NBA Picks: Utah Jazz Futures Odds
by Aaron Smith - 10/3/2013
The Utah Jazz have been hovering around the bottom of the Western Conference playoff standings for the last few years. The team has been just good enough to finish with a winning record but not good enough to get into the playoffs and do any damage. They were swept in a four-game series by the Spurs two years ago. Last season, Utah was edged out by the Lakers for the final spot in the playoffs.
Utah has had a very similar look for quite a while, but last year’s team missing the playoffs has caused the front office to go in a different direction. While the Jazz were a competitive team before, they weren’t going to be able to beat the best in the league. It makes sense to switch directions and try to reach the top. Is Utah going about the rebuilding phase the right way? Let’s take a look at the offseason moves and find out what is new in Utah.
Offseason Player Moves
The Jazz frontcourt has been led by Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson for the last few years. Millsap is now a member of the Atlanta Hawks, while Jefferson is on the Charlotte Bobcats roster. The Jazz should be commended for going in a different direction and trying to get even better, but it does need to be pointed out that because they refused to trade these guys last year, they got nothing in return for them leaving. The team could be in much better shape right now if they had moved at least one of these forwards at the trade deadline last year.
Free agent acquisitions for the team during the offseason include Richard Jefferson, Brandon Rush, and Andris Biedrins. None of these guys are stars in the league, but all of them are capable of giving the team some good minutes this season. Mo Williams and Randy Foye were let go in the offseason as well, and John Lucas III was brought in to try to replenish the team’s backcourt depth. Lucas III has never really proven himself in the NBA, so that move looks like nothing more than a money saver for the Jazz.
While the Jazz didn’t make a big splash in free agency this past year, I do really like what the team did in the NBA Draft. Michigan Guard Trey Burke could easily be the Rookie of the Year in the NBA this year, and the Jazz were very fortunate that he fell to the No. 9 draft pick overall. Burke proved capable of carrying a team the past couple years, and he has a very high upside in the NBA. Expect Burke to prove himself to be a playmaker and someone who makes his team much better from Day 1. Rudy Gobert was the team’s pick with the No. 27 pick in the draft. Gobert has some question marks, but many graded him as a Top-15 pick, so you have to like the value the Jazz got here. Utah got a couple of bargains in the draft, and that should help the team build a nice young nucleus in the next couple years.
Younger Guys in Bigger Roles
The Jazz frontcourt will now be headlined by Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors. Both Kanter and Favors have shown flashes of greatness, and the team is going to need them to put up a lot of good minutes this year. Having Kanter and Favors both on the team allowed the Jazz to let both Millsap and Jefferson go. How will these two fare when it comes to leading a team rather than fitting in as role players? That remains to be determined, but the Jazz were wise to give them a chance. Gordon Hayward has already gotten pretty big minutes with the team, but he’ll be considered a leader on this team this season as well.
NBA Picks: Utah Jazz Futures Odds
It’s hard to imagine the Jazz getting better this year. They let their top two players go in the offseason, and I don’t think they’ll be easily replaced right away. Still, the Jazz did make a smart decision in getting younger and giving guys like Favors and Kanter a chance to grow. The team wasn’t going to win anything with the way they were before, so why not go another route?
With Burke at point guard and plenty of young talent around him, the Jazz should provide some great highlights this year, but it will likely be a year or two before the team contends for a playoff spot again.
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