The NBA season has been interesting to follow this year. There have been several teams that set up their roster much like the Utah Jazz: to get experience for younger players and get as many ping pong balls in the draft lottery as possible.
Every time the Jazz go on a small winning streak or play well, people all over start to freak out and say that the Jazz are becoming too good to get a top draft pick or that they are blowing their chances.
In order for the Jazz to compete in this league for the ultimate prize, do they need to be “sorry for Jabari?” I honestly think that the team is better than the fans and other people give them credit for, and they don’t need another high-profile piece when they potentially have all they need right now.
Enter Trey Burke.
Burke has been a bright spot for the Jazz early in his rookie campaign. The team is undoubtedly much better when he is on the court than when he was injured to start the season. For the master plan of the Jazz to develop and get a good draft pick, Burke sitting out the first 14 games was the best thing that could have happened for that plan. With him back, the team is around .500 consistently and is competing against the top teams in the league.
Burke has all the makings of a superstar and has been recognized for his play already this season, earning Rookie Player of the Month in December and being named to the NBA Rising Stars Challenge. The team wanted a superstar; Trey Burke is on track to become that superstar.
Enter Derrick Favors.
Favors is one of the most exciting players to watch on the Utah Jazz roster. He reminds me a lot of the legendary Karl Malone. He has shown the work ethic and plays hard. His offensive game does need a little tweaking to catch up with his defensive game, but Burke to Favors has potential to become much like the Stockton-Malone tandem that led to success.
Two young promising players with much to prove to their doubters can bring a lot to a franchise. Burke, a player that has been looked over his entire life, wants to prove that he belongs in the league and is not too small. Favors wants to show that he too belongs in the league and prove his worth after earning a top-dollar contract.
There are some anomalies and questions that will arise about the Jazz roster. Will Enes Kanter become a one man wrecking crew, or will he follow suit like Greg Ostertag and not develop as he should? Will Gordon Hayward come into his own and become an All-Star? What will become of Alec Burks?
Kanter has shown promise and has also shown that he could use some help this season. Throwing consecutive passes into the crowd doesn’t flash the brilliance and dominance that the Jazz are looking for. He has shown games were he scores quite effortlessly and looks like he will become a dominant big man. Keep in mind he has only been playing basketball for a few short years, and the flashes of brilliance will be more becoming of his game.
Hayward is the hardest player to gauge for the Jazz moving forward. Like Kanter, he has been so good at hitting key shots. Other nights, he can’t hit a basket. I believe Hayward is as good as the Jazz thought when they drafted him. Hayward’s struggles come from the team trying to make him a leader. That’s not his preferred role. Hayward is a good complimentary player, much like Jeff Hornacek, who can hit big shots but not take over games.
Burks will be a good player coming off of the bench. He will fill much of the role of Paul Millsap, being the main sixth man. Burks has a lot of promise with his speed and great passing. He will aid the Jazz a lot in helping sustain a lead or get back into a game. Explosiveness off the bench is key to having a great sixth man and Burks gives the Jazz that.
This Jazz team mirrors the great Jazz teams of the ‘90s and can make it to that mountaintop. They do need one more piece to the puzzle to establish themselves among the elite in the NBA. It may be a top draft pick, but it may also be in a free-agency pickup of a solid veteran. Veteran leadership is key to helping the young roster hit its stride.
The Jazz will end up with a top pick. To me, it doesn’t matter if it’s the top three. This upcoming draft is a deep and good one. Many experts are comparing it to the 2003 draft that included LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade.
Aaron Gordon is who I would like to see the Jazz take. He is a high-flying player with a lot of potential and should be a solid player. He’s currently hitting shots to help his top-ranked Arizona team. He’s taller and thicker than Parker. Any of the top players for this draft will be a lift for the Jazz. Look for them to turn the corner because Dennis Lindsey, the general manager, has been a part of a turnaround before with a team called the Spurs.