Again, welcome to the Sports Script’s 2013-2014 NBA Preview! Recently today I previewed the Orlando Magic, so if you missed it, make sure to give it a read here. But now it’s time to look at the number 26 team in the NBA according to myself. But moving on to today’s first team, they really blew things up in the offseason, losing two of their stars via free agency, but managed to gain plenty of expiring contracts and draft picks for the upcoming 2014 NBA Draft. That’s right, it’s the Utah Jazz!
Key Additions: Trey Burke (Draft) Rudy Gobert (Draft) Brandon Rush (Trade via Warriors) Richard Jefferson (Trade via Warriors) Andris Biederins (Trade via Warriors)
The Jazz did a very good job this summer of making sure they won’t be winning too many games, or if they do win more than expected, none will come very easy. They lost both of their starting frontcourt, and two very productive players in Al Jefferson (3 Years, 41 Million) to the Bobcats and Paul Millsap (2 Years, 19 Million) to the Atlanta Hawks, but that’s ok because they have two of the most intriguing young players in the NBA in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, more on them later. The other big moves they made, was helping Golden State acquire Andre Iguodala, by taking on the contracts of Andris Biederins, Richard Jefferson and Brandon Rush, a combined $24 million in cap crushing space, but the good news is all are expiring deals meaning the Jazz will have an incredible amount of cap space for next offseason.
Moving on to the starting lineup, it’s a lineup that I really like in all honesty… If it were maybe 3-4 years down the line. All the players have a ton of upside, but are really just projects right now, and none are capable of being “The Guy” right now. Trey Burke was the 9th overall pick in the draft, and will be the starting point guard of the future for the Jazz. Burke will have to bring some of the magic he had at Michigan in order for the Jazz to have success. After him, you have Alec Burkes, a former lottery pick, and Gordon Hayward, also a former lottery pick. Hayward had a pretty good season last year, averaging 14/3/3 on 44% shooting, and hopefully he will continue to improve upon that. Alec Burkes is a little harder to predict because he, for some odd reason, has hardly gotten any NBA playing time. But he will be starting this year, meaning we’ll get to see exactly what they have in him. Now the frontcourt, easily the most impressive part of this team. I love both Favors and Kanter, and now that Jefferson and Millsap are gone, the two of them are free to run wild this year! Favors is an athletic freak, and despite being traded in his rookie season, is still 22 and has plenty of room to continue to grow. Favors wasn’t too efficient of a scorer, but did compile an almost 18 PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in his short time last year, meaning his numbers should see a big boost this year, beyond just the obvious reasons of getting more minutes. Finally Kanter, and I think I like him even more than Favors. Kanter was huge last year when he got team, compiling a few 20/20 games, proving that this guy is for real. He’s an almost 7-footer, who runs the floor well, and rebounds like a machine, and not to mention he had an almost 55% shooting percentage last year, what’s not to love about this guy?
If the Jazz are going to have any success this year, it’s going to come down to whether or not Kanter and Favors can develop into the players they can easily be, or they flounder with the added pressure of living up to a very good duo in Jefferson and Millsap. What the Jazz have compared to the first two teams of this countdown, they have a great direction, beyond just hoping for the number one pick and Andrew Wiggins. Throw a good high lottery pick player onto the this team next year, and they could already be challenging for a playoff spot. But until then, everything will ride on Kanter, Favors and the rest of this very young lineup.
Here is a thought from Twitter:
Final Prediction: 29-53, 14th Western Conference