Utah Jazz: 2013-14 Season Preview

Gordon Hayward

Gordon Hayward will be asked to take on a primary offensive role for the Utah Jazz this season. Photo Credit: RMtip21, Flickr.com

2012-13 Vitals

43-39, 3rd in Northwest Division, 9th in Western Conference

Did not qualify for playoffs

98.0 PPG/98.1 OPP PPG

2013-14 Roster

Trey Burke – PG

John Lucas III – PG

Alec Burks – SG

Brandon Rush – SG

Ian Clark – SG

Gordon Hayward – SF

Marvin Williams – SF

Richard Jefferson – SF

Derrick Favors – PF

Jeremy Evans – PF

Enes Kanter – C

Rudy Gobert – C

Andris Biedrins – C

Offseason Additions

Trey Burke (draft), Rudy Gobert (draft), Ian Clark (FA), Brandon Rush (trade), Richard Jefferson (trade), Andris Biedrins (trade), John Lucas III (FA)

Offseason Subtractions

Al Jefferson (FA), Paul Millsap (FA), Mo Williams (FA), Randy Foye (sign and trade), Jamaal Tinsley (FA), Earl Watson (FA), DeMarre Carroll (FA), Kevin Murphy (trade)

Projected Starters

Trey Burke – PG

Alec Burks – SG

Gordon Hayward – SF

Derrick Favors – PF

Enes Kanter – C

Season Outlook

The Utah Jazz are in a very interesting place this season. The front office has positioned the team to finally hand over the reins of the team to its young core. The “Future Five” (the players listed as projected starters above) are all on their rookie contracts and will undoubtedly lead the team this season. This is a welcome sight for Jazz fans, as many have had hope over the last few seasons that the youngsters would have been given a much bigger role. Coach Tyrone Corbin has very obviously preferred to play his veterans of good talent over his youngsters with great potential. Hayward, Evans, Burks, Kanter and Favors are now the most tenured veterans on the Jazz roster. They are very young, but with most of the roster playing their first year for the Jazz, Ty Corbin’s comfort and Jazz fan’s hopes may finally be aligned. It seems general manager Dennis Lindsey is very aware of Corbin’s penchant for veterans, as evidenced by seemingly not giving Corbin any options that could replace promising rookie Trey Burke on the PG depth chart.

This year’s campaign will depend mightily on the starters continued improvement. Gordon Hayward will likely be the leader of the team and will need to continue his offensive success from last season. Hayward has continued to prove he is a very capable, well rounded offensive option. Efficiency is key with Hayward as he gets to the line frequently and shoots the 3 well. Hayward does a little bit of everything, but if he can rebound a little more frequently and pick up at least one steal per game, he may be looking at the type of season Andrei Kirilenko had when he was selected as a reserve for the 2004 All-Star Game. The Jazz will also hope Hayward’s USA select team teammate Derrick Favors can improve his offensive game, which looked very unpolished last season. Finally in an official Utah Jazz player development role, Hall of Famer Karl Malone has a bit of experience scoring from the power forward position and will look to develop Favors and Kanter to their full potential. Alec Burks will certainly get more minutes than he has been used to and will look to prove himself as an above average player on both offense and defense, which he certainly has the tools to do.

Potentially the most exciting aspect of this season is rookie Trey Burke who has been picked by many to be the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award. The college basketball player of the year last year will look to be both a scoring threat and a distributor, but is a bit undersized in the NBA and will need to overcome that on both ends of the court.

Best-Case Scenario

Hayward and Favors emerge as obvious candidates to be selected to the All-Star Game over the next few seasons. Hayward continues his strong 3-point shooting, but with an increased usage rate he proves he is every bit as good as heralded draft-mate Paul George. Favors proves to be one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the league and adds range to his jump shot. Enes Kanter continues to show that his combo of brute strength and finesse will turn him into a true star in the league. Rookies Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert both get the minutes they need to improve, and Trey Burke is in the Rookie of the Year conversation all the way through the season.

The best-case scenario for the Jazz in the wins column is a bit up for debate. The Jazz have positioned themselves in a unique spot of having the ability to field a team that comes close to achieving a playoff spot if everything goes well and a lottery pick in possibly one of the best drafts of all time if things don’t click right away. Neither scenario is bad for the Jazz, but as the reason we play games is to determine a winner, the best-case for Utah would be that their Future Five prove to be every bit as good as hoped and they surprise everybody with a hard fight for the last spot in the playoff picture.

Worst-Case Scenario

Besides huge injuries to one of their young players, the worst-case for the Jazz is lack of development. As mentioned above, even if the Jazz are one of the worst teams in the league, they will still walk away with the reward of a potentially franchise changing draft pick. However, even with that draft pick, if the Future Five look completely overwhelmed by starter level NBA talent, they are in serious trouble. The Jazz are banking on Burke, Hayward, and company to not only be starter level quality, but to have at least one or two of them turn into all-star level players. If this doesn’t happen the Jazz may be a step or two behind in their rebuilding process than they thought.

Predicted Finish

35-47, last in maybe the strongest division in the league, 14th in the Western Conference.

Tags: Alec Burks Derrick Favors Enes Kanter Gordon Hayward NBA Trey Burke Utah Jazz