The Utah Jazz are rebuilding and of course, that’s no big news. The team started the 2013-2014 season with little chances to make the playoffs and very quickly it was proven that the Jazz would have a tanked season. At the moment, Utah is standing at the last seed of the Western Conference, with a 22-45 record and of course, it has been eliminated from the contention for a playoff ticket. Of course, all eyes are turned towards the next season and especially towards the upcoming NBA draft, which is expected to contain lots of potential superstars. The Utah Jazz stand many chances to gain one of the top picks in the 2014 NBA draft and that’s they only positive outcome if this current season. But even if the Jazz land one of the top picks, even the first overall, could they really be better next season. Will the team be able to make the difference? Will it be able to even contend for a playoff seed? Let’s try to examine some facts about the team, which could give us some answers.
First of all, after the significant moves the team saw happening during the summer, the departures of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson, things were expected to be different. In fact, the Jazz instantly entered a rebuilding mode when Big Al and Paul Millsap decided to depart from Utah. Their absence became felt instantly. After all, they were the two major reasons the team was able to record a solid course last season. Their impact was made felt to their respective teams this season. Paul Millsap quickly emerged as the leader of the Atlanta Hawks while Al Jefferson is one of the main reasons the Charlotte Bobcats are within the playoff race.
The Utah Jazz were left with a non-quality personnel, including a bunch of youngsters, to defend their legacy. The truth is that the Jazz do have some young assets, which could end up becoming essential pieces of a strong team. However, they will need much more than that to become competitive. Maybe not even the first overall pick in the upcoming draft won’t take the team to the next level.
Trey Burke has shown some good sings up to now in the season. The rookie guard is averaging double-digits in his scoring and he also shown some signs of leadership. Of course, he’ll need to work much during the next seasons to become a true difference-maker. Gordon Hayward was projected to emerge as the next face of the franchise for the Jazz, since he stepped foot in Utah. Whilst he is the leading scorer of the team this season, putting up a little less than 16 points per contest, the Jazz were heavily rumored to be searching for a way to trade him away. He and the team didn’t come up with a contract extension agreement and now Hayward will become an unrestricted free-agent this summer.
The Jazz do have some young and talented players, which could work as the complementary pieces around a star but what they lack of, is well, a star or a superstar. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter could be two great assets for the team going forward. They have proven that they have talent and the Jazz will now need to find a way to make them work together in perfect sync. Of course, both of them will have to improve their game, each one in different aspects. Kanter needs to play better, more intense defense and Favors needs to find more shots from his comfort zones. But Favors will become an unrestricted free-agent this summer and it still remains a mystery if the Jazz will choose to retain him this summer.
However, those two alone don’t seem to be capable of taking the team to the next level. Even if they improve their outputs, the Jazz will need something more. They will need star power. Thankfully, at the moment, the team has just around $16 million on the books for next summer and this means they could chase a free-agent star this summer. Earlier in the season, lots of rumors wanted the Jazz trading away Gordon Hayward to the Boston Celtics and at the same time receiving Rajon Rondo. Of course, such a trade never went down. However, the Jazz could end up making a big move, simply because there might be no other good way to move forward. Utah has some talent, but is there any fan of the team who believes that the team can make it to the top with Kanter and Favors being the centerpieces? I really doubt that. The certain fact is that Jazz fans are not at all satisfied with the current state of the team. The Jazz have the lowest attendance since 1991 this season.
One way or another, the Utah Jazz are expected to bounce back. After all, they are a legendary team and the front office has the knowledge and the experience to try and perform all those correcting moves, which will help the team move forward. The Jazz need to get unstuck from the whole they are currently into. They need to find a leader, which could be one of the current members of the team, maybe Trey Burke, or a star who will be signed this summer.
It’s still uncertain if this will be the summer when the Jazz will make big changes in their roster. For sure, the team will look different next season. Several players of the current roster will most probably be gone. In fact, the player with the three biggest payrolls this season, Richard Jefferson, Andris Biedrins and Marvin Williams might not be with the team. Hopefully, the Jazz will use their financial flexibility in a clever way this summer and bring in some players which can help the team move forward.
Thank you for reading. Ron Leyba is the lead editor of FantasyBasketballMoneyLeagues.com, and a LastWordOnSports NBA Analyst. For more of his articles, follow his updates at Google+ or follow him on Twitter – @ronniedare. Support LWOS by following us on Twitter – @LastWordOnSport and “liking” our Facebook page.
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