanking is an ugly word in sports. It implies a team is not trying to win on purpose.
Rebuilding is a much nicer word. Let's call it rebuilding, rebuilding around youth even.
The 2013-14 Utah Jazz are rebuilding around youth.
Gone are Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye. That's four starters, 56.1 ppg, 20.2 rpg and 12.9 apg.
Luckily for the Jazz, they stockpiled big men for just this time. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter will take the spots previously owned by Jefferson and Millsap.
The new bigs are both No. 3 picks in the draft and both are 22 or under. In glimpses in the past seasons, both have proven to be potential beasts.
Favors averaged 9.4 ppg and posted 17 double-figure rebound games last season.
Kanter put up 7.2 ppg and enjoyed a 23-point, 22-rebound game last season.
So, the future is relatively bright in the frontcourt, especially with returning wing men Marvin Williams and Gordon Hayward, who will see time at shooting guard as well.
The other franchise flagship was acquired in the draft in the form of Naismith winner Trey Burke. The Michigan point guard was taken ninth overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves and shipped to Utah on draft night.
"I think what's gonna be expected is for me to come right in and show my leadership abilities. You know, bringing a winning mentality and also making plays for a team," Burke said.
At Michigan, where he led the Wolverines to the National Championship game in March, Burke averaged 18.6 ppg and 6.7 apg all the while shooting 45 percent from the field and 37 percent from long range.
Those numbers are astounding, but another number is a little scary. Burke is only 6-feet tall and that's still a little tiny for an NBA point guard. And, the point guard broke his right index finger in the preseason and will miss time.
But the keys to the franchise are in his hands and he can help guide this team. Utah is loaded with young assets and given time to grow, the Jazz could be a playoff team sooner than later.
And, the Jazz took on Golden State reprobates Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush so the Warriors could bring in Andre Iguodala. All three might play, but Rush was the only one acquired with any chance of a future with the team.
There will be a lot of new faces in Salt Lake City. There will be lumps, big ones most likely. But it should pay off in time.
Rebuilding around youth...not tanking.
2012-13 Results: 43-39, 3rd in Northwest, Missed playoffs quarterfinals
ADDITIONS: G Trey Burke, G Brandon Rush, C Andris Biedrins, F Richard Jefferson, G John Lucas III, C Rudy Gobert
PROJECTED STARTING FIVE:
PG- Trey Burke SG- Alec Burks SF- Gordon Hayward PF- Derrick Favors C - Enes Kanter
KEY RESERVES: F Marvin Williams, F Richard Jefferson, C Andris Biedrins, G John Lucas III, C Rudy Gobert, G Brandon Rush, F Jeremy Evans
FRONTCOURT: Favors is an explosive player around the basket. His game is still a little refined, but help from new part-time assistant coach Karl Malone should help immensely.
Malone is the second-leading scorer in NBA history, so his help should benefit Favors and Kanter, who is far less dynamic than his fellow big man. Kanter is, however, more raw than Favors and is more of a traditional back-to-the-basket big man.
Hayward really emerged once Corbin moved him to the bench last season. Even if it's Marvin Williams in the small forward slot, there will be production. There has to be considering the inexperience of the two behemoths in the paint.
BACKCOURT: Burke and Hayward are both great leaders. They took unexpected teams to the NCAA Championship, largely on their backs, although Burke had much more help than Hayward at Butler.
Burke can come in and run an offense. He can penetrate, but his jumper is in question a bit. Can he get his own shot off at his size in the NBA? Fair question, but Burke is the kind of point guard who can put teams on his back.
Hayward is a budding star. Maybe not star, but a budding impact guy in the NBA. He can shoot, handle, rebound and sort of defend. He has also stated his desire to be the team's leader and someone who wants that kind of pressure is someone who you want.
BENCH: This group is a little thin. Whoever loses out in the starting spot between Hayward, Williams and Burks will be the first guy off the bench.
Rush was acquired in the salary dump by the Warriors. He missed basically all of last season thanks to a torn ACL in the second game. Rush is an outstanding 3-point shooter and could be the one who ultimately plays the most minutes at two guard.
Lucas is a capable backup point guard. Evans is explosive and Gobert is the French rookie big man who measured a combine record wingspan and reach. (He can almost dunk flat-footed and can probably scratch his knees without bending over.) Throw them all in the rebuilding plan.
COACHING: Corbin took a very average team last season to a 43-39 record. If Utah posted that record this season, Corbin would win the Coach of the Year award unanimously.
This roster is just so young and inexperienced. Improvement is Corbin's only charge. Wins and losses shouldn't matter so long as Burke, Favors, Kanter and Hayward grow together.
OUTLOOK: The Jazz are going to be among the worst teams in the league record- wise. That's pretty clear when you look at their personnel.
But again, this season won't be about playoff contention or things like that. It's about making Burke and Favors the Stockton and Malone of this generation. That's completely unfair, obviously, but the hope is they grow into something reasonably close.
10/15 13:57:06 ET