The Utah Jazz are currently battling with the Los Angeles Lakers and to a lesser extent, the Dallas Mavericks, for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. If they do manage to wrap up the eighth seed and shut the Lakers out, it would be a strong accomplishment. Unfortunately, it would also be a dead end; this team has almost zero chance of getting out of the first round.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things this team could do to become legitimate contenders in the future. One of the biggest things the Jazz need to work on is improving the situation at point guard. Mo Williams isn’t horrible, but ever since he got to play with LeBron James on those dominant Cleveland Cavaliers teams, his value has been severely inflated. The Jazz should look to improve their status at the point guard position this year, either by going after a free agent like Jose Calderon (if the Detroit Pistons don’t retain him) or bringing in a rookie like Trey Burke of Michigan, who has loads of potential.
Williams isn’t even the the biggest issue the Jazz have at point guard. Their backup is Jamaal Tinsley, who has some valuable experience, but hasn’t been a particularly exciting player for half a decade now. When Williams was out for a prolonged period of time, the offense struggled with Tinsley running the show. Even if the Jazz decide to keep Williams as the starting PG, they definitely need to bring in a stronger backup.
Additionally, the Jazz should look to make some moves in the frontcourt. Generally speaking, there’s no such thing as being “too deep,” but the Jazz’s big men prove to be the exception to this rule. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap make for one of the better front courts in the league, but there’s just one problem; Enes Kanter, and Derrick Favors are both good enough to start, too, and neither is getting a chance on this team. It would not be surprising to see the Jazz part ways with either Jefferson or Millsap–both unrestricted free agents this summer–and look to give more prominent roles to Favors and Kanter. They are both very talented young players and they both deserve more minutes.
If the Jazz do let Jefferson and/or Millsap walk, they should look to improve at the small forward position, which is their biggest weakness right now. Marvin Williams has never been one of the more exciting players in the league, but in past years, he had at least been useful. This year, he’s had his worst season a pro and he might be the worst starting small forward in the game. Backup DeMarre Carroll has been decent, but he hasn’t done much to illustrate that he’s earned a starting role in the NBA. The Jazz should either trade for a small forward (if the Boston Celtics part ways with Paul Pierce, the Jazz should definitely look at him) or take one in the draft. They desperately need to improve at this position. Gordon Hayward is capable of playing the 3, but he’s a natural 2-guard and small-ball lineups are the only time when it makes sense to use him as a small forward.
The Jazz have a solid-but-flawed team with a lot of potential. If they make the right moves this offseason, they could become a legitimate title contender before too long. If they clear out some space up front and get better at the point guard and small forward positions, there’s no telling how far this team might be able to go.